A weekly magazine in Belfast recently contacted Dig and asked if we’d be able to come up with something about the beauty of riding a BMX bike. Seriously hungover and a day past the deadline, this is what I came up with. For all you non-BMX types out there, please bear with me….

More or less, the word “beauty” doesn’t get thrown around the act of riding a BMX bike too often. You might hear “awesome” and “myspace” thrown around with ease at the local skatepark, but “beauty” doesn’t come out of too many a BMXer’s mouths. It’s there, it’s just not perceived as so. And as it stands, if you’re amid the act of riding a BMX bike, most of us really don’t take a step back to analyze what makes riding that thing so good, or in a word, the “beauty” of it. But there is an inherent beauty to riding a BMX bike. And naturally, one’s perception of the beauty of riding a BMX bike is likely to be different from the next, but overall, what follows are a few choice anecdotes which animate the beauty of riding a BMX bike.

An acute knowledge and awareness of one’s environment: The average BMXer is a million times more tuned into their surroundings than the average person. BMXers thrive on the environment to sustain their activity, whether that’s on dirt, riding the streets or practicing in a car park. This is why a BMXer can tell you why the dirt in central Pennsylvania is better than that of Florida’s, or why a BMXer can tell you that the pavement in the UK is much more porous that that of the US, (thus holding in moisture for much longer.) And you’ll be hard pressed to find a BMXer that isn’t keenly aware of the week’s coming weather. There’s also much simpler examples, such as BMXer’s knowing the ins and outs of simply riding a bike down the street; pavement upturned from tree roots and modest shop signs become not only a new obstacle to jump over, but also trusted friends (and/or adversaries, depending on how the day is going…..)

Expanding the possibilities of what is possible in body and mind: Hate to sound all Zen-like here, but riding a BMX bike, learning new ways to ride a BMX bike and expanding the ways in which you ride a BMX bike helps overturn mental stones that might be arbitrarily laying dormant in your brain. In the simplest terms, if you ride away from something you once thought impossible, it alters your perception of what’s possible in the world, both on and off your BMX bike. Ask any BMXer that’s pulled a trick (whether that’s a flatland combination, a huge handrail grind or even dropping into a ramp for the first time) how that first time felt. Nothing matches that sense of accomplishment, nothing. And the confidence gained can in turn can be applied to any real life situation on or off the bike. People pay thousands of dollars in therapy struggling to find a way to believe in themselves, when a BMX bike can do it for much, much cheaper…..

Culture: When you participate in an activity that isn’t widely known or understood in society, you’re bound to meet other like-minded individuals chasing the same dream as yourself. Riding a BMX bike has created a society of BMXers that is growing by leaps and bounds. And this society, by and large, has created an industry, media, technology and art from within. The people making and designing bikes and components are BMXers. The people shooting photographs and publishing magazines are BMXers. Through the simple act of riding a BMX bike, an extensive culture of BMX has emerged, and that’s pretty special.

Adaptability: Aside from skateparks, BMXers exist in a world that was not designed for riding BMX bikes. But BMXers in all forms have taken what surrounds themselves and adapted new ways to apply riding a BMX bike. Architecture, dirt, trash, walls; anything in a BMXer’s surroundings can be adapted and applied to riding a BMX bike. A handrail down stairs is a tool of safety for someone walking up or down those stairs, but a BMXer applies a new meaning to that innate object. The handrail becomes an obstacle to ride. Through riding a BMX bike, the meaning of any obstacle’s original purpose in society is transcended, and that doesn’t happen too often in today’s cookie cutter world.

Of course, there’s much more to the puzzle than these four tiny verses, but I’ve tried to isolate the qualities that become beauty in the universal, all-aspect inclusive world of riding a BMX bike. And no, I didn’t forget the obvious traits of beauty that come with riding a BMX bike, such as friendships and fun. (I just didn’t see the need to over-analyze simple principles.)
I guess I could go on and on all day about the inherent beauty of riding a BMX bike, but one thing stands clearer than anything to me. I like knowing that I can always turn to my bike. It may just be a vehicle to the outsider, but through the years, it’s become a friend that understands purpose in life, and that’s a pretty beautiful relationship to have in this big world.

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