The B.M.X. leg end that used to be Andy Ruffel communicated with his fan today via the interweb to advise us of a super dooper new film put together by the great Mongoose company. ” look” he urges “me and Tim March made it” so I thought ok we shall have a gander at this. It was instantly apparent however that Andy meant “made it to the final cut” Which is odd really as I am pretty certain that neither of them actually rode for Goose in the Olden Days.
Now in the early days of BMX out there in the land of good wholesome smog that is Cali fornia. Frames first and then wheels on the beach cruiser Schwinns that were popular….Raleigh Grifters over here.. We’re subject to fatigue. Put another way they frequently broke…..badly. This little film provides a little nostalgic glimpse back in time to one Father’s solution and the industry it spawned.
But it set my mind a wandering as to how fings ain’t wot they used to be. When your kid wandered into the local ‘paper shop in the early 1980s and spent his/her pocket money on the British publication BMX Bi weekly, (a clumsy title for an even clumsier attempt at rad dood journalism). Or the Oh so esoteric American import BMX action bike, it was but a short step from Halfords whence came his Raleigh Burner, to a specialist shop where something lighter properly engineered and race worthy could empty Daddy’s wallet.
Now as can be appreciated, this was most parents first foray into competitive cycle sport so the inclination was to look for complete bikes. Top of the wish list were (as far as complete bikes went) Hutch, Redline, SE, GT, Back and the wonderful Mongoose Super goose. The Super goose and mini goose pictures festooned boys bedrooms all over this country. It’s 4130 true temper Chrome Molybdenum frame and forks dazzlingly chromed. It’s 3 piece crank as opposed to the standard one piece Ashtabula. The Tioga competition 3 tyres. It was a thoroughbred straight out of the carton? Everybody wanted one of these machines.
So here’s a little slice of BMX history. Complete with cameo appearances from Andy and Tim respectively stunt doubles for Bat Fastard and Seasick Steve. Everything changes though. Today’s riders won’t have an idea as to who Tim March, Andy Ruffel or Mongoose bikes are…
Enjoy the film and hey well done Jody Cundy. Full set; Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Right then. My last blog was written by some silly old sod with a bad case of stomach trouble masquerading as me. I just re read what he said though and whilst he would have been paid two pints and a packet of assaulted peanuts, I’ve decided to drink one of the pints for myself. Well he was a grumpy sod wasn’t he? However, because I concur with all that he said……its less of a forfeit and more of a “Not bad youth, let’s have a beer”.
So dear reader….yes its still just the two of us….Manchester for round one of the British BMX series. I am not a reporter so you will not get a sporting review here. However keep reading and I shall reveal how to get just that at the end. Also, Pics and Video will follow later, when I can get to the pooter [this is an ipad jobby].
Family and friends of mine will read what I am about to say and chortle merrily [maybe an 8:0 Marv?] but the facility at the National cycling centre is not this country’s first indoor all seater BMX stadium. Not by a long way. Oh no! Manchester has eased its way into the cycling heart of this Great Nation of ours, but Norton Canes [Where?] Norton Canes dear fiend [the missing R is deliberate…..just in case there are rumbings of discontent…..or even dat content] in South Staffs just off the A5 was home to the salvation of Midlanders who needed somewhere to let all of those pre Troy Lee Redlines and Hutches etc: out of their cages on cold days, when going out off the front door and face planting on a frozen red gravel table top, hurt like a bastard.
The dormant bustling metropolis of Norton Canes proudly boasted an indoor riding school, with safe off road parking for the several hundred cretins who left their homes only because they couldnt be arsed to cook a Sunday roast. This then, long before Superman got involved (a company calling themselves Clark and Kent design and build tracks nowadays….they build superb tracks only way that the cloaked saviour of the free world (aka America) escaped detection was because Roger Wilbrahams talked them out of calling the start Hills Lois Lanes) was home to indoor BMX in this sceptered isle.
Like Manchester it had a superbly engineered start hill. A pioneering construction of B&Q timber and plywood.. None of your 12 metre high galvanised steel over engineered thingies with a parc ferme beneath….queued up by the toilets back then….God it was a man’s life in The Royal Ballet. Norton Canes too had some tricky jumps to negotiate. hit the doubles with a gnat’s too much torque and next moto you’d be given a duster to remove cobwebs from the rafters before discovering your perfect holeshot had been gobbled up by the fat kid in Halfords race pants on the Skyway Burner! Manchester shows signs of wear on several jummps in the central straight, but theyre nothing compared to the hub deep sawdust and pony cack on the finish straight at the Midlands indoor BMX CENTRE…..What?. A finish straight that led one over awesome 2 foot high plywood triples victoriously past Elsie’s tea urn and Wagon Wheel, crisp and pork scratchings concession and into the warming comfort of the same plastic seats (decades ahead of time we were) that are (for all of their big bucks) the envy of erm??? no one at Manchester…you see..give me time and I find the thread again.
The National indor BMX arena is quite simply breathtakingly beautiful.. Not without its flaws, but as near to the culmination of dreams that those of us who were BMX Mums and Dads in the ’80s ccould have hoped for.
As you will know from previous blogs. I very much see my remit as one of opening the eyes, hearts and minds of the mainstream cycling fan to the unquestionably biggest and most exciting branch of the sport. Not having been actively involved in a sport that I helped to manage and promote for a long time has never dimmed my enthusiasm for BMX and I always have kept up with it. The opportunity to come up close and personal with it once more having been provided by my son Jamie (passably proud of him you know) is something I am seriously glad about.
One enters the centre from a concourse between The velodrome and BMX arena. A wonderful airy space, with a restaurant (yes Elsie) and bar, where the modern day equivalents of Alan Woods Dad’s van ply their trade. Up a short flight of stairs past a tasteful little cafe and bar area and through the doors into fantasy land. It is quite simply fabulous. Yes the seats are plastic and will never do much for gluteal circulation. The trade off though, is that one learns tolerrance that is so lacking today as one repeats the polite mantra ‘Hey dont worry about it” as the fat bloke from three seats down excuses himself and his evident prostate infection for the umpteenth time.
But honestly your plastic seat and cramped gangway here cost five Earth quid! Walk but 200 yards and every other Saturday you could elect to support the lifestyle of a bunch of continental prima Donnas with around £70 a pop, for the same facilities…..and even the most ardent “BLUE MOON” singing City addict would struggle to say that the entertainment value Accross Alan Turing way wasnt infinitely superior [I speak of football or “soccer” to those reading from across the pond].
To one’s left are those two gargantuan start hills. I’d need to double check, but my guess would be 12 meters and 20 respectively. I used to stand atop start hills in the wind swept days of yore (and mine) and look down at the roller coaster that my boys were about to launch themselves down, with my gall in my mouth, but I have to confess to feeling physically sick at the top of the small (Ha!) hill with the same feeling accompanied by a nose bleed on the bigger one! Add to that; but in those blue remembered start hills there was usually a brief straight before possibly a 4 feet high set of triples or whoops…yes children thats what Daddy used to call rollers. Now though five year olds to 45 year olds prepare their adrenalin twitching bodies for an assault on roughly five hundred yards of cement dust coated earth where the first obstacle is two rollers 8feet high with a twenty foot transition, between them. The ante is then ramped up with jumps that get steadily more complex and bigger between the three high 180degree berms (banking if youre familiar with the velodrome) and every bit as steep.
Bicycle Moto Cross has certainly come of age. A big big happy grin would not leave my face all day;part of which was down to watching kids who I loved so much as youngsters yelling for their own kids. Oh and Lisa Cross, Darling with referrence to the woman you wrote about on Fizzogbook earlier (some lady dared to mutter …”Is all that noise really necessary?”) Yes Mrs Never mind your child will improve if you lighten up, it is very necessary. Standing in the middle of this awesome (yes genuine use of the word not the overworked superlative) every time the gates hit the deck my ears were hit by a wall of sound from several hundred in the stand on one side and the better off pro teams along the finish straight. WOW! and thrice times Wow! and the collective OOH when someone bailed out over the bars would put most football crowds to shame.
So a fabulous day out. Utterly gripping racing. ride your Specialized Tarmac over to Eastlands. Borrow your Dad’s Cortina. trust your sanity to Richard Bransons choo choo trains, but do your soul a favour…go BMXing. If your name is Cavendish please forget to lock your Pinarello Dogma up…they’ll give you another one.
So in Roadie parlance “all Chapeaux (hats in the air) then?” mostly yes. “So whats Carver”s whinge then?” hey….I’m after a pulitzer here…this comes in the best traditions of balanced penmanship. A few Weeds in a used McDonalds bag Im afraid. Some go to the UCI (“nothing new there then”) some to B.C. and some to The Manchester crew (Sorry Roger). Having said that though, the niggles (for they are no more than this I assure you) that I have are also down to a majority of old timers letting the vocal minority have their way at International and National level.
So Roger Wilbrahams et al you guys are beyond fabulous and that’s not grovelling, but here are my concerns and I know, those of a number of that silent majority.
1, What ever happened to the 15 metre lanes on the start hill? I know that deliberately impeding another rider is an offence still, but it was much easier to police when we had them.
2. Before you get to the start hill for even first gate practise. Which Idiot! yes I mean it and I will say it to your face/s decided to dispense with scrutineering? Doubtless many a good reason can be trumped up to answer this question, most of which will boil down to lack of volunteers..CRAP!. The contemporary utterance is “Riders are responsible for their own equipment”. Well, they always were people, always were. However, whilst your kid is front wheel up against the gate with a bicycle who’s star washer is not about to snap. With Forks that are still well bonded in their crown, a straight in the stays rear wheel, tightened pedals and cranks etc etc. What about the kid in gate 3 who’s Dad doesnt have a damn clue? He can potentially ruin your child’s day, dent you wallet and much worse his and your child’s health. So please bring back the brief but necessary checks that we did before. I am a damn good bike mechanic but I have been grateful to a scrutineer pointing out a loose head set or something more than once. I’ll even volunteer to organise and run it..how’s that?
3 Clipless pedals..in my view bloody dangerous in BMX. Potentially very good but the sport needs to look at this issue very carefully. BMX racing is dangerous as we witnessed yesterday. Exciting to watch as thrills and spills are! I witnessed dozens of twisted knees and ankles as bikes got snapped very quickly from the cleats that were seconds before sitting poorly locked into SPDs. Clipless pedals that are a necessary and vital aid in most fields of cycling are beneficial to very few in this sport, but Brooklyn from Brierley Hill ain’t Grant Hill whom he aspires to be. Would I have put toe clips and a set of Weinneman rat traps on my Son’s Robinson? Of course not. Waffle soled vans on bear traps did the job and there was much more need to pedal!
4, Actually this leads on from 3. The purpose of a clipless pedal as any roadie, trackie or MTBer will tell you, is to make ankling ….i.e. using the full 360 Degrees of each pedal rev to be put to use driving the cranks and ultimately the rear wheel. So? Well I didn’t see an awful lot of pedalling let alone ankling going on! when the riders have these magnificently awesome tracks. why does the fraternity put up with challenge of form over substance? It is a BMX RACE race being the key word here. I witnessed too many processions yesterday as riders with more jumping and pumping ability (pumping for those who arent aware, is the technique of keeping the bicycle wheels moving with a well pawled freewheel, by rocking and “pumping” through the hips. It’s what you do at the end of a ten miler as you look down at your bike, blaming the poor thing for your inability to ride a sub 28). So the race favours riders with those abilities, and dads or sponsors who can afford the “steroids” of a 120 pawl Freewheel. There needs to be a bit more pedaling space between these monster jumps in order to even those 40 seconds or so into a fairer race between all skill levels…Thats not being whimpy, its about balance. In all sports (not just our multi faceted one of cycling) there are different skills on display, that even everything up. If BMX is to keep and grow the funding that is currently WITH HUGE THANKS coming into the sport, then it must appeal to new people, who will be spectators first. We cannot rely on the Olympic games every 4 years to pique interest.. Sport is theatre (The words of German dramatist Bertholt Brecht in the 1930s recognised this) as well as competition for those involved.
5, So five leads on from 4. INFORMATION! Up go the moto sheets, so that the gradually diminishing scrum of competitors and parents (as ever) can see which moto and gate they have for the next round. But the rest of us? and even those who (when their child or fellow team member) isnt competing would quite like to know whats occuring. BMX meets are fast and frenetic occasions. It is hats off to RICHARD EAMES and colleague who’s name I forgot to ask, who did an amazing job of somehow managing to add to the excitement with their knowledgeable and passionate commentary. BUT! BUT! its only as good as the P.A. not their fault of course and his own voice skills. THAT is not a moan at Richard..simply fact. So again I go back to the past! we had as many riders in the 80s to process but the crowd always knew; A, which race we were about to watch and who was in it and B, which gate position prior to the gate falling. Please do this again OR where possible utilise the big screen. There are only so many times I want to be welcomed by millions of LCDs to Manchester or asked to spend my hard earned cash on a Pure frame from Edwardes. Lets get some info up there boys and girls Pulease. It can be done. If it’s on a screen to be printed, it’s a hop and skip electronically to the big screen.
So thats it for now. At the one end of the fabulous spectrum of racing. I send my sincere thoughts to Spencer Cremin who sustained a broken wrist and collar bone….ever the cyclists injuries in the 40 plus cruiser (24″ wheel division). I also at quite the other end of the age range. URGE. NAY BEG. B.C. to nurture the sublime talent of five year old (yes I mean sublime) Fearless Felix Twitchett from Finelines Bombshell. Please, no matter where this awesome little kid goes, do not (without a fight) allow him to escape the world of cycling. I don’t care if its BMX, Road, Track, MTB, Triathlon, you name it…one day with the right wing for him to shelter under, I as an old man (no need for that, its rude) want to have a tear in my eye as he dons a rainbow jersey beneath the slowly rising union flag.
Credit, not witless criticism…(please understand that) to Roger Wilbrahams. The Commissaires and volunteers. I had an amazing day. Elsie however still owes me a bacon roll that I paid for but didn’t get at Norton Canes in January 1984.
Till the next block of rubbish…Riders ready..Watch the gate!
Ooh, why shut up when you’re on a roll? First BMX National with both a grandstand and (albeit rubbish) floodlighting? Tamworth ….about 20 miles from Norton Canes…date….find Marvin O’Brien…his Mum Eithne will have the date…I hope.
It would be very easy today for me to get angry with the well respected journo in yesterday’s Times who ( in a précis to Olympic BMX) was less than complimentary and frankly patronising. So, as it’s very easy, I think I’ll do it. Now as close as sod it is to swearing the word pundit boils down to “he who should know best”. So in as much he rubbished a sport he knows absolutely zero about by calling it absurd and how the bicycles cannot be taken seriously… (average build on a club level machine roughly £1200 and more or less double that of a more than decent track bike) could be a good time for him to keep his trap shut.
Levels of fitness and precision cycle handling and tactics that many other top sportsmen would wince at. Why do you think Jess Varnish will lead out Vicky Pendleton this year? Simple. I love those two girls, but something written in the oracle says Vicky has to be the one to ride the final lap. Sadly, Vicky can’t live with Shanaze Read’s attack pace. If she could, we’d have a ladies team sprint record that wouldn’t be touched for a generation.. “so why doesn’t Vicky Pendleton lead out for Shanaze?”. Erm yes ok.
He further declared that although the sport was crazy and the bikes a joke, that it will all change at The Olympics where we shall see what the sport is all about. Erm..no actually Mr Barnes The Olympic games presents our sport in a weak light in my view. Hey don’t get me wrong I’d like to see the Medals come our way. Yet I agree with him. BMX ought not to be an Olympic sport. In my mind it becomes devalued by The Olympics. The Olympic competition is in no way a true representation of what Bicycle Moto Cross is about. Ok, you will see the elite of our sport in action, but consider this. The roughly two dozen riders that will sign on at Stratford are at the top of an elite group that is some several THOUSAND strong. The elite Road race entry is probably about 400 riders short of the total number of elite riders that that branch of the sport can muster worldwide. And you know from the last blog that road and velodrome are where my personal riding pleasures lie.
“so stop yer moaning John” well, no I’m in a whinge mood. 2 days processing the same number of riders that the organisers of a midweek club night at say Perry Barr or Bulwell, would be ashamed if they could not process comfortably in an hour….including recovery time, when 1200 on Sunday will go through the most exciting well organised machine very probably in any sport you can name!
So Mr Barnes. Do you want to challenge your poncy patronising words and make your way to Manchester this weekend? Roughly 1200 riders competing in all ages from 6 to 46. Many of our sport’s elite will be on show riding approximately £250,00 worth of laughable bikes. You’ll receive a copy of my little moan Mr Barnes. I’ll be middle of track on Sunday, iPad in hand couple of cameras about my neck. I’ll man up and defend my sport.. Will you have the balls to check us out and tell your readers that you owe us an apology? I somehow doubt it. You scrawl tripe for a Murdoch comic.. when did they last accurately report anything?
Thursday moan done. Can’t wait for the weekend. He won’t come. Far too many of us, plus our sport can speak for itself. So what’s this all been about then Jon? Leave me alone I’ve had gut ache all day.
Hi. I’m Jon Carver and whether you like it or not I’m cycling shorts newest correspondent.
Straight off though I’m lying. Because the branch of the sport I will be writing about is one where shorts ain’t a clever option At all ..BMX.. “Oh no!” I can hear them wail in Lycra stuffed tea rooms the length and breadth of Scunthorpe.
Well fear not Dear reader. Yes it’s just you and me. For I too am a Lycra lout. I prefer to do my cycling on my nice Campagnolo Athena equipped Ribbles, one road, one TT and my track Bike which is on its way. What? Well I raced in my youth and they’re cheaper than fake tan and a Lamborghini.
So, why BMX? First answer..why not? Second..because I can. Third, because it’s an incredibly large part of the cycling family and if you love your family, you should know about it. How did I get involved at the tender age of 60? Well…I didn’t, I was 30. Yes 30 years I’ve loved this Sport. My two boys Jamie and Jody (Barton) enjoyed BMX when a young man named Bob rode a bike fairly well in a movie called E.T. And inspired the heavy as lead Raleigh Burner and Mullet years. Jamie a highly successful racer and his brother Jody a keen and very young freestyler. My eldest was 8 when he started. His younger brother was just 5. Today it is still a sport where whole families take part. It’s an exciting social and sporting lifestyle. Ooh yes and if you think your new Campagnolo Super Record group is sexy…you’ve seen nothing!
During those heady days of two governing bodies U.K.B.M.X. and N.B.M.X.A I was a regional chairman of the UKBMX and a national council member. I chaired my local club The Tamworth Crusaders and saw that club rise from a small rag tag bunch that travelled by train to Birmingham Wheels …( sighs fondly) to a club with its own very unique track and a strong National and international pedigree. I urged the British Cycling Federation to take the two arms of a great sport under its wing. To my chagrin in the intervening years.. BC as she is now known, took over and to date….the jury is very much out.
So we come full circle. The eldest son Jamie and his sons are back in the sport again Jacob (Barton) is to represent Great Britain in the 24″ wheel class at this years World Championships in Brum and we are still hoping that younger brother Fletcher (Barton) may also yet qualify in the 8 yo class. Jamie and his friends Lee and Lisa run Finelines Racing which is an incredible organisation that can speak for itself.
So, that’s me. A bloke who is nuts about every facet of this most diverse of sports CYCLING and one who has a big vested interest in sharing a particular passion for all things BMX. (Bicycle Moto Cross by the way is what the little acronym stands for.) in its numerous guises.. Numerous? Oh my, oh my yes. Your eyes are in for a treat this year my lovelies. For whilst for the average sports fan Shanaze Reade‘s attempt to bring the Olympic ladies 20″ gold home for us, will hold their attention for the 24 seconds of the Olympic main. There is a whole year of fantastic stuff. A National series that attracts upwards of 1200 riders to each event…no 1200 isn’t a typo. A clear 400 average at regionals, there is also a YOOJ World Championships to be held at the National Indoor arena in Brum… I’m certain the city isn’t going to be ready for just how many people will be descending on them…oops! We shall cope ..Brummies always do. as well, there’s always Xgames and the most amazing skill artistry and (sorry ) Balls of the freestyle trials fraternity. Oh there’s loads happening on those tiny… gorgeous to behold, scarily priced, featherlight lightning fast Bicycles.
TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED
I’ve opted for the Red rear LED Light. The LED light is a great addition to your high-vis set up. This little light has a recessed button so you can’t accidentally switch it on by dropping it or resting something on it, it has a large button that is easy to use with gloved or cold fingers. It comes housed in a solid body with a stretchy flexible silicone mount loop. Press the on off button once and you get a solid light, press it again and it will flash intermittently (don’t use in flashing mode if on a bicycle or motorbike), press once again and it switches off… simple. There are two small recessed screws on the underside of the body to allow you to replace the battery (CR2025) which the manufacturer says should last you 100 hours.
I’ve tried the light on my bike frame and handlebars and because the light has a shaped underbelly it sits comfortably on flat or curved surfaces and with the silicone stretch loop it won’t slip or move against metal, handlebar tape, carbon fibre or painted surfaces and fabric. The loop can be pulled up and fully over itself depending on the diameter of the item you’re wrapping it around, you can put the strap over the front of the light body or further back over the casing and it doesn’t press or restrict access to the button. It’s coped fine with the scrapes and drops it’s had so far. It really is ideal to attach to your helmet, it neatly slots through the helmet vents and is a real upgrade to just using a reflector, because it’s so lightweight you don’t notice it’s there. I’ve also attached it to bags and backpacks and it works a treat. When you pair it with the Verso High-Vis Gilet by TwoZero (read our review here) it sits neatly on your back just above your shoulder blades and when you have a backpack under your gilet it sits up and faces behind you without being obscured by your backpack, it takes over from your helmet reflectors if they become hidden behind the bulk of your bag. It comes in a choice of white or red LED light and both provide a strong bright light. A great addition to you cycling safety gear, it’s small, lightweight, flexible and it fits neatly into a pocket when it’s not in use.
Colour: Red LED or White LED
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red and white LED version
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