I’m a very happy man today – when I got the bike out of the back of the car this morning in preparation for the cycle leg of my commute, I spotted my trusty footpump nestled cosily amongst the pasty wrappers and empty milk cartons. Whilst I wasn’t exactly early, I wasn’t late, either, so I thought… You know… What the heck – let’s check the pressure in the soft rear tyre. Crazy, I know.
It’s been awhile since I cycled regularly, and I never cycled that regularly even back then – if I had to guess how many miles I’d ridden in, say, the last five or seven years, I think it would barely average a couple or three hundred miles a year on my old slick-shod Orange mountain bike, if that. In the last couple of years, commuting from Birmingham to Banbury, the average had fallen further still – to all intents and purposes, I was an ex-wannbe-keen cyclist. That, let me tell you, doesn’t count for a lot.
We went crazy last year – my lovely Lucy and I took the plunge and opted for the cycle to work scheme, ordering bikes and even booking our summer holiday in the bike-friendly Ile de Re. Her Giant turned up, as it were, whilst I had to press-gang the sixteen-year-old mountain bike back into two more weeks of servitude. Come October, and a mere four months after I committed to the scheme, our company took the plunge and released the funds, and my new Kona hybrid was released from captivity.
It was a revelation. No serious off-road tool, it was happy enough dabbling with minor dirt track adventures, canal tow paths and little more serious than that, but the road ability was something else. I’d always fancied my rigid Orange, with slicks at bursting point, as a compromised but reasonable road tool – the 29” hoops on the Kona changed all that. It flew – the road miles that Orange nibbled at with unskilled enthusiasm, Kona bit great chunks out like a hungry orca. Makes me wonder what a real road bike would be like…
So in the spirit of fair play – after all, the Cycle To Work scheme is intended to be used for purchasing bicycles to cycle to work – come November I took the plunge and decided to take a crack at using the to ride to work, at least part of the 40 miles. It was, however, not a success -putting a hand in my pocket for a big wedge of cash for a train ticket from my nearest railway station to Banbury was a painful way to start, and the amount of time it added onto the working day was just intolerable. Sorry – for me, at this time and with this commute, the train isn’t going to take the strain, it’s just going to add to the stress. For me, it seemed, the cycle commute was over.
But I had a brain wave about six weeks ago, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before – on investigation, the recent purchase of a new and slightly larger car means that I can just about bend the Kona’s gangly tubes into the back with the front wheel out without too much hassle, and a new concept was born; drive part of the way, cycle part of the way, it couldn’t be much simpler.
So this brings us back to where we started – day one, having barely spun a wheel since the end of the train experiment in November was agony, the miles that slipped effortlessly under the Kendas in November were a chore, it felt like I had to fight for every inch. The site of my trusty footpump peeping out at me from the boot litter on day two sparked a revival that blew a breath of fresh air into my whole cycling world – having your boots blown up to bursting point might make the ride a little lively, let’s say, but the pain in the backside that you get from rock-hard tyres is considerably less of a pain in the backside than the extra effort required to rotate flabby rubber.
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.