August 21st. 2015, I just shared this picture on Facebook: the building of the Olympic track in Rio !!!!
!!! EXCLUSIVE PHOTO BY BMXMAG !!!
Rio BMX Track in Progress !
Photo by BMXMAG (after 2024 BMX Magazine, and EliteTrax Source.
I did find this picture on the internet/facebook and wanted to place it on my facebook page too. More and more I am feeling resistance against this type of BMX tracks being built. O.K. this is an Olymic track, should be very demanding for the Elite classes, but this is ust too much. We can call it an "Olympic pumptrack" competition, but it is far from a real BMX track. Our BMX sport has a lot of different elements in it, like, sprint (start), technique, pedaling, jumping, passing and not to forget the mental aspect of our sport. All this elements tell you what kind of fysical training one has to do, to become the BEST.
At these so called modern tracks, mainly designed to make BMX "attractive and spectacular" (thats the motinvation anyway by the promotors concerned) it is mainly all about technique, rolling over the obstacles and almost no peddling. BMX must be spectacular to watch, specialy when broadcasted on TV, "they said". So lets make an 8 metre starting hill, giving you a speed of around 60 + km an hour at the bottum of the hill. You need that speed to jump the first 2 big jumps on the first straight. This speed also causes bad crashes if something goes wrong along the way. The past 5 years we have seen career ending crashes and just recently even death! (Mexican rider). I already did ask several organizers and others to give me an iside in the reports of the Medical Staff present at SX, World Championships and Olympics. Not possible to get that. I don't want names of riders or any other privicy stuff, no just a list of injuries during a certain event. I remember one of the first WC/SX events at Papendal, were so many riers were transported to a certain hospital, that this hospital stopped accepting injured BMX racers at a certain moment. Too many riders were taken there, had to go to another hospital. Luckely that changed for the better, still of late, too many accidents happened again at the Junior and Elite level.
Also the click pedals do play an important part in the injury section. Don't have to explain to you, BMX specialists, what I mean by that. By just publishing this picture on my facebook, a lot of comments came in. The first reaction of those in favbour of these track is: you guys are old school, you don't know what you are talking about, this is modern BMX. Well, this has nothing to do with "old school" but everything with safety for the sportsmen and women ánd the image of our sport. People watching this type of BMX racing, BMX World Cup/Super Cross, World Championships and Olympic Championships Elite men and women, on TV, will advice their young kids NOT to start racing BMX ...... it's too dangerous. There should be and there are other ways to make our sport of BMX spectacular and exiting, specialy for TV, but for some reason the present leaders running this type of racing don't care.
Anyway, here a lot of reactions by very concerned old & new school riders and others. Maybe we can learn from these remarks, allthough I wonder if "leaders / decisionmakers" in our sport realy want to listen to all of this. One thing is for sure, BMX is NOT developing as it should at this moment, even though we are an Olympic sport. I hope the developments of late, will not kill our sport.
REACTIONS PLACED "AD RANDOM".
Monique De Bruijn (NED): I never did see something like this before. Doesn't look like BMX at all.
Monique De Bruijn: It looks to me, this is a garantee for bad crashes. No fun to race on.
Crit Plate (USA): Pedaling NOT REQUIRED!
William Prince (USA): Slow racing required
Richard Schols (NED): No chain required
Jeff DeVido (USA): Hate it no pedaling
Richard Schols: Pumptrack battle wink-emoticon
Kevin Collins (USA):
Ag Ui Ra: Cemetery in the back? Should this be a sign?
Greg Hill (USA): This is straight up stupid... In most sports you have a lot of elements, In BMX with a 26' hill and 500 jumps you have no variety of pedaling, jumping, passing, you cannot see who has been training and when you see a guy who looks like he has never been to the gym even with SW or MS at the bottom of the hill it's a joke..UCI, TOM Ritz, Johan and whoever else that has steered BMX in this direction congratulations. You are killing the sport good job!
Greg Hill: I'm kind of done being politically correct on this issue, the very worst thing that has happened to BMX racing in the past 10 -12 years is that we gave the steering wheel over to the UCI and at the time Johan Lindström who decided he wanted to make BMX exciting... Dude, if you do not think traditional BMX racing is exciting then you just do not get it at all...Hoping to meet these people some day !
Jeff DeVido: Amen
Mike Baggs (GBR): This is not bicyclemotocross as it should be it is pumpacross in Lycra n' SPDs, every SX track & Olympic track are the same, same old shit, there is no individuality anymore
Gerrit Does (NED): Greg Hill, Mike Baggs ....... I could not have said it better!
Joan Comadran (SPAIN): Espantoso!!!
Greg Hill: To expand on this just a little.. It's not that I am old school and want tracks with 5 jumps flat turns and flat start hills..Not at al..What I want it to show case the riders athleticism, skill, and race ability.. The track design is LAME.. You have races that are virtual time trials laps of follow the leader.. The weather in Belgium was bad, elite men had to use the small hill and track, the racing was 100% more exciting.. It's called racing, this is when people pass, have contact and we as spectators get to see an exciting lap.. Time trials are ridiculous and boring to watch.. I have been to several SX events and the time trials has me bobbing for apples, boring.. I wanna see some good hard fast racing some contact and passing, back and forth just solid BMX that show cases several sides to these amazing BMX athletes... UCI and whoever the people are who are over seeing this side of BMX do not GIVE A SHIT about the riders they want to put a type of extreme BMX race out there for the spectators and attract big business and money.. Well guess what.. It's not gonna happen, BMX is what it is and there probably will never be the big huge sponsorship like other professional sports and that is OK.. Keep the sport the way it's intended to be it's way more exciting and you do not see as many riders taking the helicopter ride outta the track after they crash their brains out and.... You will not need to listen to them playing the mash song as a riders is laying on the ground all broken.. UCI, they don't care about BMX...Period!
Joan Comadran: Greg Hill....estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo. ..sigo diciendo que me parece horroroso este bmx!!
Christophe Gentizon (SWISS): I 300% agree with you Greg! At Zolder we found back the X of our sport.
Gerrit Does: Indeed Christophe Gentizon, Zolder we saw some real BMX racing since many years!
Greg Hill: Here's the deal.. I do not care who I offend anymore if you do not like what I am saying unfriend me and peace out: Johan Lindström knows nothing about BMX, came in and made all kinds of decisions and created this stupid SX format it sucks! It's been about 10 years 2 Olympics later and BMX is smaller in the number of participants than it was 10 years ago. If you listen to the sanctions they will tell you the opposite.. Sorry, I do not drink the Kool-Aid never have really like the way it tastes anyway. Our riders have ZERO voice, they are not heard.. There is not one positive aspect of the SX format and I challenge anyone to show me how it has grown our sport... BMX can be exciting and at the same time it can be done in a way where we see exciting lead changing physical racing taking place... Watch an elite woman's race, it's way more exciting, there is way more going on when they race as a result of the smaller hill and track you see more action.. We need a voice, it's time to be heard.. Riders, industry, people.... Seems it's everyone has become sheple just following the leaders right over the cliff.. Over it....
Gerard Heuver (NED): I am glad I raced in the eighties. Real BMX and real pro's like you Greg.
Greg Hill: Same here Gerard, would never ever trade time periods... It's sad to say the least..
Gerard Heuver: One positive thing Greg is that, thanks to internet I can talk to my all time favorite US pro rider.
Christophe Gentizon: I didn't like the way it happened at Zolder... races in no order, Elite girls before Junior Men... and hated to see this guy on a jump with his wind speed control machine In Sweden (that was ridiculous)... For me, tracks must be rideable with wind or rain... not there. But the actual pros are bmxers too. I'm sure we would like being able to jump these big doubles...
Greg Hill: Thank you Gerard !
Christophe Gentizon: But thank you bad weather for offering us BMX and not SX World champions at Zolder.
Greg Hill: Christophe, agreed...Jumping big jumps is cool, if there are to many on a track and the start hill is to high well, we see what we are seeing at all SX races... Personally, and I am not alone in this opinion, it is a bit boring.. If I wanna see big jumps I go to the MX free style events.. If I wanna see exciting BMX racing..I do not watch UCI SX..
Christophe Gentizon: I still agree!
Gerrit Does: I watched the SX in Ängelholm in Sweden last weekend on Lifesteam ..... Terrible, boooooring, races helt up because there was too much wind (8 mtr. Hill). No atmosferen, maybe 1000 spectators, totaly NOT Interesting to watch on TV. No promotion for BMX. Nothing negative about the riders, but the rest ...
Christophe Gentizon: Unfortunately
Christophe Gentizon: As Jean-Renaud Ducos de Lahitte said on the Old School BMX France group after I posted your two first comments Greg... Riders are playing with their lives and I hope we won't have more lethal crashes. One this year is much more than enough.
Greg Hill: Unless EVERYONE speaks up, these people who put these events on will continue to do so!
Gerrit Does: I agree Greg, but SPECIALY the riers themselves should speak up !
Christophe Gentizon: I'm just a rider since 32 years but without any significant results and weight against it. Gerrit and you have it. And lots of people are gonna read it.
Greg Hill: The majority of the BMX International community need to be talking about this, or nothing will change..
Jeff DeVido: Progression has been what is killing BMX. Our sport is at a all time low and if they don't bring back some of the fundamentals that worked for BMX when it was big the sport will eventually die
Greg Hill: The progression it has taken on has been what UCI and a few who work for them feel was needed. Look at the data, the sport is not growing at all. People who do find these SX events on TV or the Internet will decide real fast that they do not want their kids on these kinds of tracks. we will not even have time to tell them their kid will not be riding them they will just see it and think NOPE....
Jeff DeVido: Very true. I talked to so many bike shops that used to support BMX and were affiliated with their local track they tell me now they barely have enough riders to even run a race.
Greg Hill: Agreed....From doing my clinics the last 25 years I have some real good friends across the country who either have been or are TO's and the feed back I get is decline. Until the heads wanna be honest and admit there are issues status quote is the norm. Yup. Orange Y pulling 70 moto's on. Friday night race mid 80's now lucky to get 30 on a Friday night do the mat
Jeff DeVido: Many tracks are getting 6 motos. But according to the big heads nothing's wrong
Greg Hill: And that is the problem right!!!!
Greg Hill: I have spoken with many of the people that work for USA BMX about the decline and NONE OF THEM ever wanna listen, always an argument and Greg's just a big mouth opinionated guy. Yup that's me. Whatever! I got an A+ in math it's easy to read data! Ad more Nationals and more Gold Cups and let's suck the local program dry. Having said all this, the UCI SX series is a joke it does not help grow the sport there is so much WRONG yet no one does a damn thing about it.
Jeff DeVido: Think about how much fun BMX was when you were 10 or 12 years old. You went to the track you didn't need special shoes or clips there were some jumps on the track but you race on dirt not spoil tack or concrete you slid foot out into a turn and made contact with other riders and you actually pedaled around a track. At the end of the day your bike was dirty and dusty it felt like motocross. None of that applies today how much fun do you think today's 10 year old kid is having Racing BMX
Greg Hill: Well, I did have fun pretty much most of the time. I raced 4 Nationals this year and loved it had lot's of fun. I know quite a few kids who are loving the sport so, not to disagree with you I have no problem evolving the sport but it needs to be done intelligently and I happen to think it's not being done that way at all!
Jeff DeVido: Greg I agree with you many kids love the sport but it would be interesting to take a brand new rider and let him ride on an old school track with flats on dirt as compared to today's track and see which one he likes more. Don't get me wrong you know very well I love BMX and I still love racing today I'm just saying it doesn't have the same feel
Hans van der Doe (NED): Dhr Gerrit Does zoals je weet kom ik niet uit de BMX wereld, maar deze track heeft weinig weg van een BMX racing track......toch??? GD, as you know, I am not from BMX originaly, but even I can see and feel this track has nothing to do with real BMX.
Gerrit Does: Well Hans, if you read the comments of here in this article from people that KNOW what BMX is all about, old & news school, you know enough. Something must happen to make things right soon.
Christophe Gentizon: Shit happened yesterday... read Connor Fields post (with the picture):
Connor Fields (USA):
I could put a basic post out about how It felt great to be on the podium this weekend, I could say my @chasebicycle felt great, I could tell you how excited I was about @usabmx bumping up the payout for pros, or the classic "learned a lot and can't wait for next race". While all of these are true and would fulfill my sponsor social media obligations they wouldn't be exactly what I am feeling right now. So with that said I am going to hit you guys with some truth. This weekend reminded me just how gnarly Bmx racing is. Moments after this this photo was taken, my friend @justinposey crashed right in front of me hard, breaking his back, separating his shoulder, knocking out teeth, and was out cold.
We were going 35 miles per hour and he came to a complete stop, imagine a car crash with no seatbelt. Within the next couple of hours I saw at least 20 crashes, with @teaganokeeffe, @kelseynation , @lainvanogle , Kenny G, amongst others going down hard and I hit the deck in today's final. This weekend reminded me that Bmx racers are some of the toughest, strongest athletes out there and just looking at the top pros, most have broken bones, been knocked out so many times they can't even remember, and some have even lost organs. Yet all of them stand up again and continue to chase the passion they love and line up on the gate again. Visiting Teagan and Justin in the hospital last night was tough, but so were they. All they wanted to know was how long until the could race again. Proving yet again the strength of a BMXer. I want to take this moment to say that I have the upmost respect for each and every one of my competitors and everyone that races down the 8 meter ramp time and time again.
I also hope that all the riders who went down this weekend heal quickly and can make full recoveries. With that said, see you next month in Argentina.
End of post by Connor Fields.
Claude Vuillemot (FRANCE): Gerrit, Greg Hill, Christophe I agree with you. I can help you for our sport not deviate. I already wrote to UCI after London because of all medias critical. We know what BMX is and what it should be. We can make it change for more security. The article inside was published during London in "L'équipe" : french newspaper n°1 in sports. I don't want to watch it anymore during Rio.
Christophe Gentizon: We had no draws but articles that were criticizing BMX and asking what was our sport doing at the Olympics... Not the kind of things you like to read! That's why you received a small mail today.
Claude Vuillemot: When they will decide to put out bmx off the olympics because of all that crashes, it will be too late ! Rio will probalby be the last chance.
Christophe Gentizon: And when we see how we react at the track pictures... I am affraid.
Thierry Fouilleul (FRANCE): BMX lovers love bmx as it was! Mediatisation of bmx like crashes as a nascar race that everybody s waiting for the Big crash...... I do not need a big hill, to loving bmx. Worst now is, we cannot immagine how hard it is to start to full pull at the start.... Sad... We need to change bmx
Thierry Fouilleul: Isn t it nice to see how hard it is to accelerate??? how bmx is just about jumping/pumping now ??? Look the 100m sprint running, it ls the same as it was.... and still successfull. I m an old school boy maybe some will say..... but I am still loving my sport.
Christophe Gentizon: You know the roots, Greg wrote it down, you can find that a bit higher up in these comments.
Gerrit Does: What is happening in BMX developing as it is, has nothing to do with old and or new school. It's all about safety ......... Our sport progressed. Riders at the top are beter and professional trained, men and women. However, some promotors / organizers / trackbuilders aren't too serious about building challenging tracks and have safety as priority. What is happening now is prove of that. Do we have to have another death? Or very bad, Career ending injuries? We have to think of something new to make BMX a spectator sport for spectators at the event itself and on TV.
Peer Bijnen (NED): 4 straights and 3 corners and a lot of jumps or ritme sections, thats what most BMX tracks look now. And a pro section for the older boys and girls. 35 to 40 seconds of racing. What happened to creativety, did we loose that on the way ?? And pedaling is done in the corners not on the straights. Lets make the last straight to the finish flat so the riders with a good phisical condition can have a real sprint to the finish. Who dares to build such a track so we can enjoy BMX. Here we see a picture of the Waalre track, sadly gone now were the riders had to PEDAL a lot and had to get over and then under the bridge.
Gerrit Does: O.K. times have changed, so did BMX. We don't need to go back to the old days track, but indeed creativity is not a strong point in modern BMX. The layout of track at top level are almost the same. BMX came from moto-cross, in MX no track is the same, we should go the in that direction. Why not building top BMX tracks on slightly downhill bases ?????
Addition August 25th:
Lorenzo Dee (NED): Work together ... Please... When we get out of the Olympics it's back to Zero for the sport ..
Christophe Gentizon: Rio will certainly be the lasts Olympic for racing... BMX Freestyle (flat) will come there as a demo and then will take it's place. Cheaper, with judges, and no weather risks. When we see what was written in the media during and after the London Olympics in 2012, I just cannot tell them they are wrong...
Fair Play (BEL): Worst is that local clubs make their tracks as same.... But they forget that no one from their club can ride the track as it is ment to be.
William Prince (USA): Gerrit I've said it from DAY 1 about that stupid 8 mtr. hill. It is no good for bmx and either is the stupid tracks where u have no pedaling!! Roller after roller. Many of people told me to shut up about it and now look what's happening. People must think I'm stupid about bmx and that I'm old school and want bmx the way it was! NO! I want it safe and better then it was and to me it isn't!
Tony Waye (GBR): Gerrit, BMX was sold out for the Olympics. BMX was and should be run on dirt, foot out when needed, sliding into a corner,. I admire the SX riders, but thats not BMX, bring back the dirt, the mud and the fun!
Daan Levy (NED): Agree! I'am oldschool peddeling was my secret wapon .....
Nikki Waye (GBR): I thank God every day that my career finished before sx came along, I have nothing but admiration for the sportsmen and women who have been forced to put their bodies on the line for the sake of making Bmx more exciting for the Olympics. Bmx has become a game of follow the leader and the gnarly corner moves are few and far between, it's not Bmx anymore and I have lost count of the number of people I have spoken to have said that's to dangerous for my kid! Sx is not representative of Bmx at a grass roots/everyday level, whilst it can be thrilling and frightening to watch it is damaging the image of the sport of Bmx
Lorenzo Dee: Now stop bitching And work together for god sake.. like Formule 1 or paris Dakar, change it and move ON to a better format.. Like the iPhone our iPad this is the New and not always the best but hey it's there so work With it And get this show ON the road!!!
Christophe Gentizon: Lots of riders like a lot to practice and a bit less to race the SX format. As an OS rider and jump lover, I can say that I would like being younger and able to send this huge jumps! But I would hate to race them. You must be 98% perfect to be ok. 97.9 and your race is over. But that's racing.
Heidi M Mirisola (USA): I agree with Tony Waye.
Byron Howard Friday: There is no confusion in Outdoor Motocross and Stadium Supercross - there is a clear difference in these two disciplines. Supercross is not motocross. The photo of that track being built is NOT Bicycle Supercross. Seems like the sport of Bicycle Motocross has been developing, reshaping itself and transforming slowly but surely into different shapes and sizes - all the while the original designated name Bmx remains the same.
Let's be clear the tracks at the Olympics are Bicycle Supercross.... this is clearly not Bicycle Motocross.
Important to remember - BMX is a acronym for Bicycle Motocross - perhaps it's time to do away with using the acronym bmx and instead go with Bicycle Supercross, Bicycle Pump Cross and the original Bicycle Motocross.
By the way - the above is just a observation. Whatever the leaders in the sport use as designation to describe the sport is what it is.... it's not like imput from old washed up racers is going to matter to them - me being said old washed up racer.... haha!
Byron Howard Friday: Lorenzo Dee, respectfully - Gerrit Does is the un-official and ambassador of the sport of Bmx. He has spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars of his own money advocating and working for the betterment of the sport of bmx. He has done a remarkable amount of advocacy work without getting paid.
Lorenzo Dee: Fair enough Byron, Gerrit safed my life by bringing over BMX. But,there is always a problem never any positive news sinds BMX became Olympic. And I am sick off it .. As many of us we spend our own money and time to get kids into riding bmx.
Byron Howard Friday: Lorenzo Dee, I feel you man.... totally! Thank you for being a gentleman, very much appreciate.
Craig Fisher: I disagree with some and agree with other comments above.. Peer's "Last Straight" comment made me realise many may not be aware that pumping through a straight requires LOADS more fitness than pedaling, there is still loads of pedaling on a track but the skills now make it a further challenge of enjoyment.. No, I don't agree with the big hills and I'd love to see clip pedals banned for riders under 12. But we cannot and should not stop progression, comments above are basically saying motocross needs to go back 500cc 2 strokes racing with open face helmets and Jofas correct... BMX tracks of today are brilliant, fast, great fun and dangerous, so was Corona yes? This is my issue with tracks today and days gone and I'm sure most will agree, it is not the size of the jumps or the gaps between them, it is the shape, I see parents complaining about a big jump on a track being too big for lil Johnny etc., etc., yet they are not realizing most crashes on the track are on the smaller easier set of doubles that are just 2 feet tall...
Joan Albert Redondo (SPAIN): Totally agree with all of you, Gerrit, Greg, Byron, Claude, etc. But I would like to ad some points of view:
- Dangerous doesn't mind spectacular. An spectacular sport doesn't has to be dangerous. Spectacular can be a good tennis point, an incredible eagle shot on a golf hole, a basket, a goal, a run or a chess move !
- Progress at any sport is on the materials, training, technical skills... All that is happened in BMX but too big changes on tracks and rules (specially one) have changed completely this sport. Of course tracks is one of the most important ingredient (not in soccer, basketball, football or tennis) but COMPETITION and RIDERS are our formula of success. They are the real stars and not the track.
- SX is too similar to BMX (specially when BMX name it's used), that kids and parents are confused. And, for me, BMX as olympic sport is not good at all. Even less when is SX. Kids, young riders and parents are dreaming with Olympics, and they accept everything and all kind of risk if that is the path to the games.
- I don't know how we can change this wrong direction. Everyone has probably a different idea on how BMX should be, so I'm not sure if we can agree a different BMX that please to everybody. But... my formula will be something like : + DIRT + KNOBBY TIRES + SHORTER DOUBLES AND TRIPLE JUMPS + MORE DISTANCE BETWEEN JUMPS + LOWER STARTING HILL + FLATTER BERMS + LOWER SPEED, NO TIME TRIALS AND... NO CLIPLESS PEDALS !!!! Flat pedals are the biggest INNOVATION we need for our sport. If flats are the only kind of pedals, everything will change.
Gerrit Does: Well said Joan Albert Redondo. 2 remarks: 1. Hopefully the decision makers do read all of the above too and learn from it. One very important thing is lacking: the opinion of the present Junior and Elite riders and the opinion of the Challenge class riders. 2. Long time already I have been promoting 2 different types of tracks, maybe even 3 types! Tracks designed for Junior and Elite riders, tracks for riders 12 and over plus Youth Olympic level an last but not least tracks for 11 years and under. I hope I don't have to explain that the tracks obstacles have to fit that certain group of riders. Well, maybe this is a challenge for track designers / builders? Thomas ... Can you draw some examples to show ?
Gerrit Does: Just another remark: what is bad about us all "brainstorming" ? We all are concerned and love our sport ...........
Craig Fisher: Brainstorming is good Gerrit, it gets results. Keep these coming. I live the opinions from many.
Joan Albert Redondo: For sure brainstorming is good and needed ! But it will be almost impossible to be all agree on a final output as all we have different ideas on how it must be "real" BMX. But it's always positive to think and inspire people who decides. About three different type of tracks, Gerrit... I'm not sure we need that. I can imagine an improved "old school'" track with actual junior and elite riders riding on it and I see a GREAT SHOW, and much more safer.
Addition updated on August 27th.:
Frank Smets (BEL): I'm SO agree with the fact that SX BMX is the biggest joke in BMX history, I am also glad that I am not the only one who is thinking like this. I also think that we have to make a platform from different people from different country's and talk in the name off all the people who are real BMX lovers and try to convince the UCI that we no longer agree with the way they are running (killing) our sport, so thats why we sure need people to stand up like Greg Hill , Gerrit Does etc., etc.
Greg Hill (USA): I am standing brother!!!!
Gerrit Does: I did not start this "discussion" for nothing Frank ! Only problem is, we are No politicians and that's what you have to be if you are in any world wide sportsorganization, in order to be able to bring on changes ....... You know what I mean?
Jeff DeVido: So, when so many people complaining, will the people that are running BMX now take notice and make some changes !!??
Greg Hill: I'm thinking Justin Posey who just separated his shoulder, broke his thimb, broke his back and knocked 2 of his teeth out may be not happy with these UCI SX tracks along with the many other elite rides who have broke themselves off. It is the SX tracks that are part of the Olympucs that give the perception to anyone outside this little bubble were all in that see it and think no way my kids not riding on that. Bigger picture....
Joan Albert Redondo: I don't think UCI people will not change anything, because of accidents and injuries... This is part of the show and the show must go on (they think). Riders could change it if they stop racing and explaining why... but I think most of the riders are kind of affraid of that big ramps, jumps and enormous rythm sections. And don't tell them about original sport, dirt and flat pedals. Probably just sponsors and brands/manudacturers (money) can make some real pressure, in order to change everything. But allthough it will be very difficult to realize, I agree that a platform should be created in order to tell UCI our concerns about the way they run our sport. Who will lead it ? How and when we start ?
Frank Smets (BEL): this is a letter I sent to the UCI more than one year ago (2014), got a reaction back then from Ellen Bollansee but since she no more works for the UCI, the respons so far on this ZERO: check this out!
Frank Smets My opinion about the 5 en 8 meter starting hills, I have been talking to many riders, coaches, team managers, Chefs d'Equipe, the public, parents, etc. and ask them one question which so far no one has been able to give a true and sensible answer and that question is simple, "WHAT IS THE VALUE FOR THE SPORT TO USE AN EIGHT AND FIVE METER HILL ". And with this demand and a lack of responses, immediately also all the positive points in these hills are listed. In contrast, I along with many people in BMX, I can mention a lot of disadvantages. Here just some samples:
- The main disadvantage is the many crashes with severe to very severe injuries, most of the time these injuries mean "the end of the racing season", or sometimes the end of a riders career. There is still a big difference to have a ceash at 35/60 km/p.h., or one when going 60 km/p.h. When you see how many crashes there have been at Zolder during the week (in 2014!), at a certain moment there were four ambulances constantly coming and going and if you watch this happening as a parent of a young rider, this is/could be a reason for not starting in this sport.
- The majority of the participants are terrified about the 8 mtr. hill, and then you can say, then you should not participate, but this can not be the intention that riders will drop out of the sport because they are affraid of breaking their neck. Look at the number of real Rlite riders in every country, there are more and more riders who are going to race Challenge Class men 17 and over.
- For women, it is almost impossible to get used starting from the 8 mtr hill, I have a lot of respect for women's racing and find that they still do not get enough attention, but let the Ladies Junior and Elite start from the 5 meter starting hill. There are only a handful Junior/Elite women riders that can / dare, to start form the 8 mtr Hill and most of them with tears in their eyes. At importatn events ony around 40 till 50 Women riders will be present to race. This is far too low an amount to call Women classes of World Standard.
- These women must use the 8 meter starting hill but they are not alowed to race the Pro section. There speed at around 58 km p.h. is just too fast when after the 1st. corner they have to race the Challenge jumps with the result of crashes on the challenge strait because of this too high speed.
- If you ask people what they think of the 8 meter hill and the extreme Pro sections, they initially say that it is spectacular, if you go ask them what exactly is spectacular, usually the answer is, crashes and riders who don't jump the Pro section obstacles or crash together on the first jump at 58 km/p.h. or riders jumping and landing on top of a rider, others brake. When this is what we call spectaclular action in our BMX sport, riders who making serious accidents with serious consequences, that is not the way it should be. The spectacle should be in realy RACING eachother from start to finish.
- There is no exitement is this type of racing, you can easily place the finish line after the first turn and tell the riders: after the first turn the fun for you all begins. Now you can "dirt jump", because the winner of the race has been decided after the first 100 meters. Almost standard now a days is a so-called TRAIN effect. From the end of the first turn to the finish line everyone passes the finishline with about 10 m between the riders. Because of the high speeds, there is no rider takin any risk at all, trying to overtake or making a technical move to improve his position. Boring !!!! There is nothing exciting about riders have to ride as mountain bikers riding through the hills if they can not or dare to jump, perhaps still consider gears on the bike.
- Proof that you do not need all this to get the most beautiful races you see in America, the birthplace of the sport, you will see start hills of 1.5m and you get the most exiting races to see. Although things are changing in the USA too, with the result that growth of our sport is not increasing anymore as it was.
- You can also make the sport in the traditional way much more popular than it already is, if you have the right people in the right place.
Continue: Frank Smets: The future of the riders
- The riders now have a technical background because they are trained from the age of six to be technical riders what was needed in this sport. We have invested 35 years all together in certain riding techniques that we no longer need on supercross tracks anymore. One must have just a big heart, guts and power.
- If we take for example the BMX club in Zolder, where they have a lot of riders in the ages of 5 through 14 years, these riders can do nothing else than just riding over large jumps, they don't learn the techniques riding on their rear wheel through 2 jumps, picking front wheel up getting fast over the jumps, let alone how to learn to jump. When they finally become 14 years, they have to get off that 8 mtr. and without knowing how to realy jump, the have to clear these double jumps othat are 14 meters apart. I wonder how this is turning out in the upcoming years.
- If the crashes are going to continue as we saw in Zolder, specialy in the Challenge classes, I wonder who of the parents are gonna stay in the sports when their son or daughter is going to be hurt, even Albert Bensink (starting gate manufacturer) told me at the Zolder event (2014), that he is afraid to get a call from Niels, as he one of the selected riders training at the Papendal track, afraid to hear he has to come to the hospital right away.
Future of the clubs,
- If they keep making bigger and larger jumps, it also requires a longer runway and a longer runway means more space is needed, it is already difficult to find a piece of land in the city’s, villages, let alone a piece of land as bigg as a football field.
- The existing clubs do not always have the space to expand, they will go away in time or even just organizing small events.
- Financially it is only possible in the future to build a bigger track when there is some government money, but this is only possible for just a handfull of clubs.
- The clubs who want to continue organizing BMX, together with their clubmembers, have to make a choice now, whether they build a 5 meter start hill with the result that the entire recreational operation of the club falls away, as yet for many clubs some extra income that they desperately need for the club and track, will stop. Schools and others in Dessel will come to our track with their kids/students (there are about 25 days a year that this is organized). These are kids who have never been or only a few times, been on a BMX bike. From these kids in Dessel many are affraid to come down that 2,5 mtere starting hill. If they have to go down a 5 meter hill we will have a big problem and loose money over that. Not many will come and rider recreational on a BMX bike anymore. Whether you have to choose to your recreational activity and your own youth or organizing maybe every 5 years one European league race, I think most of the clubs will decide to choose for their own local youth.
- In several countries their will be only one or two clubs that can handle the organization of an international event, because they might be lucky enough to have adequate accommodation for a European competition.
Frank Smets: Conclusion,
- Maybe it is that we must start separate supercross competitions, so lets have EC / WC supercross ánd EC / WC traditional BMX events in Europe and let the riders then choose where they want to go, System AMA Supercross MX vs. outdoor MX.
- In this way, the riders are not required to participate in supercross races to qualify for European and World Championships, part remains only the Olympics on where one brings them up amongst.
- Keep traditional BMX going, as it has been for 35 years, around 400 meters tracks, 5 meters wide, starting hill at least 1.5 and up to 5 meter high, instead of mandatory minimum of 5 meters. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the BMX sport as it is in Europe for 35 years.
- The supercross will never really go as fast, if you see that the big countries such as America, France etc. only have a two 8m hills and smaller countries such as Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, etc., after 6 years still only have one.
- In the first place we need to put the riders first and especially to their safety. In the direction we are going now, it could go terribly wrong and even riders might get killed. If that happens, BMX world wide will suffer from that and all tracks have to be adjusted, especially if the insurance is going to pull back and people start to sue parties (club, landowner, manufacturer, national organization etc.)
Frank Smets: Major injuries due to high speeds,
In recent weeks and months, we are bombarded by heavy injuries (2014) in BMX, if you look at two broken backs and someone with a broken neck, only is this something that definitely needs to be reviewed in detail, this is not a coincidence if you know that these injuries occurred on tracks with a starting hill of 5 meter. The tracks in Klazinaveen, Anathal were relatively easy tracks, but because of the high speeds that were achieved, they were still dangerous. It is something normal, when you arrive at the first corner at 30 km / h or at 50 km / h, this makes a big difference in the reaction times of the riders, on the upcoming jumps.
Usually we make the jumps and curves higher and higher so that the rate is increasing and the road when it goes wrong, go very wrong, compare a car that will have an impact at 30 km / h or at 50 km / h, the car will therefore much more broken. Therefore, once again the importance of the lower starting hills where the riders with less speed into the first corner dives and therefore go over the rest of the track not so fast. See the difference in major injuries among the competition in America and Europe, you see more European riders injuries rise in Europe than Americans in American Leagues and Americans get hurt if it happens on a supercross track.
I think it's a matter of time that the insurance companies are going to interfere, if more major injuries occur. It is just waiting for that one rider that get injuried very bad and will be invalide for the rest of his life, paralysid or even worse. In France and the rest of Europe, the click pedals have been banned when Fred King got paralyzed. Riders under a certain age, are not allowed to use click pedals. It could have been worse, riders (parents) federations, organizers, clubs are going to sue over the dish and heavy damages questions in very serious injuries due to dangerous tracks, etc., therefore it has been used in America for the event, that U.S. tracks are relatively safe and secure now.
Here in Europe, it's just wait until the first parent is also going to sue somebody. I do not want to be the organizer to be sued, because that will finish the BMX club. Most of the BMX clubs are not 100% insured against this.
We have a bad experience in Dessel also now (2014): a broken spine by Toon Jacobs and the reactions of both riders and parents at the track were not pleasant, even kids aged 9 were very silent and impressed. An additional aspect is that everyone is talking about and also newcomers who want to start with BMX next season here this news, I can tell you that parents think three times more for their kids to do this sport, we have over 30 years can say that the sport is not more dangerous than other sports, but we can not say this anymore.
off-road club BMX 2000 Off-road club BMX 2000 Dessel
Frank Smets PS; If they want to change anything, I would change the start method, with no lights and beeps, only a mailbox that says "riders ready, watch the gate" and then within five seconds, the start is around. In this way, the riders have to react to the gate itself as the MX.
- Cost effective for clubs
- Less problems with broken lights.
- You need no gate practice on the race day because riders have to react on the gate, so practice can be shorter.
- No more whining from riders because the gate would be too slow or too fast, then it does not matter if it's a Bensink or PRO GATE.
- If you have to react to the gate, it is not posible anymore to hit the gate.
- Safer, when the lights are working but the gate not drops, it is always troublle, this is not posible anymore.
- No more annoyance of environmental noise such as sunlight in the lights, etc.
Dr. Jason Richardson (USA): Personaly I (GD) received very interesting statements made by dr. Jason Richardson, as you all know a former BMX Pro. I did ask Jason to allow me to publish his analyses / statements and he agreed. Very interesting and so true. Thanks you so much Jason! Here we go.
Jason Richardson, PsyD, MBA
Thought this may be of interest to you. my comments from a post Josh Meyers made over the weekend...., Since I was mentioned in this post, I felt compelled to weigh in: First, all positive vibes, prayers, and mojo are and should be sent to Justin and his family! As it pertains to this topic, there are several concerns I have. I/we were part of the, experimental generation. Meaning, we raced the DH Vans Triple crowns, we raced the X-Games, and we raced the then emerging BMXSX (Dew tour) events thru the first Olympic cycle. Having been through ALL of it, I wonder what was wrong with it in the first place? Traditional BMX that is. And by traditional, for the sake of this converstaion, let's say NON-Big hill tracks. Otherwise, we'll have to continue the conversation on vintage ......
There were the crappy indoor tracks built for nationals that no one liked. There were the good outdoor events that most liked, and there were the classic venues that everyone seemed to like (Rockford,
Southpark, Louisville, Black Mountain, Reno some years). And then there was the worlds/international events that were, I'll just say experienced...as you never really knew what you were going to get - slow
gate, bad weather, no lights, wierd officials, etc.
But... in my estimation, the racing has gotten away from the racing. In all the scenarios described above - it was all about the racing! I appreciate pushing the limit and progression. However, I cannot deny that since the big hill, careers have gotten shorter, and the age of a top AA PRO's (Elite) is skewing younger. Causation? I am not certain. Correlation. Safe bet. There are also other reasons such as economy,
sponsorship, and industry that affect career longevity as well. So, I am not blind to all the factors in play.
With regard to risk/reward - not all the rewards are monetary. I do think it is more a matter of opportunity cost - "What am I giving up, or putting on hold to do this?" Every person is forced to aks that question regardless of hill size. We've seen progression in basketball and yet the court has been the same. We've seen progression in swimming, tennis, football, soccer, and yet the feilds of play have been the same. So, BMX is a bit different because the tracks can be different, which is a good thing.
In the other sports I mentioned, the "powers that be" recognize the athletes and the game itself IS THE SHOW. You don't need to make the soccer player jump through a ring of fire before he can kick a goal. Lebron James plays on the same court as he did in High school (three point line excluded). The thing that changed was the amount of seats in the arena! The big-hill has rendered BMX racing as even more non-relatable to people that could,would, or should participate. Every track being different is a selling point for racing.
Explaining/justifying the reason for the big hill and obvious risk of injury is not! It's weird, we have it backwards. Should't the guys/girls with the most skill and power jump the biggest jumps based on speed they
generate? In other words, there is a reason Pro Baseball players still play with wooden bats! There is a reason the three point line is moved further when you go pro. When I see a 13 year-old go off the big hill
and hit a forty-footer, I think, "wow he's brave". When my neighbors saw adults do it of a big hill (at the olympics) they thought, "wow, those guys/girls are crazy". But SOME of them did ask me, "Why do they have that big hill?"
As an Olympic endeavor - an athletic event - I think the big hill does more of a disservice to the TRUE ATHLETICISM of the current group of top riders. This year at the worlds, they raced on the "small" hill and while I think it was wrong to make the change (because the riders prepared on a big hill and most likely had no say in what THEY wanted to do), the racing was really good! True display of power. True display of skill. True display of tactics. There is nothing wrong with pedaling. I mean, no one really sees how fast Alise is? Or Sam? Or Justin? Or....? Because they are flung down a big hill. It DOESN'T play to true athleticism. This group of pros are better, stronger, faster, than any other generation. I want the world to see this. Maybe it's time to get together as a BMX community - riders, sponsors, promotors - and
decide what direction this thing needs to go. Last, there are many comparisons of our sport to MX in this.
Thank you so much for this very good comment. I 100% do agree with ALL you are saying, again, very well said. My question to you is, is it o.k. for me to use your statements on my personal website universityofbmx.com ? There are a lot of reactions published already concerning my article "IS BMX DANGEROUS? One can find a lot of very good arguments, suggestion, opinions and statements. Your statements, in my opinion, do make to "picture" complete. Hope you will allow me to publish.
Historicaly you explained the development of BMX. This is how I remember BMX too, visiting the USA for BMX since the mid 70's. The UCI even wants to go as far as having exactly the same tracks at the highest level of racing, all over the world. Indeed we have to get "BMX" back into the sport as it was ment to be. Ofcourse with all the good things we have now, but also BMX track in different forms and shapes. O boy, did the athletes develop themselves, specialy the Women's class, after BMX became an Olympic sports in 2008.
Still, I also wonder about the professionalism and I am talking money now, in the pro classes Elite Men and Women. If I look at the price money that is payed to the Elite class riders (our present Pro's), I think it's a big laugh. Only a handfull of riders worldwide are able to safe some money "for later", nobody in BMX becomes a millionair racing. I think the Olympic Champions in BMX are the only onces having a good financial bases for the future. Many USA Old School Pro's (70's /'80's early '90's), of which outside USA people think they made lots of money, have to work hard for their delay income right after they stopped racing. Some did well, like those who started a in the meantime, good running business, but that's only a few persons. Most of the former top guys do have just regular jobs (with all respect).
My brother in law Pierre Karsmakers, just to mention one, earned in the '70 in just one weekend, around 14.000 US dollars winning a race. Look at what those guys earn now in moto-cross. BMX stood still in that way. What I want to say is, top BMX Elite riders should be able to make good money, however, that is not the case in general. Pitty.
Anyway, Jason, I hope you allow me to use your very good comments in my article on the website. Hope to hear form you soon. All the best for now and till we meet again, somewhere, sometime.
dr. Jason Richardson wrote:
Yes, Gerrit. Of course you can use my statements. And to add to what you are saying about the money. We (the guys from the 90’s/early 2000’s) did okay enough to invest in another business or at least set ourselves up as adults for the transition out of the sport. Then it was 15 to 20 guys, now I can only think of maybe 10 guys - if that. It is a shame.
If more interesting commets come up, we will copy them and place them here too. Till so far today, August 29th. 2015.