In the '70s, riding dirt bikes was an informal sport, jumping Huffy bikes off mounds in backyards and tearing Schwinn Sting-Rays through hiking paths (certainly a precursor to mountain biking for thousands of kids). But even though the sport had formally arrived in America in 1969, when a group of teenagers in West LA started racing their pedal bikes on a track normally reserved for motorcross bikes, BMX bike racing did not instantly become a national obsession, like, say, skateboarding.
Yet, in more recent decades, BMX has exploded as a major sport. Infused with the spirit of motorcross racing—and even adopting much of the language to describe various races and terrain—the sport has especially come of age in the past several years, with events like the BMX Great NW Nationals this weekend at the Expo Center in Redmond drawing big crowds and hordes of participants.
And, it is easy to understand why.
BMX races pull in the appeal of explosive and fast competitions, as compact in its intensity as drag racing or 200-meter running sprints. (Most races take about 40 seconds to one minute; indoor races, like this weekend, are challenging but quick 900-foot tracks.) And, moreover, with several races starting simultaneously and bounding through mounds and berms, BMX races also showcase the excitement of sports like Sochi Olympic much-talked about snow cross, which features unpredictability in that front-runners can wipe out and open the field. Really, anyone can win any given race. Perhaps the only surprise is that it took until 1998 for BMX to be anointed as an Olympic medal sport.
Yet, even with its rapidly increasing popularity, organizers and participants confirm that the sport still has a laidback, all comers welcome family feeling.
Great Northwest BMX Nationals
5 pm, Friday April 10, 11:30 am, Saturday April 11
Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center