Monday, July 31, 2006


We've got it ... and, these are the people you can thank for the help they've provided.

From the left:

Kyle Schulz - the broom may be taller than he is ... but, he's down with helping out. Not only is Kyle having a "killer time", he's also showing great political sensibilities for a young man his age. Vote for Pedro !!!
Steven Palumbo - I'm sorry you didn't have a chance to hit up the track on Saturday, you can see the kid is full of power, and, though we've had some good riders take laps, Steven looks like the kind of kid that is ready to make all our jaws drop when he hits it up.
Krystal Schulz - Brian, you and Tammi have some really super kids -- Krystal has a quick wit and works really hard.
Brian Schulz - Yeah, he's a dad, like me ... with a big honkin' BMX Jones that he lugs around with him. Brian is working on opening a track of his own in the Kenosha area ... and, I can't wait to help with that one too.
John Mittelstadt - Keep us moving along, T/O.
Dana Mittelstadt - Don't ever forget my words of advice ... well, at least until you are on your own. if your dad tells you you are leaving at 7 ... get some sleep that night ... dad's never let their kids off the hook because they got to bed late.
Curt Zizzo - Snackbar has been tearing it up all year for Direct Link ... but, took a few hours to swing up and help us move forward. If you don't like the roller double out of the second corner, you can blame Curt ... right, Mike?

Mike Froh - Told me a bunch of times that if somebody would step up to run a track, he'd be happy to build it. Mike, meet John Mittelstadt ... John, meet Mike. Mike is the difference between a track and a great track. Volunteer with us for one day and you'll see what I mean.
Craig from Pro Electric - You don't see him in this photo ... but, you do see his equipment. Skid steer rental is costly, but essential when building a track. Craig has very graciously allowed the use of his loader on four weekends. That is a killer donation.

Todd Zimmerman - Todd is just about world famous for his volunteer efforts on BMX tracks. In fact, I think he's lined up to help form jumps in Seoul in 2008. This picture is from a couple of weeks ago.

Fred Yanke - I couldn't talk Fred into being part of this image. He said he would "when it's done". So, anyway, here is Fred's incomplete work providing a design element to our start hill. Fred and Mike are both landscapers in current and previous lives, respectively ... and make the rest of us look like absolute klutzes with a rake in our hands. This picture is from last weekend.

Also helping Saturday, but not pictured, Jason Leikam (a friend for 20+ years), Troy Kasper (T/O from Winnebegoland), Tammi Schulz (Brian's wife who cheers really loud for him during races and does an excellent job with the video camera), and Theresa Palumbo (Steven's mom who jumped right in to help after getting roped into giving Steven a ride to the track). Also, for their past help, props to Tim Eiring (Direct Link 28X who is setting the world on fire), and Bryan Dickerson (Direct Link 36+ X who has built and run several tracks during his, ahem, 30 years of involvement with BMX).

On the Clock:

We received this e-mail correspondence from Dickerson last week:

I will be hosting a BMX time trial event at my local practice track on the 5th at 1pm and am wondering if any of you were interested in helping. I would like to put on a speed show.

The track maybe too small for RB.

This is a non-sanctioned event that will run timed laps around a BMX practice facility constructed by Dickerson in a park in Hartford, WI. It's a totally cool little riding spot that my 6 year old Dane and I have hit up a number of times. The jumps are small, but super fun, and the total track length is about 800 ft. I'll get some directions up for those of you interested later this week.

That's it for now ... stay cool everyone.

Kevin O'

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rain, Rain -- Enough Already !!!

Man, normally, I'm hoping for just a teensy bit of rain at this time of year to keep my lawn from going "seasonal" brown and gold. My neighbors are really less than stoked on the patch of clover and mustard where grass used to be. But, hey brother ... it's sustainable ... and even sorta pretty when it hasn't been cut for a couple of days and the stuff starts to flower.

But I digress.

The rain is beginning to drive me a little nutty ... but, despite ma nature's best efforts to wreck shop, our little track is definitely holding its own.

Dane (soon to be six novice) and I did a little rake and ride of our own last night and yee-haw ... it was probably easily the most fun I've had on track since I was a teen myself. Not that I need to elaborate on my pitiful riding ... but, the track is already beginning to flow really well. And, the first turn definitely has a "rail" line up top. Good stuff.

The team is still shooting for a full Saturday work day ... hit us up anytime between 8 and 4 ... and, yeah ... I finally pulled my head out of my arse and put some directions up for you out of the area types. If you want to work ... bring a lawn or thatching rake ... those seem to work the best for the hand work we still need to do. John and Fred met trackside tonight, and yeah, I was supposed to be there, but me being behind on yet another proposal that's heading out the door tomorrow meant tonight was a DNF for me. Between the two of them and Mike ... they'll have plenty for the rest of us to do on Saturday.

Suddently getting a fair amount of interest around these parts ... which is just dang cool. We really appreciate all your support.

C-Ya Saturday.

Kevin O'

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bicycle Motocross at Crystal Ridge is GAME-ON !!!

Track Operator Mittlestadt and I met with officials from Milwaukee County and the City of Franklin who have embraced the idea of the track and will be helping us navigate the process to procure the proper city approvals / blessings, etc. We have got to be mindful of being good neighbors to Franklin. We've learned that even though Bicycle Motocross is a medal sport in the 2008 Olympic games ... there are still a lot of people who have never seen it ... and have many pre-conceived notions of the chaos our riders could bring to their community. Of course, it's not like that, but, since perception is often reality ... we have to be super sensitive about being polite, clean, and well run.

Key Dates Ahead

Saturday August 19th
All ABA licensed riders are invited to join us, Saturday, August 19th for a day long practice. We'll schedule age groups throughout the day based on participation. This practice session is in response to the Mayor of Franklin's request for us to host an "open house" and mock race day on August 19th in coordination with the City of Franklin's 50'th anniversary celebration. Although we will not have our gate in by that time, we are certainly capable of having the track open to riders and hosting the event the Mayor's suggesting. Let's pull it off ... you can help show your support of Milwaukee BMX just by showing up with your race bike (and, please, bring your uniform, if you have one ... part of the purpose of this "open house" is to get people interested in Bicycle Motocross.

Saturday July 29th
Rake and Ride day ... please bring safety equipment if you are going to ride. It has still not been determined if our track will be "open" or "closed", so we've got to set a good example with safety gear if we ride ... no question. John is working on procuring a trencher so that we can finally resolve our corner drainage issues.

Saturday August 5th - rake and ride (see above)
Saturday August 12th - rake and ride (see above)

We may also add weeknight's as we go along.

Big thanks to Fred and Bryan for cutting some drain relief ditches last weekend.

That's it for now.

Kevin O'

Monday, July 10, 2006

Now On The Web @ is now owned by and under the control of, well, Milwaukee BMX, which pretty much rules because ... is really hard for people to remember.

Anyhow ... it's another step in the right direction as this crazy idea Mittelstadt had becomes a reality.

Mike Froh and Fred Yanke have been working tirelessly through the weekend and made some enormous strides toward the completion of the track. I could sit and write lots about the progress, but, it's a whole lot easier to just show pictures. After all, they are worth a thousand words, right? Based on my math, it would take me a couple of days to write all the words you all should have for these:

first straight, first jump - step up, step down (and ya' do the hokie pokie ...)

Second jump, first huck ... 21' lip to lip into turn one makes jump #2 a leap of faith. That said, it's going to be an absolute gas watching the older experts blast this baby at full song.

Here's what jump #2 looks like from the riders perspective ... well, if said rider was all the way outside and probably getting smoked into the first turn. Note the backside is nice and mellow for us older (or younger) folks.

This "enhanced image" shows the second straight from the reworked back half of the big first berm. The corner used to shoot you out at the left side of the jump, so, Mike hopped on the skid steer and provided a sweet remedy. I fudged in the stripes out of curiosity. Mike spent a lot of time on Friday making sure things were evenly spaced and that the straights all have a consistent width on the obstacles. There should be a lot of passing opportunities here. Straight is step up, followed by two 19' lip to lip ABA "National" style doubles.

This shot looks down the second straight from the second jump. For those that air it out here, a lot of backside pump can be had which will make this a really strong momentum straight. Rolling and pumping looks as though it will be a solid alternative as well.

Here's kind of a strange view from the mid point of the second turn, looking right across the apex and into the third straight rhythm. Mike is going to build a new first obstacle for the third straight, but needed to have that space open to gain access to the rest of the straights with the loader for the time being.

Finally, looking out of the entrance of the last corner. This is another weird shot as the riders will be heading straight for my vantage point on the straight immediately centered. To the right is the second straight, on which the riders will be going away from me. To the left is the final straight on which riders will also be heading away from where I'm standing.

Track Promotion
This weekend will be spent focusing on promotion as the WORS (Wisconsin Off Road Series) Mt. Bikers converge on Crystal Ridge. Hundreds of riders on site gives us a huge opportunity to promote our new track among our big wheeled brothers and sisters. John and I are working on promotional materials to hand out, but, we really could use some help with somebody to sit at a table for a portion of Sunday and hand out literature on the track. Please get in touch with me if you think you can help with this.

Here's a draft of a promotional flyer that I worked up yesterday:

Kevin O'

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Thoughts:

Though it has been a while since anybody's asked how I got started in BMX, the Milwaukee BMX venture has me thinking about it a fair amount. I'm not totally sure how I may have answered in the past, but, whatever the reply was, it probably wasn't entirely accurate. This recent introspection makes it quite clear that there was a "point" at which I became a BMX'er.

Yeah, sure, I had the speed for the neighborhood around the block races, and caught my share of air off the obligatory cinder block with 1 x 6 plank for a ramp. I was, I suppose, a brave little imp on a bike back then who must have seemed bent on making my mother nervous.

The Early Days ...
In 1977, as a 10 year old, BMX was around me, but I was just about completely unaware of it. The kids in my neighborhood were mainly into racing around the block and pretty much we were all just about goofing off back then. I think '77 was also the year that I got my first "MX" bicycle ... some odd sort of Huffy that I absolutely knew was "MX" ... because it said so right on the back of the saddle. I immediately proceeded to deck out my "MX" with just about every non MX item I could think of. We're talking mirrors, some big honking headlight ... and, yeah ... an even bigger honking horn. Those who are helping Milwaukee BMX a reality some 30 years later are probably not at all suprised to know that I was a dork.

Somewhere, in one of my mom's crusty old photo albums, there is absolute proof of this. The photo sequence highlights me "dialing in" my "MX", then on some obvious bonzai run, and, in the next shot, I've eaten poo. It must have been a premonition that led me to throw on a toy Green Bay Packers helmet, and my body was similarly well protected by my gold windbreaker with "Monroe Shock Absorbers" sticker and plaid denim pants. All of you guys who chuckle at what a yard sale I look like when I show up to the track now ... should have seen me then.

The little MX got pretty thrashed that summer ... and, I'm pretty sure it went missing all together from the front lawn one evening. Even crappy bikes have a way of vanishing if left unobserved ... even in Sheboygan, Wisconsin ... even in 1977. Anyhow, by '78 I was riding some wild and weird, even more motorcycle looking Huffy with a 3 speed shifter mechanism, and bright green body panels. I'm quite certain that Kawasaki was way past making BMX bikes at this point, but the cheapo Huffy / Kawasaki replica lived on in the O'Donnell household. So did my tendancy to not keep a real close eye on my bikes. And so it was that the Huffy disappeared one night as well. (Seriously, in retrospect, I can just imagine the neighborhood thugs just hovering around the O'Donnell house ... easy pickin's after all).

Perhaps it was a weird twist of fate ... but, my carelessness with bikes led me to a bikeless beginning of 1979. That is, until Sheboygan's finest called to let us know that the first huffy had been recovered in some kids garage raid. So, the "MX" returned, and I was back off and riding.

The Start of Something New ...
Around this same time, I was becoming increasingly aware of some crazy new thing that was going on called BMX. In fact, the new 1979 Mongoose bikes that had arrived at Bike N' Ski warehouse were just as overt in informing kids like me that they were BMX as the little Huffy was with it's obvious notation of "MX". Perhaps it was just cooincidental that the Mongoose "BMX" was simply a change in perspective from the Huffy "MX". While the Huffy was MX from the back ... the Mongoose told you right up front that it was BMX.

In 1979, I must have visited Bike N' Ski warehouse 6,466 times; sat on the Mongoose bikes 247,567,987 times; and irritated the heck out of Mike LaBouve every single moment during those visits. As evidence of the fact that sometimes, parents just don't get it, my repeated requests for some "sponsorship" from mom for a new 'Goose evolved into a deal for me to make good grades as I entered the 7th grade ... for a Schwinn SX-1000. Now, the Schwinn was a good bike, but, it wasn't a Mongoose. But, I was game for the deal, because hey, I wasn't dumb. My grades, however, seemed to indicate otherwise. Evidentally, early in the 7th grade, I became really good at hiding ... which evolved into being really good at being bullied and my grades just sucked as a result. Such is life. The SX-1000, which was on lay-a-way, had a full deposit returned to my mom ... and I got myself a paper route.

Having saved up just enough at the tail end of '79 to convince my mom that it would be really cool if she met me 1/2 way on a much less expensive, but still kinda cool Murray with Motomags, I was able to retire the little huffy at Christmas of '79.

The Moment:
About two months later, still making awful grades, with a heavy new ride, I caught, out of the corner of my eye, the cover image of March 1980 Bicycle Motocross Action at the South High Pharmacy drug store. The Panda Pro-Am on the cover, subject of that months big bike test, was like nothing I had quite ever seen before. It had alloy wheels, an alloy seatpost and looked absolutely purposeful. The Mongoose and Schwinn dealers in town had a fair amount of "thrasher" inventory, but, for a long time, the SX-1000, that I had almost laid claim to, with its mild steel frame, was the closest in town to anything like the Panda. And, there were all sorts of bikes that were built just like the Panda inside the magazine. JMC's, CYC's (Ronnie Ames Stormer), Lagunas, GT's, Race Inc.'s and on and on. Though I was generally headed in the BMX direction, clearly, the moment I laid eyes on that magazine was the moment I became a BMX'er.

It's impossible to say how many kids that saw that very same issue as their first of Bicycle Motocross Action went on to become BMX racers themselves, but, in my case ... I did. Spending even more time at Bike N' Ski until they finally gave me some tasks to complete in exchange for payment toward a Redline MX-II they had on the floor. My first race was the 1981 SE / Rondo Classic, an indoor national on the ABA tour that was held at the convention center in Minneapolis. Talk about jumping in with the sharks ... but, that's another story.

The Moral of the Story:
The moral of the story, quite obviously, is that we all have a story. It makes me really proud to know that in 30 years, perhaps some 40 year old former or current BMX'er is going to be asked the question ... "so, how did you get started in BMX". That rider will spend some time pondering the answer, which, with clarity, will arrive, fresh and ready as it was the day he had his moment. The day he arrived, with his parents, a bike and maybe a friend, at Crystal Ridge, and slowly made the drive up the driveway ... until the BMX track came in clear view.

Kevin O'

Monday, July 03, 2006

first straight - Friday evening

track overview - Saturday afternoon

Forward Progress:
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Mike Froh, Fred Yanke, John Mittlestadt, Dana Mittlestadt, Jason Leikam, Todd Zimmerman, Milwaukee BMX at Crystal Ridge is really beginning to take shape. The crew worked a ton Friday and Saturday and have the first and second straights in their final form and to the point that they are ready to be compacted. Serious thanks to these guys for volunteering a whole lot of sweat, and a little bit of blood to make the dream of Milwaukee BMX a reality. I still can't get over how ridiculously efficient Mike is in building jumps, like an artist working in a dirt medium, every stroke of the rake counts big toward the final outcome of the jump ... there is no wasted motion ... Mike is an exercise in efficiency, or, appears to me to be, at least. Yeah, it's safe to say we owe Mike a heckuva lot.

Props to Fred as well ... who, has a similar skill set to Mike's ... and had a fair amount of collaboration into the final outcome of the jumps. Not to mention ... he really gets how to work to get the job done. Saturday afternoon, I kept finding myself hoping he'd call it a day ... but, on we worked ... and I still think I'm beat as a result.

Todd Zimmerman brought Bryan Dickerson's drag, that worked particularly well for progressing the shape of the third straight rhythm and last straights.

Work left to do includes finish work on the last two straights and finish work in the turns. Having personally raked the first half of the first turn now twice, I think it's safe to say ... it's going to be a muther of a job.

I took a few track pics with the digital that I will get uploaded this afternoon or tomorrow.

We owe huge thanks to John's friend Eric, who provided the use of a skid steer that worked flawlessly all weekend. One or two more days with that machine and the fearless crew mentioned above would have us riding for sure.

Because we are still working without water, compacting began to some degree with Fred's ATV ... the dirt is sticking against the wind, but is soft beneath tires. Our MTB friends have been really cool and totally responsible with regard to how patient they've been. But, we can not emphasize enough the amount of work you guys can save us through your continued patience. We are still shooting for late July ... so, please hang tight ... you'll all be riding soon.

Fun(d) Raising:
Every track needs some cash outside of entry fees to run. And, though we've temporarily shelved the Joe Kid on a Stingray screening that we had in mind for this summer (we'll shoot for next spring as an alternative for the event), an idea for an alternative fund raiser has come up. When the time is right ... we're just going to invite a bunch of you to come out and check out the new track with us ... suggested donation is probably going to be like $5 per rider. With the amount of progress made on the track this weekend, it would seem as though we're shooting for late July for this event. Details are going to evolve quickly, so stay tuned on it for sure. We're planning: open jam at trackside, a tailgate cookout of some sort, fundraising raffle and blah blah ... you know ... pretty seriously fun stuff that gets you guys on track, and affords us the ability to construct and pay for a gate.

ABA Great Lakes Nationals
Milwaukee BMX regular contributors Tim Eiring, Bryan Dickerson, Randy Behnke and Curt Zizzo absolutely killed it for team Direct Link during the ABA Great Lakes Nationals at St. Cloud, MN this weekend. Three of the four doubled in the older cruiser classes (Eiring 26-30, Behnke 31-35, Zizzo 36-40 and Dickerson 41-45) and Eiring had a 1st and 2nd, plus a win in 28+ expert on Saturday. We hope Direct Link is able to capatilize on the team's recent success as all riders also had top finishes at the recent Midwest Nationals. All four have been helpful in the development of Milwaukee BMX and we're obviolusly stoked to have the participation of a factory team on a week to week basis. Kids who wonder what it takes to get fast would be wise to learn from these four guys. They practice together, pushing one another further on just about every lap, and, the results pretty much say it all.

That's it for the moment ... track images and details on the fund raiser will be coming very soon.

Kevin O'