Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Yeah, so maybe the world is larger than our little Bicycle Motocross track, we all get that (although, with the amount of time that we've spent with the venture, there are, no doubt, some of our family members that would make the case that some of us seem to think that out little BMX track is at the center of the universe). Anyway, Bicycle Motocross is surely more than just about racing. So I was particularly interested to find this article about a public use skate / bicycle park being planned for Hart Park in Wauwatosa. This thing may be a few years off, but, with strength in numbers, it's absolutely cool to see the cooperation between skaters and bikers in trying to pull this thing together. I have contacted one of the members of Tosa Skateboarders United to lend our support to their cause. And, because ... I had another big old idea.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Bicycle Motocross and its major rise and fall in the number of active participants. I recall when I was a kid that there were several riding areas I could hit on any given day. Some were "sandlot" type open lot tracks, others big huck jumps and some were street riding obstacles -- in school yards, at churches, shopping facilities and parking lots. The street stuff really remains the same today. But, I can't think of a single "sandlot" type track in the Milwaukee area.
I quizzed my friend, Chris Reimer, who many of you know from Ware's Cyclery, if he had heard of anything good in this area. Chris could think of nothing ... zip, zero, nadda. No doubt ... this explains why we've released such a powder keg of pent up Bicycle Motocross energy with the Crystal Ridge track.
The practice track that Bryan Dickerson built in Hartford with the support of the Hartford Parks department is definitely the closest to what I'm thinking about. It's the type of place that kids can hit at pretty much whenever they are moved to do so. If there is more than one kid there ... it's probably a safe bet, that just like when I rode those spots with my little buddies 25 years ago, an informal race is going to break out. How many of us followed the same path into racing? Kill it on the "sand lot" track until we discover a kid with a "real" racing BMX bike. Maybe meet that kid and learn about the "real" racing that goes on at the "real" track he goes to every weekend. Maybe that kid's got a mom or dad who realizes that getting new kids into the sport is what will help it grow. Mr. Sandlot upstart hitches a ride out to the race track and probably gets really hooked ... really quickly. Luckily for him ... he's got some speed and more than a few skills in his pocket from his riding at the sand lot track.
We need more practice tracks
So many people associated with bicycle motocross automatically jump to the conclusion that we need more tracks. I think a legitimate argument can be made that, for the moment, at least, there are already enough. There is almost constant discussion of low moto counts around the nation. What we could really use, eh, is more riders. In the 80's ... formal race tracks popped up everywhere. There were probably more than a dozen tracks in Wisconsin in the hay-days of BMX. But, as more tracks popped up ... the informal riding areas went away. When the first crop of racers got old enough to get their licenses and moved on to other activities (sure do wish I had just stayed on the bike!), the fresh crop of "sandlot" kids wasn't there to replace them.
Take a good look at this kid. He's either 7 or 8 ... and won the time trial at Hartford recently for his age group. The bike is obviously too big for him, and far too heavy ... but, dang if he doesn't look like a very young Stu Thomsen in this shot. Since he's got a place to ride, and some ability, I fully expect that a sharp eyed reader (with a really good memory ... obviously not me) may be able to pick him out at the races in Milwaukee someday.
Without the practice track, or the time trial, is this same kid even interested in riding? Would he ever have a chance of becoming a racer at our track if Bryan not made the effort to get the Hartford track started? Moreover, would this young guy, or his parents, have been able to muster the courage to take him straight to Rockford, or Fond du Lac, or Oshkosh, and throw down $45 for a membership for him to be able to "compete against" (read, get smoked by) experienced kids who have had plenty of track time?
Bryan told me that the track, which he and Todd Zimmerman are primarly responsible for constructing, likely cost the city much less than a thousand dollars. In 2006 dollars, a municipality can't even purchase a decent swingset for that kind of money. This should be a no brainer. A practice track is a minimal impact proposition with regard to the environment and economics. However, the social impact is substantial.
So, I've contacted Tosa Skateboarders United and I'm planning to start attending the Wauwatosa park commission meetings ... wish me luck ... I'm certainly late to the dance with my request ... but, I'm motivated and willing to give it a shot.
Boy, in all the excitment of thanking the riders, the politicians, the volunteers, et al, I sorta forgot to thank one of the major supporters of the day. Sun-Ringle threw a bunch of swag our way and didn't even require the "persuasion" of Fred Yanke's alter ego, Hackett. Props to the Sun-Ringle crew for the help the support provided ... their product is some of the best on the market. Now, I know ... they gave us stuff ... so, of course I'd endorse the goods. Here's the thing ... I've been buying and running Ringle stuff on my bike, paying retail for years. The strongest endorsement for any part in Bicycle Motocross comes from those who pay retail for it. I run Sun Rhyno Lite rims and Ringle Zu Zu platform pedals.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
To all the riders who participated in yesterday's "open house" ride at Milwaukee BMX. We just built the track ... it's you guys who are going to make it stick ... and we're super stoked at the amount of support you showed yesterday. Yeah, it's been super hard work ... but, the payoff was yesterday. Watching the first group of 8 and under swoop down into the first turn gave me goose bumps.
The smiles on the faces of John, Michelle, Dana and Leah Mittelstadt, Fred Yanke, Todd Zimmerman, Jason Leikam, my wife Denise and I (the volunteers on hand yesterday) were completely formed by pride.
Sadly, my camera was left at home, so, if anybody has pictures you want to share ... forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll gladly post them up.
A few of you asked John when we can do this again. Just as soon as we know more, we'll let you guys know as well. We are going to keep the ball moving, however, and work on procurring a gate begins on Monday.
We are tentatively scheduling a practice for ABA members this Wednesday night while we are continue work on the track. Mountain bikers will be welcome to join on an ABA one day membership or encouraged to sign up for a full ABA membership. Practice fees will again be $5 per rider and you can ride from six until dark. ABA rules in effect, helmets, bike pads, and long sleeve shirts and pants or appropriate safety gear will be enforced. Riders who are under 18 will need parental or guardian release as part to sign up for the one day membership.
The track BMX track at Crystal Ridge designated a closed track, and we want all of you to know that you can be ticketed for trespassing if caught riding any time that is not an sanctioned ABA event. A closed track wasn't our choice, but, it's what we've got ... so, please respect it so that we can keep building the sport in our community.
Thanks again for all of your support and cooperation.
Local Riders win Factory Trophy for DirectLink at Land of Lincoln Nationals:
Bryan Dickerson reports that DirectLink won the factory trophy at the Land of Lincoln Nationals in Brighton Illinois. Local DirectLink riders include the Dickersons (Bryan, Payton, Hailey and Abby), Curt Zizzo, Tim Eiring, and Randy Behnke. Great job guys. DirectLink is planning to host a training clinic at Milwaukee BMX.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Wednesday 8/16 evening: Rake, water and roll and finish spectator fence
Friday 8/18 evening: clean track area, rake, water, and roll - chalk line track
Saturday 8/19: volunteers arrive at track @ 9 a.m. - Riders arrive at 11. Open practice from 11-1 p.m. by various age groups. Riding and racing demonstration (no starting gate) from 1-3 p.m. Please bring your ABA membership info.
Friday, August 11, 2006
We'll be working tomorrow, weather is supposed to be good and we should really be able to make some essential progress toward track completion. Bring rakes, shovels ... and your bikes. If we get far enough we should be back to ridable by the end of the day.
Hartford Time Trial Report
Bryan Dickerson remains the track record holder at the Hartford practice track, and deservedly so. He built it, he maintains it, and helps organize the annual time trial put on by the City of Hartford parks department. My son Dane and I were stoked to be able to compete. Dane and Jason Leikam's daughter, Cassidy finished second and third in the 7 and under class. Nice going, you guys.
What else did I want to write about Hartford ... hmmm ... ah yes, pictures:
Cassidy Leikam (6) gets her crank on heading into the first turn.
Dane looking super determined as he rounds the last corner and gets ready to head for home.
Here's Bryan doing what Bryan does best (and everybody in 41-45 cruiser knows it) -- laying down the power.
Todd Zimmerman is a good friend, valuable volunteer, and stylish rider ... big tuck, high speed, major determination.
Generation Next - Payton Dickerson has speed and skills. My money was on him to strip his old man of the speed title ... but, no dice ... it was old age and treachery over youth and enthusiasm for, at least, one more year.
Your author, Mr. Turnbar ... what I lack in both style and speed I more than make up for in the ridiculous overuse of safety equipment. Yeah, I'm safe, and that's a good thing.
ABA Press Release:
This will go up here and remain the message for the balance of this week after tomorrow. Today, we posted the release to the ABABMX.com website announcing the open house for ABA members next Saturday. The track will be open from 10-1 for open practice and we'll have some demo racing laps going off between 1-3. Looking forward to seeing all my BMX friends there.
That's it for now ... keep riding.
Friday, August 04, 2006
A small team is getting together trackside for a few hours of work tomorrow morning. On the agenda are forming the first obstacle on the third straight, beginning to rake out the backside of the start hill, potentially putting in some drain tile, and location marking for a control fence along the first straight. That said, rakes can always be dragged and rocks picked. If you want to come on out ... we'll be there from 8 until around noon.
We'll know after tomorrow wether we'll also be working Sunday.
A reminder that the Bicycle Motocross Time Trial at The Hartford BMX practice track, a nice little one laner with some knee high 10' gap double jumps, tables and rollers, is going off at 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Directions to the track are
1. Hwy 60 to Hartford to:
2. South on HWY K (corner of Kwik Trip, Cherry Auto & McDonalds) to:
3. West on Monroe Street (right turn) to:
4. Independence Park (on left)
Track is located in the Eastern-most area of the park and is nearest the North Soccer Field.
Check out this cool new feature of Yahoo Maps ... you can go from Map to Satellite View in one click. You can actually see the track from space. Cool.
I met with, Jack Hirt, who is the director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin today. Jack is a friend and co-worker from 15 years ago while we both were employed (read goofed off) at a golf course in the Sheboygan area. I had absolutely no clue that Jack was at all into biking, but now learn that he's won several Cyclecross championships and has been killing it on XC trails all over the midwest for years. It's so weird to catch up with somebody after many years. We're both dads ourselves now ... and both avid cycling advocates.
Jack has a ton of media contacts and he's going to help us get the word out about the track, which is super exciting, because getting the word out is going to absolutely be key to our success.
Behind the Scenes:
Track Operator - Mittelstadt has been doing a whole lotta due dilligence this week with the City of Franklin. We've got a bit more work to go in the process of pulling a permit, but all indications are positive at this point. I will be writing more about an upcoming meeting in the City of Franklin on August 14 in which we are likely to be granted permission to hold our August 19 riding demonstration. Yeah, it's sure cutting it closer than we would like to have. But, that's life.
Keep the fire's lit, boys and girls ... there will be Bicycle Motocross Racing in the Milwaukee area again soon.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Just a note to those who may be in need of a renewal, or interested in a new membership application for ABA-BMX Racing, Milwaukee BMX is ABA Track #1730. I finally got around to putting up links dealing with new rider questions and to the ABA membership application.
Talk about humble roots ... check out this photo from my early days. 13-14 year olds on the gate at the old Holiday House track in Manitowoc, WI. It's got to be early 1982, making this, probably the last race I competed at until my first comeback when I was 20. Yeah, it's not your eyes bugging out ... that gate is pink. Jason Leikam has the story for anybody who's interested. The gate was a six laner (harder than heck to make a main at that place !!!) and had something like toilet paper deliniating the lanes. Crazy, but bio-degradable !!! The dude in the Torker Jersey, on a sharp Supergoose, and snapping with some sweet OTB style is Rick Adema ... who went on to become a formidable expert in the mid 80's. The cat in the schwinn jersey with the god awful garden gloves, pie plate and enormous Premier helmet is ... ahemm ... your webmaster. The bike is a late 1981 Hutch Pro-Racer.
Got a cool shot you want to share on MilwaukeeBMX.com? e-mail the image -- (and the story) ... (and, duh, we prefer shots that involve Wisconsin BMX of some sort) -- and we'll try to put up what we can.
Thanks again for all your support ... we're loving the comments, e-mails and phone calls we've been getting over the last couple of weeks.