Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cruiser Class Sunday

Now Playing: Neil Young: After the Gold Rush My Friend Paul Kiry always refers to 24 inch cruisers as "Cruiser Class" bikes. I'm not sure why. He used to post comments on the old blog but I haven't seen any or heard from him. His use of "Cruiser Class" always cracked me up in its oddness. Is "oddness" even a word? Either way, I rode my cruiser class at Birdland tonight and it was good. A little beer and a little hangover and bigger wheels all equals mellow times through the jumps.. And Fro, 30-13 is a kick ass gear for a cruiser.
So the Olympics. BMX is in the Olympics and it's so goddamned just whatfuckingever. I want to be happy about it, but BMX racing is just not right anymore. At the risk of sounding like a critical, old codger I'm going to lay out my opinions again. Just to defend myself, I will say that I love modern BMX street, trails, skatepark and even flatland (although flat is mostly incomprehensible to me at this point). I cherish the old days and live in the modern day. The tabletop is still my favorite non-trick but I dig all the new stuff. I feel the same way about skateboarding and motocross (although freestyle motocross is highly suspect). The old was cool and the new is even better.
But modern BMX racing is soul-less. It's gross. It's a jocked out, style-less bastardization of what it once was. The announcers for the Olympics (Kenan Harkin is one of them and he did a good job with what he had to work with) called it "BMX Supercross", but it is so far from that. MX Supercross is one of the gnarliest things going and it's great to watch. This goofy BMX hybrid thing they were calling Supercross is just lame. Of course, the non-BMX commentators acted like it was this alien activity that they had never heard of, so it's just as well. Sixminutes of coverage of the finals was probably enough to bury it for good. Here's my response, courtesy of the holy scripture of BMX magazines, Bicycle Motocross Action, some of my favorite images from the mag and BMX in a way that it is no longer seen: stylish, dirty and raw:


Harold McGruther said...

BMX Supercross in the Olympics? I call it Parthenon-sized turd. I hope Gork is reading this. I know he's one of the dudes who hanged his dreams on a successful BMXplosion... ain't gonna happen.

Keep watching the lights, Scot; I'm with you all the way.

-- McGoo

Smitty said...

Scott and McGoo, I disagree with both of you, but ain't that the grand thing about the innernet? Anybody with an opinion is going to put it out there for the world to see.

I disagree that those racers were soulless. You just witnessed a guy come from a Baltic country of 2 million poeple, where, according to his estimate, he is part of a BMX scene totalling 120 racers. To raise yourself up from those circumstances, to the top of the world, requires not only extraordinary determination, but also a huge amount of passion for BMX. I've never met Maris Strombergs, but I bet I would admire him for the way he loves BMX.

I disagree that BMX was a turd as an Olympic sport. It was exciting, competitive and showed the skill and power that belong only to athletes who toil for years at perfecting their sport. That, to me, fits the Olympic model. It is possible that if you don't see how BMX racing fits in the Olympics, you don't get the Olympics.

It's funny to me that I was on the edge of my seat for the racing that was shown on TV, but when the Dew Tour was shown on Sunday, I could only stand 20 minutes of it.

Quadruple Whip? What's next? Quintuple? Sextuple? Who cares? What do you think Stephen Murray thinks when he sees someone pull a double back? I personally don't ever want to see it again.

This is where the soul has gone out of the sport and McGoo, as long as SNAFU sponsors a guy like Mirra, who's all about collecting Gold medals, your criticism of Gork rings hollow. I can't for the life of me figure out why you'd feel compelled to single him out here either, unless you have a personal axe to grind. Whatever the case, it sure comes across as childish.

Whether or not there is a fabled "BMXplosion" is irrelevant. The bottom line to me is that BMX proved it belongs in the Olympics, just as all those other marginal sports do. Now a kid in Latvia, or South Africa, or Plainwell will be able to dream of riding his (or her) BMX bike in a future Olympics. I don't think that's a bad dream to have.

BCM said...

Scott & McGoo hit the nail on the head!

Smitty what color is the sky in your world?
Quad whips = progression in the freestyle world. Progress in racing, Clips? WTF???? & that Steven Murray comment is out of line. Walk through the pits at a real Supercross and see how many x racers are in chairs, it's the nature of sport and those people knew the chances when they signed up for this lifestyle. Guess what they're all still Involved in the sport they love.
Be careful bad mouthing Mirra he'll throw his wallet on over, it will crush you beyond recognition and then sit back and enjoy the fact that he's the first rider that will never have to punch a time clock after he hangs up his medal chasing career.
Does racing belong in the Oylmpics? Sure. I don't think anyone is questioning the riders passion but as usual the promoters need to do their job.
McGoo is certainly qualified to make that Gork comment. So when you Smitty have made a successful life long & passionate career out of BMX and poured your heart and soul into creating & pulling off a very rich BMX race series like the Vans Triple Crown and then make it into an X-games discipline all in the name of taking BMX racing to level that freestyle is today will your opinion hold water.

It was sad & uncomfortable to watch all 6 minuets of it.

Smitty said...

OK, so the only people who can have an opinion on Olympic BMX are those who have created and pulled off something equivalent to the Vans Triple Crown series? Riiiight. I, for one, enjoy any lucid discourse about BMX, and have found it usually only taking place on blogs that are well written. From the start of this blog, I have eagerly anticipated every post, and I sure as heck have mostly agreed with everything Scott has written over the last 5 years, but in this case, I didn't, but I thought my opposing viewpoint would still be welcome.

My opinions on Olympic BMX very well might be in the minority among the subset of the population who cares about BMX enough to post messages about it on the internet. But don’t belittle it because I don’t work in the industry…there’s no logic in that.

BCM said...

There is a ton of logic in that? That is Harolds profession, passion, and lifestyle as it is with many people in action sports. not just 9-5 or a nostalgic hobby.
You are absolutely entitled to your opinion & it's welcome I'm sure.
Scott and I were both involved in the downhill events and it was amazing! To see what's supposed to be The Best worldwide event come off like it did was disheartening to say the least. I guess what I'm saying is there's a lot of sweat equity in these posts as well.
I don't mean to attack you personally, I'm glad someone enjoyed the show, I hope Joe public did too.

Smitty said...

BCM - I was involved with the downhill events too - I watched them on TV. I thought they were awesome!

We could turn this into a discussion about why the Triple Crown downhill events are no more, but its a tangential issue to whether or not BMX Racing works in the Olympics. I think it did work.

Why are you so disheartened? Cause everybody was clipped in? I don't think that is so sad. (PS - I still run Crupis on my race bike)

BCM said...

I'm kind of over this Smitty so short & quick.
I don't like the idea of clips, but they're here & it may be my old ass fearing change? I don't like tarmac turns either, BMX Supermoto???
The downhill events were expensive, building a new track was a long and spendy process, so for x games we used The woodward camps and could still be doing so but Freestyle Motocross sent downhill BMX down the path of Kayak bungee jumping, Well and now BMX dirt jumping. We all have other lives and jobs so we hoped someone would run with it.
with our blessing.

disheartening because the platform exists. Every time we thought we were pushing riders to the limit they stepped it up. Hell @ mnt high we built a 75ft triple everyone had it dialed in an hour. supercross triples are 65'
I want to see the Damn show! build it they'll ride the hell out it. You know what I'm getting at?
I hate seeing everyone content with tracks today.
it was said in meeting after meeting "the NFL doesn't play on Pop Warner fields why do BMX pro race the same track as the 5 Beginner ?"

I'm done Smitty

Harold McGruther said...

McGoo here. Some random responses to no points in particular:

1) ESPN killed downhill BMX in the X Games because it was FUCKING expensive. The 2002 NFL Superbowl required 15 cameras... the 2001 X Games DHBMX at Woodward East required 21. I know this because the producer of that TV show (the race I organized and officiated for four years) was the producer at the aforementioned football extravaganza. For their investment, ESPN got 8 nameless BMX he-men in a 35-second race. In 2004 ESPN killed DHBMX, added Supermoto and got Jeremy McGrath, Travis pastrana, Carey Hart and a dozen other household names in a 30-minute made-for-TV bar-banging mega race. It isn't difficult to see the light at the end of that tunnel.

2) Read my original post. Nowhere do I slander or insult my 20-year friend Craig Barrette. All I intimated was that I hope hard-working lifetime members of the BMX community (Gork and guys like him) are listening to what other like-minded members of this fraternity are thinking and saying about BMX in the Olympics. I promise you: Gork is very concerned with any financial windfall that might occur in the wake of BMX's Olympic debut... his employer is counting on it.

3) Dave Mirra. Now who's taking cheap shots, Smitty? You can not earn 25 medals at X Games competition in 13 years unless you have passion, dedication, drive, and all the other feel-good attributes you listed for your BMX heroes. For the record, Dave Mirra is one of my heroes. Is he a kook? Of course--what person in his 30s or 40s who still rides a BMX bike isn't (I rode until I was 35) Is he greedy, hyper-competitive and narcissistic? Absolutely--show me a millionaire BMXer who isn't (Ryan Nyquist not included!)

3) Nobody wants BMX to kick ass more than I do. I've been involved non-stop in virtually EVERY capacity imaginable since 1974: novice racer, shop employee, struggling expert on the national circuit, team manager, product designer, magazine editor, race organizer, mail-order operator, advertising executive, company founder, recreational freestyler, announcer,color commentator, contest judge, video host, you name it. I've earned the right to shoot my mouth off, and history has proved I'm usually right: freestyle DID kill racing; street riding DID kill competitive freestyle; freestyle competitors DO make more money than show riders; and yes, clips, 2-foot rollers and novice- and girl-friendly BMX tracks ARE gay. I also remember telling ESPN that racing events are better for TV than subjectively judged events, and I was right about that too. What else can explain the explosion of rally car racing, supermoto, speed and style and MX in the X Games on the back of dirt jumping and flatland's demise?

LIke my friend, fellow DHBMX founder and long-time BMX brother Kim said, I'm out.

Smitty said...

You are right McGoo, your years in the industry allow you to shoot your mouth off. You've been doing it forever. I get to mouth off now too, but only because the innernet lets me. Before message boards I was just another silent consumer without a way to respond. What could a guy do, if he disagreed with something McGoo said? Write a letter to Ride? We know how that would end up.

Sorry that my comment came off as a cheap shot at Mirra. It wasn't meant as such, though I know that's how it came out. Mirra is superhuman, and I don't discount anything he has done to get to the place in the world where he is at. I, like probably everyone reading this blog, was raised on a steady diet of BMXA, where riders and industry heads were portrayed as people with AMBITION, and it was nothing to be ashamed of. That is not the case in today's BMX world - and I don't agree with it. There is nothing wrong with trying to get to the top.

My comment was aimed at what I perceived as hypocrisy on McGoo's part for taking a shot at Gork for promoting gold medal chasing racers, while McGoo promotes a gold medal chasing freestyler. I see these as activities as equivalent, and I disparage neither. It is only the hypocrisy that I have a problem with. But, since McGoo has clarified that he is only concerned for Gork's well being, then I stand corrected.