I wrote about a BMX track cycling taster session at Glasgow BMX Centre for The Scots Magazine. If you enjoyed reading this article, why not buy a Scots Magazine, or a subscription?
My first session: BMX cycling
Riding a BMX bike on to a pump track in the heart of urban Glasgow, my stomach flutters with excitement and trepidation.
I confess, too, that I feel conspicuous as a woman in her 50s riding the tiny child-like bicycle – and in an arena that I’m sure is much more familiar to kids and teenagers.
Yet, I’ve always wanted to give BMX racing a go and an aspiration first anticipated in my own childhood is now coming true at a taster session at Glasgow BMX Centre.
The facility in Knightswood is Scotland’s only world and Olympic-standard BMX track and one of only two in Britain.
It appears surprisingly large, especially when riding a small bicycle. The main track is 400 metres long and five metres wide, offering space for up to eight riders to race at once.
Stretched out on a snake-like circuit are numerous big bumps and bermed corners.
I soon realise that pedalling a BMX bicycle is hard work. There are no gears and riders do not sit on the saddle, instead you remain standing while pedalling.
I have been instructed by our group coach Dasha, a Slovakian former world champion BMX rider, to ride fast and maintain the speed to get up and over the bumps, while also using a “pumping” rhythm with the body and bike.
At first, I’m unsure how fast to go because I am nervous of taking off at the top of the bump and who knows how I might cope with the subsequent landing.
I’m also worried I’ll not pedal hard enough to get to the top of the bump, which will then lead to what I imagine will be an embarrassing and sudden u-turn back down the slope, possibly on my backside.
While the experts in the Olympics races make the riding look so fast, fluid and easy, I’m out of breath after only half a circuit of the track and my legs are painful with lactic acid in the muscles. I’ve sweat dripping down my back despite the chilly evening.
I’ve an almost overwhelming desire to sit down for a rest, but I keep pushing my legs, cadence high and never touching the brake, to reach the finish line.
Although spent, the sport is addictive and I’m keen to go again. I want to see if I can improve my technique and time around the track.
Our group session of children and adults, proved that age is no barrier to enjoying BMX. And although I was the eldest there, I decided that I didn’t care. I’d arrived at the track full of nerves and I left very much wanting to ride more.
What is BMX?
BMX, which stands for Bicycle Motorcross, traces its roots to the late 1970s.
There are a number of competitive disciplines, including racing and different forms of stunt or freestyle.
The format of BMX racing comprises sprints on purpose-built off-road race tracks.
Give it a try
Book an “Intro to BMX” session at https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/sport/venues/glasgow-bmx-centre.
After the accreditation session, it’s possible to book “Rock Up and Ride” sessions without an instructor.
Full BMX safety equipment is provided, including: BMX bike, full-face helmet, gloves and elbow and knee pads Other kit that riders should wear on arrival is long trousers, a long-sleeved top and sports footwear.