I’ve become a grumpy old man. The type to sit on my porch telling the kids to get the F off my lawn. My lawn isn’t even that great! I’m sour because after years of riding BMX, working in BMX shops, organising BMX road-trips, shooting BMX photographs and writing articles for BMX magazines, I lost touch. I didn’t know anyone who was at my local skate park and damn, I couldn’t do a quarter of what these kids were doing. I am officially on the outside looking in.
BMX was always about a sense of belonging. An instant connection from a slight head nod. If you rode a BMX, you were ‘in the club‘. An edgy, for lack of a better word, activity for people who didn’t quite fit in. BMX was forever inclusive and many people, myself included, found their place in the world. But as I grew older, it seemed that all this was lost. BMX had changed and was an exclusive group of VIP’s. Or so I thought.
Chris at Rampfest contacted me a while back to let me know a couple of things. They’ve hired a young, enthusiastic and excited bloke as their programs & events organiser and they’re holding their first jam since lockdown ended in Melbourne. I went along to their end of lockdown jam and left my grumpy old man boots at home.
I left my grumpy old man boots at home
As there’s still so much uncertainty around the pandemic, I was impressed with the amount of people attending the jam. It’s a real testament to the hard work that Chris and the whole Rampfest team have and continue to put in. As I walked in I was greeted by super friendly staff. It was an easy process made easier by their online booking system. Tempted by the new additions to their food & beverage menu, I pressed on & out into the indoor skatepark.
Kids of all ages were everywhere. To the naked eye it’s chaos but to the rider, everything happens in pure symphonic harmony. Harrison, the new programs guy, had everything down to a T. There’s still a few capacity restrictions so it was broken into a skate/scooter session then a BMX session a little later. This meant the huge discrepancy in park speed was accounted for.
Kids on scooters are wild. It seems they can pick up a scooter at a much younger age, watch some videos and learn new tricks at a rate that us in the older generations only dreamed of. Seeing that something is possible and being in an environment such as Rampfest, really seems to aid the rapid development of a child’s skills. A boy, I’d say not yet in double digits, dropped into a ramp two & a half times his height. Another kid not much older was doing all manner of tricks. The stoke was equally as high for both.
If you did something rad, everyone cheered
Soon it was time for the BMX session to get underway. The age range I think was a little wider in BMX but everyone was supporting their fellow riders. It seemed not to matter if you were 10, 15 or 20. If you did something rad, everyone cheered.
All those things I said about the sense of belonging being lost? Absolute rubbish! The community here at Rampfest is a strong one. This was most clear at the high jump contest. It was evident by the first jump who was going to win. Not only was one bloke going the highest, he was front-flipping his way there. You’d be forgiven for quitting then and there but the spirit, comradery and unwavering support meant that everyone was given a chance. The younger riders who struggled when the bar started rising were still cheered along on every attempt.
Everything I knew and loved about BMX came rushing back into my world. As I snapped more photos the fire inside reignited. Once the evening started to wind down Harrison and I had a quick chat. It would seem that he has a lot in store for Rampfest. He loves putting on events and is eager to help organise & host more in the coming months.
Comps and jams are the lifeblood of BMX. Almost every memory of mine from BMX is from a jam, comp or road trip, often all three. To learn that Rampfest are making steps to bring you a constant calendar of events is exciting. Some of my best, life-long friends have been made at these types of events. Perhaps you’ll meet these people, too. So I urge you, get down to these events. You won’t be disappointed.