The Skate Park

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It’s not too purple is it?

The skate park is the most intimidating place you can go to. Not the dive bar, not the gym, not church, but yes your local skate park.

If you haven’t caught on by now, I claim to be an avid cyclist. I started biking in earnest my freshman year at JMU, and now over 6 years later biking is a more than just a hobby for me. Road biking, mountain biking, cross, jra (just riding around), you name it I do it. So it was a perfectly logical step for me to purchase a BMX bike this past month. It’s got two wheels and it rolls, so it can’t be that hard right?

Their eyes followed me as I made my way to the opening in the chain link fence, daring to invade their territory. What does this guy think he is doing here, riding that flashy purple bmx 24inch cruiser (to my defense the purple looked a lot more subtle online). Quickly they realized this stranger posed no threat in the least to the alpha males.

That’s right. The guy who can ride techy rocks, climb steep pitches, bike in a fast rolling pace line, is utterly and hopelessly lost on a bmx bike. I had no idea how much I relied on being clipped into my pedals, before trying to bunny hop. These past 6 years I had not been bunny hoping at all, but rather doing a spd hop. Okay, so I need to work on the bunny hop, got it, but what about those neat bar spins, 360’s, and more that the pros do so effortlessly? Believe it or not I feel really awkward on a smaller bike, and for about an hour I practiced trying that whole bunny hop thing.

Back to that intimidating part, notice I said intimidating and not mean. Yes watching kids 10 years your junior pull bar spins in clothes much cooler than yours is intimidating, but everyone could not have been nicer. I had more people come and introduce themselves to me than in many of my normal riding environments. They offered bits of advice, compliments on my bike, showed me neat features in the park, and more. Also, to cap off such a fun time my bunny hop improved in just an hour.

The moral of the story here is to not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. I have been told you can learn a lot of skills on a BMX bike that transfer to a mountain bike, which is how I found myself at the McIntire Skate Park in Charlottesville, Va. It was scary at first, but it’s actually a great time and I’m learning some sweet skills. Skills and friends, it’s a win win. Now get out there and try something new!

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