Ramps, bikes and professional riders performing high jumps and dangerous tricks took over Boyhood Alley this weekend.
The inaugural Lost River Film Fest hosted Wheelz-N’-Reelz on Nov. 4 and featured a bicycle motocross demonstration, film screenings and live music throughout the afternoon.
BMX is an extreme sport in which riders utilize special bicycles to perform tricks. The sport can be classified as racing or freestyle. Within freestyle there are two common styles of BMX, flatland and air, each of which were performed at the demonstration. Flatland BMX is like ballet with a bike whereas air BMX consists of jumps such as 360 spins.
Austin attracts some of the top BMX talent in the country due to its extensive biking trails, dirt ramps, skate parks and flat spaces to practice the sport along with some of the largest specialty BMX shops. In 2014, Austin hosted the X Games, an annual extreme sports event, for the first time at The Circuit of the Americas. However, San Marcos is home to only one skate park. The demonstration brought big names to the city for one of the festival’s biggest days.
The demonstration hosted Chase Hawk, freestyle air BMX rider, who won the 2014 X Games. Hawk said that he had competed in previous years’ competitions, but having his first X Games win in his hometown surrounded by family and friends was an unforgettable and special experience.
Hawk said his father bought him his first bike when he was seven years old and eventually got into BMX after a skate park opened near his house. Since then Hawk has dedicated his life to BMX riding and said he has been fortunate enough to do what he loves for a living.
“I love the freedom of it all, you can do whatever you want with it and go wherever you want with it. There are really no limits.”
At the event, a group of teenagers watched the BMX demonstration from their bikes. Ryan Perales, San Marcos High School student, participated in the demonstration alongside the professionals. Perales said he has been riding for about four years now and knew some of the guys at the demonstration from watching them in competitions.
“It means a lot to have these guys here because this is the first BMX thing that has happened in San Marcos,” Perales said. “Hopefully they can help make the scene a little bit bigger here.”
Other notable Austin BMX riders attended the event. Ryan Burgess, freestyle air BMX rider, also performed in the demonstrations and said that he moved to Austin from Montana four years ago to start riding full time.
“Austin is the place to go if you are trying to ride year round or pursue a career in it,” Burgess said.
Ruben Castillo, freestyle flatland BMX rider, said he and his brother moved to Austin from Del Rio to enter BMX contests hosted by the American Freestyle Association. After winning a few contests, Castillo got sponsored and was able to make a career out of his hobby.
“What I do is very fun and I want more people to try it,” Castillo said. “Its something you have to be dedicated to, but if you want it you can grab it.”
Interest in BMX is growing, as shown by the International Olympic Committee’s announcement that the sport would be added to the 2020 Summer Olympics.