After months of hard work repairing winter damage and the ever growing grass and weeds at the trails it was time for the first session of the year at the Helm Trails in Helmond, Netherlands. And not just a session. Team France, lead by Patrick Guimez, were in town for the C1 comp in Eindhoven and had a session in the morning at the park but they were not done yet for the day. A 20 minute drive East and they had arrived at the Helm trails. With some help from the entire French squad the tarps were removed and the jumps were watered and swept to get them in perfect shape for the maiden session of 2022. Some sections were rebuilt and were tested at the same time but it appeared to be no problem for the French to get through. Istvan Caillet actually completed the 'middle line' first try but he was the only one to do that. It took others a bit longer but personal goals were reached like at all new spots that you visit. The youngsters did well and did not stop.
Quintin Morien started pulling tricks left and right as did Istvan and Thibaut Panaville. Also legendary team coach Patrick Guimez himself showed that at age 44 you can still ride trails and throw some tricks in there also. It is great to see that the freestyle squad is in the hands of someone who has been there and done that. Patrick passes on his experience and has educated the French riders on trails etiquette as well. You case, you repair the damage. You help watering the jumps. You help cover the jumps after the session. You get beer as a thank you to the locals for the session. ;-) even though some of it was radler and 0.0% stuff. It didn't really matter, it's the guesture that counts.
Has BMX Freestyle changed? No it has not. It has added a chapter because of the Olympic Games but everyone can still 'freestyle' on his BMX bike just the way they want to. For Park riders there is now an Olympic pathway. It has lead to a structure with 200 National Cycling federations involved, a ranking and events all over the world where UCI ranking points can be scored. The structure that is set up has different level of events with National Championships and "C1" contests attributing to the rider's individual UCI ranking. The C1 contest in Eindhoven, Netherlands during the Easter weekend was used by several riders in order to score enough points to be able to enter the upcoming UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup in Montpellier, France. Thing is, with the big interest in participating at these events the 50 ranking points minimum is a first selection process to keep the Men Park event manageable. It is awesome to see the popularity of the Olympic structure which had riders from Czech, GBR, Costa Rica, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland and of course The Netherlands show up for the C1 comp in Eindhoven for the points chase.
The level was high, especially in the Men Park class. Making a top 7 result in Eindhoven would mean a score of 50 points or more and a 'way-in' for the World Cup in Montpellier. For most it was the first contest since all hell broke loose with the Covid-19 pandemic. It felt so good to be back to normal without having to wear a mask, show a QR code or negative PCR test, respect a 'bubble' or keep a distance of 1,5 metres from th person you talk to. All restrictions were out of the window and the bar
Flatland results Urban Rural Ride Saint-Yan, France.
PRO 1. Bruno Morotti Bacchiegga 2. Joris Bretagnolles 3. Alberto Moya 4. Julien Baran 5. Gilles van de Sompel 6. Keiryo Kuda 7. Anatole Rahain 8. Jorrit Van Drumpt 9. Kevin Jacob 10. Martin Drazil 11. Jean Bulhon
Results AFA Round 1 in Houston, Texas. BMX Flatland. Pro Class 1. Mickey Gaidos 2. Dax Wolford 3. Omari Cato 4. James McGraw 5. Bobby Burge 6. Art Thomason 7. Ruben Castillo 8. Rodney Williams 9. Todd Carter 10. Cesar Rengal
Ariba! It feels great to have events back on the agenda and the Viva Los Huevos jam at Bikepark Utrecht is one we could not pass up. The Mexican theme was used well with nachos being offered, sombreros being worn by many and a biggest moustache comp happening on Saturday 16 April. If you wanted candy, you had to kill the 'pinata' that was placed up in the air on one of the doubles while the Mexican tubes came out of the speakers all afternoon. Most importantly were the smiles on people's faces as the place had something to ride for everyone. The sun was out and the BBQ was started up just in time. I wouldn't be surprised if 100 riders made it to Utrecht on Saturday. Add to that the support crew looking for a good time and you can only regret if you did not go.
Philip and I actually showed up 15 minutes before the jam started at 14:00hr. It gave us plenty of time to figure out the available jumps and to see where the limit would be that day. The smaller separate pump track section with a giant roll-in and a small 6-pack had those occupied who weren't looking for the bigger stuff. The tarped tables with some rollers were next up followed by the bigger tables on the left of that section. That's actually where it ended for Philip and I but the lines were fun to do. When Dimitris Araouzos, Patrick Harteveld, Arjan Ellens, Desmond Tessemakers, Stan v.d. Ven, Denz, Tom Selbeck, Bart v.d. Broek and a few other BMX dirt shredders joined the MTB crew, the session really kicked off on the bigger section(s). Bikepark Utrecht has tons to offer on a fenced off spot. The availability of power and water helps maintain the spot and if new lines need to be built,
I'm pretty sure there are BMX trails out there that have been around since 1989 and are still running. I'm not sure if there are trails that have seen 2 jams a year annually. We can blame Covid for not having a jam at the Sugar Hills Trails in Aarle-Rixtel but the pandemic has next to disappeared in The Netherlands making it possible for all to get together and have a good time. We've missed this, a lot. With the Mini FATJAM happening at the beginning of the year and the FATJAM somewhere at the end of August each year, the weather risk is certainly present. We had snow on Friday(!) but the trails certainly could you the moisture as the two weeks prior had been sunny and dry making it hard to shape the jumps the right way.
Come Saturday morning the trails were in excellent condition with no dust and no mud in sight. The temperature would not get above 6 (that's Celsius!) so you either had to ride to stay warm, or simply drink a lot. Riding was done constantly for 5 hours by riders lining up on the starting hill who could choose either line to get back in line for another run. The far left took the dare devils to the Killer Jump and the far right line had the biggest sets. In between another 4 lines were ready for action. It is awesome to see the Team NL riders line up with the youngsters, street riders and old schoolers. There was no pressure for anyone so everyone did what they wanted to do. Making it through (new) lines might be the challenge for some while doing tricks through the sets is the challenge for others. But the Mini FATJAM is more than that.