Okay, so I'm going to show my age here.
It always amazes me just how quickly BMX grows, and with each passing year we learn that there are practically zero age limits on either end of the spectrum. Every day, some rider dad is posting vids on Insta of his little 4 year old who's doing Strider moto whips through their backyard pump track, and later that same afternoon you'll see a clip pop up of some GrayBeard (no hate, I just pluck mine out to hold out for just a liiittle longer) pulling lines that remind you that these guys a) invented damn near every one of these tricks you do, and b) have likely forgotten more about riding a bike than you've picked up since the day your dad took your training wheels off.
Newer riders getting into it now have come into an unprecedented era of immediacy. Long gone are the days of hearing about a new trick or a crazy line that your favorite pro pulled at the last contest, but then having to wait weeks - or months sometimes - for the video of the contest to show up at your local bike shop. TV wasn't really sending many film crews out to capture a DK Dirt Circuit comp or a UGP Jam. Hoffman's BS Series, before the CFB contests, was a huge deal, but ESPN wasn't dropping a milli to cover them. So you waited for guys like Sandy Carson or Dave Parrick to pull out a VX or a GL1, and months later Glenn PP Milligan would edit it into something you'd watch over and over on your mom's couch with your friends. Nowadays, every NBD is seen worldwide 90 seconds after it was pulled, then shared 983k times, and then.... casually one-upped by Chad Kerley, mid-line, on a chill day at his local. Clip Lifecycle: 3 days, max.
I was listening to Casey Smith's "Yeah Dude, Sick!" podcast the other day, and he was talking about exactly that phenomenon. Like, how short attention spans are when it comes to the things people pull off (pun intended, but you'd have to hear the story on that particular episode) on these bikes we ride, and wondering if people still get the same feeling watching videos or clips these days? Like, do people even care anymore, beyond the 60 seconds of dopamine dump they get seeing three crash clips followed by some hard fought banger? Or do they just immediately scroll to the next clip and *poof!* Forgotten?
Even more integral to my era, at least, were the rags. BMX PLUS! BMX Action, DIG, and of course, pre-Transworld RIDE and RIDE UK. Sure, you could grab one from the magazine rack at the bookstore, but who had time for that? Every one of us had at least one subscription, and you waited for it's arrival with all the future anticipation of an Amazon package. The cover photo was always larger than life, with those diety-like pros captured by Jeff Z, or Devin Feil, or Mark Losey, frozen in a moment of what could only be described as magic. You'd take that magazine with you to school, you'd have it with you on car rides with your parents, you'd keep it in your backpack and take it to your local session so that you and your friends could marvel together over something as gnarly as Taj's overstretched can-cans, or Joe Rich effortlessly destroying that terrifying 7 foot Woodward spine like it was a curb. Sometimes you'd score a free
T-shirt when you renewed your sub, and every year the NORA Cup ballot was right there on a little perforated card, waiting for each of us readers to submit our picks for our favorite riders.
Back then, every one of us pulled the quad-fold poster out of the middle of the book, and taped, pinned, or even stapled that larger-than-life image up on our walls, to fall asleep staring at, and to be the first things we saw when we woke up. We saw these titans boost, spin, and grind in legendary places that we could only dream of riding one day. PUSH Trails in Pennsylvania. Sheep Hills. The Hubba Hideout. El Toro. California Ditches. Barcelona. TJ's or Fuzzy's backyards.
And we'd consume every photo. We'd pore over the catalogs in the back to Albe's or Tip Plus, piecing together our dream bikes (and subsequently feeling our breath catch when we totaled it all up at the bottom of the order form), and we'd read every rider profile and interview, trying to get a little insight into who our favorite sponsored riders were and how they got soooo good as to live that dream "pro" life. Heck, back then, we even read every article all the way to the end....