The past few months have been a steep learning curve for me, BMX wise. Like I’ve heard from most of the people who turn up at the track for the first time, ‘I used to ride BMX back in the day’. I had a chrome GT Pro Series which I loved; laid back seat post, ski pole grips, you get the picture… My friends and I used to race around the streets and make jumps, but never rode our bikes on a track, as there wasn’t one we knew of near by.

Roll on 15 years to 2009, I’d just moved house to the doorstep of the new Manchester track, I wanted to get fit and spotted an old school GT on eBay that I got for £41. I arrived at the track one Thursday, seat post up and handlebars forward with a borrowed helmet and pads (I’m still borrowing the pads!). I didn’t know what I was doing but found all the guys there to be very helpful and friendly. Neil sorted out my bike as much as he could and I pottered around the track slowly, getting to grips with the jumps and start gate. I was instantly hooked. On the next session I met James (Rooster) who was in the same boat as me, we both caught the BMX bug and have been riding regularly since.

After a couple of weeks practice the track closed for maintenance work. I missed riding, but filled the time off the bike with a shovel and rake, this was also an opportunity to get to know some of the guys better and start to understand the basics and excitement of racing a little more. Andy, Neil, Pete and Roger’s enthusiasm and commitment to the cause were second to none; everyone else who pitched in, especially when the weather was bad deserves a medal. The track gradually took shape and we were back riding before too long.

After doing laps on several of the other members’ cruisers I decided that 24” would be better for me. I got myself an Avant Factor that was for sale on BMXtalk. I instantly felt an improvement in my pace and technique. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still slow but I’m making progress and more importantly still really enjoying riding. I’ve not even competed yet, but aim to do so soon and I’m especially looking forward to the Manchester regional and national events in July and August. When the track will host some of the best riders in the country. I know how much hard work has and is going on behind the scenes so I’m sure both events will run smoothly and prove to be a great success.

I suppose the point of this post, aside from sharing my story, is to welcome new riders to Manchester BMX club. If you were thinking of coming down and giving it a try, there’s nothing to be worried about. In my experience everyone at the club has been really friendly and welcoming, whether you’re a complete novice or experienced rider, people will have time for you. There’s no pressure and you can always go at your own pace.

One of the things I love about BMXing is that it’s so simple. Get yourself a cheap bike, gloves and helmet and you’re away. Practice is £2.00 (or £1.00 for members), so it’s not going to break the bank like some sports can. I have found BMXing to be a really welcoming and down to earth sport, no egos, just friendly people enjoying themselves with competitiveness saved for race days.

So if you’ve been considering riding, beg, buy or borrow yourself a bike (don’t forget gloves and a helmet) and come down to Manchester BMX on a Saturday between 15:00 and 19:00 or on a Thursday between 18:30 and 21:00. I’m sure, like me you won’t regret it.

Mark