While most dandyhorse readers are worried about getting to work without getting hurt by the ever-increasing number of distracted drivers, some of you and your kids might be thinking about catching some big air or doing manuals at the park on the weekend.
Here are some top tips from Riders Co.'s Semyon Leontyev
Learn all the basics you can
Fundamentals are essential to any new skill so you have to make sure you learn them correctly. You can't take shortcuts to work your way up, no matter how tempting they may be. Don’t be impatient, make sure to master all the basics, working your way up until you have a solid proficiency in BMX riding.
You shouldn’t take high risks, do crazy stunts or attempt huge airs if you haven't yet learnt how to do basic tricks. BMX is difficult so trying to do high level tricks can lead to injuries if you haven't been patient and worked out the fundamentals just yet.
The best way to learn how to properly do the basics is by watching them on video and going step by step. Go to Riders.co and check all the tricks on BMX, from basics ones for beginners to the professional ones for experienced riders.
Picking your ride
This is a no-brainer! If you’re going to pick one up at a bike store, make sure it fits you as well as possible, ask for help and find the bike that makes YOU feel safe. We recommend testing a lot of bikes before making your final decision.
If you’re a beginner then this is even more important. Of course, we all have budgets to contend with, but it's important to chose a bike you will feel confident you can ride. Most importantly, listen to suggestions from those who have plenty of experience on BMX bikes, but ultimately choose the one that feels best to you.
Avoid being reckless
It’s possible to cut down the risk factor on getting an injury and we’re going to tell you how. First you need to make sure that every day before riding your bike you warm up and stretch. Doing so will help abstain any cramps, fatiguing any muscles or tearing any ligaments.
It is still surprisingly common for many people to feel awkward wearing protective gear. We get it, but ultimately safety is more important! The fact that protective gear makes you feel more heat; they add some “weight” or they look “lame” shouldn’t be taken into consideration when the reward is avoiding a serious injury.
Another trick to avoid serious injury is to let doctors take a look at you. Whenever you get hurt, go visit the medical centre and get checked out. Don’t get crazy and start riding again before time or you might never fully recover.
Always give your injuries all the time needed, don’t miss therapy and treat them very carefully. You will eventually heal and start shredding on your bike in no time.
Learn with the finest
One of the best strategies to improve your skills is to observe, socialize and join with more experienced riders. Getting help will give you the chance to receive some great advice, trick tips and techniques that you may not have found online.
We go even further and advise to return the favour with those who are just starting out. Teaching others will help you focus and analyze common mistakes that you may still be making.
Every day is a new one to get better
The fun thing about BMX riding is that you can think of any trick or combination and each day someone will always come out with something brand new that no one never thought of. Why? Well, because the possibilities are endless.
Go and try to learn something new and better than the day before, always adding a little more difficulty to the new moves. This way you’ll be pushing yourself harder without even noticing it.
An amazing tip to keep progression on your way is to ride a ton of different places. Don’t just get stuck on the same boring places, you need to get out of the comfort zone. You'll be happy you did!
Put yourself out there
What we recommend is very simple: compete in as many contests as you can. A lot of people get uncomfortable in the spotlight and that's totally fine. Many people don’t like to put themselves in stressful situations like competitions. But if you're up for it, it can be a great way to connect with other riders and improve your skills!
Another trick for constant progression is to go out and film yourself. This is a great way to get feedback from other people interested in BMX. If you feel comfortable enough you can upload it on the internet and social media. This way you can propagate some of your skills out and maybe even connect with other riders.
Another way to spread the word about yourself is to be unique and get some tricks under your belt. Getting out there and having one or even a couple of “never been done” tricks is by far one of the most effective ways you can use to turn other people’s attention towards you and get involved in the community.
Imperative factors that leads to improvement
There are three factors we believe that every rider must have in order to improve their set of skills: calmness, confidence and persistence.
In order to maintain calm, you should try to just let go and enjoy your ride. Enjoying the moment and being aware that this should be nothing but a fun time will keep your passion for BMX alive even when it gets challenging.
Confidence is all about feeling comfortable trying new things. Try not to second guess yourself when learning anything with BMX, make sure you feel safe, but don't fear keep you from really going for the difficult tricks.
Persistence will drive you to get back up every time you fall, and try something for endless times until you successfully make it happen.
Coming in June! Our new issue of dandyhorse includes cover art by Kent Monkman, interviews with Catherine McKenna and the women behind Toronto's first feminist bike zine, lots of news and views on Bloor, Under Gardiner and the West Toronto Railpath and much, much more! Get dandy at your door or at better bike and book shops in Toronto.
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