BMX Bling in SoCal
BMX was born when some kids somewhere (commonly thought of as SoCal) started racing their modified 20’ Schwinn Stingrays and created a revolution. These kids were jamming through the dirt, heavily influenced by the motocross heroes of the '70s.
As for today, well, my buddies–Mario Correa, Neil Adams, Mark Sheetz–and I wanted to join in the action, too. BMX Mulisha was born when my racing partner, Mario, decided to start a BMX team for the 12 Hours of Temecula, held at SoCal's Vail Lake Resort. Category entered: four-person single speed with a twist–we all used the same bike, a.k.a. the Iron Bike, 24” Redline BMX. We jammed like kids through the dirt, sensing the insane reality of doing a 12-hour race on a bike that none of us, except Mark, had ridden before.
After it was all said and done, we realized all you really need is a bike, a keg, and a hacksaw. Mark modified the bike with a front brake, egg-beater pedals, and a 2.4 downhill front tire that he customized by slicing off some of the side knobs to get the tire to fit in the frame.
Our rules were simple: Show up, count on your legs being on fire, and leave your spandex at home. Race kits: Dickies work shirts, with a hand-sprinkled glitter logo. Race fuel: carbs and calories that came from Guniness and Spam Pizza. Must-have item: a sense of humor. Results: First place; ten laps overall.
We had some respectable lap times. The fastest lap was Mario at 55 minutes, with Mark not far behind. We had no way of carrying any water, so you got one cup at the aid station–that’s if you even stopped. The gearing ratio was equivalent to 32:16 on a 26-inch bike. One word: burly.
Since we all shared the bike, the seat height was guesstimated for the next rider. Most often it was too high or too short, but that didn’t matter because you couldn’t sit anyway. We had one minor mechanical issue, and we had to hacksaw a bent seat post off. There was shock and awe/soul-crushing disappointment when our competitors realized some maniac wearing a glitter work shirt just passed them.
We had help from Lupine lights on the trails, and since we didn’t use camel backs or race jerseys with pockets, we opted for the next best method to carry batteries: duct tape. The batteries are so lightweight that this new system was fail safe.
We've got to thank Jason and Heather Ranoa for putting on this series, Traci Adams, our fantastic pit sergeant /time keeper, and Chris, the superstar mechanic.
Here’s what my BMX teammates had to say about the race:
Looks like you challenged yourself and had a good time. You were the first one in So Cal to ride a BMX for an endurance race. Think you might be starting a revolution?
Mario: I don’t know if you’d call it a revolution. It’s just something very different. Doing the same courses on the same bikes, racing against the clock or the same people can get old. Half the fun of the BMX thing is planningit out, making adjustments to the bike, testing and readjusting. On race day, it’s all about the fun and the challenge: Will the bike hold up? Will my legs?
What was the most challenging aspect about riding the bike?
Mario: I usually ride with bar-ends so I can really use my upperbody when I’m hammering out of the saddle. Not having them made some ofthe climbsa struggle.
Neil: Having no water and not being able to rest. The seat postheight was a bit short so some of the longer flat sections were quitepainful. But if you ain’t suffering, you ain’t racing!
Mark: I would have to say, riding out of the saddle for an entire lap. There was no relief on the legs and back.
What surprised you the most about riding the BMX bike?
Mario: I thought the second half was much more fun on the BMX than on my 26” bike, especially the jumps on the last downhill.
Neil: I was surprised the bike actually held together for ten laps! I was able to bend the seat post and loosen the headset, and Iron Bike just kept on rolling. I was quite impressed with its downhill prowess. We upset people as we cleared tech sections they were walking.
Mark: It was actually advantageous on the technical downhills. It would thread easily through sketchy switchbacks and laughed at sand. It was fun!
What were some of the best comments from other riders on the trail?
Mario: “That’s awesome!”
Neil: “Are you kidding me?!” “Holy sh*t, dude, you smoked those switchbacks! Insane!” “You depress me”–that was from my pit mate Carl. “You look like a bear on a circus bike.”
Mark: There were a lot of “Way to go BMX!” But my favorites were: “Dude, you totally railed that ridge after you passed me. I couldn’t keep up.” “You're killing it.” “How many beers have you had?” “What's that on your neck for?” referring to the blingy belt I wrapped around my neck. Answer: “It's sassy!” Then later in the day, I heard mostly demoralized grunting sounds.