Utah was once a center for BMX racing. But about 10 years ago, the sport started a slow decline, replaced by free riding (skateboard-type tricks) at free skate parks across the nation. Pay-per-race tracks began shutting down. But in 2008, BMX racing was featured in the Beijing Olympics.
The week following that event, more than 8,000 new racers signed up for the required racing licenses from either the American Bicycle Association (ABA) or National Bicycle League (NBL), two competing governing bodies that support different styles of racing. Within a few years, the two associations merged under an umbrella organization called USA BMX.
Suddenly, BMX racing was cool again. Numbers began climbing, new tracks began opening. But free ride is still king.
One of the experts on two-wheeled free ride is a Buckley—but not Eddie Buckley, the legendary former pro rider who is co-owner of Layton BMX shop 5050BMX as well as the BMX coordinator for the summer Dew Tour and the BMX team manager for Skullcandy. Nope, it’s his son, Austin, who works at 50-50. We fed him the questions, he gave us the right answers. Now, get out to the nearest skatepark and do a Superman!
CW: What are the five best free-ride parks?
1. Layton Skatepark: My personal favorite in the state (and also, lucky for me, my home skatepark). Layton has big, deep bowls and steep transitions. 700 N. 2200 West
2. Kearns Skatepark: Kearns park is the newest on my list and is a skate-plaza-style skate park. It has lots of grind boxes, rails and stairs to ride. 5850 S. 4800 West
3. Herriman Skatepark: Herriman has a little bit of everything, from deeper bowls to flat ledges. It’s a great park if you like mixing things up. 13400 S. 5900 West
4. Sandy Skatepark: This park has pretty infinite riding lines through it because of its many shallow bowls and mellow transitions. 10140 S. 700 East
5. Ogden Skatepark: Although this park has been around for years, bikes were allowed only recently. It has brushed concrete that your tires will grab great to, and one of the best spines around! 769 Canyon Road
CW: Can anyone try free riding at a skate park?
AB: Some skate parks don’t allow bikes, or have only have specific times that bikes are allowed, so always make sure you check the rules at your local park. No one likes a ticket! Other than that, most skate parks are free game! All you need is a BMX bike (and a helmet, if you’re smart) and the desire to have sooooo much fun.
CW: What’s a good trick to start out learning, and how would someone learn it?
AB: Most new riders learn “fly-out” tricks first—meaning that you jump out of a quarter pipe or other transition to a flat landing. Fly-outs are great because they are pretty low-risk and you can go as big or small as you want. Just find yourself a nice, mellow transition and go for it! Experiment and try taking a hand or a foot off in the air and see where it takes you. Pretty soon you’ll be doing all sorts of tricks! n