BMX PlayTime at DirtE19
Anyone who has ever known me can tell you that I am not what you’d call a girly girl. I don’t fad over the latest fashion trends and manicures are doomed to last 3 days. At best.
I’m the kind of girl that choses a burger over a salad, a coke (no diet thank you very much) over a tall glass of water and a day of watching dudes on bikes over any fashion event. Not that I’d even know where to begin if I were to actually want to go to a fashion event. So that is exactly what I did last Sunday: I went to watch a bunch of guys take big jumps over sandy hills, all in the name of adrenaline, friendship and BMX.
Antwerp must be a dream for the average urban athlete. Plenty of rails, stairs, bowls and even full parks are littered around town and get a lot of wheels riding on them. Be it a board, blades or a bike, none of these should ever fear not finding a decent place to do some tricks if they’re in the center of town.
But what does a BMX rider do when he (or she) wants to jump some serious dirts? Once upon a time Antwerp used to have 2 dirt parcours: one at the north side of the “Kaaien” and one on the south side of that same street. These days however, I was forced to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and visit a neighboring district. Not that either me or the riders seemed to truly mind that. As they put it: it wouldn’t even be safe to build a patch of green and place high jumps in them in the center of town. Kids would try and take them without guidance and the control of a parent or a talented rider and accidents are bound to happen that way. Since it’s simply impossible that we don’t have anybody from Antwerp who likes to ride his BMX on sand instead of concrete sometimes and so I went to check out what the fuss of a “dirt jam” is all about. Hell: I wasn’t gonna wait until Antwerp Street Kicks to check out some of the skills I know us to have. Especially when an opportunity like the BMX Playtime presented itself.
A warm and welcoming family gathering
Dressed for a hot summer Sunday I set out for the woodsy area behind a tennis club a twenty-minute drive away from the center of town. Contrary to what one might think when reading about an area in the woods layered with hills and dirt: it actually looked very inviting. That is: if you weren’t afraid to sit on the ground while guys flew over your head at great speed and height. As soon as I was able to look beyond the adrenaline filled atmosphere that reigned the grounds, I felt like I had perhaps crashed some kind of wonderful bizarre family gathering. But it wasn’t like I was the odd one out, far from that. It seemed that they welcomed me with as much enthusiasm as they did everyone who had been with them for who knows how many years. Within minutes upon arriving some old riders had taken it upon them to include me in their jeers and banter, effectively ending any feeling of alienation I might have had. That also made it easier to make my way in between the mounts so that I could have a little chat with the organization.
Dirk, Yannick and Djef all took their time to explain to me why it was worth for city slickers like myself to sometimes step out of our concrete jungle to ride some greener pastures. Not that I couldn’t see evidence of what they said right before my eyes.
I know that most people still associate BMX with a bunch of rowdy teenagers that jump, twist and turn their bikes on every surface that is deemed fit to ride over. And yes, it’s that too, but what ‘outsiders’ fail to see is the entire lifestyle behind it. These flying, riding, tricking wonders didn’t just wake up one day with the ability to make a three meter jump over a one meter gap with a 8,5 kg heavy bike. Next to the higher dirts I was surprised to find a specially designed trail for the little daredevils to do their thing. And I have to say that those little guys were equally brave: helmet on the head they flew over their track with as much velocity and tenaciousness as any adult rider could muster.
On the beats of classic rock- and hiphop music I had an afternoon worth remembering, where I came for the tricks and stayed for the positive vibes. If you’re in Antwerp during the weekend of the 22nd of August, make sure to check out more extreme sporting mania at Antwerp Street Kicks. I’m sure a lot of the guys I saw last Sunday will be happy to show off their mad skills once again.
Special thanks to Dirk, Yannick and Djef (DirtE19 and BMX PlayTime).
BMX PlayTime: http://bmxplaytime.be/
Text by Joke
Pictures by Florian Bosmans