Brian P. Schaefle (Reaction on article "BMX in the Olympics")
August 14th 2003
Reaction on article "BMX in the Olympics" nr.1
I enjoyed the Gerrit Does article on BMX in the Olympics. I agree that some changes need to be made to make BMX more professional. I agree with the idea of banning clipless pedals and building tracks that can actually showcase the skills of the elite riders. However, I disagree with the idea of racing on 24"bikes. 20" bikes is what BMX is. Professionalism and challenging tracks will set BMX apart as an adult sport not cruisers. To be honest I believe cruisers hurt the sport and should be done away with. I'm an ABA rider and not very familiar with the UCI and international competition but what needs to be done is to do away with open, mixed open, and cruiser classes at nationals and have 20" classes all the way up through 56 and over. Everybody just race their age group and skill level and lets get out of the venue in less than 12 hours. The idea that older guys can't ride 20" bikes anymore is a worn out falacy from the 1980's. Riding a 20" bike is no different than riding a 24 incher. Lets get on our 20"bikes and just shut up and race!
Much respect to Mr. Does, however. Thanks! I welcome comments on this. If there's a message board where this discussion could continue let me know.
Brian P. Schaefle
On Fri, 15 Aug 2003 Gerrit Does writes:
Hi Brian, thanks for your reaction on my article. This is my goal, set people off thinking and talking about different ideas. Give me one more week and I get back to you in detail. Too busy at the moment with my "normal" job (personal manager at an amusement park).
Talk to you next week,
Regards, Gerrit Does
Also check out (if you can find the time) www.univofbmx.com
From: Brian P Schaefle Nr. 3
To: Gerrit Does
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Re: your reaction/comment in BMX in OLYMPICS.
Thanks for the response Gerrit. Much respect by the way, just not a fan of the big wheeled bikes. I'm 34 still race in the amateur class but I also still like to ride trails and skateparks and a cruiser just doesn't figure in for me. I really would like to see 20" classes all the way through the ages that cruiser classes cover. In my mind there's no reason why guys all the way through 56 and over can't ride a 20". I for one plan to ride 20" for life. I've seen the univofbmx site and I certainly have a lot of respect for all you've done. Certainly the Euro invasion of US BMX can be attributed to your activities and its one of the best things to happen to BMX in the last ten years. If it weren't for that the Americans would not be training like they do now.
Brian P. Schaefle
From: Gerrit Does August 16th 2003.
To: Brian P Schaefle
Re: your reaction/comment in BMX in OLYMPICS. Nr. 4
Hi there Brian,
Thanks for your e-mail and kind words. Appreciate it!
Brian, as I did say in my letter, many riders won't like the idea of 24"bikes and .............I agree: real BMX is 20"bikes.
However, what I am doing besides looking on the riders perspective is HOW DOES THE OUTSIDE WORLD LOOK TOWARDS OUT GREAT SPORT!
It is also an European kind of vision on this item, I must say. Allthough I believe that in most countries they have the same problem:
THE OUTSIDE BMX MEDIA look upon our sport as a childrens sport.
Reason: the in their eyes small children bikes. They don't realize how incredebly diffecult it is to race that 20"bike at X-games tracks for instance, at full speed.
Anyway, since BMX became OLYMPIC, more and more of those OUTSIDE BMX MEDIA GUYS will come over and report on our sport and again......the for sure will keep on writing in a negatif sence about those 20"bikes, in their eyes "children bikes".
How to change that? Putting in bigger wheels and therefore bigger frames etc. which will give the sport a more adult image to THEM (the outside BMX world).
It would be much better, I agree, if we could have all those news media guys turn around and get them to respect the 20" bike and write about it and the sport as an adult sport.
You see Brian, I try to highlight it from a different perspective then the riders. I KNOW that 95% of the riders agree with you: Real BMX is riding 20" bikes!
So, our conclusion may be, what policy do we have to follow to change around the opinion of the Media.
I think an important job for the UCI in Switzerland to work on this topic the upcoming years. Thanks again for your positif reaction Brian! I am sure more discussion will follow.
One more remark from my side. I understand your racing ABA? One thing I cannot understand at all is, why the UCI by no means did ever contact ABA directly to talk to them and to try to get them on board of the UCI organisation, together with the NBL!!!
ABA, in my eyes, is one of the...maybe even THE largest and most important BMX organisation in the world. This upsets me very much as an idealist which I am and as a great lover of the sport of BMX. This month I will sent an OPEN LETTER to the UCI and discuss this subject with them. Let's see what it will bring.
This is it for now Brian, take care and talk to you later.
Regards, Gerrit Does
"LIVE your DREAMZ"
From: Brian P. Schaefle (August 22nd. 2003)
Reaction nr 5.
Yes, Gerrit, I understood that you were trying to look at it from the perspective of the mainstream media and you may have a point.
An interesting tidbit: I was discussing the "cruiser" issue with my wife and she said that when we're at the track she has trouble distinguishing between 20" and 24" bikes, and she's been around the sport for a few years with me. So its possible that the outside media may not even be able to identify the difference between 20" and cruisers and still think of it as a kids sport.
Here is one thing that will change the world's opinion forever I think. Although it is beyond yours and my control. If Jamie Staff makes a strong showing on the velodrome in 2004 and again in 2008 and also makes a strong showing in BMX in 2008 the media will have a celebrity to put a camera on. I think the real issue is that when the world and cyclists realize how serious a rider like Jamie Staff trains that they will recognize BMX as the elite sport that it is. If he can podium in both sports the world will know that BMXers aren't just playing around on kids bikes. Of course Jamie Staff's performance is not something that we can control.
Another interesting note: I was looking a the velonews site the other day and they had feedback on the BMX Olympic decision and its seems split. The track racers don't think BMX is a good choice and they don't want to lose any events. Others think its time for a fresh sport at the Olympics and point to the previous inclusion of mountain biking. Honestly, when the world realizes what serious athletes some of our pros are they will take notice. When they see that some of these guys can walk of the BMX track and make solid showings on the track (velodrome) they'll take it more seriously. We also need to educate the outside world that many road bike, mountain bike, and motocross champions are former or current BMXers and they will take notice also.
As for the ABA issue, I don't know details but I always assumed that the ABA just ignored the UCI. I have the impression that the ABA is a rather arrogant Association and I just assumed they've always acted like they don't want/need the UCI. I think it's to their detriment. Where I live in California the ABA is really the only choice and that's why I race that sanction. I wouldn't mind racing NBL if the opportunity presented itself.
Thanks for the interaction. It's been fun!
Regarding you latest mail to me I must say you did hit "the nail on the head" (as we say in Holland). Your example on JAMIE STAFF is 100% correct. I agree with everything else you said on that subject.
I hope responsable people from national organizations and the UCI wil read all what we discussed and hopefully, they can use this info as a marketing tool. Thank you too for the interaction. It's been fun and usefull!
Take care, regards,