This section concerns mainly the History of European BMX. However, since I have been involved in the international development of this sport world-wide in the early days (1974 - 1984) and did have many contacts all over the world, a wide range of world-wide BMX developments have been documented as well by me.
I started competing in moto-cross events in 1963 and it was during those events that I had a competitor called, Pierre Karsmakers who also was a starting moto-cross rider at the time. Pierre Karsmakers was contracted by YAMAHA USA ending 1972 and would leave Holland some time early 1973 for the USA to live and work in California as a YAMAHA USA moto-cross team rider. He had a very nice sister that became my friend, fiance and in 1969 my wife. After my active career as an international moto-cross rider 250 cc ending the 1975 season, I became trainer/coach of about 8 Dutch top-riders in moto-cross and trial. Among them 4 of my brothers-in-law, Pierre, Paul, Frans and Toon Karsmakers. I was the personal coach of the youngest Karsmakers, Toon for some years. In the years to come, Toon did win 3 Dutch National titles in the 500 cc International class.
Since the ’70 several new bicycle disciplines have seen the day of light. Bicycle Moto-Cross (BMX Race), BMX Freestyle, Road Bicycle Down Hill racing (special prepared BMX bikes, no paddles, only brakes), Formula One road race-bikes (20” wheels and gears), Bicycle Trial riding, MTB down-hill, MTB Dual Slalom, MTB 4 cross just to mention a few disciplines.
As in BMX (a copy of stadion motorcycle moto-cross), cycle speedway can be seen as a copy of motorcycle speedway. Since I know just a little about this sport, I want to share this knowledge with you, because it might add a new dimension to cycling sport in general, world-wide.
As we all know, American BMX in its special form (20 inch bikes etc.) started in the late 1960 ‘s and early 1970's because of youngster imitating motorsport moto-cross stars. The bikes used at the time were the famous STINGRAY bikes, using 20 inch wheels. In the early '70 ‘s BMX became an organized sport in the USA (check the History of BMX on this site). As a matter of fact, although not know as BMX (Bicycle Moto-X), in Holland BX (Bicycle Cross, in Dutch "Fietscross") got off the ground in the mid 1950's and also here youngsters were imitating motorsport moto-cross stars from Holland, Belgium, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark etc.
As motorcycle enthusiast, I had a subscription on an English newspaper called MOTOR CYCLE NEWS. In its July 16th. issue I found an article on (as they called it at that time) MOTO BIKING.
Mitsui's bicycle division of England, were busy importing a so-called YAMAHA MotoBike (BMX). Mr. Mick Robbins of Mitsui stated that "the machine" would be definitely for sale before Christmas that year. Retail price for this complete bike ..... 100 pounds Sterling!!!!
Mr. Robbins stated that in the USA this new sport was really catching on and could have a good future in England and Europe as well. Bikes would become available anyway ending 1975.
The ABA makes the decision to expand nationally. First ABA national race held in Azusa, California. First large pro purse ($1,000.00) offered at a major race by the ABA.
Kyle Flemming became ABA's first number 1 Amature. Kyle was riding for DG at the time. A couple of years later, Kyle was killed in a car-train accident going with 3 others to a BMX race. I will come back to this tragic event later on.
Again, this was the year I got involved in BMX seriously. I organized the official introduction of the sport of BMX during the international moto-cross event at Valkenswaard in March 1978. A group of about 10 riders did give a demonstration of BMX racing. An unofficial BMX organization was founded (not registered/recognized by the official authorities) on May 16th. 1978 by yours truly, called: "Eerste Nationale Fietscross Organisatie" (1st National BMX Organization).
Around this time, I contacted the municipality of Eindhoven with the request to put at our disposal a piece of land on which a track could be build. In the meantime, I got in contact with Louis Vrijdag (whom I knew from the moto-cross sport), at the time he was working for the municipality of Eindhoven, who also learned about this BMX activity because of his job. Louis and I found eachother and understood each other well and this cooperation led to the foundation of the S.F.N. "Stichting Fietscross Nederland" later on this year.
Although I am writing about the History of European BMX as I know it, you will find that a lot of the information comes from Holland and from other countries outside Europe.
I think one can say that the developments in Holland, almost reflects the developments as they happened in most of the other countries, not only in Europe but even worldwide. There are many of comparisons. It might give a good idea how BMX progressed in general in the early days in any country.
Since most information on BMX developments outside Europe aren't known to a lot of people, I do mention in my stories the dates and facts of which I am certain they are correct. I also state situations and happenings that are interesting enough to be mentioned. Most of the facts can be confirmed by documents in my BMX archief.
At first as Gerrit Does and later on as General Secretary of I.BMX.F., I had almost all international contacts up and till 1985/86 with individuals world-wide, with countries/ organizations asking for an I.BMX.F. affiliation. Over the same period I also can report on what I know on outside Europe developments in BMX.
Switzerland. Early this year I did have my first contact on BMX with the importer of Murray bicycles in Switzerland, Mr. R.A. Huber. Only in 1982 serious action in Switzerland getting BMX off the ground by Mr. Franz Hattan.
The F.F.B. (Federation Francaise de Bicrossing) in France ceased to exist. Early 1981 at first two clubs, the BMX club of Beaune and Altkirch and later on Delle, formed a new organization called the A.F.B. - Association Francaise de Bicrossing. Very soon more bmx clubs would join the A.F.B. Its first president became Mr. Raymond Imbert (1981 - 1983). Ending 1981 the F.F.B. did have approx. 100 license holders.
BMX in Venezuela started in Caracas. Mr. Alfredo Matheus was the first president of the Venezuelan BMX Federation, the A.V.B. - Asociacion Venezolana de Bicicross. Mr. Matheus also is one of the founder members of the I.BMX.F. later on in 1981. At the end of 1981 there were about 600 license holders and riders did compete in events in the USA (specially Florida) and Colombia. Also USA riders took part in events organized in Venezuela. Pioneers in developing BMX were Mr. Ruben Garcilaso, Mr. Alfredo Matheus and Mr. Solari. They were also the men that helped design most of the Venezuelan BMX tracks (early 1983 there were about 15 permanent tracks in Venezuela) and advised local clubs and associations to get organized.
South American BMX developments and specially in the leading country Chile, was very strong. The existing C.B.X. was transformed into the F.CBX. - Federacion Chilena de Bicicross and this organization was officialy recognized by the Chilian government in 1983. The Executive President at the time was the excellent Mr. Ruy Barbosa, one of the first directors of the sport in Chile (at present-2001, president of the UCI-BMX Committee). Later this year, Chilian riders did win four world-championship titles during the first I.BMX.F. World Championship at Dayton - Ohio in August 1982. These titles helped a lot promoting the sport in Chile. Getting organized in Chile is very hard, due to the fact this country is stretched out along a 4000 km long coastline.
During 1982, the New Zealand Government allowed CroMo tubing into the country and Pantha (factory) put out a truly NZ designed and made CroMO frames.
In 1983 a series of International events were named, the "STARTRACK 1" series.
March 19th. - International BMX race in Valencia - Spain.
March 27th. - Can-Am International Canada
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