A Rockville BMX Pilgrimage
About 30 years too late?
6 Feb 2015
Words and photos by Rob Dolecki
Back in the mid-80s, there was one name in the U.S. BMX mailorder game that stood on a pedestal above the rest. Located in Maryland, Rockville BMX’s notorious shop stickers were triangular, two-colored and added to all of its shipments. All the main bike companies at the time like Haro, Hutch and GT made sure to include Rockville on their bike shop show routes due to the legendary spectator turnout in that suburban DC community—as the stories go, they were normally twenty people deep around a huge viewing area. A young kid named Adam Spiegel was an employee; he was eventually branded with the moniker Spike Jonze. Many considered Rockville BMX the greatest shop in the world, a place any young kid infatuated with BMX catalogs would dream of visiting, including me. I’d always imagined what the shop was like in person, but I was too young and lived a few hundred miles too far to make the pilgrimage on on my primary form of transportation, my bike.
During the great BMX recession of the early 90s, the grim reaper took many companies, media outlets and shops, including Rockville BMX. By the time I had a driver’s license and a ’72 white Buick Skylark, which always seemed to be loaded with two seats-full of passengers and a bungee cord-tied trunk overflowing with bikes spanning end to end, all that remained of the Rockville BMX shop entity were memories of a past thriving era, a couple of decaying annual catalogs, and a phone number that was disconnected.
For the next few decades, thoughts about that shop never really crossed my mind.
That was until a few months ago, during one of the last nice autumn days of 2014. While tagging along on one of Paul Horan’s exploratory missions in search of a few random Chesapeake Bay area gems, our quest brought us through Rockville. As soon as we entered the town, it dawned on me that I had finally made it to that mythological place of my childhood.
Well, at least back in 1988 it may have been. Today it’s just another suburban East Coast town, complete with strip malls and a Starbucks. It houses a public skate park packed with skaters as well as an abundance of slippery dew that coats the ramps at dusk, some very hospitable native riders who we randomly ran into and cruised a few fun spots with, and a grocery store that had a banging half-price hot food and salad bar from 7 p.m. til close. This BMX experience in Rockville is a bit different from what I had imagined as a kid it must have been like 30 years ago, and I'm not just talking about the prevalence of neon back then. But it’s still refreshing to see BMX continues to have a heartbeat in Rockville.
Without doubt, the most difficult article I have ever photographed for DIG...
I always run into someone and pop out a knee or hip...