Each year, sometime right in the thick of summer, I get a call from Matt Coplon and Jay Schlie, to get the Bus ready, because it’s almost time for our Annual Maiden America tour, where QBP, Profile Racing, and FBM come together to visit bike shops, ride with locals, and promote the ideas of community, fun, riding bikes, and to raise the awareness of two of the few remaining BMX companies that do In-House manufacturing, and hire BMXers to keep the dream alive.
The Lure of the road, and the tales spawned while in motion are both fuel and currency. It’s been said that folklore is the traditional art, culture and practices that are passed on through real life human interactions, storytelling, sharing ideas and values of a particular group. In BMX it’s been seen at jams, on road trips, on bike rides, around a campfire or on someone's porch surrounded by empty beer cans. Personally I don’t think social networking carries the same weight.
For us, it was how we learned about music and art, and how we shared it with others. Tunes might be on the radio at a session somewhere down the line, or you’d meet a rider taking pictures and pick up some tips on gear, or techniques...you might even notice a different kind of shoes than your crew wore or a fashion you were unaware of. Before the web, the road was the vessel for how the culture and the ideas surrounding BMX were shared, how a jump was built at a different set of trails, or how a ramp was layered, or an approach to finding and riding street spots. All, a simultaneous ripple effect reaching each other via road trips to jams, random towns, events or what have you. For us the travel is how we continue to learn.
As the world connects more digitally, and becomes more disconnected in real life, we patiently wait outside the bus, watching people walk in and out of the truck stop as we fill up on expensive diesel and cheap coffee...we are the Folk Lords of Fun. Mile after mile, we aim towards our next stop, where on the Maiden America tour, we spread the word of community, BMX, and good times in the spirit of the DIY movement we grew up with. Meeting riders of different ages, backgrounds, ethnicity and gender, we can’t help but be affected the same way as the socio-economic and race barriers (and so much more) are transcended by a simple passion for learning and two wheeled fun. With each visit we are exposed to countless versions of BMX, each as unique as every different person, and their set up. I could be recounting some wild tale with a group of locals outside our bus, and look over to see a school teacher, a juggalo, a drug dealer, an athlete, a parent, a child, a veteran, a scientist, or an everyday teenage degenerate, all sharing time and space, that would otherwise never happen. And each one has their own story to tell, and each one leaves that session taking something with them that they might not have if they weren’t on that BMX bike.
Visiting small towns no one has ever heard of, major cities, and all the weird spaces in-between, meeting people from all walks of life, on wheels of all sorts, the influence goes all directions, from the people we meet, to the people we travel with. Each experience is something learned, something shared. In our modest efforts, sometimes even for just one afternoon, we make our own lives more fun, more exciting and more meaningful. And in that, new stories are written, sometimes inspired by our own old tales of travel, riding these kids bikes. Sometimes, in just getting a cup of coffee someplace new.
Regardless of the the fact that we are BMXers, what we do is important: sharing the ideas of community, of inclusion, of creativity, individualism, and the spirit of DIY.
But even more so, sharing the notion that anything is possible when we work along side like minded good people...