BMXs are cool! I know it, you know it, everyone knows it and with our recent success at the Olympics it’s time we got to know more about the sport and the thriving BMX community in Chesterfield.
I was super excited to interview the lady behind the 50-member strong BMX Club in Chesterfield, Libby Hawkins. Libby, currently nine months pregnant and temporarily barred from all cycling by her partner, has been riding, racing, falling off and getting back on BMXs since she can remember.
Libby is the director of Tuff Riders BMX School, club manager and coach for Chesterfield BMX Racing Club, based at Ringwood Park Chesterfield and Mickley. She is a coach and runs coaching sessions for people of all ages and abilities from beginners to international standard.
The Chesterfield BMX Racing Club was established in 1984, a year after the cult film BMX Bandits was released, which is mega! When Libby took over the Chesterfield BMX Racing Club, in 2013, it had just two members. Fast forward to 2021 and it has a thriving community of over 50 members competing all over the country.
The 2021 Tokyo games have catapulted BMX Racing back into the spotlight, which has resulted in a further 17 new riders visiting the Chesterfield Club. BMX’ing hasn’t been this popular since the days of the Raleigh Burner, which I would have swapped a sibling for as a ten-year-old boy, it’s a shame I am an only child! The Olympian and two-time world champion, Ross Cullen visits the Chesterfield club when he can, coaching and helping train potential world champs!
BMX Bicycle racing takes place on outdoor and indoor tracks throughout the country. Made from compacted dirt and tarmac, tracks are around 400 metres long and feature a large starting ramp, banked corners and a variety of jumps including table-tops, gap jumps and rhythm sections.
Getting into the sport has never been easier.
“We have worked hard at the club to remove any financial barriers for people wanting to try out the sport. Anyone can come down and hire a BMX, full-face helmet, gloves and pads for just £6 for two hours. This is reduced to just £3 for members! Coaching takes place on a Saturday and we can see up to 100 kids per day, especially in the holidays."
During the holidays the coaching team run outreach programmes and half-term clubs in various areas of Chesterfield including Staveley and Wingerworth. Getting children involved in the sport from a very young age is vital to the club's continued success.
“I teach kids from age two who will use balance bikes. I set up a little assault course with a little bridge and small humps for them to go over. We run these on a Tuesday night from 5pm in Mickley.
Keeping the club going is far from easy and requires financial support and funding from councils, the community and local businesses. Sadly, this isn’t very forth-coming at present.
“The track at Ringwood was built in 1984 and hasn’t been rebuilt properly since then. The weather has really taken its toll on it over the years. With little to no drainage and mounting maintenance costs, we are up against it and I am not sure how much longer it will last. We still have the original starting gate which is barely fit for purpose. Almost all clubs now have what's called a barrel gate - a far more modern piece of technology that we are in desperate need of. We are putting a lot of bids in at the minute to try and get some funding and we're always looking for sponsors. We have set up a GoFund me for the club and all donations are gratefully received.”
Libby and the team have big plans for the park.
“Our long-term goal is to turn the whole area into a big bike park that is fully inclusive for people of all ages and abilities. With a professional track for racing, a smaller one for the youngsters, and some walking and riding trials. We feel we can have a huge impact on the area, the sport and ultimately get more young people outside and active.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I am sold on the sport of BMX. If you are stuck at the starting gate but want to know more, the club has an open day on the 26 September at Ringwood Lake Park, Ringwood Road, Brimington, Chesterfield S43 1SQ. There will be live demos, racing, music, food and fun. So, get yourselves down with the kids, your little one could be the next Beth Shriever (Tokyo 2021 – BMX Gold Medalist).
The club runs sessions every Saturday 10:30am until 12:30pm and they would love for you to pop down and get involved.
For more information please check out their social media.