How to become a Bmxer: from buying and setting up your fist Bmx to building your first dirt jump? I have been involved in this extreme sport for almost four years now and became involved in it because as soon as I saw it on the television I fell in love with it.

To be a bmxer you need the essential tool for the sport, a Bmx. You will remember your first bike forever so read carefully to make the right choice. You aren’t looking for an overly expensive bike, for example my first bike cost me around �200. First set yourself a budget and gather all the bike magazines you can get your ‘paws’ on, preferably Bmx magazines such as Ride UK, Dig and Ride USA. Look through the magazines at the bikes on offer to see what you like.

You are looking for a strong bike that will survive the bangs and crashes that all beginners put their bikes through. You want to be buying a good reliable make. I personally suggest makes like Specialized, Haro, and Wethepeople just to name a few. On your first bike you want to be looking for strong cranks and wheels. Get a three-piece crank, which is a crank made of three pieces instead of the old one piece cranks which bend and snap a lot. Buy a bike with double wall wheels; Alex MX22 come standard with most good bikes. Choose a colour you like, remember bright colours like white will show up all your scrapes and dirt but dark will hide those.

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Once you have purchased your new bike you’ll want to get out on it straight away but don’t go cycling off into the sunset just yet. You’ll need to set up your bike to suit your riding style. Starting with your seat, when you stand on your pedals your seat must be at the same level as your knees as you will need your knees to pinch the seat doing tricks such as bar spins, no handers and x-ups. The position of your handlebars is always a tricky thing to get right.

To do this, sit on your saddle once you have positioned it at knee height and then put them in the position where they run in a smooth line up from your forks; then adjust them forward or back just a little bit until they feel comfortable. Once you have done this, cycle up and down your street or driveway a couple of times both standing up and sitting down just to make sure you feel comfortable with the bars and seat in those positions. If you don’t, adjust them a little bit more but you’ll most likely get it right first time.

Once you have set up your bike you are ready to hit the trails, that’s if you have any or if you don’t, read the rest of this to find out how to build your own. First of all you must find a good spot for your dirt jumps, preferably away from prying eyes because you don’t want people seeing them and wrecking them on you as I found out when I built my first jumps. If you have your own land then that’s a good thing but if you are using someone else’s then you must ask his or her permission before digging it all up. Finding a good spot can be hard because it must be as flat as possible, sheltered from wind, like near trees and must have good soil to be digging with.

Ok, so once you find a good spot, plan out your jumps. To build the jumps takes hard work so friends with muscles are a benefit. You’ll need spades or shovels and maybe a wheelbarrow if you are transporting the soil. Start off by piling up two large piles of muck about three or four foot apart; the more soil, the bigger the jump. You are going to be cycling up one of them, the launch ramp, jumping into the air and then landing down the other pile, the landing ramp. You must shape and pat down with your spade the launch ramp in a steep curve so that you will gain good height and distance when you jump it.

The landing ramp doesn’t have to be as steep as the launch but it does have to be in a smooth curve at the bottom of it for a smooth landing. Once you have your jumps built, wait for it to rain on them or else spray a hose on them. Don’t soak them just wet them, because when the water dries, your jump will be strong and the muck will be hard so that your tyres don’t sink into them when you jump them.

I am not going to go into great detail about how to jump your jump because the only way you learn is to practise it yourself. The only thing to do now is to go out and have fun and don’t give up because you can’t do big tricks straight away; stick with it and you’ll get better and better and I might even see you at the X Games in a few years.

The diagram below shows you a typical dirt jump; notice the curve difference between the launch ramp on the left and the landing ramp on the right.

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