Have you ever noticed how much BMX can change you physically and mentally? Or that once you get to a certain point, you can’t just quit. It’s addictive, but mostly in a good way… Unless you end up with some nasty injuries. It’s kind of crazy to think about, but BMX makes you tough as nails.
Note: This post was originally from 2008. We’ve updated it in 2017 almost entirely.
How BMX Makes You Tough As Nails
Looking at BMX from a physical perspective, it’s safe to say it’s a full body workout. Everyone that rides has had one of those sessions where the next day you wake up and your entire body is sore. Maybe it’s from crashing or maybe it’s just from keeping your body moving for hours, pulling and twisting every part of your body. When it comes to riding, you’re using pretty much using every muscle from your neck to your feet because of the movements involved that require your body to adjust to keep balance or do a certain move. Your arms, back and chest get a workout every time you pull up or push down, every part of your legs are constantly getting worked from pedaling to helping you hop or keep balance in a manual. Your core gets in the mix for every part of this as well.
Plus, it’s a hell of a cardio workout that isn’t like anything else. It’s kind of funny watching somebody who might be real in shape hop on a bike and see how fast they get winded. Since your body works a lot harder when riding than other sports, 45 seconds can get your heart racing real fast, no matter how long you have been riding. When was the last time you rode in a contest? That’s a perfect example to show how intense riding can wear you out quick. Even the contest guys who “train” are usually huffing and puffing pretty hard after their run.
Along with the physical workout comes the physical pain. Anyone that has rode BMX knows that no matter how good you are, you’re going to crash eventually. Whether is sliding out and leaving some road rash to catching a pedal to the shin or a knee to the stem, rolling an ankle or worse. Nobody is invincible and I think the list of riders who have taken some severe crashes like Mat Hoffman, Stephen Murray, Brett Banasiewicz, Mike Aitken, Tony Neyer, Scotty Cranmer and more can show that no matter how good you are, you can still crash and you can still get really hurt. It seems like it’s frequently the most basic things that you have done a million times that tend to take you out, too. But, over time all those cuts and scrapes, pedals smashing into your shins, body slams on the hard ground, knocks to the head (seriously, you’ll always regret not wearing a helmet when you hit your head) and rolled ankles don’t quite hurt as much as they used to because your pain tolerance goes up a lot. It’s kind of crazy watching riders take huge slams, and instantly bounce back up like nothing had happened. The number of scars you have tend to become badges of honor and oddly enough most of them you will remember exactly how it happened, even if you have a ton.
I don’t want to say that we are superior, but have you ever watched professional basketball, baseball, soccer? The injuries a lot of those guys get where they are laying down on the ground like they just got hit by a bus leads to their sprained ankle, or something that BMX riders usually just get up from. Not in every case is this true, but it was just something I noticed. It’s kind of crazy.
There’s a reason Tony Neyer ALWAYS wears a helmet now. After a crazy head injury that could have killed him, he’s back on the bike and still crushing it. The video above was filmed before and after the crash and you can tell because he’s rocking a helmet in the clips after the accident. Learn from Tony… You won’t regret it.
When it comes to the mental aspect of riding, you’re getting tougher as well. If you don’t think so, think about some of the things you do on your bike now that probably scared you at first or seemed impossible. Many of you probably remember the first time you dropped in on a quarter pipe and remember looking down and thinking that you were going to go down hard, but once you did it a few times it became less and less scary and it ultimately becomes as easy as pedaling on flat ground. BMX also teaches you patience, persistence and perseverance. Ask any rider to name a trick they spent HOURS trying to figure out, followed by hours to get it dialed in so that they could do it consistently. I’ll tell you, I’ve spent countless hours and had thousands of attempts at tailwhips, and I’ve only landed a few (Serious love / hate relationship with that trick). It seems impossible, but you develop a drive that pushes you to figure out how to do something no matter how much work it takes to do it. There’s a reason people celebrate when they pull something off they didn’t think they could do or something that just scared them. I think that mental toughness translates into the real world because it also builds confidence in the rider and it tends to make things seem less scary or impossible. Plus, after all those crashes and seeing a good amount of blood, your minds pain receptors tend to stop working as well, haha.
Another mental aspect that I think Scotty Cranmer has shown in his recovery from his crash, is the drive to get back to health so you can continue to ride. Doctors told Scotty that he may never walk again, but he has proven that isn’t the case at all and he continues to blow people’s minds as he progresses. The biggest drive for him to keep pushing himself? To one day be able to get back on his bike and ride again. That there is some serious mental and physical toughness that is undeniable.
Today marks 6 months since the day of my accident. It has felt like an eternity but it also feels like yesterday that I was riding my bike. I am making progress every single day and I'm so grateful for that! Thank you all for the continued support through out my recovery! #BMX #standwithscotty #road2recovery
There’s no doubt that BMX makes you tough as nails, from a physical aspect to a mental one. There’s a lot that goes into riding BMX that people might not necessarily understand or known until they’ve given it a shot themselves and spent some time working at it to become a better BMX rider. All we do know is it takes a special breed of person to get back up after a nasty crash, shake it off and hop back on the bike to give it another go.