Why Do BMX Riders Flock to Austin, Texas?

Pro BMX riders - visitors and residents alike - tell us why the Lone Star State capital rules.
BMX rider Chris Childs competes at the 2013 Texas Toast event in Austin
Chris Childs, barspin to one-handed no-footer © Justin Kosman/Red Bull
By Leigh Ramsdell

Austin, Texas, was seemingly made for BMX. The city breathes the sport, with the 9th Street Trails, Empire BMX mail order, Joe Rich’s Terrible One bike company and so many riders, from influential pros to up-and-coming talents, calling it home.

While at Texas Toast, we polled a few riders about their first time to Austin, whether or not it lived up to the hype it’s generated over the years, and what keeps them coming back.

redbull.com: Do you remember your first trip to Austin?

Mike ‘Hucker’ Clark:
I was on a Red Bull Ride & Seek trip (see the video below). I was only supposed to be here for two days and I had such a good time that I ended up staying two weeks. It’s funny because the second time I came to Austin I was supposed to be here for two days and ended up staying two weeks again.

Anthony Napolitan:
It was in 2005 -- the best two weeks ever. I was really excited to see all the spots that I had seen in Props and the magazines. I got to ride 9th Street [trails] and the T-1 ramp with Joe Rich. It was really awesome.

Aaron Ross:
I remember one of the first times I came up here to race -- I think I was 15 -- and getting into the gate with Chase Hawk. After the races we’d go down to the trails and Chase was there. I remember watching him do laps around me. I mean, we were 15 years old and this dude was just killing it.

See Chase still killing it today in his ‘welcome to etnies’ edit below:

Van Homan:
I did a road trip here when I was maybe 17. It was really starting to come up at the time and all the big pros that we looked up to lived here like Joe [Rich] and Taj [Mihelich]. We saw crazy street spots and ditches everywhere so I just came here to ride bikes.

Taj Mihelich:
I ended up here on a search for someplace warm. I didn't know much about the riders that were here but I had seen the old Homeless ‘Trash’ video and knew there were some. I honestly just got in my car and drove south from a contest in Chicago until it got warm.

I had an invitation to go to OKC and stay with the Hoffman crew but when I arrived it was still cold so I kept going. I had an aunt in Dallas but it was still cold. When I hit Austin it was 70 degrees and I could ride bikes year-round. That was all I cared about back then.

Does Austin live up to the hype?

Sean Burns:
It depends what you’re looking for. Some people come here and they just don’t see it. But if you have an eye for weird taste then yeah, it’s the place to be. Music-wise too, it’s the music capital of the world. That always brought me here, along with BMX. So it’s a double whammy -- good combo.

Mark Mulville:
Yeah, definitely. It’s almost too much BMX but it’s amazing at the same time. In one week [in Austin] I get about three months of BMX so I go home and go to the beach (laughs).

BMX rider Mike Clark competes at Texas Toast 2013 in Austin
Mike 'Hucker' Clark, 360 downside whip © Justin Kosman/Red Bull

Mike ‘Hucker’ Clark:
It absolutely lives up to the hype. Every time I heard “you have to go to Austin, you have to go to Austin!” for the past ten years I was like, “Uh, I don’t want to go to Texas” (laughs). Then I came here and I was pretty bummed that I didn’t come here years prior.

Corey Martinez:
The scene is just massive! Austin is so into bikes in general, not just BMX, so you are drawn to it no matter what.

What keeps you coming back?

Mike ‘Hucker’ Clark:
What’s not to love in this city? Everybody is super friendly and there’s always something going on. There’s no other city like this in America -- not that I’ve been to, at least. I can’t get enough of it. If I didn’t grow up surfing I would have moved here a long time ago.

Corey Martinez:
My friends and just the whole scene in general. It’s one of those things where you can come [here] and there are always people riding no matter what.

Van Homan:
It’s a good time with good people, good food, and tons of spots to ride. To be honest I was always like, “Ah, I don’t know, Austin, whatever,” and in the past couple years I’ve done some longer trips and started thinking, “Oh, NOW I get it.”

Aaron Ross:
We have 9th Street and now there’s a skatepark in the middle of the city. It’s so bike friendly, it’s a cool town and it’s so relaxed. Everyone loves music. It’s the Live Capital Music of the world. What isn’t there to like?

Sean Burns:
I live here now. It’s not cold here. There are more babes here, more BMX, more rock-n-roll. That’s pretty much it.

BMX rider Taj Mihelich at the 2013 Texas Toast Jam in Austin
Taj Mihelich © Justin Kosman/Red Bull

Taj Mihelich:
The first time I showed up I arrived with everything I owned in a car and five dollars. I've more or less been here ever since. Great weather, great people, tons of stuff to ride and fun things always going on -- it's a great place.

Follow @redbullATX on Twitter to see more of what Austin has to offer.

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