Keith Duly talks about Jim Dirt’s JUMPCLUB
What year did you start in the sport?
I bought my first BMX in about ’83. First race was ’84.
When were your prime years?
The 90’s were fun years for me in terms of magazine coverage and deals. I won 3 UK King of Dirt titles and a couple of British Championships. But the best times were definitely the road trips and sessions along the way. I’m always banging on to parents and kids about enjoying the journey, its rule number one.
How did JUMPCLUB all come about?
I started JUMPCLUB to get my two boys and their friends excited about BMX. You can’t live around Hastings without being involved in a BMX related project.
I’ve coached BMX and various sports for years. I did a Sports Science degree just to understand BMX better. I’ve spent 20 years working day jobs in sport and play development and leisure facility development. I always had a bunch of ideas for BMX projects and JUMPCLUB is a good platform to now try some out.
What is the goal of JUMPCLUB and some of the grassroots projects you guys do?
JUMPCLUB is about trying different things to get people excited about riding. The sport’s biggest opportunity is to shake-up the grassroots offer.
We run weekly racing and jumping coaching sessions at Bexhill track and help out with the Source Park coaching. Over the Spring, we were managing 7 sessions every Saturday morning across the two venues with around 100 kids taking part in skating, park or racing all before lunch. We’ve concentrated more on racing over the Summer. So there’s a big demand out there, but we owe it to our sport to do it in the right way and install the essence of BMX through these sessions.
We run a team. Most of our riders race in the UK’s South region but we have racers wearing the jersey all over the UK and in America. The team includes rookies, right through to our experts like Double 0 with her fresh W5 plate. We’ve just signed our favourite street rider Gatt.
Anyone can join JUMPCLUB wherever they live, they don’t have to attend our sessions or road trips. People can sign-up to JUMPCLUB via social media and receive a bunch of stickers, ongoing offers and that kind of stuff.
We have a couple of events and some fun collaborations in the planning. We’re chasing money to re-develop Bexhill track, home of the Backyard Jams. We’re aiming to shake it up and design a fun track that you can have a full-out race on, or just enjoy a few mid-week nibbles.
We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we want to spread a little radness, help kids find their way to true BMX Glory, just keeping it nice and epic, hahaa.
Who are some of JumpClub’s supporters and sponsors?
One of my closest friends and ex-Kuwahara rider Daryl Gibbard and his partner Aimee Dow from Jolt Creative look after the creative and branding side of things. BMX.Photos make us look rad. We have some ideas bubbling with United Bikes and Source BMX who support everything we do. We’re proud to have Stay Strong on our race jerseys too.
There’s a team of helpers behind our coaching sessions in Bexhill, including Don’s maintenance crew, the café girls and my man Billy. I’m genuinely grateful to them, I couldn’t do it without them all. Let’s give a little shout to the Ratty Woods locals, who always help spread the word.
You have been known for being such a well-rounded rider winning British Nationals and K.O.D events the same day. Today, Freestyle and Race seem miles apart. Do you think the current Race World could learn from some of the 90s events and potentially result in growth?
Freestyle has attracted way more riders over the years without the help of any national governing body initiatives or fancy development pathways. Lots of racers who I’ve admired over the years have ended up being drawn to the freestyle scene. Probably because it’s more creative and imaginative and the riders have more ownership. Creativity has been regulated out of racing over the decades.
There’s a lot of pressure on young racers compared to the 90’s. Tracks are tougher, quicker and more dangerous, competition is fierce, everyone has a coach and expectations are sky high. Even the kids getting moto’d are often amazing riders. There’s a pressure to specialise in racing at a young age and to race all year round with no off-season. I think race parents feel a pressure as well. Too often we end up literally breathing down our kid’s necks during a race day and in the car on the way home. I find myself doing it sometimes. So my advice to most parents on race day, is to ease off a little and get back to enjoying race day with your kid. The success of your weekend should not be dependent upon your child’s result.
I do absolutely love modern racing though. I’m proud to be a part of the South region, with people like Scott Dick, Martin Baxter, CK, Joolz and others doing amazing things. But racing in general is getting dangerously close to those generic sports where everyone is obsessed with developing the next Olympian and way too much importance is placed on results at a crazy young age. It creates a big drop-off in participation because children start thinking like adults, rather than enjoying the actual bike riding.
I prefer to treat our youngest riders as children not athletes. Our coaching sessions push progression and competition, but we keep a wild and playful edge, never heavy and formulaic. We leave the rankings for the parents to sweat over. We focus on getting these kids fired up and excited to learn, not to be afraid to make mistakes, to take on anyone, to enjoy riding with their friends, carving, jumping, going fast. It doesn’t matter if they are in last place fighting for 7th, or if they’re in 2nd place gunning for 1st. Every young racer can be successful every weekend if they genuinely love racing and mixing it up with their mates.
Rider performance pathways, participation programmes, carbon forks, none of these work to their potential unless the kids develop a life-long love for the sport. People sometimes rush that part.