Interview – The Godfather of European BMX, Gerrit Does – Parts 1 & 2
It’s pretty well known and documented on your site universityofbmx.com that you brought BMX to Europe at the very beginning. Give us a little insight on how you found BMX and how it impacted you?
Well, I came to the US for the first time in 1974, early September. I brought 2 Dutch motocross internationals with me, one of Pierre Karsmaker’s (my brother in law) younger brother Frans and his friend Henny Beekmans. Through a promotor they got a sponsorship deal from a Yamaha Dealer in Kansas City called “Independence Yamaha”, run by Mr. Perkins.
It was at this motorcycle shop that I saw for the 1st time BMX bikes and right away the idea came up – that’s the way to educate young kids in handling a bike, imitating motorcycle motocross riders. No better school then that for young kids, ages 4-5 years till around 12, 14 years. When they were old enough, put them on a motorcycle and let them grow from there.
Young kids learn balance, gain strength as well as a mental attitude, and riding with max 8 kids will teach them how to pass, race in a group and still respect your competition, etc. I was very enthusiastic about that and thought “in the future I want to start a BMX school for the youngest kids”.
Well it took till early 1978 to finally make this idea come true. Pierre Karsmakers, who was a Yamaha and Honda motocross works rider in the USA from 1973 till 1979, imported motorcycle parts, helmets, uniforms and such from the US to Holland-Europe, also imported several BMX bikes in 1976-77. Among them the brands WEBCO Inc., Race Inc., and Laguna BMX.
I visited Pierre several times after 1974 and he showed me around California, orientating and learning what BMX was all about. Did meet with Ernie Alexander, Skip Hess, Linn Kastan, Renny Roker, Howie Cohen, Jim Jannard (Oakley, just starting his company) the main man at Laguna BMX as well as Darwin Zense from Webco Inc. USA.
We went to BMX events to see how things were done, like at the Van Nuys track in L.A. Saw evening races organized by Ernie Alexander and met Renny Roker there again, saw all the well known names riding there like Stu Thomsen, Perry Kramer, Bobby Encinas, David Clinton and so on. We also went to the Irvine BMX track to see what was going on and saw a race at the Elks Track in L.A. I took lots of pictures and took videos from it all. Learned a lot, got all the paperwork, rulebook etc. from Ernie Alexander (NBA), later on NBL and ABA documentation on how to organize events and that’s how I learned what BMX was all about.
In 1978 I stopped coaching and training Dutch motocross top riders and I introduced BMX in Holland during an international motocross early April, really a wrong thing to do. The difference between motorcycle MX and BMX was too much for the motocross fans (same what you saw at the MXGP this year with those E-mountainbikes, one never should combine these 2 disciplines in one event. And by the way, E-bikes belong with the UCI is my opinion!).
In October of 1978 we held a press conference, professionally organized with around 15 reporters from regional and national newspapers, also a representative from a Dutch national TV station was present.
This really was the start of things and I still had in mind, setting up a BMX organization with the idea of educating/training youngsters for motorcycle motocross later on.
Who were some of the key guys in the US you connected with and worked with to help get things off the ground in Europe?
As I stated before, besides Ernie Alexander (NBA) in around 1976 and half a year later George E. Esser (NBL), I also contacted ABA’s Merl Mennenga. I got promo packages from all 3 organizations and started to study their literature. My choice was to use the NBL and NBA rules and regulations in a mix. They used the Olympic system for qualifying and that sounded to me the best, thinking of a possible international interaction in Europe and maybe even world wide. We were already used to that system in all other sport disciplines over here.
Beside rules and regulations, the actual materials (bikes, parts, tracks, etc.) were important to me. Quality was essential as well as safety. Luckily my brother in law knew his way around in California being a professional motorcycle motocross rider for Yamaha there, from 1973 till around 1979, winning 10 National MX titles in the US. He helped me out meeting people from the BMX industry, some of them I mentioned above and I learned a lot from them regarding materials for BMX, such as bicycles, helmets, clothing, shoes, etc. This was in 1976-78.
In the early days (1978 – 1983) I travelled at least 2 to 3 times per year to the USA, mainly Florida, to be present at NBL National events and learn from it all. My “coaches” then became good friends, George E. Esser and Mary Esser (both RIP) from the NBL. George taught me a lot and I could always stay at their house. Great people, miss them till this day.
What other countries were you working and collaborating with to grow the sport?
1979 was a busy year for me. Promoting BMX all over Holland as S.F.N. (Stichting Fietscross Nederland). S.F.N. was the registered name of our foundation, in 1978 and on. I was the founder and Chairman, explaining what BMX was all about at road bicycle clubs, motorcycle clubs, anybody interested in starting in BMX. With the so-called “Lucky 7 BMX team” we gave demo’s all over Holland.
I had my work as Personal Manager at a Dairy company in the daytime and in the evenings at an average of 3 evenings per week, I travelled from South to North and from East to West all over Holland to explain what BMX was all about and promote the sport.
At the same time, several motorcycle enthusiastic people in other countries learned about BMX and wanted to get organized as well. Through publicity, they heard that BMX was getting organized in Holland and they started to contact me, asking for information, rule-book, how to get organized etc. René Nicolas from France come over, stayed for a day to learn more about the sport, so did Juan Ventura from Spain, same situation. From Sweden Stefan Ekwall, working for former World champ MX Torsten Hallman, came over. From Germany several talks have been going on with Mr. Teichreber, Mr. Hoffher, Mr. Heidkamp and several more.
In Belgium Mr. Bert Dekker and later on Mr. Armand Blondiau were the men trying to get BMX going there. From Norway a main man at DBS Bicycles got involved and did a lot of good work, Mr. Lars Forus. Also contact was established with England. People from Halfords were very active in getting things going, like David Duffield and Alan Rushton, the Jarvis family are also considered pioneers in this matter, as well as former cyclist Geoff Wiles. The list goes on and on.
They all wanted to get started with BMX organizations in their countries and I was able to help them with detailed information like rules and regulations, with advised how to go about starting and promoting BMX. A really great time this was, the pioneer period.
A I said, a very busy time specially the first year Europe, which was waking up on BMX in 1979. And the work I did was all on a volunteer basis, I wasn’t paid, it was my hobby! I even invested money myself in the organization. The S.F.N. was run by 3 persons in the beginning. Louis Vrijdag, a good friend from motorcycle motocross and working for the city of Eindhoven, became secretary and my wife Mieke Does-Karsmakers helped us out acting as secretary at the “office” (our kitchen!).
Luckily a good friend who’s job it was finding sponsors for athletes was able to get S.F.N. 4 potential sponsors bringing in some funds to pay for costs we had to make. Those sponsors were: Wrangler, Milky Way, Tivoli (cigarettes, not possible now-a-days anymore) and Protec – Helmets.
Besides the above, Intersponsor bureau, together with me, brought in a National TV Station called AVRO. The were very interested in BMX and wanted to make a special program on the sport of BMX. A rather long history of TV racing became a fact already in 1979 and came to an end somewhere around 1985. This was one of the reasons Holland had around 8,000 license-holders in 1985-86 (out of our 12 million inhabitants in Holland at the time).
Can you remember the first official race in Holland? How was it promoted and how was the turn out?
Our 1st official track, built by the city of Eindhoven for 5,000 Dutch guilders, was ready mid 1979. Before that date we organized “test” events with only a few riders (max 20/50).
Our first official BMX race at the BMX track Welschapsedijk was a Holland-Belgium event and the city of Eindhoven officials (loco-mayor) opened the track and event. I believe there were around 125 riders present and racing. NOW BMX was on it’s way. We all had a very special feeling and we had only enthusiastic riders, parents, supporters, spectators and officials. It was a great success.
We only promoted BMX at a local level for this event. We wanted to have everything right first, before making a lot of “noise”, you know what I mean. Still another TV station called “Veronica” heard about this BMX event and came over for an interview and did some filming. Well, in 1980 we were able to set up a series of good events, and promotion came in very quickly when the AVRO organization broadcast their first 50 minutes of BMX racing from the Waalre track in 1980. Licenses doubled in one year.
How did you get Ponypark on board to build a BMX Track then go onto host the 1983 IBMXF World Championship, which even today is still highly spoken about and documented?
Well, thats another interesting story. As you can read on my website universityofbmx.com. a company called AVRO (radio and tv), broadcasting at a national level, first came to Waalre to register the AVRO FIETSCROSS TROPHY events in 1980 en 1981. I am from the city of Hilversum where all the radio and TV stations were and still are located. My good friend from school worked for AVRO and the man taking care of our sponsorship deals talked to that particular friend of mine at the AVRO offices. When he mentioned my name, ice was broken and a deal came out of it.
AVRO TV already broadcasted from Ponypark a music show and a show for kids called “Ren je rot” (meaning run like crazy). Ponypark had all the facilities needed, ready for TV there and during 1981 the AVRO management talked to Mr. Bemboom about BMX. They asked him if he was interested to host the AVRO TV Fietscross series from 1982 on. Mr. Bemboom said YES and I just was informed about that decision and knew that a lot of work would be taken out of my hands arranging facilities , etc., it was all there in place already at Ponypark. So, thanks to the AVRO organization we moved from Waalre to Ponypark Slagharen.
Right away there was a “click” between Mr. Bemboom and myself, I just had to come up with plans to built a track and all that was needed to organize an international BMX event. Ending 1981 we started to built the new facility and in 1982 during the summertime period 4 TV events were taped at the track and during June, July and August, 4 shows of 50 minutes each were broadcasted. They were a hit instantly, and ending 1982 the numbers of license holders were booming.
They had asked me to write a special program for these TV series and I came up with a kind of Motocross of Nations set up with 8 teams of selected riders from different provinces all over Holland, where BMX’ers were active. Those kids taking part got their complete outfit like helmet, shirts, pants, shoes, gloves for FREE from a sponsor. Invited participants only had to bring their own BMX bikes. This TEAM thing worked perfectly, just like in motorcycle motocross. People from the provinces where a team came from became fanatic supporters for that team and its riders. It was a success.
Besides this regional team thing, AVRO had at each show a top artist or pop group present, performing during the intervals to keep the many spectators busy and entertained. I have still got all the video tapes available in my archive.
The cooperation with Ponypark Slagharen was perfect. Anything I asked for was organized and they did that all those years till the last E.C.C. (European Challenge Cup) in 1993.
Your sons, Nico and Pieter, both got into the sport early with you and had a lot of success world wide. What were some of the memorable times and results you guys had?
My oldest son Nico was active on a normal 20 inch road bike on his 5th birthday imitating his uncles, the motorcycle motocross Karsmakers brothers (5 of them raced). This was 1975-76. Ending 1976 Nico got his “full suspension” BMX bike (a monoshock, weight 16 kg!) and he grew into BMX quickly. He also spent almost a year in Florida (2 times half a year) with the Esser family, and started up his BMX company WEBCO at the same time. Nico stopped racing after a hard crash at the ABA Grands in 1991.
He has 5 titles on his name, 3 Dutch National Championship titles in different age classes. Very special for Nico was the European Manufacturer title with Team WEBCO-Mentos. Also very special was the fact that Nico finished 3rd in the Superclass (now Elite) 20 inch in Brisbane, Australia in 1989, behind Eric Minozzi and Bas de Bever. At the end of that year Nico crashed hard in the first turn at an indoor in Toulouse and because of that crash lost his spleen. After he recovered from the operation, he wanted to come back strong in 1990 and that is what he did. Looking at result overall in that year, this was his best season ever and a mental stimulant – if you set your mind to it, you can do a lot. Nico ended his racing career in 1991 and at the same time started his new company WEBCO Bicycles (West-European-Bicycle-COmpany).
My youngest son Pieter started riding a 16 inch mini Goose when he was 4 and officially started racing with the S.F.N. (Stichting Fietscross Nederland) on the day he turned 5 years old, on July 30, 1979. Pieter liked to play around the first couple of years, but from around 12 years on he started to get serious about BMX. Pieter won 7 national titles and finished in the top 3 at European Championships.
Pieter travelled with me to most of the UCI BMX World Cup events from 1995-1997. He stopped racing because he started a job with Twin Air (a company making foam air filters for motorcycle motocross, being the world leader in that field) in Veghel, Holland around 2000, and around 2004 he was offered a management position. Time to get serious about his job at Twin Air. After the 2004 UCI Worlds in Valkenswaard, Pieter decided to stop racing at the end of that season. He celebrated his 25th BMX season then as well (1979-2004).
What was your position with the I.BMX.F and Dutch National Federation during the early years?
After the S.F.N. merged with the KNWU in 1981, I became a board member within the KNWU and stayed chairman within the BMX Committee of the KNWU. Among others I became friends with Hein Verbruggen, who was a board member also in that period within the KNWU. As you know, Hein Verbruggen has been instrumental getting BMX into the Olympics. Sorry to say, Hein died a couple of years ago.
My principle was to be active in certain positions for about 5 years. I started the S.F.N. in Holland and when the sport was properly introduced and organized, I handed over the baton. During that period I also coordinated introductions of our sport in foreign countries by advising pioneers in Belgium, France, England, Germany, Sweden, Norway and later on Latvia. Most of the people concerned visited me at my house and in this way a nice BMX network was established.
Same principle starting the I.BMX.F. Within 5 years I wanted to have this organization up and going. After 5 years I handed over I.BMX.F. to the then active BoD. I never forget how it all started. At the 1979 JAG BMX WORLDS organized by promotor Renny Rooker, I talked to George Esser (NBL) and Tadashi Inoue (JBA). My opinion was that the JAG events weren’t a real world championship. A promotor did organize this event, but no national bicycle federations were involved, nobody had any say, nothing. Renny did an o.k. job organizing this worlds, but it was not what we in Europe were used to. In meetings at the time I explained my ideas about how to go about in this matter. The present national BMX organizations at the JAG Worlds should get organized and start an international federation with a board composed of representatives from those national BMX organizations, preferable people with experience in organizing BMX events.
Because of me speaking 4 foreign languages I was able to explain my goals clearly to everybody and 1 year later all present agreed to start an international organization. We would call it “International BMX Federation”. George E. Esser, Tadashi Inoue and myself took care of legal action, and a lawyer in Pompano Beach drew all necessary papers to start officially. Details on how things went on from there, again… check out “The History of BMX” at the website www.universityofbmx.com
I must say that in fact the JAG BMX World Championships were “instrumental” in a way, starting this new organization, the I.BMX.F., was established in 1981. Since I had the ideas and contacts world wide, it was decided when the I.BMX.F. was a fact, that Gerrit Does would become the General Secretary and I had full mandate to get things going. Five years later, when I.BMX.F. was running kind of o.k., I resigned after the I.BMX.F. Worlds in Canada in 1985. Still I maintained in an advisory capacity very close to the I.BMX.F. However, I never could let go and up and till this day I speak my mind on developments in international BMX, advice organizations, give my opinions and so on.
I was also offered a job within the UCI around 1996 but I could not accept when I compared my job at the time at Attractiepark Slagharen (the new name for Ponypark Slagharen), with this new job at the UCI.
Moving into the mid 80s and 90s you put together some of the best teams, not just in Holland and Europe but teams that won World Championship Team Trophies. Even today, the current Dutch National team has a lot of similarities to Team Amev. Can you give us some thoughts on team and riders you sponsored over the years? You must be very proud.
Well, hope you got about 2 hours to let me tell you about the teams I organized and run over time. You know what, whenever I started something like the S.F.N., later on the I.BMX.F., then the I.BMX.F. Worlds in Slagharen Holland, the ECC (European Challenge Cup) events at Slagharen and then the BMX teams… my goal was always to set an example hoping that other BMX enthusiastic would try to do it better then I did in improve the level of our sport of BMX “overall” that way, not only in Holland, but in Europe and around the world. I think that principle has worked for sure, looking back.
Concerning BMX teams, I think I was one of the first guys to start a BMX team composed of riders from different European countries. Think of the Euro MCS team, GT Euro team and so on. My oldest son Nico Does took over that principle when he started with his bicycle brand WEBCO. Most of his teams had international riders taking part. Later on with the help of Albert Knill (Mentos), The Webco World team won the European Championship Manufacturer Teams.
Before those teams I put together a Team SINISALO (Bas de Bever and my son Nico Does were members among others). With the help of Skip Hess and later on with the help of Motobecane (Holland and France), we started Team MONGOOSE here in Europe as well as a Team MOTOBECANE.
From 1986 through 1988 we had our famous KNWU national selection in order called the
AMEV team. I think the first ever professional organized BMX team sponsored by an insurance company through the KNMU with a budget of around 90,000 guilders. Back then, we did about the same what present national selections do now (thanks to Olympics money availability to get organized professionally). Organized physical training, a doctor appointed to the team to do tests and give advice, mechanic for the team equipment, professionally drawn contracts with the riders and so on.
During that period (mid ’80 s through 2002) I had a Mercedes Benz taxi van that we used as team transporter. Besides the driver (me), 7 riders could travel with me and the equipment was in a trailer behind that Van. First this van was painted in Team AMEV colors, after that it was changed to MONGOOSE / MOTOBECANE (in that period of time MBK imported Mongoose in Europe, that’s why) and the last change of colors was in that of team BLUE THUNDER when Sunn Chipie was our equipment sponsor. Yeap, we did have some pretty good BMX teams running at Euro tracks and a the Worlds over time.
I had a special relationship with Richard Long of GT Bicycles, he became a good friend over time. It was at the 1983 I.BMX.F. Worlds in Slagharen that we met for the first time.
Richard had a problem with how the Manufacturer Team Trophy was put together. He came to me, we discussed about it and I found his arguments correct. We adjusted a particular rule before the races started, informed all the TM’s and the problem was solved. It was probably the way I handled that affair why we became friends later on.
Richard appreciated very much what Nico was doing with his new company WEBCO bicycles. At first Nico had only frames, forks and handlebars made at Fabweld, of Greg Esser in Pompano, Florida, USA. During a meeting with Richard, Nico asked him if he could help with parts. There was a YES from Richard without any doubt, tell me what you need and you get it, Richard said. Later on Nico had his own part manufactured, but Richard keep on supporting him till that time. Great man and a friend still missed. I will never forget, it was a great shock when in 1996 his US salesman in Europe John Holcomb, called to tell me Richard Long died in a motorcycle accident.
Well, you asked for some names that were in teams of me and that of Nico. Here we go:
1985 Mongoose BMX Factory team – Lammert Moerman, Addie van de Ven, Mark van der Kort, Nico Does, Pieter Does and Anne van Happen. Support rider – Danny Neys.
1985 Motobecane Factory Team – Ludy van de Werff (RIP), Freddy van Tongeren, Doris Trum, Marcel Mandigers, Ludy v.d. Werff, Peter Stiphout (Cruiser World champ), Anita v.d. Mortel (16+ Girls World Champ).
1986 Team Sinisalo – Freddy van Breemen, Nico Does, Bas de Bever and Paul Rovers.
1986 Team Motobecane – Mark van der Kort, Anita van de Mortel, Dorus Trum, Freddy van Tongeren en Peter Stiphout.
1987 Team Sinisalo – Marcel Mandigers, Paul Rovers and Pieter Does.
1986 Team AMEV (1) – Phil Hoogendoorn, Addie van de Ven, Ludy van de Werff, Pierre van Zuylen.
1987 Team AMEV (2) – Pierre van Zuylen, Phil Hoogendoorn, Addie van de Ven, Jan Hekman, Bas de Bever, Anita van de Mortel, Nico Does, Rob Bulten and Corine Dorland (all National Champs).
1988 Team AMEV (3) – Phil Hoogendoorn, Bas de Bever, Gerard Heuver, Nico Does, Rob Bulten, Martijn van den Boogaard, Marcel Mandigers, Jürgen van Melis, Corine Dorland and Anita van de Mortel.
1989 Team BLUE THUNDER (SUNN-Premier) – Bas de Bever, Nico Does, Jürgen van Melis, Marcel Mandigers, Pieter Does, Boyd Karsmakers and Anita v.d. Mortel.
1990 MCS Team EUROPE – Dale Holmes, Jürgen van Melis, Bas de Bever, Uwe Stürm, Pieter and Nico Does, Marc van Gerwen, Jean Pierre van Hoof, Boyd Karsmakers, Christophe Leveque, Tina Madsen, Nick Lacey and Marcel Mandigers. With this team we won the World title Manufacturer Teams in 1990 in France.
1991 MCS Team EUROPE – Nico Does, Bas de Bever, Dale Holmes, Mark van Leur, Yannick Rosset, Fred LeGall, Nicolas Grevet, Pieter Does, Mark Wenting and Frank Brix. Support team rider – Thierry Minozzi.
Most of the riders were National Champs in their class and several held European and World titles, won over time.
In 1991 Nico Does had started his BMX company and came out with his WEBCO Factory Team. Teammembers – Bas de Bever, Nico Does, Pieter Does, Scott Smith and TJ Beach.
1992 WEBCO Euro Factory team = Bas de Bever, Todd Lyons, Robbie Morales, Dale Holmes, Nico Does, Mickael Clerté, Thierry Minozzi, Mark van Leur, Marc van Gerwen, Pieter Does, Linda and Rob van de Wildenberg and Femmy Akkerman.
More on WEBCO and WEBCO-Mentos factory teams see universityofbmx BLOG and then factory teams.
Well known riders that were on the other WEBCO teams from 1992 till 2002 are among others – Rob Bulten, Jamie Staff, Marino Alvarez, Marlies Knill, Ellen Bollansee, Sabine Caballe, Frank Brix, Johan Edman, Michael Clerté, Fabrice Vettoretti, Doris Brink, Anthony Revell, Sanna Ohlsson, Jakub Hnidak, David Fieldhouse, Peter Fieldhouse, Brothers Pallesen, Michal Prokop, Kevin Sprengers, Roy van Leur, Vilma Rimsaite, Tomas Luksan, Janis Vanags, Kaspars Dambis, Milan Krebs and Dagmar Polakova.
1992 GT Euro Team (1) – Eric Minozzi, Frank Brix, Daniel Herz, Dennis Casamatta, Corine Dorland, Yannick Rosset and Glenn Nielsen. 1992 European Champion Trade Teams.
1993 GT Euro Team (2) – Dale Holmes, Robert Sprokholt, Frank Brix, Corine Dorland, Vladislav Khas (RIP) and Gundars Osis.
1994 GT Euro Team (3) – Dale Holmes, Robert Sprokholt, Robert de Wilde, Corine Dorland, Vladislav Khas, Frederic LeGall, Thierry Fouilleul, Nicolas Grevet, and Gundars Osis.
In 1994 we won the World Championship Manufacturer Teams in the USA! Support team – Fred King (Powerlite).
1995 GT Euro Team (4) – Dale Holmes, Robert de Wilde, Robert Sprokholt, Thierry Fouilleul, Corine Dorland and Vlasdislav Khas.
1996 GT Euro Team (5) – Dale Holmes, Robert de Wilde, Thierry Fouilleul, Fred LeGall, Kelvin Batey, Corine Dorland and Tatjana Schocher. In 1996 we again won the World Champonship Manufacturer Teams, now in England.
Since I was active ending 1995 as Project manager UCI WORLD CUP setting up and developing World Cup series in BMX for the UCI, I found that I could not combine being a TM for GT bicycles anymore ánd the project manager UCI World Cup events (conflict of interest). So, I suggested a new TM for GT bicycles, Jorg de Louw. They agreed and then Jorg took over in 1997.
Another first for European BMX was that you put together the University of BMX and its Training Camps in the USA, taking European riders to the US for their first experience. Starting out with training camps in Florida and then onto the NBL Christmas Class in Ohio. For most of the guys it was their first test of US racing and an amazing experience for everyone who went. What gave you the idea for it and how hard was it to organize riders from all over Europe (without the internet) to come together and travel as a group?
Indeed, these University of BMX training camp activities combined with the NBL’s Christmas Classic were just great and fun. As you know I travelled to the USA for the first time in 1974. I went over there with 2 motocross riders because I helped out an American promotor with his “riders exchange program”.
His name was Ed Bondurant and our goal was an exchange of motorcycle motocross riders from Holland to the USA and vise-versa, just to have some top riders experience racing in another continent.
Since European MX riders were popular in those days competing in motocross events in the US, there was also a lot of interest learning from the European riders. So, we set up several motocross clinics being over there in 1974. As you know, it was in 1974 that through motocross I discovered BMX bikes at a Yamaha motorcycle dealer in Kansas City. Later on I introduced BMX in 1978 during an international motorcycle motocross in Valkenswaard Holland.
In 1990 I was thinking back of those MX clinics in 1974 and since BMX had developed during the years, I thought it would be a good idea to bring European riders with me to the USA, to have BMX training camps and clinics as well as have them experiencing racing in the USA. Let them experience the American BMX scene. We had our first University of BMX trip to the USA in 1990. A training camp in Orlando (Parents Councel track run by Mr. Art Beeler [RIP]) and after that we went to Columbus Ohio for the NBL Christmas Classic. All together we did 5 Training camps up till 1996. Besides the training camps, The University of BMX also travelled with groups of riders to the ABA Grands during those years. It was a great experience for everybody involved and see what came out of it… Dale Holmes have a career now in the USA as well as Jamie Staff, Christophe Leveque, Neal Wood, Paul Roberts and so on. For details on our program during our University trips, check www.universityofbmx.com and then look for “training camps”. Stories and images are there.
Over the years traveling and racing through Europe with the teams I managed, I learned to know many international riders. When I suggested the University of BMX training camps and the NBL Christmas Classic races as an organized trip for 12 through 14 days to riders I knew well, many riders wanted to register to take part. Of course all communications were done by postal mail or telephone. No problem at the time. It would have been much easier if we had the social media of today. Anyway, for me it was still great fun to do.
If I remember well, all of the 6 trips started from Amsterdam to Orlando. Riders coming from other countries travelled for instance from Sweden, Germany, France, Switzerland, England to Amsterdam, then joined the University group at Schiphol airport and as a whole we travelled to the USA. Some of the riders travelled directly to Orlando and met with us there. Hotels were booked in advance, transport was arranged, Mr. Beeler had the track ready and registration for the Christmas Classic was done. Participants paid an all-in price and extra’s (if they wanted that) they had to pay for themselves. I like discipline so at airports our bike boxes and such always were together in a straight line, it was nice to see.
Besides training 2 times 2 hours per day, we also had amusement included like visiting Disney and such. Once we also had our training camps partly in Orlando and in Daytona Beach. Shag Shaunessy was our main man there and he always helped us out great.
All the University trips together, training camps, NBL and a few ABA races, including the Worlds in Waterford (I.BMX.F.) and the ABA Worlds, we brought over around 250 people over time. It was great fun and a pleasure to organize.
To be continued.