I don’t remember exactly when I first fell in love with BMX, but it was probably more than 20 years ago, sometime between the 5th and 6th grades. Kenton, my best friend at the time, had a sweet freestyle bike and bedroom walls covered with hundreds of cut-outs of his favorite freestylers. I was instantly intrigued. I ran home to tell my parents how I absolutely needed to have a trick bike of my own! I collected stickers and put them on everything. I started checking the tore every day for the new issues of BMX Plus and Freestylin’ Magazine, cutting out the photos to put in my locker. I dreamed of meeting Mat Hoffman or Dennis McCoy. I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before my parents gave in to the constant begging and got me my first freestyle bike, a beautiful, white 1987 GT Pro Freestyle Tour Team model (exactly like this one except with white mag wheels and one-piece cranks). This bike changed my life. I don’t know how many thousands of hours I spent riding this bike, but it was a lot. We’d ride every chance we got. We’d ride to school. We’d get together after school to ride.

Ritually, every Saturday morning we’d meet up early to eat a bowl of Kix and watch the movie “Rad” before going out riding. The trip was basically the same every time. We’d zig-zag all over town, hitting every curb-cut, every little jump, going through all the parking lots, stopping at the McDonald’s for some McNuggets and an apple pie. Then we’d stop at the bike shop and hang out for hours. That place was like our second home and Jerry, the bike shop owner, was like our other dad. We’d almost always end up at the Bazaar Mall (redundant?) where we’d hang out until I would call mom to ask her to come pick me up with the family Suburban because I was just too tired to ride all the way home again.

After 6th grade, I spent a week over the summer at Woodward Camp in Pennsylvania. This was a completely amazing experience. They taught us how to do flatland, how to ride ramps, how to ride down a dirt track, etc. We did all kinds of drills and learned a ton. There were Pros there teaching us and performing for us. Spike Jonze would be there taking pictures for Freestylin’ (which later merged with BMX Action to become Go!), taking a break from his main gig at Sassy. Not to mention you had all the cute girls from the Woodward gymnastics camp there to keep things interesting. Good times!

During this part of my life, my bike was everything. I saved up my money to buy parts and did all the work myself. First, there were some axle pegs for the front to complement the fork stands. Then some fancy hot pink Shimano pedals to match the decals. Mushroom bar grips. Barefoot tires that would leave a line of tiny little wet footprints in the pavement anytime you’d drive through a puddle. I eventually made so many changes to the bike, including a new frame (this exact blue/black 1987 Haro Master frame), that it barely had any of the original parts. It was completely built for me, by me (FMBM)! I loved this thing to death.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many hobbies, my involvement in BMX eventually faded. I wasn’t able to return Woodward in the summer of 1988 due to a case of Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis that had me hospitalized near the end of 7th grade in order to have pins put in both of my hips. I spent some time in physical therapy recovering and then spent months on crutches. Although that wasn’t the end of the bike for me, but as the years went on and my friends started to get cars in high school the bike and I eventually drifted apart.

That was then and this is now.

Turn the clock ahead to January 2006, almost exactly 20 years since I first discovered BMX, when my brother Niklas, after years of hearing me talk about maybe someday getting a bike again, decided to kick things in gear and make something happen. He called a local bike shop in Somerville and put a down payment on a new 2005 Haro Master M7. I’m back baby!

Since then, I’ve been riding my bike as much as possible. I ride to work every day, except when the weather is bad. I save up my money to buy parts for my bike. In the last 18 months, I’ve gotten a new tires, new front and back pegs, new brake pads and springs, new stem, new head set and new pedals. I even have my actual 1987 Haro Master frame and plan to restore it and build a new bike around it.

I subscribe to BMX Plus! and Ride BMX (I don’t cut the pictures out anymore because now I can scan them). After work, I hang out at the local bike shop, Timeless BMX, and the owner Jody is my new BMX mentor. I fantasize about the day when the new Charles River Skatepark will open and I can finally have somewhere fun to ride! I actually have dreams about pulling off amazing tricks and wake up somewhat disappointed that it was just a dream but all the more excited to get back on the bike and try!

I feel like a kid again and I love it!