Bar lift for India’s BMX scene
Mumbai. Not the first city that comes to mind when one thinks or speaks about freestyle BMX. Densely populated and located on India’s west coast. Mumbai has many clichés. A city rich in history, famous for its monuments and cuisines.
Danny Boyle’s famed film, Slumdog Millionaire was filmed in Mumbai. It’s sometimes referred to as India’s New York City, as it’s evolved into a megacity that never sleeps. Despite all this, more work needs to be done to promote this city as an action sports destination.
BMX: from street to stardom
Cue, Annul Pale, a pizza delivery boy turned pro rider and freestyle BMX ambassador who is redefining the norm in that part of the world. Dusty streets, dangerous traffic, even run-ins with the police couldn’t hold this 26-year-old back from his love for alternative sports.
Much to the delight of spectators, he has spent hours perfecting different tricks and is now able to pull off wheelies, nose manuals, bunny hops and more. These antics not only earned him a wealth of street cred but also helped to secure his place as one of India’s best freestyle riders.
Annul’s story resonates because it perhaps represents the spirit of freestyle BMX. Whereby thrill-seekers take to the streets to express their grit and creativity through riding, despite not having much disposable income. This speaks of the resilience needed to pursue one’s passion. While pointing toward the sense of freedom and escapism that cycling can offer.
As BMX, an acronym for bicycle motocross becomes more mainstream. One can easily forget that in some corners of the globe, both young and not so young have to save up for months before they can actually get hold of a decent bike. Whether this involves bartering or borrowing. Or the sometimes-tedious processes of learning how to personally repair damaged parts. All this before actually making it to the skate park, if one even exists.
Although freestyle BMX has had a following in India for many years, without the power of the internet inspiring stories such as Annul’s may struggle to get heard. The bottom line is that as bicycle components advance, bikes and bike parts can greatly vary in price. Aside from the cost factor, more pioneers are needed in order to raise awareness of the sport. Which could ultimately mean a boost not only for BMX but also related industries.
While most riders in Mumbai and no doubt other parts of India, still encounter many challenges such as access to skate parks and perhaps even gender bias around riding. It’s good to see that some are doing well at lifting the bar and in doing so, making noise for all the right reasons.