Thirty plus years and eighty or so less pounds ago, the boys of Facebook group BMXers ‘80s could still ace their freestyle tricks on PK Ripper bikes and rock Vans sneakers in piped tube socks. They were younger, leaner, and lighter. They also felt the rush of youth—which back then they didn’t think of as such because they were just trying to be in the moment—riding BMX because it made them cool and different.
It could have been anytime between 1986 and 1988, when there was a feeling of renewed freedom in the streets. Every kid on BMX had just seen the movie RAD on Betamax and were in awe that the back flip trick had been done in it for the first time. Of course, no one had the guts to do it, because their DIY halfpipe were set up on the street and it was dangerous. Still, probably with Van Halen’s “Jump” blasting on boomboxes, they practiced on their other tricks.
“Yes, it was a pretty cool time,” Jodic Belgica, 48, member of BMX ‘80s and the unofficial bike exhibit person and spokesman for the group, recalls with fondness. “Everyone who was into BMX was influenced by that movie (RAD). My team then was from Tondo, where I was then already helping out at a bike shop there, and I remember we would always ride out to the CCP Grounds with the other BMXers to hang out and do tricks.”
Some of them were even good enough to get themselves into movies.
“The really good ones ended up teaching tricks or being stunt doubles for movies like Ninja Kids (an ‘80s Pinoy teen classic, with a climactic ninja fight on BMX near the end), 14 Going Steady (first movie of then teen sweetheart Gretchen Barretto, Dominique Cojuangco’s mom), Anak ng Demonyo (starring Ian Veneracion as a teen). They were in TV shows, commercial ads, even on concerts whenever BMXers were needed, because it was a cool thing back then. Those rock star BMXers are members of BMX ‘80s,” Belgica says.
As it happens, even the old guys feel the need to connect, too, on social media, especially now that the nostalgia seems to be such a needed escape. So six years ago, an ‘80s BMXer, name of Efren “Sony” Bolus, based in Alberta, Canada, searched Facebook to reconnect with former BMX teammates and riding buddies back home. “Then he came with the group to find more friends who shared the same interest in the era. The group grew overtime and now has over 4,000 members. About a hundred are active members, doing rides and event,” Belgica says.
While BMXers ’80s remains a social group, many of its members have enough cachet in the community to possibly influence a bigger goal. “One of our long-term goals is to assist in the promotion and development of Pinoy BMXers in the Olympics, where we believe we can excel because the sport does not emphasize size, height, or built,” Belgica says.
In the meantime, the group relishes weekends when they can be cool kids again. They may have added on years and poundage, but the attitude remains the same. “You won’t believe that some of these people are true professionals. Nakita mo naman ang kukulit,” Belgica says of the boys hamming it up for the FHM shoot.
“So what BMX trick is a true classic?,” we ask.
“Definitely the cherry picker,” Belgica says. It’s making the BMX stand up on its rear wheels while you straddle it from the head tube, balancing for as long as you can hold it. “The millennials getting into BMX are amazed by it.”
“Can the old guys still do it?”
Photographer Jonathan Baldonado Shot On Location The Bike Playground, Circulo Verde, Eastwood, Quezon City
This story was originally published in the March 2018 issue of FHM Philippines.
Minor edits were made by the FHM.com.ph editors.