29 Apr Introducing BMX Night in Canada with Shawn
The Northern Embassy is excited to launch “BMX Night in Canada,” a Tuesday night ride initiative at skateparks across the country. Read on to learn more about the initiative, the man behind it, and how you can get involved.
For those that don’t know you, can you share a bit about your history in BMX? You’ve worn a number of different hats in the industry and community.
I started riding in ‘96. Travis Burroughs was a local rider that taught me that there was a business side of BMX. He also introduced me to skatepark advocacy in ‘98 when we started meeting with the city to support what is now the new park in Penticton.
In 2000, I started working at and eventually leading an indoor skatepark as a volunteer. I spent the summers of college working at a summer camp skatepark, and in 2003 I got my first job in the bike industry at a local shop. I ordered BMX parts and built mountain bikes. 2004 was my first big skatepark project where we got the Osoyoos, BC park built. During this time, I had started my own company called Dirty Hippie clothing where I sponsored the Northern Embassy’s own Aaron Gates and Summerland OG Sam Villanueva.
In 2005, I moved to Portland, Oregon where I spent most of my days at Goods BMX helping with day-to-day stuff. I eventually built a ramp in the back. In 2007, Rich Hirsch and I rented a warehouse and built some ramps for the winter. We started selling NOS of Lotek shoes online to pay for it.
In 2012, I moved back to the Okanagan to raise my family. I was involved in some skatepark projects including an indoor park and getting the outdoor Peachland park built. I also worked at local bike shops managing inventory and logistics.
What’s your involvement with BMX like in 2022?
I run Timeless BMX Distribution with Andrew Lazaruk. I am also the host of Okanagan BMX. I recently started a national campaign modeled after Okanagan BMX called “BMX Night in Canada.” I support the events section of the Northern Embassy as well. Finally, I am the “Keeper of the Ramp” for Slade Scherer’s Adventureland. It’s a backyard ramp in Kelowna [Editor’s Note: Adventureland ramp check coming soon to the Northern Embassy].
Can you explain what BMX Night in Canada is and how it works?
BMX Night in Canada is a national bike night modeled after our Okanagan BMX meet-up. It happens at skateparks across the country on Tuesdays from 5 PM to dark (local time). The season is from Easter to Thanksgiving.
Where did the vision for BMX Night in Canada come from?
When I moved back to the Okanagan, it seemed like BMX was dead. I never saw anyone riding. When I was at the park, it was usually just me. I hit up some local Kelowna riders in 2020 about meeting up once a week at Ben Lee skatepark and got a bit of participation. So in 2021 we went full out, made an Instagram page, and hit up every skatepark across the Okanagan Valley. We heard a lot of positive feedback from people all over the country.
Recently, Slade, our number one motivator/hype man for Okanagan BMX moved back to the Lower Mainland. We had talked about starting a Vancouver chapter of Okanagan BMX, but then we got to thinking that we should just launch it across the country.
How can someone start their own Tuesday BMX night? Do you have any tips for getting the ball rolling?
#1 – Ride your local skatepark on Tuesday’s from 5 PM to dark.
#2 – Invite your friends.
#3 – Invite strangers.
#4 – Travel somewhat locally and find other riders.
#5 – Start a public Instagram account and tell people where you are going to ride.
#6 – Post videos/photos and use the hashtag #bmxnightincanada
#7 – Tell us about it on Instagram: @bmxnightincanada
What chapters currently exist for BMX Night in Canada? And how can people find out when new chapters are created?
We’re looking to have something out in Ontario soon with some FU folks, and Calgary with Carson Donovan. For anyone looking to create a chapter in Canada, reach out: @bmxnightincanada or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having hosted Okanagan BMX night for over a year now, what has the impact been on the local scene?
It has been so great to meet so many people out riding. This scene has always had a pretty good community so you hear about people from other towns, but it was rare to ride with everyone since there’s a spread of 230 kilometres. Now it is to the point where you will at least ride with a few new people every week. We also started a local Discord so that people can chat with each other and meet up outside of official ride nights.
Do you have any goals or desired outcomes for BMX Night in Canada?
My number one goal was that some older riders that were still hanging on to a bike would shake off the cobwebs, get out riding, and put that smile back on their face. Now it has become seeing younger kids get into the sport, and seeing OGs that paved the way still riding.
Beyond BMX Night in Canada, you’ll also be maintaining a calendar with other Canadian BMX events. Can you talk a bit about that?
With all the different BMX events popping up, the Northern Embassy seems like the perfect platform to let everyone know what is coming up. We now have a page on the website where you can submit your upcoming event, see what events are scheduled, and decide when you might want to book some days off work!
Thanks for all your work in getting BMX Night in Canada off the ground, Shawn. Any final words or thanks?
You know BMX is in our blood. We may not all have the time or energy to ride every day anymore, but we have a pretty wild common bond as BMXers. It feels like a good era to get out riding, see some old friends, and make some new ones. This year is going to be amazing for BMX.
I want to thank everyone out there building into our community and sport: Bike shop employees and owners, website contributors, Instagram posters, podcasters, people that bring a broom to the park, everyone putting on an event, folks who work with their local municipalities to get parks built and updated, DIYers, backyard ramp builders, trail builders, and anyone that just waves at a BMXer when they see them. Most of all, shout out to everyone that owns a BMX and knows what it’s like to smash their shin with a pedal, take a stem to the knee, or roll an ankle. It has been a great ride and I hope it continues long into the future. Thank you!
Shawn. Photo Credit: Alex Fenning.