Photos and words by Ryan Scott…
Think of your favorite trail rider's favorite trail rider and there's a 99% chance that he started riding BMX on a race track. The bike control learned from going as fast as you can on a bike over mellow jumps naturally transitioned them into dirt jumping and they left the clipless pedals and tailgating race weekends behind to do what they loved on bigger, steeper jumps built for fun instead of competition.
Every BMX rider with thick dust between their spokes dreams of riding trails in Pennsylvania. The builders there have set the bar for nearly 30 years on how to create the best trails on the planet and without knowing it have evolved the culture one shovel full at a time. Mike Gentilcore has been a legendary member of this cast for as long as people have been packing landings. He envisioned a version of BMX racing that more accurately represented the people and traditions of real bike riders. Teaming up with renowned trail builder Dave King of Dirtsculpt, Trail Riders of America was established to host events that catered to those riders. Their goal is to organize events that show BMX in the light in which it was created and show the roots of racing in a way that the everyday rider would want to be a part of.
The TRA outdid themselves with their first event this past weekend, where they hosted the first annual TRA Double Cross and dirt jumping competition. Dirtsculpt, with the help of the Catty Woods locals, designed and built a unique set of trails including a series of doubles, shark fin berms, step-ups and step-downs. The first half of the day consisted of the Doublecross, where two riders at a time raced through the trails side by side in an attempt to eliminate each other for a spot on the podium and the cash prize purse that came with it. If you think you don't like BMX racing, watching Aaron Ross or Van Homan buzzing tires with someone over a 30 foot double will change your mind. Following the races was the dirt jumping contest that included many of the same riders from the races and everyone switched from staying low and fast to going high and tricking the doubles.
Olympic racers and dirt jumping legends, long and low or high and stylish, this was a truly unique contest that felt more like BMX than anything I've ever been to. Mike Gentilcore and all of the helping hands outdid themselves, and this looks to be the start of something truly different for trail riders and racers that continues the history of innovation that the PA trails scene is known for.