Bikes Change Lives : Hank Hansen
When I was around ten years old, I received the ultimate Christmas present: a BMX bike. It was a chrome Robinson with red, white, and blue accents – it even had blue tires, which at the time was totally mind-blowing. There have been other Christmas bikes that came after, but the Robinson was undeniably the genesis of something big. I wish I still had it, but that’s a story for another time.
As a youngster in the Bay Area with my sweet new whip, it didn’t take long before I discovered the Calabazas bike park. In a way, I think it’s best that the park was completely made-over in the 2000s, because it gives immortality to my exaggerated memories of two-story jumps and near-vertical roll-ins. Calabazas wasn’t just a place to ride. It was a place to “ditch” Mom and ride the jumps that carved through what felt to me like a massive forest. It was a place where I could learn from the old kids how to spit and how to dress cool, which was way more thrilling than learning how to field ground-balls or do long division.
Today, I’m not a BMXer. When I do drop in for the occasional pump track lap, I’m quickly reminded that I’m not very good at making my bike leave the ground.
And yet, I’m definitely a bike addict, and it’s thanks in large part to the 20-inch-wheeled shred vessel that Santa brought me all those years ago. Without it, I might never have developed the desire to progress and explore, a desire that I rely on my bicycle to satisfy on a daily basis. And that’s a scary thought.