One of the guys we are lucky to call our friend, also just happens to be one of the best BMX riders in the world. Here's some pics and thoughts Brian Kachinsky sent our way from his recent trip to China. Enjoy!
Traveling can be the best education. When you’re in school you often start each day with loading your backpack up with the relevant books, pens, paper, calculator and whatever else you might need to complete the day’s tasks. The start to each day of “education” looks a bit different these days. Instead of books I load up my backpack with tools, phone, batteries, chargers, cameras and passport. Instead of heading into the classroom, I pedal into the streets. The moment my tires hit the pavement, class is in session.
I recently got the opportunity to judge the UCI BMX Freestyle World Championships in Chengdu, China. I’d been to various cities in China over the past 11 years but I had no idea what Chengdu was about. I had to do some Wikipedia searches before the trip and felt silly when I realized that this one of the largest cities in China at an estimated 14 million people. I also learned that Chengdu’s economy was thriving and was the epicenter of business, banking and industry for Western China. The reading continued. I soon realized that the more you travel, the more you realize how little you actually know about the world.
Pedaling around a city on a bike is commonplace in China but seeing BMX is very rare. The Chengdu streets were packed with bikes, scooters, cars, utility carts, buses and even plenty of strange vehicles I’d never seen before. Exploring a city via bicycle is superior to any other form of transportation. You can go as fast as you want, as slow as you want, stop when you want, turn down a random road or alleyway and all the while you’re taking it the sights, sounds, smells and general vibe of the place. It’s pure freedom.
As a BMX street rider, I often take detours when I sense there is something cool to ride in the area. This ability to visualize a certain piece of architecture as my playground is perhaps the biggest motivator to keep pedaling. I can’t help but wonder what’s around the next corner. That element of surprise is what drives me to keep going and while I often “strike out” by finding nothing to ride, the spontaneous discoveries keep gas in the tank. Even when I find nothing to ride, I almost always stumble across something intriguing from some other aspect of life. I discover random musicians on the street, watch as construction workers build the latest modern architecture, get caught up by the smell of delicious food being made by someone with a cart and a wok, and much more.
The more I witness these amazing cities, culture, people, buildings and lifestyles, the more I realize that we are all pretty much the same. We all crave to learn, explore, eat, accomplish and smile. I’ve also learned that 99.9% of people are friendly and willing to help in times of need. In fact, in Chengdu I asked some local residents on the street where I could find an air pump for my flat tire and before I knew it, I had 5+ strangers searching for a pump for me to use to continue on my journey. They had no reason to help me other than they had probably all been through that same struggle before. After 10 minutes of help and assistance, I had an inflated tire and an inflated confidence in humankind. Lesson learned: We all just need a little bit of air and kindness, with that the journey of life can continue.
For more on Brian Kachinsky click here