The BMX Worlds: Steeped in History | Ride UK BMX

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The BMX Worlds: Steeped in History

Where European freestyle competitions began...

Words by Seb Hejna
Photos by Kay Clauberg

The BMX Worlds, to say the very least, is steeped in history. It’s responsible for some of the most prolific BMX competitions to have ever taken place, involving almost every BMX legend to have stepped on the planet. The opening image for starters shows Dave Mirra in front of a packed audience doing what Mirra did best. The Worlds really was the beginning of European freestyle competitions, it pretty much started it all. From humble beginnings, it grew year on year and for all the right reasons, without any external influences steering it off course, but in a way, it almost outgrew itself. The Worlds has seen all the trends and booms of BMX popularity. It can even take credit for instigating these booms. It has supported and nurtured our beloved freestyle sport through thick and thin, and with its own freestyle approach.

What a photo. Legends. 2000

A few weeks back, the UK’s largest action sports event – NASS – announced that they will be hosting the BMX World championships at their 2016 event. Anyone who knows the significance of The Worlds will agree, this is a pretty big deal for UK BMX.

It’s so rider owned and rider controlled and DIY’d. It’s the most unofficial, official event in BMX. And that’s BMX.”  Mat Hoffman

The Worlds have not been on UK soil for 28 years, preferring its home territory of Jugendpark in Cologne, Germany. NASS has already built up a strong reputation for being a fixed date on the BMX competition and party calendar for riders worldwide and although NASS is responsible for its own unruly organised party and BMX mayhem, it is official and has to be because of the nature of the event. We wanted to shed just a little light on why The Worlds are so significant, and not only how NASS’ ‘officialness’ might be a healthy and natural progression for The Worlds, but how The Worlds could also be a healthy progression for NASS.

Taj Mihelich up on that tree. 2004

I’m not going to give you a run down of its history, not when it’s already been done in a much better way than I could ever explain.  In 2014, renowned BMX photographer Kay Clauberg produced Ritual, a film documenting the rich 30-year history of Jugendpark and how it eventually grew into The BMX Worlds, one of the largest BMX competitions in history. 

Parts 1 & 2 in this post show the very beginnings. Although over 30 years ago, it’s still very reminiscent to BMXing today: a bunch of kids building ramps from a load of ‘borrowed’ wood and rebelling against the conformity of normal youth culture behaviour, all for the love of being stoked on your bike. Jugendpark was their safe place, it was a place they could do what they loved and be encouraged for their efforts.

Timo Pritzel and the crowd in the mix. Photo by Ralf Maier


Young or old, we can all relate to the beginnings of this story. Everything we do on our bikes stems from the same place as Jugendpark: a gathering of likeminded people completely unaware that underneath it all, something significant is happening – you’re a part of a scene, a movement, you’re a subculture. Today, BMX is way more mainstream, but we all know that we’re not part of the masses – riding a BMX is not the same as being a BMXer, and if it’s in you, you just know it.

Circa 2000

Part two also shows something we can relate to: a dip in BMX popularity, where TV, brands and BMX ‘riders’ all turn their back on it. But again, BMXers, real  BMXers, stand tall and continue to do what they do.

In the following parts 3 and 4, we’ll touch on why the meeting of these two huge BMX competitions could work out well for us all, and we’ll also talk about how vert and flatland make the worlds complete. But for now, take the time to watch these and educate yourselves on some very important BMX history.

Ruben. Circa 2000
This is what a Worlds crowd looks like.


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