Words by Robbie Harding Photos by Adam Lievesley
“We’re gonna need a bigger ramp!” to kind of borrow a phrase from Jaws, but more of that later. Saturday 18th June saw the return of Exeter’s biggest BMX comp with the 2022 instalment of the fabulous Cookie Jam.
The event has been running for over ten years now in memory of local BMXer Jamie Bruce and even the skies showed respect by not daring to rain until the last rider had laid down their bike.
The jam started with everyone warming up around the park with the addition of some pallet and plywood ramps put together the night before by organiser Jamie Skinner and mates. But it wasn’t until the timed 45 second runs that the riders really let rip and showed what they could do.
If you’re aged between 5 and 55 there was a place for you in this year’s jam. It was the under 18s who went first, Logan from Cornwall was showing all the skills but would be saving even more for the final when he pulled a big backflip.
Then came the senior riders with an eye-popping level of riding. There’s a guy called Punkus… It may not be his real name, but who cares when he can pull a flair on one of the sketchy wooden ramps and make it look normal. Awesome stuff.
Jamie Skinner doesn’t usually ride the event apparently but turned up with the bike this time and was putting together some great lines.
It’s a competition for the generations with 54 year old Jason Boyd showing he’s still got it since the 80s, hitting endos off the ramps, while Slug was showing tricks all around the park, and all this to a solid DJ set and a lovely commentary from Paul Foster.
Then there were riders like Sam Burditt, part of the OTG crew, doing greatness in the air with 360s and bar spins, and always, always with a massive grin on his face, which seems to embody the whole spirit of this event: if you ain’t having fun what’s the point?
The action kept coming with the bowl jam, where that man Punkus pulled a flip and downside hand plant in the same run. Then came the rail, the long jump and the totally insane high air comp. That’s when we needed a bigger ramp to save the eyes from the spectacle of riders literally flinging their bikes into space.
In the warm up, Jay Openshaw went for the full abubaca fakie on the big ramp but didn’t get it first time. He tried again and hit it perfectly, rolling out of the fakie with a triumphant fist punch before rushing to hug his little kid who was clearly delighted.
So onto the high air jam. Punkus, Jay Openshaw, Reece Par, Dan Oakaby and Aaron Wilson, who was so good in the bowl, started duelling it out by tearing at the ramp and hitting the three, four, and five foot markers before Punkus put it to bed as his rear wheel appeared to slap the eight foot point.
There was an awful moment when Aaron Wilson flew over the top of the ramp and crashed down the other side. A watching rider gave the thumbs up that he was OK and Aaron came back with a massive grin on his face. BMX.
And so to the prizes, Jamie Skinner was voted rider of the day and Punkus outright winner – but it’s not really about winning, it’s about the camaraderie and the fun, and showing the stunning level at which these riders are performing. Then it chucked it down with rain as if to symbolically wash the place clean in preparation for next year’s event.
If it happens, just be there.