“It was the summer of 1999, and I’d just graduated from elementary school,” Lance, a 33-year-old in Illinois, tells me. “I already felt on top of the world, but then I got home and there she was, shimmering in the sunlight on my parents’ porch: a 1999 light blue Dyno VFR with huge silver pegs on the back.”
That day would mark the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Lance and his BMX. “I was never great at tricks,” he says, “but I rode that thing everywhere, along with my friends on their BMX bikes, until we started getting driver’s licenses four years later,” at which point his BMX was left in the dustbin of adolescence.
He thought about buying a bike in college, but “getting a big mountain bike seemed like a whole thing,” he tells me. That all changed, though, when he found old pictures of himself escorting his younger sister on the back pegs of his Dyno. “I didn’t really need a bike bike,” Lance explains, “so maybe part of it was being intoxicated by the nostalgia. But I could afford one and thought at the very least it’d be fun to have my wife hop on the pegs and ride around our neighborhood.”
And so, he set out to buy a Dyno just like the one that had accompanied him on so many adventures growing up. “I wasn’t able to find the same exact model, but I got something close,” he says, adding that “it’s fun to watch people do a double take” upon seeing him and his wife ride around the block together.
Over on the BMX subreddit, stories like Lance’s abound. It’s flush with posts of guys dusting off bikes found in their parents’ garage and nostalgic memes that seamlessly fit in with posts from active BMX riders. Whether they’re 50 and getting back into riding BMX for the first time in decades or hardcore amateurs with highlight reels, the online BMX community is both supportive — they’d peg anyone in need — and open to any and all newcomers.
Speaking of newbies, after seeing Dave Mirra on ESPN when he was in the sixth grade, Tony Le set out to save enough cash to get a BMX of his own. “I didn’t have enough for the top-of-the-line model (Blammo), but I had a 2001 Haro Cosmo in chrome,” the 35-year-old tells me. “I’d ride that bike everywhere — to friends’ houses that were too far away to walk, to parks, to school and to the dirt jumps.”
Like Lance, Le says his BMX “took a back seat when I got my license and a car.” After that, adulthood set in, and he never found the time or motivation to get back into it. “But after COVID hit, we had to close down our food shop for two months, which gave me a lot more free time,” Le says. Hoping to find the perfect bike, he decided to hit up local bike shops in Austin, Texas, and build a bike from scratch.
“To be honest, it’s taken over my life and social media; it’s really rejuvenated me,” he says. “I’m doing it as a hobby, and as a means of exercise. Learning new tricks on YouTube — within reason, as I get older — I feel stronger and more flexible with a lot more energy. Your heart rate is through the roof when doing the tricks, then you rest to catch your breath, then you go hard again. It’s much more fun than doing sprints on a treadmill.”
That said, he’s definitely been keeping people off his pegs. After all, as fun and exciting as pegging is when you’re young and spry, doing it as an adult has major consequences. “Back in the day, everyone would ride on the back peg to carry another person, but we were probably only like 50 or 60 pounds,” Le explains. “But having the full weight of a grown adult on the rear tire can cause issues with the rim and maybe cause a flat.”
Just to be sure, I reached out to Comrade Cycles, a bike shop in Chicago. “Most adult bicycles have a hollow axle and large wheels, both of which make putting pegs to carry people more likely to lead to wheel, axle or frame failure,” Steve, one of its employees, informs me. “Adults are also heavier, adding to the likelihood of something breaking.” (Don’t worry, I’ve sent this information to Lance.)
For his part, Dan, a 41-year-old in Phoenix, recently got back into BMX bikes after nearly three decades while “sitting in traffic, looking at a field with some dirt jumps and getting nostalgic for the simpler times.”
It’s made all the difference in his life — pegs or no pegs. “On a cool day, when I get lost in myself, I can do 10 to 15 miles just feeling like a kid again,” he explains. “Otherwise, I don’t do tricks or parks or anything. I merely hop on my bike, put in my headphones and go — just to blow off steam and vibe.”