Cooperative News

Not that kind of biker

PEC employee discovers BMX passion mid-life

PEC Software Developer Blake Corley hardly ever watches TV. But one of the rare times he did sparked a newfound love: the sport of bicycle motocross (BMX).

Man on BMX bike in front of building
PEC Software Developer Blake Corley rides a Haro BMX bike; the same brand of bike his favorite BMX rider, Dennis McCoy, rides during tournaments like the X Games.

“The X Games were on, and they were showing all of the competitors and listing off their ages: 42, 44, 49,” Corley, age 46, said. “And I thought, ‘Hey, if they can do it, so can I.'”

He was specifically inspired by one of the top competitors: famed BMX star Dennis McCoy. When Corley began shopping for a bike, he even looked to McCoy’s choice, a Haro. During last year’s Fourth of July holiday, he bought his very own.

Then came the hard part: learning to ride. It’s surprisingly different from your average street or mountain bicycle, Corley explained. The wheels are 20 inches in diameter, and the bike rides lower to the ground. But the real challenge as a first-time rider? Steering the bike in a straight line.

“When I got on my bike for the first time, the first 5-6 feet wide were really difficult to ride in a straight line,” Corley said. “It’s really an art of finding balance and your center of gravity.”

He started watching YouTube videos to learn the basics, and a few tricks, too. So far he’s mastered the bunny hop, ollie and getting air on walls at skate parks.

Man on BMX bike in mid-air
Corley picks up the pace as he prepares for a quick jump off of the curb with his BMX bike.

Luckily, a new skate park opened this past March in Johnson City, where Corley lives, and he’s become a regular. It was designed by Evergreen Skateparks, a nationally known company whose facilities attract skate board riders and BMX lovers from all over the country. One day, Corley started chatting with a fellow rider there, and when he told him the X Games and Dennis McCoy inspired him to start the sport, he found out the man was Scotty Mescal, an X Games coordinator who is best friends with the BMX legend.

“It was just wild meeting him and talking to him about the sport and the industry,” Corley said. “Scotty even connected Dennis and I together on Instagram, and he likes a lot of the photos I put on there when I go out for my rides.”

And while Corley won’t be competing with McCoy at the X Games any time soon, he hopes to perfect more tricks at more skate parks around the Hill Country, like the ones in Fredericksburg and North Austin.

“I’m just in my zone when I’m riding on the street and in the parks,” Corley said. “It’s an incredibly interesting sport, and there’s a lot of intrigue. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever done, but I’m definitely in my element when I’m riding.”