Linq a BMX company with making new roots for riders…

Written by: Jake Borowski

Photographs by: Jake Borowski

Besides dust devils and 110-degree weather, summer in the High Desert introduces another major inconvenience for kids. Although there are more parks, restaurants, movie theatres and stores here today than there were 10 years ago, the number of safe, free activities close to home that kids can participate in daily are still in short supply.

Josh Richling, a High Desert resident who lives here with his wife and three kids, has done plenty to occupy his time. Being trained and licensed in the care and rehabilitation of endangered animals, Josh leads me through his backyard zoo that includes several iguanas, African tortoises, and a peregrin falcon that was rescued from a local water reclamation plant after diving into a pool of sludge. After meeting the animals, we go to his workshop that is almost entirely dedicated to his passion for freestyle BMX. When his son decided he wanted to ride, Josh figured he’d get a bike as well, after a 15-year hiatus from the sport. The first problem he ran into was the realization that there was nowhere legal to ride after discovering that the newly built Apple Valley skate park did not allow bikes.

Some younger residents may be confronted with geographic isolation, a lack of family or financial support, or with an overwhelming influence of gangs in their neighborhoods, and it complicates their ability to find positive activities. In this scenario, most cities have historically responded by building pools, activity centers and in the case of Apple Valley, a skate park. Being the middle of summer and with Apple Valley’s population of BMX riders, which is estimated to number in the hundreds, out of school and with no sanctioned area to ride, kids are being ticketed, and their bikes are being confiscated which forces them to attend court to get them back. This means they or their parents are subject to impound fees and if they can’t pay them, the kids lose their bikes and subsequently for many, their only positive outlet.

In response, some concerned residents led by the original bike park proponent William Furmage, started The High Desert Freestyle BMX Fund to raise money for and awareness of the BMX community’s need for a designated riding space. Since it’s inception, the fund has received commitments of donations and materials for a bike park, but has fallen short on some of its goals. To help out, Josh created Linq Bicycles to provide another source of money for the fund. Linq builds custom freestyle bike frames made of aircraft chromoly and welded to specs provided by the company’s customers, which satisfies an overwhelming lack of American-made freestyle bikes. With each sale, a portion of the profit is donated to the fund with the intent to build a multi-use park for skateboarders, inline skaters and bicycles. “Our philosophy is that bicycles shouldn’t be discriminated against, and in staying true with that philosophy, we won’t discriminate against skateboarders either. So it will be a bike park, but skaters can be there too”, says Josh.

An oft-cited reason opponents will use for not building a mixed-use park is territoriality, and although there were rivalries between skaters and bikers a long time ago (Read more here), that doesn’t exist in the High Desert. “There are so few things for us to do, so the kids already get along”. Linq already sponsors several local riders and provides road trips for them to parks around Southern California. “We’ve had a number of kids that were in a capacity to positively influence others and they did for some time. Ultimately by either being arrested or having their bikes impounded so many times, they can’t afford it, and they just stop riding.” According to josh, some of the riders he is referring to, have gotten involved with drugs and drinking to the detriment of not only their futures, but also to the help they could have provided to propel their sport into public acceptance, much like what Tony Hawk was able to do for skateboarding on a national level.

After five years of appeals to the Apple Valley Town Council, there has been little progress in modifying the existing skate park to accommodate BMX riders. The Council claims that an expansion, or the proposed relocation of the existing skate park to a location next to Town Hall which has ample room for growth, would be too costly. In less than 90 days, neighboring Adelanto was able to build a park where BMX and Skateboarders can ride, but the main issue preventing a similar solution for Apple Valley is cost, according to the Town Council. Many citizens would disagree, considering that the town recently purchased the failing Apple Valley Country Club, assuming responsibility for $60,000-$80,000 per month in maintenance and water costs.

It is public knowledge that council member Ginger Coleman, who is on the board charged with researching the construction of a mixed-use park, owns property on the golf course, while Scott Nassif’s mom owns property on the course as well. “I’ve never been involved in politics until this” says Josh, “but when you go to the council meetings, it’s nothing but complaint after complaint from the citizens and after you hear it for a while, you realize all these complaints match up with each other. Everybody agrees, they’re telling the city council but they’re not being responsive. They’re not doing what the citizens are asking and they’re pushing for this golf course that only they and their friends want. All this money is being dumped into that”.

Luckily, a solution has emerged. Josh recently found a 10,367 square-foot water retention basin that used to water crops in Apple Valley decades ago. It is much like one he rode on in Lucerne valley that has since been bulldozed, so Josh successfully sought permission from the property owner to move forward with building a free mixed-use park on his property. The total expense so far is a $1000/year insurance policy, as many of the materials such as steel, concrete and welding services will be provided by Josh and local businesses who have already agreed to support the park.

The unity of community members who want to see the park come to fruition seems to be the effort’s biggest need so far. To find any success, bikers and skaters, along with their parents and community leaders need to unite and work together to de-criminalize freestyle BMX in Apple Valley. It’s much like what skateboarding went through early on, and finally overcame in the 90’s with the help of the X-Games, community activism and the endorsement of professional skateboarders in re-branding the sport to be more appealing to the general public.

To learn more about LinqBMX visit their site www.linqbmx.com or their FaceBook page LinqBMX

About WingNutt

Rider, Racer, Owner of MyBikeStand.com. A long history in racing and riding, from BMX and freestyle to Downhill, Dual Slalom, 4X and even some Road races spans nearly 25 years. Spent some time working in bike shops. I love to ride my bike.

Comments

  1. William " CRAZY LACY" Furmage says:

    I got the town to spend $240,000 to upgrade and rebuild the skatepark at James Woody park Apple Valley after I lead the cause and went to over 125 meetings in 5 1/2 years. NOW OPEN FOR BMX..

    Come on out to the bike/skatepark on Navajo and Powhatton i Apple Valley Ca

  2. WingNutt says:

    William when I pass by I will let you know so you can give me the tour…awesome job brother!!

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