Kyle Baldock wants to redefine BMX.
He wants to create a better system to promote the sport. He wants the outside perception of BMX to change. And he wants to stop explaining his profession every time he goes through customs.
“They always ask, ‘What do you do?’ and I tell them I ride BMX, so they assume I race,” Baldock said. “When I tell them I ride freestyle, they have no idea. I think this can become so much bigger than people not knowing about it.”
Baldock, a 25-year-old, tattoo-covered Australian, hopes to continue to push his efforts this weekend in Austin, where he will compete in BMX Dirt and Park at the X Games.
Sure, he wants to win gold and defend his Dirt title. But Baldock has bigger aspirations.
Baldock has started a program called Team Rare that he wants to cultivate the next generation of BMX freestyle riders. Through Team Rare — which will launch its website next month — Baldock wants to mentor younger riders, teach new tricks and show kids how to be a pro.
“My name is out there and I get paid to ride bikes, and I have all these opportunities,” Baldock said. “If I can bring some of these younger riders under my umbrella and help them get chances, then I’ve done my job.”
Baldock’s efforts are partially inspired by Dave Mirra, the legendary BMX rider who passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in February. Baldock grew up watching Mirra compete and later learned directly from the 14-time X Games gold medalist.
“I remember talking to him about eight months ago, and I was telling him all about the things I wanted to do. He was excited about it,” Baldock said. “He agreed with me — I want the kids coming up to be better than me someday. Let’s take this sport farther.”
And Baldock is trying to promote the sport from his own humble beginnings. He grew up in the projects of a Gold Coast, Australia, suburb where his mother, Debbie Lee, would save all year to buy him a bike. He’s only met his absent father a “couple times” and his younger brother, Blake, was killed in 2011 in a motorcycle accident.
“The thing that keeps me going is I’m here for other people,” Baldock said. “Some kid somewhere that is, say, 10, is going to see this and want to be a pro. That’s what Dave did for me.”
It’s a multi-tiered effort for Baldock.
He’s been giving out passes this weekend to kids through Snapchat and makes sure to interact with the crowd whenever possible. He’s vocal about his opinions and has talked to X Games organizers about the athlete selection process and proposed a system to help promote younger riders into the event. He also has his eye on getting BMX freestyle into the Olympics.
Baldock also has a tribute planned this weekend when BMX Park Best Trick will be held for the first time in memory of Mirra.
“It’s going to be insane,” Baldock said.