In 2012, when I had just gotten my motorcycle drivers license, I found youtube videos of guys racing bikes in an incredible way. There weren’t going around a track at 350km/h, they were doing more like 40, on a small tarmac area, and they were making incredibly tight turns. They were all Japanese, it seemed that nowhere else in the world this sport was done. Look at this.
I posted a message on a biker forum, asking “Is this something they do in the Netherlands?”. Nobody knew, a lot of people knew the videos, people were interested, but nobody had ever seen it. People joined the discussion, someone pointed us to another topic where this type of riding was discussed.
Then I said “then lets just go do it”.
A month later, September 2012, ten of us rode to a big parking lot just across the border, in Germany, in Krefeld. We brought some traffic cones, the owner of the space (a “Biker Treff”) gave us some cones, and an hour after we got there we had our first track, and we started off. No idea what to do or how to do it, just the ten of us fooling around on a large tarmac space and some colored traffic cones.
Were were thrilled. A month later, we went to Krefeld again. Then someone found a space in Amsterdam, close to Amsterdam Arena, so we went there in October. The original ten pioneers, and a whole bunch of new people. Because it was close to my home, I invited the “gang of ten” to my place, I had cooked dinner for all (Indonesian cuisine, a tad spicy for some as it turned out) and we talked. And talked. At the end of the evening, we had founded Motogymkhana Netherlands, an organization with the goal of organizing Motogymkhana events in the Netherlands.
In April 2013, we went to the UK, where a small group was already organizing races and events. At the circuit of Donington Park, on an endless tarmac plane, we learned Motogymkhana, as it was taught by our friends Duncan MacKillop and Andrew Freeman.
For the whole of 2013, we played, we found new spaces, new riders found us, we had a ton of fun, we made friends for life. But then, what’s a motor sport if there’s no races? No competition? I must say, I pushed a little to organize a Dutch Championship. Which started in April of 2014. Six races during the season, twenty participants, a lot of fun was had by all. But then, Duncan and Andrew had their competition in the UK, we knew there were groups similar to ours in Poland, in the Czech Republic, in Russia even. Why not organize a European Championship? I was very eager to see how our riders would do competing with the Brits, and with the Czech, the Polish, the Russians, French, Germans, everyone.
On May 23 and 24 of 2015, we held the first ever European Championship of Motogymkhana. I had invited top rider Hunter Tabibito from Japan, who’d do a master class for our riders. We had 70 riders from all over Europe.
A Dutch rider won. A Polish rider came in second. Belgian third. A truly international event.
In 2016, we had our national competition, and another Europen Championship. Ditto in 2017. From one year to another, we saw the level of professionalism grow. We saw riders go faster ever race. We saw bikes being adapted, being tuned, being pimped, for the last tenth of a second. We bought timing equipment. We built an app and a server and a web site to keep track of times and results.
This year, the European Championship will be held in the Czech Republik, in June, in Janovice nad Úhlavou after having it organized in Holland three times. It’s good to see that others pick up good initiatives, that a group of volunteers grows bigger, internationally, and that a small group of riders trying something new locally, manage to turn it into a sport that is now popular in most countries in Europe. Next month, there will be a training event in Barcelona, where 50 riders from all over Europe, and even from Japan, will prepare themselves for the Motogymkhana season. The nice thing about this event is, it’s organized by the riders themselves. You know that a movement is catching on when events are organized and you’re not involved. I define that as maturity of a sport, and maturity of an organization.