A few days ago at X Games Los Angeles, I sent out a tweet from ESPN_BMX in regards to Dave Mirra, one of the greatest X Games BMX athletes to ever compete, and how psyched I thought everyone might be if Dave decided to throw his Mirraco Blend in the back of his Subaru RallyCross car and again compete in BMX at X Games.
Alright, it was more succinct than that because of Twitter's character length: "Dave Mirra needs to come back to BMX at X Games. I think everyone would be psyched on that," I wrote.
For the past three years, Dave Mirra, now 38 and a seasoned RallyCross driver with backing from Subaru and Puma, has not competed in any BMX disciplines at X Games. His last X Games appearance on a BMX bike was in BMX Big Air in 2009. Mirra won the bronze medal. By all accounts, it wasn't enough for Mirra, whose all or nothing approach has always focused on first place in whatever he does. Unfortunately, increasingly difficult competition in the field of RallyCross at X Games Los Angeles left Dave Mirra with disappointing results. He seeded in the tenth place spot, placed 14th in round one and sixth in the last chance qualifiers. He did not race in the finals.
Two days before RallyCross at X Games L.A., I snuck out of work long enough to watch BMX Vert in person. The Jamie Bestwick show was in full effect, and Bestwick walked away with his sixth consecutive gold medal in BMX Vert at X Games. Following exit interviews, photo opportunities, press conferences, Bestwick returned to his Twitter account to thank everyone for the support. He also took the time to comment on the Mirra tweet -- "Yes please," he said.
Now I know that retweets require nothing more than hitting a button on your phone, but a lot of Twitter followers chimed in behind Bestwick to agree with his sentiments. Maybe it was just the thrill of being caught in the moment at X Games, but perhaps it was also that BMX has and always will revel in the spectacle of getting to see Dave Mirra ride a BMX bike.
Before Mirra stopped competing in Vert at X Games, he was neck-in-neck for the gold medal since the beginning of the X Games in 1995. He finished seventh in 2005, and did not compete in 2006, but before that, he had earned 11 medals in BMX Vert. His command of the vert ramp was legendary. He pioneered the regular and opposite air flow and height that is now a requirement for X Games gold. His no-handed 540s were untouchable, and his ability to mix in creative, fast lip tricks mid-run have not been repeated since he last rode a vert competition.
A few times during last week's competition, I tried to find Mirra to sit down and ask a few questions about his feelings on riding lately. A few times during the week, I got the "Oh, you just missed him." I did step out of the production tent during a few rounds of RallyCross, and got to see Dave Mirra taking hairpin turns at high speeds in a Subraru. It wasn't an interview, but I was definitely witnessing someone having fun exploring newfound opportunities in their career.
Afterwards, I started to reevaluate my feelings about Mirra's return to BMX. Dave Mirra had an amazing X Games career in BMX, and he's moved on. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic. Athletes get older, priorities start to shift and motivations change. Perhaps Mirra's absence from the BMX roster signifies that a new generation of X Games competitors has stepped up to take Dave's place, and that Dave, the proud father of BMX domination at the X Games, gets to sit back, race Rally and marvel at the spectacle he helped to create.
I would still marvel at his return to BMX Vert, Big Air and Park at X Games, but I respect his decision to move on as just as much as I respect his many contributions to BMX.