Caleb Ladd started practicing BMX in middle school and quickly learned to love it

Nick Lorino, writer

When junior Caleb Ladd isn’t working at Freddy’s Frozen Custard or going to school, he can be found doing Bicycle Motocross (BMX) with his friends at the Lenexa Skatepark in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park. BMX is a sport performed on smaller trick bikes, either in competitive racing or in a freestyle setting

Although bicycle motocross generally refers to a race on a dirt track with steep hills and sharp curves, it can also take the form of stunts performed on a specially designed obstacle course. The bicycles used generally have a stout frame and knobby 20-inch wheels.

Ladd was introduced to BMX in middle school and quickly fell in love with it. Going to the skatepark at first only on the weekends, he had no idea that it would eventually dominate his daily life.

“BMX is my way of expressing who I am,” Ladd said. “It means the world to me because, if I didn’t have my bike, I probably wouldn’t be as happy.”

His bike isn’t the only thing keeping him happy though. Spending time riding with friends after school and on the weekends is Ladd’s favorite pastime.

“I mostly ride with Alijah Harvey,” Ladd said. “I met him in sixth grade and we’ve been friends ever since. He was the first person I knew that had an actual bike, so I used his whenever I could. He inspired me to buy my own and then we started to ride together.”

Ladd’s longtime friend and junior Alijah Harvey has been riding with him for the entirety of his BMX career and has influenced him to reach new limits and accomplish his dreams.

“We started to become friends when Caleb and I were at lunch one day talking about Xbox, and then also about hanging out since we found out we lived so close to each other,” Ladd said. “We would go to the skatepark when he had his longboard and I first just got a BMX bike. After a while, he wanted to get in to riding bikes and doing tricks.”

When Ladd first started riding BMX, he started off slow,  learning the basics. The hobby snowballed quickly, though, and Ladd began to push himself to learn new tricks. By going to the skatepark and helping his friends get better, Ladd has met many other BMXers and mentors.

“I met this dude Greg at the skatepark and he’s taught me most of the things I know now,” Ladd said. “He’s a pretty big inspiration to me, so I look up to him in a way. He tells me whenever we’re riding that I can’t be scared of doing anything if I’ve never tried it. He basically pushes me to my limits and makes me learn new things and continue to better what I already know”

Right now, Ladd only rides for recreation and to improve his skills . One day, though, he hopes to get sponsored by a skate company so he can profit from his passion.

“I really just want to get sponsored,” Ladd said. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter who I get sponsored by, but I just want to get sponsored so my name is out there. Another cool thing would be competing in X-games (an annual extreme sporting event) as soon as possible.”

Riding BMX is unlike any other feeling in the world for Ladd.

“It feels like nothing you’ve ever felt,” Ladd said. “It takes you away from your problems and stress. I kinda wish that I could feel like that all the time. It’s like when you’re falling asleep and you feel like you’re failing but then you wake up fast. That feeling of freefall doesn’t last long.”