The click-clang of the metal staircase is like a train into another world. I’m in a quiet storage unit in the outskirts of Geelong and as I ascend the last few treads, I step back a few years into 1999. There are bikes lined up against the wall, some shining and sparkling in the occasional sunshine while others sit there waiting patiently for their next trip to the skate park. It’s a mixture of well ridden bikes to showroom quality restorations in the Mid-School BMX era. Gordon MacRae has his head down and barely notices my arrival as he meticulously organises and assembles a few last pieces in what is but a small part of his BMX collection.
We mostly know Gordon for his work on Facebook groups and pages. Swearing he doesn’t get extra notifications, he’s often getting ‘dibs’ on all the fancy stuff for sale and says, “I know what I want and I put my hand up!” He adds, “I get the same notification as everyone else!” but we all know, he’s onto it pretty quick. Being an admin for a Buy/Swap/Sell page must have it’s perks but it’s the ‘lounge’ pages that gets Gordon most excited. Seeing everyone’s stories, seeing the pictures shared, the bikes, the magazines. It’s history and it takes you back to that time and all the good moments you had. “I just love it, man” and I’m sure I speak for everyone reading this, we’re right there with you, Gordon. We gotta keep this dream alive. It’s these posts from around the internet that is Gordon’s motivation. It’s the best bit about BMX, it’s a group of people with a similar interest and we instantly get along. It’s just awesome. Gordon mentioned my recent article and expressed about the memories I shared then were basically the same as his and he just gets more pumped on BMX.
When you have a collection this rad and with so many bikes of an era we all love so much, it’s hard to choose a favourite. “I’m in a bit of a ‘build to ride’ mode at the moment and the (Terrible One) Barcode is one of the favourites. I always wanted one of those; I’m stoked I got that”. But Gordon, when asked which one/s were his favourite, pointed at two different bikes and then puts the rest into categories to give them all the favourite status. The Standard is pretty rad and one of the more recent additions. He says, “I’ve probably being piecing that one together for over two years.” Like he said earlier, Gordon knows what he wants and makes it happen. Slowly putting parts aside to make bikes like this can take a while but keeping the models era correct is crucial and the level of care and attention to detail with each one of these builds is top notch and it’s something we know to expect from the Bunnings manager.
It’s taking care of business that is why we haven’t seen Gordon out riding for a while. “A mini tornado destroyed my Bunnings store” so he’s been working tirelessly to ensure all his staff are looked after and the rebuild goes to plan and it’s not the only thing he’s (re)building. A lot of his bikes are in storage while the local councils sort out his new piece of land to build the dream house with his wife, Melissa. “They’re taking their time,” he says talking about getting all the titles sorted after being purchased over 2 years ago but it is giving time to organise what sort of shed/bike display room he can build. In a recent post on Facebook, Gordon looked for ideas and shared his vision. The inspiration flowed through thick and fast and we discussed his ideas further, “I’m gonna need a big space”. We discussed shipping containers and a little studio/bar thing he recently visited. I think we’re all hoping for a place we can visit, browse his collection and catch up on all the old stories. Don’t you agree?
A lot of the guys who are into the mid-school or old-school BMX bikes are now married and often have kids. We know all to well that they (our wives) often just don’t get the obsession, but when I asked Gordon, he says his wife is very understanding. Gordon and Melissa have spent many years together, they get along really well and he tells me how his partner has said, “You don’t drink, smoke or gamble! The bikes are all good!” Could this be the answer, my friends? If we just stop drinking too much, smoking the cancer sticks and wasting money at the casino, maybe we could have all the bikes we dream of!? Gordon says he does ‘enjoy the occasional beer,” he just doesn’t wipe himself off like he used to but ultimately, it comes down to a mutual respect between his wife and himself. It all makes sense really. We chat a little more about this and it’s clear, leaving me with no doubt in my mind that they work well together.
We could have spoken for hours and I could have typed even more words. We both had a good few stories and I could’ve looked at each one of those bikes a thousand times each and still not spent enough time. The mid-school era is definitely a time I do not want to forget and when spending time like this, with great company sharing such unreal stories, I don’t think even the harshest of old age will let me forget those days. I, for one, am glad for places like the ‘mid-school lounge’ on Facebook and thankful for guys like Gordon for ensuring the history is kept safe. We all need to give Gordon a good pat on the back for the work he does, not only for collecting the bikes but also for the hours he must spend helping maintain all these pages, pages that I think for a lot of us, are helping us reconnect with BMX and helping see a resurgence in the good ol’ days of BMX.
Bring it on!