The structure of the jam itself underwent a change or two this year. It was stripped back significantly; no prize money or prizes up for grabs. Personally, I think this was a great move, as it removed any chance of ego distracting for the real reason we were there; Dane. The lack of competition became a catalyst for one of the best jam atmospheres I’ve ever experienced. Everyone in attendance was there for the right reasons. Not for coverage or personal benefit, but in homage to a friend, or a hero. If Dane’s influence was ever in doubt, one would have to look no further than the D.A.N.E jam. Dudes who had never ridden trails, or hadn’t in a number of years were giving their all. They all took their fair share of spills, but, with Chinga-inspired tenacity, they pushed through. Bayzand even made it through the main line and I’m sure it’s been a few years since he’s had his tires dirty!
Around mid-afternoon, Rhysty wrangled everyone to the sign on tent for reasons undisclosed. After a brief introduction, Dane’s family were called to the front, where they were presented a plaque, a token of appreciation from Back Bone on behalf of the greater BMX community. This was a sentiment that hit very close to home, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few tears shed. The jumps may have been “Boy sized” as Rhysty put it, when compared to those that shot Dane to global notoriety, but they definitely sit on the larger end of the average rider’s scale. Once you factor in the wind, it’s not surprising that the attrition rate was high. The afternoon saw some of Australia’s best falter, but we only saw one trip in the Ambulance, which was for poor Eddy Dempsey, who has had a rough trot of late.
Despite any competitive aspect of the jam being removed, there were two trophies to be awarded; best trick and most stylish rider. These were both rider judged, and kept quiet until the end of the day, minimalizing any and all heroics and keeping riding the way it should be; for the sheer joy of it. Once the votes were tallied, it was Hillfire local Tyson Jones-Peni taking the honors for best trick, and relative unknown Aidan Chard winning best style. Both of these dudes were more than deserving; Tyson’s 360 was wild, and Chardy killed it all day.
Collectively, the entire Saturday was a perfect homage to Dane. A crew of dudes getting together, to ride trails for the sake of it; taking spills then making their way back to the top to do it all again. Dane’s spirit shone through all day, and is alive and well within Australian BMX. A huge thanks goes out to Dane’s family, FACT BMX Club, Back Bone BMX and the Hillfire locals. Same time next year?