Meet Ryan Garcia, BMX Rider and Fresno Parks and Recreation Supervisor

Fresno might be the most BMX-friendly city in California. They have the largest concrete BMX facility in the U.S., a racetrack, dirt jumps, and several BMX-friendly skateparks. As a result, their scene is on the rise, with amazing local riders and a thriving bike shop.
The parks in Fresno are amazing. I recently made a trek down there, and was lucky enough to interview a couple of the guys that made it all happen. Ryan Garcia and Chad Osburn, along with the community, are responsible for putting Fresno on the map for BMX. They live and breathe BMX, and what they have accomplished is truly remarkable.

The interview was conducted at the Fresno Mosqueda bike park by Sam Pederson of the BMX Riders Organization.

Ryan at the office

Sam: What is your name and how old are you?

Ryan: My name is Ryan Garcia and I am 31 years old.

Sam: How long have you been riding?

Ryan: Since I was 5…so 26 years.

Sam: So you are a lifer. What is your day job?

Ryan: I work for the city of Fresno Parks and Rec. I am the Action Sports Specialist. I coordinate all of the action sports programming, such as events and contests. This spring break and also during the summer we’re going to be having BMX camps at some of our parks, including the Mosqueda bike park and the Todd Beamer park, which is at the north side of town.

Sam: These contests are different than the King of Cali contests right?

Ryan: This is completely different. The camps will be instructional, teaching the kids park etiquette, pumping, jumping, carving, then we’ll graduate to basic tricks and fine tuning their skills. We have teamed up with our local bike shop Herb Bauer to do a series of contests at the different parks around the city.

Sam: What was the history behind the Mosqueda Park, because as you know, not every city has 30,000 square feet of BMX concrete. This is the biggest in the USA…so, how did this all go down?

Ryan: Well, we have a skatepark, Lions. That park is about 8-10 years old. When the park was first built, all of the BMXers wanted to go ride there, and the city council allowed BMX to ride there for a short period of time. But there was conflict between BMXers and skaters, unfortunately, so they eventually decided not to allow bikes at all. I’ve been working with the department for 12 years, but permanent for three. So once I became permanent, and the director found out that I was a BMX rider, I won the NBL Grands in 2004, he said “Hey, we have somebody on staff that knows what’s going on”. So he started asking me, “What do we need in town?”.

I told him that we need a place for bikes to go. We have Lions skatrepark, but bikes aren’t allowed. So we wrote a grant, and we recieved $600,000 for the project. The award came through the competitive California State Parks, State Urban Parks and Healthy Communities Program, as part of the 2002 Resources Bond Act (Proposition 40). The total budget of the park was $1.6 million. We chose this location because it’s a Community Center with all the amenities. The park was built on a soccer field with lights. There are restrooms, drinking fountains, parking, so we were able to put the whole budget into the park design.

Ryan is #4, about to get the holeshot and win the NBL grands!

The reason Mosqueda was the ideal location is this is a community in need. These kids are out doing something positive and that’s what it’s all about. I grew up here in Fresno, I’ve been a BMXer all of my life. We were digging dirt jumps in whatever field we could find…you know, our jumps would get torn down so, I…when we started putting together the program…call me selfish, but I wanted to build everything I wanted when I was a kid. So build my dream for the City of Fresno to enjoy.

This was a community project and Wormhoudt was the designer. We held meetings in the auditorium at Mosqueda and those that attended made sketches and molded clay with design elements that they wanted in their park. Wormhoudt took all those sketches and moldeds clay back to his office and pieced it together like a puzzle. Some minor tweaks and this is what we came out with. Everything I wanted as a kid, and more.

But then the director wanted more. So I thought of Vert. Vert’s an amazing thing. I grew up racing with Chad Kagy, who is an amazing vert rider now. So I told the director “We need a vert ramp, a bike park, some dirt jumps, a racetrack, maybe some ramp parks, and spread things out around town”.

So we did, and there’s a something for every part of the community. For a kid, let’s say they live on the north end of town, near the Todd Beamer Park. From there, they could ride Woodwad Park Bike Complex then ride Kaiser. From Kaiser it’s a short ride down Fresno street to Cary park behind the mall. Cary is a little skate plaza, but it’s a rad little park. Bikes and skateboards can ride there. You can make it all the way from the North end to Mosqueda in one day on a bike, hitting parks all the way to Mosqueda, which is on the south east side of town. You might need a ride to get back home at the end of the day, but if you and your friends got up in the morning and decide they want a session with a bunch of parks, you can ride from the north all the way to the south or visa versa, then get picked up when the parks close.

Ryan busting a flattie at Mosqueda

Sam: That’s like…what you dream of as a BMX kid.

Ryan: Right, it puts Fresno on the map! Part of the justification for the park was making Fresno a destination.

Sam: Exactly. We stayed overnight in Fresno twice now just to ride this park.

Ryan: That’s awesome. I get calls all of the time from people that are coming from out of town and want to know park hours. Just today someone called and told me they are staying overnight next week just to ride this park.

Sam: Sorry…I got distracted. Someone just did a double tailwhip.

Ryan: (laughs) That’s Jason Johnson.

Sam: This is definitely a world-class facilitiy. There’s nothing quite like it in the world, except maybe Chandler. Do you have a lot of pros coming through here?

Ryan: We’re getting more credibility coming our way. We’ve got Chad Osburn working here and he is a role model for the young riders in the community. (note, see Chad’s interview HERE). Hosting the King of Cali contest. The Kink team came to ride and Chad got picked up. I was pumped for him he deserves some support. Cult just rolled through in the Vans bus with some vans riders. Fit came through…a lot of riders are coming out to see the hype of what they are hearing about.

Every July, we put on a Mosqueda birthday jam, it’s July 9th this year. This year we have an amazing Taqueria lined up, they make the best Carne Asada. We’re doing a challenge, longest skid, highest bunnyhop, highest wallride. That’s why we chose a challenge, that way kids can go up against the heavy hitters. Anybody can haul ass and do a long skid! Just make it a fun day at the park.

Another thing I’m proud of is the Council member for the Mosqueda area Sal Quintero wants to put on a BMX contest. The Mosqueda Summer Pro/Am is scheduled for June 18th. There is a $5,000 pro purse paying through 5th and trophies for top three in beginner, Intermediate, and expert.

Sam: I hear you have some crazy BMX track here.

Duncan Scott Davidson (friend of Sam): Everything in Fresno’s like…huge. I raced that track. I remember when that park was built, everyone was saying “Dude, did you see Fresno?”

They have this downhill section, with this pro section…gnarly…did it ever change?

Ryan is an NBL champion

Ryan: No, it’s the same. Maybe this year before the national we can some changes to the track, make it even better.

Duncan Scott Davidson: Then I see this concrete park here and everything is so tall and huge…I feel like I can get lost in here.

Ryan: It’s like a canvas. Paint your picture. Wherever you want to go, just send it. People come here and they can be a little intimidated because basically it’s a nine foot hole. But the more you come, the more comfortable you get, the more lines you find. You can jam around the park and never come off the ground if you don’t want to. You can carve everything.

Sam: What advise do you have for BMX advocates?
Ryan: Well, I was very lucky. Our director and assistant director at the time, were huge supporters of action sports. I wrote justifications and gave them the information that they needed to go to the city manager, the mayor, etc. to get the approvals, to spend the money. We followed all of the proper procedures of going to city council, presenting them with what we wanted to do, getting approval to spend money.

When we started promoting this program that we wanted to build, including both the facilities AND the programming for these facilities, then we had council members coming to us saying “Hey, I want a park in my district”. That’s how we got the ramp parks. I call them ramp parks because they are dual-use facilities, for bicycles and skateboards. For these, we worked with Spohn Ranch. They put in the vert ramp, which is actually the old Gravity Games ramp. After that, we got Kaiser, Melody and Cary Park. These were all with Spohn Ranch.

Sam: Think about how it was back when we were kids.

Ryan: You just had dirt fields. And we have actually, built a racetrack, dirt jumps and a mountain bike trail. We tried to get some of our locals into digging, like I did when I was a kid. But they are spoiled, because they have amazing concrete here that they never need to maintain. Maybe sweep it once in awhile.

Ryan laying it flat, photo by Chris Riesner

Sam: What other tips do you have for BMX advocates?

Ryan: Clearly state your justifications. Get the community to buy into what you want to do. If you can go to council with some proposals and a following behind you, they will work with you. There is power in numbers. The other thing that is important is to seek input from the community. We do mailers to people that live near the proposed facilities to make them aware of what we’re doing.

When we had the meeting for the Mosqueda Park, this is an older community. Some seniors in the area were coming here specifically to offer support. They said they wanted them to have a place to ride their bike. It gets them out of their front yard, away from business, and to a safe place. The community was 100% supportive of the Mosqueda Park, and pretty much for all of our projects. The only complaints were when we built the Todd Beamer Park. People thought that kids would ditch the school. But with the park right across the street from the school, it was easy to police. As far as I know, we haven’t had any truancy issues.

Since the park opened, it’s been a success. All the kids go there after school, ride, skate, there’s basketball courts with lights, green space with lights, you can play anything you want on the grass. We have a rugby team that practices out there a couple times a week. The skate Park is going to have lights installed this summer as well.

Sam: Would you be willing to serve as a reference for cities that are considering public facilities for BMX?

Ryan: Yes of course. When I started this process, I called some communities. Some of the communties weren’t willing to share their experiences, but any time somebody calls me, I share as much information as I can. I believe in BMX, this saved my life. I feel that BMX is an escape from reality for me and if I have a bad day, I go pedal my bike and let out all my aggression. Any community that wants to support action sports, I’m all about it.

Sam: A lot of cities, when they think about multi-use parks, they aren’t necessarily willing to build the BMX Park and the skate-only skatepark. But you have all of the above — a BMX park, a skate only skatepark, and multi-use skateparks. How do you feel about mixing the two sports together?

Ryan: I personally feel that all parks should be dual-use. The Lions is skate only, but that was determined when the park was built. That is why Mosqueda is BMX only. It was written into the original request for proposal and meant to kinda balance it out. After that, all of the ramp parks are dual use.

Although I do believe in dual use, it’s kind of awesome to walk into work and see “No Skateboards allowed” on the sign. Because as BMX riders, we’re used to sneaking in a session in the morning before the skaters are out.

We’ve got some local shredders here. Kids are coming up. They can be whatever they want to be. This will help them keep their head on straight and out of any bad environments that might be around. When we’re at park, we are all together. And we try to serve as positive role models. BMX is my life. It got me to where I am, if I can share that with anybody, then it’s a positive thing.

Sam: If anybody wants to contact you, may I publish your email address?

Ryan: Sure, it’s ryan.garcia@fresno.gov.

Thanks for the opportunity to share what Fresno Action Sports has to offer.

Sam: It has A LOT to offer. Unbelievable!

More Fresno can be seen:

http://bmxriders.org/2011/03/city-of-fresno-public-parks
http://bmxriders.org/2011/05/mosqueda-summer-proam

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About Sam Pederson

BMX Riders Organization Regional Director, California

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