By Rod Webb

Walking along the promenade past Source Park a couple of weekends ago, you’d have probably been unaware of a major international competition taking place right under your feet. Glancing at the BMX bikes lining the railings you may have paused for thought; looking down into the normally deserted space next to Source Park, you might have wondered who was having a party and, “Why wasn’t I invited?”

PICTURE: Jeff Zielinski

Anyone actually entering Source Park would have found themselves in the middle of an adrenaline-fuelled contest amidst the noise and glamour associated with any major sporting events. As luck would have it, I had tickets for the Saturday qualifying session – teams with top riders from the UK, the USA and Australia, and individuals from Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Canada and South Africa.

The sheer doggedness of participants in getting it right was showcased as they performed their individual ‘tricks’: the crowd shouting encouragement to the likes of Mad Mike, determined to do a jump of 15 metres over the railings despite repeated crashes; or Dillon Lloyd literally ripping off his T-shirt (in determination, not frustration) as he lay on his back after another crash landing – then emerging like a heroic version of the Incredible Hulk to finally complete his trick.   

My wife had come along rather reluctantly but was soon absorbed in the tension and excitement of the event, cheering the riders and beating the plastic barrier with the rest of the crowd. This isn’t the stuff to watch afterwards online but to experience first-hand.

According to Rich Moore who, along with his brother Marc, founded Source Park: “The Battle of Hastings is widely considered to be the best BMX event in the world.” It has “a super high profile, millions of views of live streaming, and is a lot of fun.”

That’s a strong statement and needs backing up. He says it’s a unique event because it’s the only independently run international event for BMX riders. It comes at the end of the season and is a way for the riders to relax and enjoy themselves. “It’s really laid back,” says Rich, “not run for the media, but for the riders themselves.”

The Moore brothers pick 11 internationally respected riders and ask them to form teams of four – nobody has yet turned them down says Rich. Another team is sponsored for the event and consists of individual winners of two US championships and two events at the Source – Team Qualifier.

The event sells out in three or four days; so, if you want to go next year, buy your tickets early. The rest of the year Hastings has a unique venue open to anyone interested in
BMX riding or skateboarding as well as the biggest BMX/skateboard shop in Europe.
Oh, and the Battle of Hastings 2018 was won by team Jason Watts – but then with the Source Park, we’re all winners.

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