Rockville BMX was the greatest shop in the world. I remember going there as a kid and and just being in awe of all the stuff they had under one roof. The people that worked there were like GODS to me then. They had the power over the inventory of that place. My Mom used to drive me up to Hungerford Drive from Annapolis on my birthday and buy me a couple things I wanted. I wanted the whole store, but could usually pull it together enough to leave with a few items I just couldn't live without. I remember the day before we'd go I would dig through the catalogue and make a list of all the cool things I needed. Then I'd sit there for hours deleting things I know I couldn't convince her to buy. Then I'd whittle that list down even further to insure that I would get the main items I REALLY needed. Then, up until the time we actually got in the car and left, I'd look at the pics and figure out what colors I should get. By the time we got there I knew exactly what I wanted and what color. I'd walk through the front door and Bryant would usually be there to greet me...and I'd just go blank. Maybe it was the smell of the thousands of dollars of parts and clothing they had. Maybe it was the overload of just how much cool stuff was in sight. Whatever it was, it would run me over like a freight train and I'd have to be pushed in the door the rest of the way by my Mom. Sometime after this, I'd collect my jaw off the floor and go talk to whomever was working the front at the time. The employees were always the coolest and treated everyone like they were sponsered riders. That's what made that place so great.
Then in the summer ALL the major bike companies sent thier best teams to Rockville to perform. We'd go there like three hours early just to hang out with the riders and watch them practice. The store was ALWAYS a mob scene after the show, so we'd go to the store first and get some stuff and see what rider was in there getting hooked up. I remember seeing so many people there, and it was like those riders waited all year to come back there to see the shop employees. Every team that came through was like family to the shop. The vibe during the show was the best because the riders REALLY wanted to be there. They were almost more stoked on the show then the people who showed up to watch...and there were lots of 'em. I remember 86' shows being almost twenty people deep around a huge area. You had to get there early to even get a spot up front. Which was the place to be! The announcers would always run around and get everyone screaming loud as hell. I think we were probably the most responsive crowd there was. I saw riders try the most insane stuff because we were yelling so loud. Sticker and product tosses were always mayhem too. After riding hard for an hour or so, the show would end and the riders would stick around and sign autographs for another hour sometimes. That's dedication! I have so many great memories of summer tours there.
Sometime in the early 90's, the owners decided they were going to move the shop closer to thier home in Arnold,MD. I was all for this since I lived a couple of miles from the proposed site. They moved the store into a small shopping center right off Route 2 in Arnold. This was quite a shock for most people and though the shop still did mail order through it's famous catalogue, business seemed to start disappearing. The shop move unfortunately coincided with a big drop off in the BMX/Freestyle scene all over the country. The scene fell victim to the loss of budget in the industry and that the big companies were no longer throwing money at thier teams. Alot of riders were dropped and alot of companies went under during the big drought of the 90's. I imagine it was all the kids who used to buy the bikes "grew up" and got cars. The companies weren't able to reach a new generation of riders in time to keep the wheel rolling and lost thier target consumer. Some companies like VANS still sponsered people though. VANS sent Eddie Fiola and a couple of other riders out on the road in a Chevy Daully pulling a quarter pipe trailer set up to do shows. They came to Rockville BMX at the new location and did a show in a parking lot that was super small compared to the School Board parking lot off Hungerford Drive where all the big shows went down. It was great to see Eddie again and talk about the new store and the the tour. It was then that I realized that he wasn't going anywhere in the BMX/Freestyle scene. He's a super resourceful guy whose been around since day one and is still out there doing bike stunts in TV shows and Movies. Ask Gork next time you see him about Fiola riding a Redline now.
Soon after that show the shop fell victim to the decline of the industry. The Magazines were the first sign that there was trouble. Wizard Publications changed the name of FREESTYLIN' to GO- The Riders Manual. It was a sure sign that things were changing. I remember the day that Rockville BMX closed it doors. Even though I had supported them to the end, it was not enough. I was shocked that such a shop could actually close. Years later I applied to work at an Exxon station on Route 50 near Cape St. Clair. The person who interviewed me was Bryant. I was so happy to see him again after all the years that I'm sure I probably wouldn't shut up about the "good ole days". He gave me a job even though he seemed reluctant to talk about the closing of the shop. I didn't work there long, but just seeing him was a sort of closure for me...knowing that everyone moved on to other things. I haven't heard about any of the people involved with Rockville BMX in a long time. If you know of any news about them, let me know. I know alot of folks out there who'd like to hear something about the beloved owners and employees of the greatest shop on earth. Please don't send me an email and tell me that "Spike" is now making movies...we all know that by now.
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