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Origin Story: The Dirt Jumps

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I lived at N Hoyne, just a couple of blocks from Clark Park. The following story is from when I was 10-13-years old and is how The Dirt Jumps originated as a designated safe BMX/Mountain Bike trail. 

First, we called the two different sections of woods that were behind Riverview, "Lane Woods" was because it sat directly beside Lane Tech, and across the street flanking the Vita-Course, we called those woods, the "DeVry Woods" because it sat behind DeVry.  

Between 1981 and 1982 I regularly went to the Lane Woods with local friends who would go there for motorcycle dirt bikes. I would go with them to ride the trails. That section of woods was the first, because back then, before BMX was popular in Illinois dirt bikes were all the rage and that section was formed by motorcycle riders way before my time. Remember, dirt bikes pre-date BMX bikes. 

My friends would walk the dirt bikes from the Hamlin Park to Lane Woods, and I would walk with them, with my, Hutch Expert Racer BMX bike that I built up from Easy Rider Bike Shop at 4119 N. Lincoln Avenue. The original owner Mike  sponsored a road bike team from India, knew I raced BMX amd would offer me credit and sometimes gave me parts when I needed parts. He also gave me new to the market parts to check out. 

Because dirt bikes were faster than I, on a BMX bike, it was hard for me and my friends to enjoy Lane Woods together. In 1983, I was 13 years old, and I rode across the street to see the "DeVry Woods". As I was back there, it was evident no one ever even walked through the woods let alone rode a bike, because the woods were so overgrown. Making my way through the dense woods, I did notice a strange lunar type terrain with small hills and davits that I assume were left by the Riverview Amusement Park's bumper boat ride, and the terrain's surface was from the pumps that pushed the water around to make the ride fun. I only assume this because of the river and abundance of water to operate such a ride. But hey, I could be wrong. 

The next day when we all went to ride, I brought a machete long blade with me to cut down some of the overgrown branches, and bushes inside the woods to make "deer type" trails that I could ride my BMX bike for practice during the week, readying for the weekend races. in Itasca, Elk Grove, Lombard, Sundance Cycle and Track and beyond.

As time went on, I started to bring a small military foldable shovel and started smoothing out the transitions of those small hills and such, I also used it for various other maintenance to the trails. The local police didn't mind because they knew it was a safe place for kids to have fun. 

I spent about 5 years enjoying the trails I created and am so happy as to what it has grown into. I am the original person who thought to turn it into a human-powered bike trail. As I made sure to keep the trails narrow, and tight turns enough that a BMX bike could use it, but a motor dirt bike couldn't. I did not want it to be overridden with 175cc dirt bikes. It's almost like my legacy. And I am so proud of what it has turned into. 

Kevin D. Burns 
Kenton, Ohio 

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1984 Hutch Expert Racer 

photo by BMXMuseum.com

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BMX acrobatics

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BMX racing crew

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