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El Chaltén.BMX The story

During a BMX Roadtrip through Patagonia, I realized that I could use my passion for the benefits of others all over the world.

That's me during the "Belmonte.ride" Roadtrip through Patagonia after landing a trick

My name is Bijan Kesseler. Born the 20 of November 1991 in Luxembourg. As many kids in Luxembourg I was in a football team during ten years. But there were also the attraction for this little fun looking bike called BMX. Since the age of 16, I started doing tricks with a group of friends. We felt free. Nobody told us when or what to do. We were independant from any institution and could ride wherever we wanted. In the bushes, in the city or in skateparks. Skateparks where a rare thing though. So we got creative, building our own ramps in the streets with materials that big companies nearby threw away. It took us a lot of time to learn new tricks because there were nobody to ask for.

I did my school in Luxembourg and followed with studies of mechnical engineering in Aachen, Germany. There I got my bachelor degree of the RWTH Aachen. During my final work, I did the technical planification and the realisation of a table out of "Textilbeton". This was a composite material which was developed from the RWTH Aachen and the University of Dresden during the last 10 years. It is really smooth concrete with grids of carbon or glas fibers. After finishing my thesis, I went back to Luxembourg and opened my company "Bijan's Concrete"; designing and construction of handmade thin-walled concrete furniture and accessories.

Concrete BMX frame with Concrete Lamp during the exposition "De Mains de Maîtres 2018" in Luxembourg.

2017 during a BMX roadtrip through Spain, I met Sebastian Perez. An Argentinian guy from Patagonia, staying for three month in Europe to discover its culture and ride his little bike in the many parks Europe has to offer. We became friends and continued our trip together with my van. Our destination was the little village Belmonte in the mountains of Portugal. We heard about a gigantic concrete bowl in the middle of nowhere. We passed several days there riding this monstruous park without meeting any other riders. There were snakes in the bowl. It was like a ghost place. At this place, we decided to make our own lifestyle brand called "Belmonte.ride". It should be more than only selling products. More than that, it should promote a way of living we enjoyed and wanted to share. Once back in our countries (Luxembourg and Argentina) we started editing a video of the trip and printing clothes for the brand. Our bags with the cameras and our bikes got stolen the last day of the trip. So we only had the footage of our cell phones to use for the video.

Me cruising the monstruous bowl in Belmonte.
Seba driving my old VW T3 van to the next destination.
One t-shirt of our collection. Designed by Sebastian Perez

Finally I also started to have like a little BMX Shop "Bijan's BMX" in my Atelier where the locals could see and buy products. I organized jams to promote the brand and bring the local scene of skaters and bmxers togehter.

Bijan's BMX Shop
A Sunday Session through Luxembourg City

To keep the movement running and to share my passion, I give BMX classes every Saturday in the local Indoor Skatepark, which are organized by the "Service de la Jeunesse de la Ville de Luxembourg".

Saturday BMX Class in Hollerich

Because not every village of Luxembourg has a Skatepark where the children can enjoy the feeling of riding, I built my own transportable ramps. With several bikes, protections and the ramps I was invited to events or school activities through the country to make an initiation of BMX.

My selfmade transportable ramps packed up
The selfmade transportable ramps ready for use
Initiation BMX during the "Fiesta Integrale" in Junglister 2018

In 2019 I decided finally to go to Patagonia, Argentina, and visit my friend Sebastian. A BMX rider and friend from Spain, Pedro, joined the trip. Once we had made the van comfortable to sleep for us three, we charged our bikes and went on a one-month-trip through Patagonia. The idea was to make a second "Belmonte.ride" video and make a new collection of clothes for this occasion. We rode from Seba's hometown Trelew to the end of the world, Ushuaia, along the Atlantic coast and drove up to the North along the chilean border. At every place we could ride, we stopped and had fun riding. We could not believe the amounts of BMX bikes in the villages. Nearly every single kid had one. They did not use the bikes for making tricks but to ride to school or take their friends for a lift on the back pegs. The parents bought these kind of bikes because they are famous to be "undistructable". They have no gears or other parts that could brake. When the kids saw us jumping or riding around they went crazy and watched curiously. We told them they could do the same if they start trying. So we made our improvised BMX initiations and the kids were proud and happy about what they just had learned. Argentina is economically in a very bad situation and nearly every schools were closed down since months. The kids were hanging in the streets and where annoyed. Suddenly we brought a new input into their daily life.

Meeting the local kids from Lago Puelo in the skatepark
The kids are hanging around at the park. The schools are closed since several months.
Teaching them how to ride the ramp
Group picture after their first BMX lesson.

When we arrived in El Chaltén, we decided to stay for some days because of its incredible nature. The village is world known for its climbing possibilities and trecking pathes. During the season thousands of tourists come from all over the world to the town for short stay, just to admire the Fitz Roy Mountain or making some hiking. The village welcomes every year some of the world best climbers who try to challenge themslves. The locals live apart of this every day rush of tourists coming in and going out of the town. The village has a little miniramp that were buit by some skaters ten years ago. One teacher of the local school decided to put the rotten ramp in the pedestrian street and fix it. When we started riding the ramp, people started staring at us. We invited the youngsters to try. And some of the courageous ones yet knew how to lift the front or back tire. So suddenly we had a session with the local kids. They told me that I should give classes because they are annoyed and just hanging around all day long. This sentence was like burnt in my head. We continued our trip and ended it up in Seba's hometown. He started his graphic design works and Pedro went back to Europe. I was still with that sentence of the kids in my head and decided to go back to El Chaltén to build up a BMX movement.

Me at the old miniramp in the pedestrian road in El Chaltén

Once in El Chaltén, I decided to draw plans of the ramps. Calculated the needed materials and the costs. Because the cityhall didn't have a free place where they could put a whole Skatepark, I decided to make single ramps out of steel and wood, who are transportable for future plans. I sent my proposal to the cityhall and waited for their response. Meanwhile I started speeking to the locals about my projects and came in contact with many people willing to join the project. So I met with Florencia from the Casa de Ciclista, with Vincente, the teacher whom I told first about my idea, Jerry the bicycle repairer of the town and the rare skaters from the town. It turned out that Jerry already had a passion for children's bikes and had a lot of rotten bikes in his garden form the bulky waste. I started giving BMX classes in private for those who had yet a rideable bike. In addition, I asked the people to donate their rotten children bikes which are out of use. I bought the pieces that were needed to be replaced and build up some 16" and 20" bikes with Jerry and the locals. The bikes were far away from a standard BMX from nowadays, but the kids had their fun and could enjoy riding during the lessons. The classes were hold in the pedestrian street. With would and stones from the surroundings, I built little ramps or slalom circuits. I tried to gave them the basic skills needed to ride the future ramps. After contacting the local screenprinter Paula and telling her about the project, she was directly fan of my idea an let me screenprinting T-shirts with a logo I drawed for the movement. The T-shirts where free for the kids and I asked a fair price to the supporters. After three month of discussions, the cityhall together with the parents of the BMX class decided to buy the required materials to build the some ramps. Even friends from Luxembourg donated money. With all this support, the project was able to take off.

My proposal to the cityhall of a possible skatepark
Teaching the basics with what were available
Jumping over the ramp
T-shirts with the logo of the BMX movement "BMX El Chaltén Patagonia" printed with the help of the local screen printer Paula.
At Jerry`s Garden. Two bikes which are ready and many rotten parts waiting to be assembled to a rideable bike
Parts I managed to buy in El Calafate. The next village, some hundreds of kilometers away.
Three 16" that are ready to be transported to the pedestrian street.
The bikes are locked in the pedestrian street. The kids have the code to open the lock and use them on the ramps.
A group picture of the BMX class in the old miniramp
Me showing them the circuit to ride
Kids during a fun exercise of balance and control.

Due to the harsh climate changes of the area, we were lucky to be able to use the town's shed for the period of time we needed to build the ramps. The locals lent their machines and the skaters Eugenio, Augustin and Panchi joined to build the ramps. The cityhall wanted to start with three ramps and than see if there is any need for more. The skaters and I decided to build the essentials such as a bank, a piramid, and a quarter and some curbes. The quarter would be made of the old miniramp and new plates of wood. So I took out my drawings and we started cutting the steel and welding the structures. The cityhall wanted a blue colour for the protection of the steel. The wood plates were covered with a solution that closes the pores and screwed on the structures.

The bank and the piramid in process

Thanks to the local supermarket owner's forklift and many hands, we managed to charge the ramps on the pick-up.

The piramid ready to be transported to the pedestrian street
The bank ready to be transported to the pedestrian street

Under the big curious eyes of the local kids we finally were able to put the first two ramps in the pedestrian street. The curbs joined the place two days later.

Finally, the ramps are at their place and the kids went crazy.
The kids can not believe they have now ramps in their little village.
Finishing the curbs during one of many night shifts.

Here stops my part of the story ElChaltén.BMX. The locals will continue the construction of the quarter to complete the set. Sometimes we do not have every factor under control. This time it was the outbrake of the Virus. I decided, such as every "tourist" in town, to leave before the government decides to close the borders of the provinces. But I hope the kids will enjoy the ramps and I hope that this new activity keep themon the "right" way.

Me hoping that my efforts were worth it.

Contact: Bijan Kesseler, bijankesseler@gmail.com, +352 691 81 6005, @bijankesseler

@elchalten.bmx on Facebook & Instagram

Special thanks to: Seba, Pedro, Marianna, Valentina, Rapa, Fede, El Intendente, Bertoli, Chipo, Macarena, Myriam, Myrna, Milagros, Anita, Roma, Eugenio, Juliete, Augustin, Panchi, Manu, Ricardo & Ruben, Jerry, Paula, Francione, Agos, Mary, Flori, China, Vicky, Juan&Juan, Florencia, Vicente, Julia, Pablo, Augus, Juan, Tere, Tania, Ro and all the people I forgot here! And special thanks to the donators from Luxembourg: Claudine Margue, Sven Fielitz, Kim Bäcker.

Created By
Bijan Kesseler
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