Toby and Rory Meeks are already world-class BMX riders at the tender ages of 10 and 12. We chat to their parents about how they support their sons' passions whilst living here in Hong Kong.
As a family, The Meeks know a thing or two about success as they follow their sons Rory and Toby around the world’s BMX and downhill mountain bike circuit. Originally from New Zealand, but now based in Hong Kong, parents Steve and Donna dedicate all their free time to enabling their boys to train, race and follow their passions for any sport involving two wheels. At the tender ages of 10 and 12, Rory and Toby are already veterans of success, with Toby holding the Hong Kong Number One spot in BMX for the last five years, and Rory as World Number Three for two consecutive years.
We met up with the family to chat about success, training and how their commitment has lead to the creation of their own, eponymous brand of bikes and scooters.
Bikes are a family passion, was it obvious from an early age that the boys were talented?
Riding has been a major hobby of ours well before we left New Zealand so the boys naturally grew up riding bikes as young as they were able to. It’s probably a combination of nature and nurture to produce two exceptional high achievers in the mountain bike and BMX riding scene. The key is keeping it fun and never compromising on equipment, always ensuring they have access to quality bikes that enable them to evolve to their skill levels once only dreamed of for children this age.
How do you juggle family life, work and the boys riding and training?
Any family involved in sport knows that it all comes together as a way of life that is hard to imagine not being a part of. The thrill of seeing your children progress to the next stages of their skill development is much more of a buzz for us than doing the sport ourselves. Our enjoyment comes from seeing the amazing things the boys can achieve in such a short timeframe.
Can you tell us about the bike park that you have created?
We started building our own private bike park about six years ago. A group of like-minded families got together and rented some land completely covered in forest. We now have an amazing playground for our children to develop their riding skills and have some good clean fun that does not involve a screen. We have introduced an airbag this year so that the boys can try aerial tricks in preparation for developing their slopestyle skills, which Toby shows a major interest in.
How much training do the boys do per week? How do they find combining that with the demands of school?
During the busy race months, the boys train six days a week and at times it can be difficult to juggle it with school commitments. The boys attend German Swiss International School and the school has always been very supportive and proud of the boys’ race commitments and achievements.
In the lead up to Christmas, the boys ride two to three times a week to give them some downtime during the quieter part of the race calendar. Things will crank up again after Christmas. It is important to have time out from heavy training at this age or burn-out can happen. They need time to be kids as well. This is where their passion for scooter riding takes precedence. After school and homework, they don their helmets and head outside to ride or do tricks with their friends.
Do your holidays generally involve following the boys to their events and competitions?
All holidays except one involve riding events and competitions. Christmas is kept aside for Mum and Dad’s other hobby, kitesurfing. The boys do this sport now too and are sponsored by Neil Pryde Hong Kong. Easter always involves a trip back to New Zealand to race at the NZ BMX Championships. This is how they qualify to race at the World BMX Championships each year. Rory has been twice World No.3 for his age group. The boys also race Crankworx Rotorua and Crankworx Whistler which are huge mountain biking race weeks that involve a wide range of off-road riding disciplines. Now the boys are getting older we will start the MTB race circuit throughout Asia which is growing larger each year.
What inspired you to create the Meekboyz range of bikes? How did you get started?
The inspiration for these high-grade carbon bikes came from necessity. There are no proper function downhill bikes anywhere in the world for kids to ride. There are cheap versions with low grade components made by companies that have attempted to fill the gap but the low quality of those bikes mean that children can’t progress at their correct levels. The Meekboyz bikes are the first downhill bikes on the planet that function fully like an adult’s equivalent but are engineered to fit a child’s size and strength. This is paramount for young children as they need to be able to manhandle the bikes with ease and efficiency. Now young riders have a bike option that is appropriately engineered for sizes and it does not take industry shortcuts by comprising low grade, semi-functional mountain bike components. Children deserve better gear because they are so small in size and need gear which will function safely as they ride over difficult terrain.
What has the response been like to the bikes and scooters?
Everybody wants one! The major hurdle is educating parents that you get what you pay for. If you buy cheap, don’t expect quality, but if you buy quality, your child will have a riding friend for life. When it comes to physical sport, there is little room for compromise on safety and performance. Our carbon bikes are being ridden all over the globe and are sought after world-wide.
The scooters are growing popularity throughout Hong Kong as an awareness grows that local skateparks now allow scooter riding. Once the SuperPark opens next month this will also increase the popularity.
The scooters don’t take up room to store at home or travel with and they give an excuse to get outside away from screens and long hours of homework. They offer kids a moment in time where they are carefree from the other stresses of daily life. Treat a scooter like a pet, buy a good one in the first instance and kids will have it as a companion for life.
What are long term goals for the boys’ riding careers?
As the boys grow and develop it will be interesting to see which riding disciplines they choose to follow. At this stage, they are trying many: downhill rising, slopestyle, dirt jump, BMX. The world of professional sport is growing more and more exciting by the day as extreme sports grow into legitimate professions.
What are your long term goals for Meekboyz bikes?
Our long term goals for our high-grade carbon bikes is to see many kids around the world riding proper downhill bikes and making it to the professional mountain bike scene at a much faster pace. Currently most of the worlds’ top riders are in their late twenties. With our new bikes, you will see that age drop rapidly as kids have access to better bikes at a younger age, meaning they can progress in skill-level so much faster. We can’t wait to see some of our Meekboyz young riders on the World Cup podiums in future years!
About Meekboyz Scooters
The Meekboyz Meta X-1 pro freestyle scooters are built with light-weight parts to allow for greater ease of tricks, and the flat deck makes finger whip tricks possible. Available in four colours, custom neo-chrome, snakeskin hydro wrap, black hydro carbon wrap and neo-chrome, the Meta X-1 is the ultimate skate park or street spot scooter.