Des’ree Barnes proves BMX isn’t just for the boys

woman jumping on a BMX track

Alice Piper

Posted March 08, 2022

With five world championships and nine national championships under her belt, Des’ree Barnes has a message for women cyclists thinking about getting involved in BMX. 

When Des’ree Barnes wanted to take up a sport as a child, it wasn’t ballet, dancing, swimming, or netball, it was BMX riding, something that has typically been viewed as a male’s cycle sport. 

In fact, Des’ree used the male domination of BMX as inspiration to train harder, which has certainly paid off for the 20-year-old, with five world championship titles and nine national championship titles in an ever-expanding trophy cabinet.

With Victorian female participation in BMX at just 21 per cent of the total membership according to BMX Victoria, the achievements of champion riders such as Barnes are critical to growing awareness of a cycle sport that caters to female cyclists across all age demographics.

Learn more about Barnes' life and career below thanks to arevo by RACV, who are working with partners BikeExchange and AusCycling to celebrate women in cycling and encourage increased participation. 

The arevo bike journey planner app, a free download from the App Store and Google Play Store, lets you plan bike routes that make the most of Melbourne’s safer and quieter bike paths and lanes, all issues women have cited as being barriers to participating in the sport.

Des’ree Barnes talks career inspiration, her love of BMX and the importance of self belief

Did you have an early influence who first got you into BMX?

Yes, my dad raced motocross growing up and wanted to get my brother and I into it, but mum said it was too dangerous, so dad took us down to the BMX track instead.  

I started racing BMX at 4 years old, and my brother was 8.  

What was the first bike you ever had?

I believe it was an ‘Intense’ [model], it was silver and I made dad paint it pink. 

Favourite type of bike to ride?

Currently it’s a Speedco! 

What do you love most about BMX?

I love BMX because it’s action packed and gets your heart pumping. It’s always exciting lining up on the gate.  

Has your confidence with riding ever wavered given females tend to be underrepresented in BMX?

No, I feel that more and more girls are being involved in the sport and even though it’s male dominant, growing up racing the boys and being competitive with them has changed that aspect.  

A lot of women own bikes, yet are not riding them. What do you think needs to change to increase female participation in BMX?

I think because the majority of people that do ride or race BMX is mostly males, girls are afraid to approach a track and have a go.  

Des'ree Barnes takes top spot in the Superclass Women's Final in 2020.

Cycling safety is a concern for women. What is your advice to anyone getting started in BMX?

Safety is a concern for everyone of course, but don’t let fear override you. Life is about having fun and trying new things!

Where do you hope to take your riding career next?

Well, the ultimate goal is the Olympics, but getting to a world championship in elite riding is the next step. 

What has been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received about your career?

Have fun, enjoy the ride. It’s not worth doing if you aren’t enjoying it.

To all the little girls out there, what would you tell them about chasing their dreams?

Go for it, set your mind to whatever you want to become and achieve. You can do great things - you must believe in yourself.  

Do you like e-bikes?

Yes! e- bikes are good fun to ride around town! 
What’s your favourite bike route?

Other than a BMX racetrack, beach rides are fun and relaxing.


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