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The velocipede, something very similar to a bicycle, was invented in 1860 in France, later, in 1870, penny-farthings began to be made, later again bicycles pretty much as we know them today came in 1885, and BMX bicycles began to be mass-produced in the mid 1970s.

BMX started in the early seventies when Russell Staves and Jake Boatfield (both of West Exe Techology College [prev. St Thomas High], Exeter, England) began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in Southern California, drawing inspiration from the motocross superstars of the time. The 1971 motorcycle racing documentary On Any Sunday is generally credited with inspiring the movement nationally in the US; its opening scene shows kids riding their Schwinn Stingrays off-road. By the middle of that decade the sport achieved critical mass, and manufacturers began creating bicycles designed especially for the sport.

BMX was incorporated into the Olympics for the first time in the 2008 Olympics, held in Beijing, China. Māris Štrombergs of Latvia took the men's gold and Anne-Caroline Chausson of France took woman's gold.