Tucson family shares love of BMX with local kids, teens | Tucson Sports

Five years ago, Saul Moreno was living large as one of Tucson auto dealer Jim Click’s top car salesmen. He worked long hours, but was handsomely compensated and treated well. He was happy.

But when Moreno’s 10-year-old son, Saul Jr., told him he needed to see more of his dad, Moreno walked away. He started a business that would give him flexibility in his work hours and dove headfirst into his son’s favorite hobby : bicycle motocross, or BMX.

Now, the 39-year-old Moreno has become the unofficial champion of Tucson’s youth BMX scene. Not only does he shepherd his two sons along in their burgeoning freestyle careers, but he also supports his two soon-to-be stepdaughters and countless other Tucson kids who are lacking the guidance, means or opportunity to take their BMX game to the next level.

Genuine passion

Moreno, who owns and operates Kall Saul Mobile Carwash and Detailing, is trying to increase ridership among local kids. It starts, he says, with local schools.

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“BMX is too discreet. It doesn’t get the publicity or help from the community to grow it more like other sports,” Moreno said.

He’s worked hard in recent years to bring training into Tucson’s schools, teaching kids to both ride bikes and fix them. Simply riding a bike isn’t the rite of childhood that it used to be, he said.

“Lots of kids have never put their hands on handlebars,” he said. “And going over an obstacle, like a hump, is brand new even for seasoned kids.”

He’s donated bikes to local kids for the last several years, finding kids at the parks and skate parks that didn’t have bikes of their own. And last year, he started a toy and bike drive for the community, giving away 10 bikes to local schools.

Moreno also owns the clothing brand Genuine BMX, and he uses some of the profits to help local kids pay for camp and race entry fees.

He’s not living as large as he was at Jim Click, but “we learned to adapt to not needing the things we think we need.”

Plus he said, “time, you can’t get back.”

Genuine BMX started out several years ago as something totally different. Moreno would print outdoor racing track Tucson BMX’s logo and his Kall Saul branding on the back of T-shirts, and pay the entry fees of any rider who wanted to wear them.

That effort turned into Support Local BMX, with Moreno handing out stickers and appearing at one of Tucson’s longstanding holiday traditions, the Downtown Parade of Lights and Festival. Moreno built a ramp that he’d pick up and drop between vehicles on the route; his sons and other local riders would perform tricks for the crowd.

While at a national BMX competition in Las Vegas, Moreno posted up next to a Tucson BMX trailer. He marveled at the quality of the competition’s bikes compared to the “(expletive) boxes” that accompanied Moreno’s crew from Tucson.

Moreno said it was the best feeling to see his T-shirts or stickers on bikes at parks and tracks across town.

“Only 1% of people will do this for a living. But it teaches you life skills for the future,” Moreno said. “I felt it was my duty to get other kids involved.”

Saul Moreno, left, helps his son Samuelle, 9, clean Samuelle’s bike at their home. Five years ago, Saul quit his job as an auto salesman to spend time with his sons and their love for BMX.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

In October 2020, Moreno rebranded Support Local BMX as Genuine BMX, saying the name fits because, “I genuinely love this thing.”

These days, Moreno sets his work schedule around his kids and BMX, traveling frequently with his sons and stepdaughters for camps and competitions.

“My youngest, this is his life,” Moreno said of 9-year-old Samuelle. “He learned how to walk with a bike instead of a walker.”

As Moreno talked with the Star on a recent Tuesday evening, Samuelle was tearing up the course at Premises Park, an indoor BMX, skateboard and scooter park south of downtown.

While Samuelle and Saul Jr., 16, are both climbing the ranks in the freestyle BMX scene, Moreno’s stepdaughters are making names for themselves in BMX racing.

Skateboarders and scooter riders practice doing tricks at Premises Park in Tucson.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

A place to play

Tucson is no stranger to accomplished BMX riders. Last month, Tucsonans Daleny Vaughn and Corben Sharrah took home first place honors in USA Cycling’s Elite BMX National Championships.

Longtime BMX freestyle competitor Kevin Peraza, who was born and raised in Tucson, has represented Mexico and the United States internationally. Peraza competed in four X Games, winning gold medals in X Games Austin 2016 and X Games Minneapolis 2017. In 2019, Peraza won multiple events in the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup and qualified for the Olympics.

He also made history as the namesake of Vans’ first pair of BMX shoes.

“He’s trying to be the father figure of Tucson BMX,” Moreno said of pro Peraza, who Samuelle Moreno calls his “bestie.”

At the center of today’s BMX scene is the nonprofit Premises Park, owned and operated by Ian Abbott since 2010. It has become a hub for Tucson’s skating, riding and scooting community.

With lessons, memberships, hourly pricing and discount nights, Premises Park fits most budgets. It offers a summer special that includes all-day pricing complete with supervision and the option to have meals delivered via DoorDash. don’t do diapers, “the slogan reads).

The walls of the multi-level structure are adorned with local street art; there are step-ups, boxes, ramps and coping, some. The 32,000-square-foot park is also hoping to appeal to parents looking for daytime activities for their kids. donated from local riders and skaters’ personal collections.

Abbott, a BMX rider, got back into the sport in 2006 after finishing graduate school.

He and Peraza “used to talk about how cool would it be to have our own place,” Abbott said. “I went past one day and saw the old sofa factory had a sign out front that it was for rent.”

BMX bikes on the wall inside the Moreno home.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

Located at the corner of Speedway and Main, Abbott figured the building would be prime real estate, but the rent was only $ 1,200 a month. He figured he could charge admission, and as long as the rent was paid, the business could survive.

“It excited. The demand was incredible,” he said. “The building wasn’t big enough.”

So Abbott leased on a 10,000-square-foot location in 2011, and moved again a few years later when the opportunity for more space for less rent came about. Abbott just signed another five year-lease.

“I used to dream about being one of these large skate parks, and now I’m one of the 1% left in the US and one of the biggest indoor skate parks in the country,” he Abbott said. “But it’s a dying business. Every couple of months, there’s another indoor, privately-owned skate park that closes. “

As long as there are people like Moreno around, Premises Park will survive and thrive, Abbott says.

“Saul is one of those parents that’s die-hard with his kids. He’s going to support them and not shove it down their throat because they’re good at it,” Abbott said, adding that Saul Jr. has been riding at Premises Park since it was in its previous spot over on Toole Avenue.

“(Saul) has found his niche in what evolved into Genuine BMX. It doesn’t reflect a physical product; it’s just a clothing line that’s genuine,” Abbott said. “The money funds his kids going across the country or going to events or sends other kids to (camp) or helps buy bikes for kids who need bikes. “

Abbott said the region’s BMX family has grown, and Moreno is tapping into that expanding market.

“He’s got a good brand started and a good mission going,” Abbott said.

Yoselyn Bueno, 14, daughter of Monique Robles, wipes down her bike while getting ready to leave for BMX practice at the Moreno home.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

On the road

Moreno and his son’s love of all things BMX hasn’t only changed the lives of local kids, but also those of their own family.

Monique Robles said she had no idea what BMX was she first met Moreno, her fiancé, several years ago.

“It’s my life now,” she said. “My kids love it. We get to see different places and meet people and it’s helped my girls so much.”

Before meeting Moreno, Robles’ daughters had dabbled with mountain bikes, but had never raced or done any kind of tricks. Now, they’re both all-in on racing.

Robles’ daughter, Yoselyn Bueno, 14, came around pretty quickly, but her now 10-year-old, Alessia Bueno, took a little more time.

Moreno bought Alessia a bike at the start of the pandemic, which he sold six months later after she failed to use it. Alessia was upset when she found out, so Moreno built her a “skeleton bike” out of spare parts.

“It was the worst bike made of all the junkyard parts that we had,” he said. “But she got on and overcame that fear. Then she chased that feeling of winning and getting better. She grew confidence through bikes.”

Now, Alessia — who Moreno calls the Kim Kardashian of the family — is the first one to ask to go to the track.

Moreno said the family is super-supportive of each other, but his efforts show that support extends to members of their extended BMX family.

The last several summers, Moreno and Robles have helped raise funds for Moreno’s sons and other local kids to attend Woodward West summer camp in Tehachapi, California. The camp is world-renowned for its action sports, including BMX, and while the price is steep , the rewards are also rich.

The past four summers, Moreno and Robles have packed their van and trailer full of bikes, kids and teens, making the nine-hour road trip to drop the kids off at camp, driving back to Tucson, and doing it all over again at the end of the week.

Last year, he brought 10 other kids along for the ride, and they regularly have other kids with them when they travel to out-of-town races and events.

Greyson Festerling, left, 13, fistbumps Samuelle Moreno, 9, after Moreno did a trick at Premises Park in Tucson.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

This summer, Moreno changed the plan, packing up the family for a five-week road trip to Woodward, Pennsylvania, home of the original Woodward Camp.

Moreno called the trip the “Chasing the Dream BMX Tour,” splitting up the 34-hour drive with stops at a covered BMX track in Albuquerque, a Tulsa skate shop, USA BMX headquarters and more. They arrived in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

When they return next month, it’s back to business and spreading their love of BMX as far as they can.

“If I help one person in a positive way, that’s so much better than sitting back and doing nothing,” Moreno said.

Contact Star reporter Caitlin Schmidt at 573-4191 or cschmidt@tucson.com. On Twitter: @caitlincschmidt


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