Living a BMX childhood, overcoming injury, and riding his bike across the globe with both of his families, Alex Tougas is a staple in BMX racing in Canada. After another BMX Canada Pro Title, we wanted to hear from the man himself about his experience as a Pro, his thoughts on the series, and what he has coming in the future as he manages a full-time job and pro racing career.
Give us a rundown of your racing career. Who is Alex Tougas?
“I started racing when I was about five years old. As a kid, even before I was racing, I was obsessed with bikes for some reason. I don't know why, haha. When I was five through ten, we were doing the local races, and it kind of grew into provincial races. Then when I was ten, we were doing races throughout Western Canada throughout the providence and into Alberta as well. When I was about 13 that was when I did my first race down in the states, I had done the ones in Washington and Oregon, but I flew down to Salt Lake for the first time when I was 13. The races I went to progressed from there. I started doing more races further throughout the states, and that kind of spiraled downhill a bit. I say that jokingly, but yeah, it went from there. I turned pro when I was...Is it bad I have to think about that, haha… I think I was 17 or 18 when I turned pro. I was actually 17 because I didn’t do 17-20 at all, but from there, I raced A Pro for 2 years, then I started doing more and more racing as an Elite and started racing against the big guys. It’s funny, with it (Racing BMX) being something I do so much, I haven’t thought about that window in a while. It’s kind of cool to look back on for sure.”
Everyone we talk to raves about the races in Canada, from the laid-back vibes to the beautiful scenery. What’s your time on the BMX Canada series been like?
“The series to me is just a lot of fun; it’s where a grew up essentially. It’s no different than the races down in the states, but it's definitely a smaller group. We don’t have quite the moto count that you guys get down in the states, but it’s still a good group of people that are there, and we have a lot of fun at those races. Like I said, it’s definitely a small, close-knit community up here, but those races are something I look forward to every year.”
With your jump to A Pro and then into AA/Elite, what was the training like with your fellow Canadians?
“Training didn’t change a ton for me because when I was about 16, I started training with the Canadian National team. I was very fortunate enough for them to bring me into the picture when I was still pretty young, and so I started training with them when I was about 16ish. Luckily training with them was a big part of me turning pro when I did and being able to feel confident enough to compete with that class. It was a cool progression and, in my opinion, pretty well-rounded. When I was a first-year junior, I started to go to a few World Cup races, and having the chance to travel the world with them is something I'm extremely thankful for.”
Obviously, your family loves BMX, and your brother Ryan is racing in the pro ranks as well now. How’s that been growing up with a BMX family in Canada and at those BMX Canada races?
“As a family, we’ve been super involved in it. My parents never raced themselves, but they’ve always been right there and have been extremely supportive. It’s been really cool for Ryan and I seeing them do all those races. That's our extended family, and that’s what we’re used to, and that’s a big part of who we are as a family as well, which is something we’re all really thankful for. But specifically on Ryan, racing with him has been awesome. Over the past couple of years, he’s really transformed as a rider, and if anything, it has pushed me as a rider, knowing I gotta keep up with him. He’s a big part of the riding I do now, and how hard I push myself to train, he definitely keeps me on my toes. It’s been really cool to see him competing in the pro class for the past year or so and getting his foot in the door to make himself known.
Ryan was definitely making himself known at Bakersfield just a few weeks ago, but before that, he was giving you a run around the little red barn.
“Racing against him is fun because normally, when we go to these big races, we go against guys that we don’t ride with very often. But I know where Ryan's going to go around the track, and I know I can trust him and get pretty close around some spots on the track where I’d be nervous around other guys. That’s just what you get when you race your brother.”
Tell us about the Canadian Grands this year. From your Title win to the vibes in the barn, give us your experience with it.
“Grands was awesome this year. It was weird cause normally we’re kind of cold in Chilliwack, but it was like degrees celsius. I don’t know what that translates to for you guys, but it was really hot, which was odd, but It was a good showing. I know at the start of the year, the races were a little small, but it was a good group of people, and I think we had a full gate in pro, which was awesome. That race will always be fun. There will always be the fast guys showing up, and we had a really cool class this year between Mani, Taylor, myself, and all the other riders who showed up. It was always a good battle, and I was pretty happy to walk away with that one on the weekend.
Who are some of the younger kids in Canada that we should be looking out for as they start to develop and jump into the pro classes? Any racers that could be the next big thing for Team Canada?
“Definitely, I know a bunch of kids that have gone stateside who are about to explode, but specifically for those about to turn pro, I like Jacob Shaw, Max Ganakovsky, Dylan Tremel, and Carson Kowaski. Those are the guys that I’ve been able to work with a bit. They're a group that shows up and trains with the national team, and I know that when they turn pro, it will be an even bigger class. It will be a tight class for sure.”
One of the big changes for this next year is the addition of the Pro/Am and the BMX Canada series, any thoughts on that change?
“I’m so stoked on that. I didn't know if I would be able to bring that up or not, but I’m so excited because I know we have some very fast guys in all of our amateur classes. There were some that were on the fence about turning pro, so I’ll be really excited to race them next year, especially knowing that they’ll enter a Pro/Am like that. That’s gonna be really cool, and it will be cool to spotlight those younger riders that don’t always have a chance to race the older riders. It's going to be awesome.”
Let’s talk sponsors for a second. You ride the Chase frame, and you’re kitted out in FLY, usually blue. What drew you to those brands?
“Man, why FLY and Chase? I’ll start with Chase. It started by getting an email from Pete Dylewski. We have a lot of shared ideas on what we want to do for BMX and what he wanted me to be for Chase, and I feel very lucky to have their support in my riding, and I love the bike. I feel very fortunate to be able to ride their logo. With FLY Racing, that's kind of a lifelong thing for me. I can’t remember wearing any other gear. Ray Hudson has been such a great guy helping us out, and I’ll always want to represent that brand. These are products that I would want regardless if I was able to say I was sponsored by them or not. Great products, made by great people, so definitely something worth representing.
So what’s your plan for the near future? What's coming up for you in the next 2-3 months?
“I only try to look until the next race. I don't want to spend too much time thinking about what's going to happen in January. I mean, I work a full-time job and for me riding is something I feel very lucky to be able to do and compete in. For me, I just want to race as much as I can at any races I can and have a ton of fun doing it. The BMX Canada rounds really allow me to do that, and I love the family you have out there with the community. I may not beagle to train like I used to but anytime I get to ride, I will. As broad as it is, I just want to race as much as I can ride whenever I have the chance.
With plans to join more of the USA BMX Pro Series races, younger brother Ryan may need to get creative around the track because big bro is ready to race on both of the North American series.