Re Print: Jay Lonegran - Over 30 and Still In The Woods
A dedicated soul who has found something more to BMX than just doing tricks on a bike...
5 Mar 2015
Intro, Interviews & Photos by Rob Dolecki Originally published in DIG issue 98 "Blood, Sweat & Trails" January 2014
It's inevitable. By the time someone is in their mid-twenties or well on their way into Level 3, if they aren't a sponsored dude, living the Peter Pan lifestyle, or working in the "industry," most riders start slowing down. Real life responsibilities like having a real job, getting married, having a family, settling down - it creeps up on even the most dedicated of riders. Before you know it, the span between riding days can go from days, to weeks, or even more.
Some guys have spent more than their fair share of time with their feet on the pedals and hands on the shovel. And despite being in their thirties and forties, they've kept at both for decades, while still keeping the balance with all that involves the day-to-day life of the average tail-end Generation X'er. These guys are a few of the dedicated souls who, in all their years involved, have found something more to bike riding than just doing tricks on a little bike, which may be a key to unlocking the synergy with life's demands. They are the face of the experience and wisdom of the past, and the face of influence for the future.
Name: Jay Lonegran Age: 40 Lives: Bethlehem, PA Trails: Posh
First real trails you rode and when?
Even though they weren't really trails in a modern-day sense, the first trails that I built at and rode were Sales Trails. They were more of a bent oval with some off shoots. We had some rad jumps there and endless fun. They got plowed in '89.
How long have you had Posh for?
I have been digging at Posh for 20 years this spring. They were started by Mach 6, the builder of original Posh. Then when I moved back from Cali, 8 Ball Hall and I started digging there and Mach didn't like what we were building, so he went back to the woods and dug where old Posh was. Me and 8-Ball were building long-lows and jumps influenced by motocross. No one really liked them the first two years. Downhill, sketchy and some stuff definitely built wrong. 8-Ball and me loved it. Then Sal and Magilla came along and turned it into modern-day Posh. Made stuff taller and better. There were a lot of other people involved, but 8 ball, Sal and Magilla really had a huge impact on those trails. Now they have been there for twenty years, and that's hard for me to believe. Half of my life.
How many sets of trails have you been a local at previously?
I've dug at Sales Trails 1 and 2. Then Sheep Hills, Dover and Hoover trails in So. Cal., and then Posh. I still consider myself a Sheep Hills local. SHL for life! Love those guys!
How are those places doing?
Sales Trails 2 is still kind of going! Sheep Hills is rolling, and also Posh.
What are some of your main life responsibilities outside of BMX, and how do you juggle them with having a set of trails?
Outside of BMX, I have a pretty serious job for my dad's company. I build fuel oil pumps and control panels for them. There are a lot of deadlines. I build them myself; it's all on me. I don't have to work weekends, and I get out at a decent time during the week. So I go to the trails about 3 days a week and every weekend from March to November. It's a long season from digging to un-tarping. It can wear you down.
How does this affect your day-to-day life outside of BMX?
Being busy with work and the trails, sometimes I feel like I don't see my friends and family enough. I try to not disappear and get lost in the woods, but it happens. I try to make up for it in the winter, ha ha.
Dig more or ride more?
It has a lot to do with the weather for me. Rainy years are a lot of work. I always try to make sure I ride more, even though that is out of my hands.
What are some digging / building techniques that you've learned over the years which might benefit others?
I could go on for a while. There are so many and so many different ones. The newest one I learned that I started to use when called for is the Catty smear. This is mostly for lips. After the jump is rebuilt and packed, you pour enough water over it so you can smear the face with a flat shovel. It fills in all the cracks and gets it ready for a nice groove.
Do you ever have cookouts at the trails like many other spots do?
We really don't have cookouts at the trails. All business down there, ha ha. Don't know why. Back in the day Sal buried all the grills. Big Stauff was for a bit years back. I think about it sometimes, but we usually all just go out to eat after a good Saturday session.
Best tool you have at the trails?
It would have to be a flat shovel. That's what gets it done. This year we had to weed-whack the whole trails to get airflow to the ground. It was rainy in the beginning of the season and the jumps weren't drying quickly enough. Dry time went from three days to one.
Where does the magic dirt come from, and how has this amazing substance aided in making Posh what it is?
The magic dirt comes from the magic pit. It's this area at the top of the trails that has the best clay I have ever worked with. Always moist, no rocks; orange clay with a little sand. Easiest dirt to work with, it spoils you. Packs solid first day and you could lay an eighth-inch resurface if you wanted to. You got to wheelbarrow to where you need it, which could be far. It's the only clay pit we have at the trails with this soil. We used to build and rebuild with the magic dirt, but now mainly just the face of lips. Don't want to run out!
Alcohol consumption allowed or not allowed at Posh?
No drinking at the trails. Insurance doesn't allow it, but even before that we didn't have drinking down there in the later years. If the trails were in the middle of nowhere, that would be different but we didn't want them to be a party spot. Before you know it you got more people on the sidelines than on the course.
Out of town visitors, or locals that don't dig?
I don't really expect out-of-towners to dig. Especially if they have their own trails. They usually do, though. In the fall when all the visitors are here they keep the trails dialed. I really appreciate it.
Have you ever banned anyone from riding there?
No dig, no ride.
Do you ever miss Sal's heckling of anyone and everyone who would come to Posh?
I definitely miss Sal down there heckling people. I miss riding with him. He did so much for those trails, and those were great years.
Who's your favorite local?
Since we're down to about four in-town locals, I can't pick a favorite. We can't afford to lose anyone!
Have you ever had to deal with any major drama there?
After twenty years of the trails there definitely has been some drama for sure! But we won't go there!
Do you lock up the trails when you're not there?
We haven't locked up the trails for years. At one point one run was because of guys slacking and kept kids off it, but that was years ago. This summer we have to lock them up again for insurance reasons.
Is jump-building an art form, or just a way to shape piles of dirt to have fun on?
I think you could consider building trails an art form. The French trails look perfectly sculpted, just as an artist would. A full set of trails winding through the trees has an amazing look to it. Like a massive sculpture. There is also a lot of engineering involved of course as well.
Do you feel the "Posh knuckle" style of landings is gaining a larger following than Keck decks?
Posh knuckle versus the Keck deck, ha ha. There are fans of both, I know. I like the forgivingness of the round top of the landing when you case and you don't have to be as perfect. I started rounding edges because it held up better to the rain before we used tarps. Others like the crispness of the Keck deck landing. More of a defined point to look at in the air.
Tarp or no tarps for the winter months?
We've tried tarp-ing in winter, but because of the freeze and thaw, the pins would pull out and tarps would blow off. Also, the tarps we used weren't thick enough to protect the jumps from the freeze of winter. This year we are putting carpet on top of the tarps on some of the bigger stuff. Hoping it holds up better; that would help us a lot.
What would you do if Posh was plowed tomorrow?
If Posh was plowed tomorrow I would go ride Catty. I'm lucky to have another kick-ass set of trails in town. But there were times I was so overwhelmed down there I felt them being plowed would be a blessing. That feeling still happens. Then it passes and I snap out of it, and go do the work of three people. I have gotten so much enjoyment out of those woods, I can't believe I think that sometimes.
Which trail riders do you admire?
Growing up I looked up to Chris Moeller, Dave Clymer, Vic Murphy, and Eric Carter, to name a few. Now I love to watch Hucker ride. All bad-asses on a BMX.
What sources of inspiration do you draw for your trails?
I draw a lot of my inspiration for trails from motocross.
How does it feel to be a part of a scene that many consider the best trails in the world?
Being a part of Posh is definitely something I am proud of. It's a huge part of my life. I put so much in down there but I get so much back. After 33 years of riding, I never thought my biggest accomplishment would happen off my bike, but it did. I'm glad others can enjoy it.
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