Get To Know - Nick Castillo

Wallride aficionado and former world champion Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter

12 Mar 2015


Interview, intro, and photos by Devin Feil

The way Nick carries himself you'd never guess he was only 21. He's not one to talk about himself, his accomplishments or accolades, or even what he filmed at a spot you've been riding with him for an hour. It might sound cliche to say, but he lets his riding speak for itself. He's doing what he's doing with his life for the sake of it, not for a pat on the back or internet notoriety. As is often the case the interests one cultivates in their youth have a direct impact on the person they develop into as an adult. Two early influences I can see shining through are his background in the martial arts, and his beginnings at the BMX race track. Nick's a modest man who rides like a bat out of hell.

I couldn't have asked for a better subject to work with than Nick. I tagged along for an impromptu trip to Santa Barbara, and on short notice he came up with three great spots. During my couple days in town Nick didn't make mention of anything he wanted to shoot until we'd arrived at the spot. Each time with the spot in sight he'd ask if they were worth photographing? To which I replied with an emphatic "Yes!" The type of riding Nick does is photographic gold and he's got a level of patience and gratitude that made the process an absolute delight. Enough from me though let's get to know this west coast Barbarian...


Long low opposite curved wallride with a hand off for added difficulty. Don't ask me how this works.

Age, hometown, and current residence?
21. Born and raised in Santa Barbara.

I never seem to see you without fellow Santa Barbarian Cody Bowers. Are most of your sessions these days are with Cody?
Yeah it's pretty rare that you see us riding without each other.

When did you guys get to know one another and what sort of impact has he had on your riding?
I was probably 4 or 5 years old when I met Cody. My dad actually knew Cody's dad in high school. But Cody's parents used to run the BMX track and I've always looked up to him cause he always looked like he had so much fun on his bike. He wasn't afraid to do a trick during a race haha! He stopped racing and started riding street and soon enough so did I. He eventually took me under his wing and now we're pretty much brothers

Did you look up to oIder guys in the area like Ian Munro?
Definitely looked up to Ian and I still look up to him. He kills it at everything he does, and he's always there to help me out.

BSD and Madera help you out if I am not mistaken. How'd those two hookups come about?

Got the BSD homie hook up through David Grant. I'm lucky enough I get to ride with him pretty regularly, and Madera came about cause I used to ride with Sean Morr a lot. A few of the riders came through on a trip and Mike Hinkens and Matt Coplon have helped me out with parts since.

What's it like having David Grant crash at your pad when he's in town?
It's always a blast, he is down to go explore new spots or nature anytime. Plus he'll make you laugh so hard you'll piss your pants, but at the same time he's a very intelligent dude to talk to.


Nick's barbarian brother Cody Bowers feebles a wooden rail just before sunset in Santa Barbara.

I know you have a martial arts background. I remember someone mentioning you were a jiu jitsu world champion? Truth to this?
Yes, I won the Brazilian jiu jitsu world championships in 2010.

At what age did you take that up?
Around 12.

How often do you train nowadays?
Lately my personal training has been only around 3 or 4 times a week it gets tough juggling work, training, and riding.

Didn't you even teach lessons for a bit?
Yes I used to teach the kids and teens classes at my gym. Nowadays I'll teach private lessons here and there and I'm helping someone prepare for an MMA fight currently.

Have there been any instances when you've had to put your jiu jitsu background to use in a street fight?
If anything it keeps me out of fights, cause personally I feel there is a time and place for that. But you gotta do what you gotta do, you can't ever let anybody push you around. It happened that 5 dudes tried to jump me and my dad. I used what I knew and I was able to hold a few guys off and I choked one of them unconscious. Finally Cody came riding up and like the true friend he is he had my back and sprocket bashed the biggest dude in the head and split him open haha! They were tripping they did not expect to get handled by a 19 year old, his old man, and a BMX bike.

Do you feel like that background helped out with BMX? Mentally and physically?
Huge help to BMX, the strength you develop, and it makes you mentally strong. But also BMX helped me get better at jiu jitsu, the balance and knowing where to position your body to make move/trick work go hand in hand.

"I won the Brazilian jiu jitsu world championships in 2010 "- Nick Castillo


When Nick pointed out this massive curved wallride with a gap about a third of the way into the bend, I didn't think he intended to get all the way around it. But sure enough, he did.

Who are some of your riding inspirations?
Mike Aitken, Ruben Alcantara, Geoff Slattery, Jeremy McGrath. (Editor's note: MX rider Jeremy McGrath once raced Supercross in the UK with a DIG sticker on his plate!)

Your last Instagram post was 11 weeks ago. Not big on social media huh?
I check Instagram frequently I just don't take too many pics when I'm out and about. I try to keep the phone in my pocket so there's not much fresh material to post. Editors note: @nickcastillo805

All three photos we shot were tricks you'd previously done, and you redid them in a single weekend. Why the motivation to get photographic documentation?
It's a treat for there to be someone to snap a pic. Those were just a couple spots I really wanted to have the photo of, but being confident enough to do again.

Any BMX photos that have really stuck with you over the years? Garret Reeves curved wall in Atlanta. (Cover of RideBMX US 183) Alex Donnachie toboggan to smith. ( The Alex Donnachie Interview - DIG 96)

Is it safe to say even though you value proper documentation, if you are feeling it and all that's around is an iPhone, you might send yourself regardless?
If there's a spot I really like and it feels right, I'll definitely just get the phone angle and not wait to go back.

Related Video

DIG - Barbarians Of The West Coast

Nick Castillo and Cody Bowers on a tear in Santa Barbara - More Info

Alex Raban cut your split video with Cody together for DIG, but he didn't film any of the clips. How often do you guys meet up with Alex to ride?
It's always different but I'd say I see Alex a couple times a month. I wish it could be more for sure.

Were you and Cody primarily handling the filming for one another?
Yeah we always just film each other unless DBG (David Grant) or someone else is around.

What does the remainder of 2015 hold in store for you?
Gonna ride and go on as many new adventures as possible.

Any thanks you'd like to give?That could be a really long list. Of course mom and pop, best parents I could possibly have, Joe, Chris, Steph, Cody Bowers, David Grant, Ian Munro, Devin Feil, and Alex Raban. BSD and Madera for helping to keep my bike dialed.


Nick took this gap to wallride to another level by hopping over the rail to the wall. It's not hard to see how Ruben may have inspired him.