Chris Doyle - Through The Years
"Ride A Bike, Not A Bandwagon"
Questions by Paulo Martins / Jay Roe / Steve Crandall / Van Homan Captions by Chris Doyle
Chris Doyle... a name in BMX that not only conjures up images of those signature 360 turndowns and inverts, but also thoughts of well-rounded rider with a big personality that even your grandma would admire. We've collected a good amount of photos of Big D through the years since his first DIG interview article in 2000 so why not sit back and browse through fifteen years worth of great photography, and enjoy some wise (ass) words from the man himself too. This is Chris Doyle 'Through The Years'.
What is your very first memory of BMX?
I must have been in 2 nd or 3rd grade when the movie, RAD came on television. I remember watching it and just being blown away. Like most kids my age, I already owned a BMX bike but I had no idea that there were people out there doing the things I was seeing on my TV.
When did you first start riding?
I started riding around the age of 11 or 12. In the town that I grew up in (Cary, NC) there were, literally, hundreds of kids that rode BMX. There was a huge undeveloped piece of land in the center of town that had dirt jumps and me all my dirt bag friends rode there on the daily.
When did you start hitting the skateparks?
I turned pro at the age of 16 primarily for dirt jumping. I really didn't start riding skateparks until the age of 17 or 18. Funny, I was already considered a professional bike rider and I could barely jump a spine or air a quarter.
Did your parents push you as a kid to perform in school or sports or did you motivate yourself completely?
I was raised by my Mom in a single parent household. My mom never pushed her children in one direction or another. However, she was always supportive of anything her children wanted to do. Her main goal in raising us was to make sure that we were independent, hard working, and self-sufficient. With the tools that she gave us, it was easy to be self-motivated in whatever I was doing.
Which riders inspired you early on?
So many. Brian Foster and Taj were the guys I was most excited about meeting in the beginning. I was heavily inspired by both of them. Also, I really liked Joey Garcia and Kris Bennett growing up.
Nowadays who are your favourite riders to watch?
Lately I've been really into watching Matt Cordova and Kris Fox ride. Larry Edgar is sick, too. I always enjoy watching Dennis and Garrett too, but who the hell doesn't?
For some riders their bikes mean freedom to them, what does it mean to you?
BMX is my ONLY creative outlet. I can't draw, paint, play music, etc… but through riding I feel like I'm able to achieve the same feelings of creativity that come with the more accepted forms of art.
What do you think has driven you to continue with riding?
Passion. Through all of the injuries and bullshit, it's my passion for riding BMX that keeps me coming back after all of these years. I still lay awake at night thinking of tricks I'd like to do and things that I'd like to film or shoot. The motivation has always been there and I dread the day that it's not.
"Luckily, I got this done first try and was never called out on the Van Homan Little Devil video ABD!"
- Chris Doyle
Do you remember your first video part?
My very first video part was in Leigh Ramsdell's "A Useless Video". I had a split part with Steve Crandall and Paul Murray. I never cared much for Paul Murray as he was a dick to us as kids, but I was 15 years old and I was a huge fan of FBM, their team and their image. To have a split with Crandall meant a lot to me… him and I still talk about that video from time to time and have a laugh. I had no idea at that time that I was actually filming a video part. Ramsdell would just come out to our spot and film.
What's been your most memorable BMX experience?
Quitting college to give being a pro BMX rider a go. The feeling of being 18 and making a life decision like that is one that I will never forget. I can't help but to wonder what my life would have been like if I had chosen college instead of BMX.
What else other than BMX gets you really pumped to ride? I like seeing people do things that they're passionate about. I don't care if it's a different sport, art, cooking, etc… Watching people do something that they're passionate about is really contagious to me.
Favourite spot to ride?
POSH out in Bethlehem comes to mind.
Favourite trick of all time is...
360 turndowns, duh.
You have had the chance to travel all over the world over the years, where are some of your most memorable places you have been?
New Zealand was the most beautiful place that I've ever been and Iraq was the most shocking place I've ever been. Every place that I've traveled to has its ups and downs, but I'm always thankful for the opportunity to travel. The 2004 Worlds, Cologne, Germany, June 2004 was truly was one of my favorite European experiences. I will never forget that contest and all of the antics that surrounded it.
What's something the average BMX'er wouldn't know about you?
I think I, somehow, paint the picture of somebody who's secure in mind and body, but trust me; I'm as insecure as everyone else.
Why haven't you gone brakeless like so many other riders?
At this point in time I do not feel like removing my brakes is going to make riding any better. Plus, I cannot stand watching people "crab walk".
Do you ever want to get a real job?
I think about this a lot, almost too much; my life after riding and what I'll do as a job. Simple answer, I don't want another job. Who would? I've dedicated so much of my life to riding and I can't help but to feel that whatever comes next will not even come close to measuring up to what I'm doing right now.
What's the best advice that you've ever received do you think?
"You should stop wasting so much time and energy thinking about the next step and just enjoy the life that you have now and the world that you've created for yourself" – My wife, Denise
"A few months after this pic ran, I traded Keith Terra an iPod for a print of this photo - It's framed and hangs in my basement."
- Chris Doyle
(SC) Chris, can you tell us about being solicited threesomes?
Ha! Well, there was this one time in Florida… I was a very shy 19 year old, we were at a bar for a video premiere, and a man looking slightly older than me offered me his girlfriend (who, according to him, was a big Chris Doyle fan) for the night. It sounded like he just wanted me to have my way with his lady for the night WITHOUT him being involved. It didn't sound like he wanted the threesome, but who knows, anyone willing to let their girl sleep with somebody else probably has a few unsavory plans.
(VH) It's easy to spend all day every day in the woods digging and riding when you're 17 but with your constant traveling and having a family life how do you maintain that balance and is it challenging to find time to get behind the shovel?
I do the most of my digging in the spring when the ground is soft and my travel schedule is slow. At my local spot, I think we have an understanding that I'm not going to be around to shovel as much as a lot of the other locals, but I put my time in when I can.
(VH) You're obviously a well-rounded rider and I feel that riders from the older generation tend to be more open to all types of riding.... How do you feel about the shift to be so specifically a trail rider, street rider, park rider etc as opposed to just being a bmx'er and why do you think you excel or at least be most well known for dirt?
It must be a generational thing. All of the guys that I looked up to when I was younger were guys that seemed like it didn't matter what they were riding, they were going to look good no matter what. Nowadays, so many different riders have gained popularity by excelling at only one facet of riding and if the younger kids are into what they're favorite pros are doing then they just feed off it. Before you know it, those riders are on a road trip where they wind up at a set of trails and they're the guys that just sit in amazement. I will say that growing up jumping and riding trails made figuring out street and ramp tricks much much easier.
(VH) Your roots are in NC but you've been in Pittsburgh for a while now. What prompted that move and do you ever for see yourself heading back south? How would you compare the two areas?
I did the bulk of my growing up in the Raleigh/Cary, NC area. After high school (and after I quit college) I just wanted to try something new and I had always wanted to live in Pennsylvania. I decided to move up for only a year and see how it went.... that was 14 years ago now. After I met my wife, there was no reason for me to move back to North Carolina. Pennsylvania is home. Compared to Cary, NC, Pittsburgh is pretty raw, the weather isn't very good, but it's home. Cary is beautiful, people are friendly, but I think I just outgrew it and I can't picture myself ever living back there.
Is there anything you'd like to know more about?
Today, tiling a 3X4 shower stall
And finally, any last words...
Ride a bike, not a bandwagon!
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