IGNITION 01: Kris Fox
"BMX will never owe me anything..."
We live in a society today where having a cell phone in our pocket that’s ready to use at all times and making sure it isn’t further than arms reach first thing in the morning has become normal. A society where repeatedly looking at the same few apps on that very cell phone in an almost obsessive nature throughout the day has become normal. A society where we feel more comfortable texting words and tiny graphics of smiley faces that laugh, cry and happen to wear sunglasses as opposed to actually communicating verbally has become normal. A society where you know more about your friends, family and complete strangers than you ever have without even interacting with them but by just simply checking their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spapchat, or whatever the hell else people are using out there has become normal. A society where everyone seems to have the attention span akin to goldfish and people mention they can’t sit through videos longer than a few minutes has become normal. How you take in and consume media is an individual choice these days. You have the complete freedom to choose what to watch, what to listen to and what to read on a regular basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
With that said, the people that choose to seek out and read this feature, are the ones it was written for. The hours it takes to create end up blurring together, and at a certain point you stop keeping track. When you have a passion for something, and will do anything it takes to continue to chase that feeling, none of that matters anymore. The thing that always keeps me motivated to work on projects like this is believing that the people out there that truly appreciate it are the ones that hear the message the loudest. Kris Fox happens to be one of those people and it is an honor to have him up first for Ignition #1. Sure, Kris is an amazing bike rider and has the type of style and bike control that most will never replicate. But even better, he’s an amazing bike rider that truly gets BMX and everything it stands for. He is talented, humble, genuine, and the type of person that people want to be around. His riding speaks for itself but his outlook on life is what makes him truly unique. He lives in the moment and understands the value of taking some time out of your day to stop, reflect, and actually get inside of your own head. He doesn’t take any of this life for granted and appreciates BMX for what it is and nothing more.
The idea of this interview is to not have it feel like a typical interview so let’s start with something different. You know the deal, first thing that comes to mind, type it out.
To me, traveling is the organic “in the moment” teachings of real life itself. The unexplainable hands on experience through all of the good and bad that life can supply whenever it chooses as well as the raw developer of one of the most important traits a person can acquire: human compassion.
The perfect gateway to connect and experience the history of a culture is food. If you’re traveling around a foreign land, eat everything and anything the locals would eat. Experience their everyday lives through their eyes and their actions. Language barriers are nonexistent over a shared feast of great local food.
Bike setup is a personal preference and a direct reflection of your own craft. I like my bike setup with a low front end, a long rear end, and rock hard tires so I can cruise at whatever speed the spot allows.
You’re born with your own unique style already burning within you, and you can’t hide from it. It’s your identity, it’s your voice without speaking, and it’s your incomparable contribution to the world.
At times, we all feel tired, beat up, and burnt out. Music is the perfect way to detach yourself from the whirlwind of life and revive the soul. I find that indulging myself and appreciating someone else’s artistic outlet can be one of the most uplifting and inspirational things I can do.
I think passion, like style, is already inside of you before you even know it. It sits patiently for years until you get a strong urge to try out a certain talent, then that talent turns into a deep-rooted love, and that deep-rooted love then becomes a part of you, and once it’s a part of you it naturally feeds the feeling of passion that you already had your whole life.
Riding up on the early morning Huntington Beach pier with a black steaming coffee in my hand, when the sun hasn’t burned through the cloud cover yet, when the small crowd consists of early morning dog walkers, and when my favorite bum is strumming his guitar in the distance. I like to sit there, listen to the morning communications of the seagulls, listen to the hissing waves, and shut my brain off from all of the distractions this whirlwind of a world can give off.
It wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t at least get some sort of background on your history in BMX. Where did it all start? Take us way back to when you understood what BMX was and that you wanted in.
Well, I was born in Fountain Valley, CA. When I was about 2 years old, my dad got work inland and we moved to a little high-desert town. Once there, my mom got a reception job working at an auto body repair shop and the owner’s kids were just getting into racing BMX. I was a shy introvert of a kid (the product of being an only child) and I soon found out that making friends would be tough for me; so traditional team sports were out. Slowly over time, I befriended the owner’s kids and they got me into BMX. It only took one attempt at it for me to instantly fall in love. At the time, I didn’t know who any pros were in the sport. All I knew is that I found something that I could focus on for myself and something that understood me. I could pour my shyness into it and in return it gave me an identity in this world. After I fell in love and kept at it, I starting finding about guys like The Wildman, the Foster brothers, and Kyle Bennett. From that point on I knew what I wanted to do.
Racing obviously played a big role in shaping who you are as a rider but for those readers out there that don’t really know, fill them in on how much those early years spent racing helped put you in the exact position you’re in today.
Well, for starters I feel like racing engraved into me at a young age the easily overlooked fundamentals of riding a bike. It taught me the raw simplicity that goes into speeding up without pedaling, slowing down without using the brakes, pulling up to go higher, and pushing through to stay low. Learning any sort of trick never even crossed my mind. Instead I became inspired with throwing my bike around and putting it smoothly into the right positions to keep my speed up. Moving into how I ride today, literally nothing has changed with my mindset toward my style and learning a new trick still never crosses my mind. I personally think big tricks rule and the things some of my friends can do are absolutely unreal, but they are simply not for me as a person. I am still inspired by and still love what I was brought up doing: keeping it simple and honoring the fundamentals.
What was it about racing that pushed you to get to the Olympic level?
To be completely honest, this is still a question I even ask myself. With going through life indulged in a strongly introverted mindset, I’ve never had a competitive bone in my body. I struggle with self-confidence at times and I struggle with willing myself into a position to be able to compete on such a high level. At times, I’ve wanted to turn my back completely and run away from competitive environments. So the only confident answer I have is that I simply loved riding my bike. When you love something enough, you will live and breathe it. It will consume you and it will be the only thing you will be able to think about. This must have been the case for myself because I was on my bike for hours every single day during the time of the 2008 Olympics, consumed with my craft and oblivious to everyone else’s, which naturally made my riding pinpoint sharp. I believe I got to the Olympic level off of pure love for the sport and bike control alone.
What is scarier? Ripping concrete bowls at ridiculously high speeds or pedaling clipped-in down the first straight towards a 40-ft plus double with seven other riders bar to bar.
Both have their own factors that make each scary in their own ways. When it comes to riding a bowl at high speeds, for the most part, I am fully in control of the situation. If I go down, usually the only one at fault is myself. Now pedaling clipped in at those speeds with that long of a first jump, I have seven other riders that would gladly knock me out of the way for a little more room for themselves. If I went down in racing, it was usually due to tangling up with someone else. Now with that being said, there is a genuine feeling of respect I have to give the deep end of a bowl with pool coping. Standing inside and looking up, they always appear like they are a looming 50ft and cast a giant shadow to really validate their sheer size. If I hit one with enough speed, I can still feel my stomach drop. You have to be incredibly accurate and on your game at all times to keep from casing or landing low. I feel like if you’re not scared rolling into one, you’re not respecting it enough, and that’s when a good day can turn into a very bad one.
You made a big decision to walk away from racing at the professional level and pursue your own path years ago now. The way you described it, it seemed like the choice was easy and came naturally to you. Is there truth to that?
At the time I was coming off of a few Amateur World Championship titles, a #1 title in the NBL Super-X class after turning Pro, and raced the 2008 Olympic Trails race for a shot at the 2008 Olympics. In my mind, a part of me felt like I had arrived and I was starting to find what did and didn’t work for me when it came to competing. Then in October of 2008 (a few months after the Olympic trials race) we had a “Supercross” event in Frejus, France. We had time trail qualification the day before the actual race and I time trialed in 3rd behind Kyle Bennett and I believe Donny Robinson giving me first lane pick for race day. In my first moto the next day I ended up washing out in the last turn, falling back awkwardly on my back leg dislocating and breaking my ankle. After a few months of recovery and a few months of therapy, when I got back on my bike I just plain never felt the same physically or mentally. I began to look at BMX as a way to make a living and started determining my own self-worth off of my results instead of just loving it for what it is. I began to burn myself out, loose interest, and lose myself. On a flight back from Copenhagen, Denmark I decided right then and there that I didn’t want to race anymore. I decided I wanted to love actual riding again and go back to what I know works best for me: simplicity. So when I landed, I packed my stuff up and moved out of the Olympic Training Center and that was that on my race career.
If you look at past interviews with you there is always some talk about the race-to-freestyle transition. At this point, are you sick of having this conversation?
No not at all. I think it is just part of my path that I happened to go down. For my craft and my career (I guess you could call it), I will always have the term “transitioned from racing to freestyle” attached to my name because it is just who I am. And in all honesty, I like it that way. You have to love yourself before you can love the world. I am proud that I made a life decision to stay true to who I really am and put my own personal happiness before every other distraction or opinion. I made a big decision for myself at a young age, rolled the dice, and I will be forever grateful that it paid off.
You know you’re one of the few riders to ever successfully pull that off. What do you think helped you do that and if you had to name a few influences that have made that similar transition over the years, who would they be?
Well, I think what helped me the most was never forcing it to happen. I never thought a chance at riding freestyle full time was even in the question. I was just happy because I was living the free-spirited lifestyle that I subconsciously always wanted. But I’ve noticed when true happiness comes, everything just seems to fall into place after that without even trying. Over time I started to realize that I was beginning to get noticed by other companies and those companies began inviting me on trips. The thought of having a second chance at a little BMX life started to make itself present and a part of it was a little intimidating to me. I didn’t want to get sucked back into some of the feelings that competitive racing sucked me into. But the more I thought about it; guys like Brian Foster, Todd Lyons, Nate Berkheimer, and Dennis Enarson came to mind. Obviously for one they are amazing riders, but secondly I am truly inspired by all of them because all of them had a vision for themselves and they stayed true to it. So like them, I decided to stay true to who I am on a bike. I decided to stick to my roots and always do me.
“With a passion comes a talent, and with a talent comes an outlet to love and indulge yourself in.”
It is obvious that racing has helped a ton of pro riders past and present gain a ridiculous amount of bike control and that is clear in your case. Do you see a benefit for young riders to put in some laps at their local track?
If riding the track is something that someone desires to do, then yes. Though, everyone is different and what worked for me might not work for someone else. It’s obvious that I personally think riding a track is the best way to walk before you run. It helps in introducing someone to really feel a bike, pedal it, jump it, pump it around, make some friends, and simply enjoy it in a forgiving environment. But if it doesn’t appeal to someone, that’s all good as well. Just do what truly interests you and everything will work out the way it is meant to work out.
Typically riders with style don’t really like talking about it because it’s hard to agree that they have good style without feeling awkward because it’s such a personal thing. But in this case, I’m putting you on the spot for a minute because young riders out there need to know who to watch when it comes to style. If you had to define your current style in just a few words, what would they be?
You couldn’t be more right. Like I stated before, I believe you are born with style and that’s not talking about just BMX alone. I feel like style is a natural element unique and defining to everyone. It is someone’s identity and that becomes a very proud, lovable personal attribute. So when you take something like that and publicly present it for the world to critique, compare, appreciate, or praise, it does become very personal making it very easy to feel self-conscious. So a few words to define my current style are: My style is something I can’t control, it’s what I enjoy in life, and I’ll be this way until I am old and grey.
Being someone that is known less for the tricks they do and more for the way they ride their bike I see that as one of the best accomplishments within BMX to be honest. Do you think about the way you ride like that or do you just do your thing?
I really appreciate the kind words and I am honored to hear something like that. I value BMX as a form of art, and I feel that it’s vital for an artist to think about their craft. But for me, even thought I think about it, I try to not ride for any specific reason because there is no reason. We are all in this together, we all just simply love to ride a bike and that’s that. I am known for less tricks and a quick pace, but that’s simply who I am and that’s who I will always will be. If I am making money, not making money, sponsored, not sponsored, competing, not competing, it doesn’t change a thing for me. I will always do what brings me joy every time I throw a leg over my bike because being happy is what’s really important to me.
The one thing that makes having good style so unique is the fact that you cant really teach it, you can’t really learn it and either you have it or you don’t. Surely you had BMX idols on your path to the pro world that you tried to emulate. Lets hear some names.
This question is honestly always so hard for me because I respect and admire so many people. I can fill this entire page up with name after name after name of riders who I’ve been inspired by. If someone is whole-heartedly staying true and doing what they love to do, that’s a style in itself, and that inspires me to polish up on my own personal style. There is something about someone making something their own that is so inspiring whether it’s in my field of interest or not. I have always looked up to riders, idols, friends, all around inspiring humans like: Brian Foster, Todd Lyons, Barspinner Ryan, Mike Aitken, Corey Bohan, Dave Mirra, Mat Hoffman, Chris Doyle, Chase Hawk, Sergio Layos, Ruben Alcantara, Joe Rich, Taj Mihelich, Adam Banton, Brian Castillo, Dennis Enarson, Hucker, Mad Dog, Tom Dugan, Ryan Guettler, Anthony Napolitan, Matt Cordova, Joey Cordova, Larry Edgar, Nathan Sykes, TJ Ellis, Jason Watts, Rob Wise, Kevin Peraza, and so many more! I honestly can keep going. BMX rules.
Cement, dirt, or ramps?
I don’t think it’s a secret that I can have a really good time with all three of them. But if I have to choose one, there is something about turning laps in a nice concrete bowl that really gets me stoked. The way all the walls, pockets, and hips line up with one another always keeps my brain turning. Every bowl has a different layout, which means every bowl is a blank canvass to let the creative “find a line and link everything together” juices flow.
No matter how much someone can love BMX there is no way to ride 24-hours a day so what is it that keeps you going off the bike?
Off the bike I do my best to appreciate and enjoy the life that I’ve been blessed to acquire. I’m usually down by the beach in the mornings and sometimes the evenings drinking a relaxing cup of coffee. I live in a house with three of my best friends as well, and none of them ride. They surf, paint, draw, and work which helps me balance my regular life with a life of constant BMX. Hanging with them keeps everything in perspective for me, it balances and distinguishes each part of my life from the other. I have some other hobbies as well like reading and writing and certain spots I like to explore and visit here in Southern California, but that’s pretty much it. I am a very mellow guy, live a very simple lifestyle, and that’s the way that I like it.
When we were shooting photos for this interview you pulled up your Pandora on your phone and the first song it played was “Take it as it comes” by The Doors and you happened to be stoked on that. What is it about music that draws you in?
Like I said prior, music is the perfect way for me to detach myself from the whirlwind of life and revive the soul. To me, music is the voice of its time. You can put an ear to any song of any era and hear the sounds that went on during that period of time. I also read a lot of poetry and I happen to be fascinated with the 60’s-70’s era of American culture, so that explains why I like bands like The Doors so much. They were a voice of their reality through Jim Morrison’s words and with the deep passion they all had for their craft, they are still heard loud and clear today. They stayed true to themselves, did their thing, and the impact they made on the world is still strongly felt today. I find that to be really inspiring stuff.
Do you have a song that always takes you back to that very time and place and if so, what is the name of the song and where does it take you to?
I have a few “go to songs” that I listen to daily without ever getting tired of them. I appreciate them so much; they just never seem to get old with me. But my all time favorite song ever written is Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. I don’t listen to that song daily, it’s more of a “special occasion” kind of song and it has a connection with a good buddy of mine that unfortunately passed away. When I hear that song, it takes me back to the sunset sessions we used to have on his dodgy backyard mini ramp.
Flowing a set of trails, or roasting some lines in a park or bowl…what music do you choose for each scenario and why?
Honestly it doesn’t matter if it’s flowing a set of trails, roasting lines in a bowl, riding a contest, or sitting on an airplane, I am listening to the same stuff: Late sixties – early seventies classic rock. Artists of that era in particular always get me in the right calming mindset to block out the world and focus solely on my own craft in the moment. That’s all I need to feel good on my bike.
If you listen to something fast and heavy does it show in your riding and on the opposite end, can you listen to something mellow and still roast some transition?
I can’t ride without my music, plain and simple. People ask me all the time what I am listening to and they always assume it’s something heavy because the speed I ride with (that’s the reason I’m told at least). But the truth is, I can’t do anything if I listen to something heavy. As I grow older, I found out that I have matured into the type of human where I need myself and everything around me as calm as possible for me to really go in on something. If things are too heavy, too high paced, I almost freak out. I need things soothing and calm, that’s when the speed and airs start coming for me. During the contest day at X-Games last year, I rode to a playlist that only consisted of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix songs.
You have joked about wishing you were born in the 60’s so you have to share what it is that makes you feel that way. But, man I agree. Things just seemed so much more genuine back then.
Over time appreciating the music that inspires me so much, I became curious and wanted to learn about these artists themselves. That curiosity took me back to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Gaining knowledge about the artists then turned into learning about America itself during that time. That era seemed to be the start of it all, the start of the free-spirited lifestyle that I love so much today. The mass counter culture convergence of young people in the Haight – Ashbury in 1967 sparking the “Summer of Love” is something that I feel strongly about because I feel like without that summer, our country would feel a little bit different today. I feel like that period of time made it O.K. for anyone to be totally free, stay true to themselves, and made it O.K. to be vocal about total human compassion. It’s amazing how it’s all still alive and well today. I see girls with sunflowers in their hair, barefoot, flashing peace signs, and playing their guitars on the pier all the time. Every time I see it, I wish I had a time machine to go back and check 1967 out for myself.
Who are some of your favorite musicians past and present and if you had the opportunity to link up with any one of them right now whom would you choose, and what would be three questions you would ask that person?
In all honesty, I rarely listen to any mainstream music from this current era. I just can’t really seem to get into any of it. Some of my favorite bands and musicians from the past are The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, and John Lennon. Coming into more of the generation I grew up in, I’ve always thought Nirvana was rad and I’ve always thought Amy Winehouse was unreal. If I could sit down and grab some coffee with anyone it would have to be Jim Morrison from The Doors. That dude definitely seemed like an interesting cat and I would love to pick his brain on a few topics.
1. What was Sunset Strip like in the 60’s?
2. What was the “Summer of Love” like in the Haight – Ashbury?
3. What was it like being a rock n’ roll poet?
If you were forced to choose between Pandora, Itunes, Spotify, CD’s, cassette tapes, or vinyl what’s your choice and why?
I would definitely choose vinyl hands down. Little ear buds crammed into my ears while connected into a cell phone will never compare to leaning back and listening to one of my favorite band’s best records on vinyl. It’s the most raw form of their sound you can get, plus I love the crackles the needle gives off. Vinyl just radiates that good vibe of traveling back in time that I like to enjoy every now and then.
“I decided I wanted to love actual riding again and go back to what I know works best for me: simplicity.”
Concrete or dirt?
I am 100% torn on this. I’m a sucker for flowing around a good bowl, and I’m equally a sucker for kicking it out at the trails. I say lets session both in the same day!
Park or street?
Both park and street involve a lot of creativity. I like to also dabble around with both, but what I really like is watching and appreciating certain friends I have rip these disciplines to pieces. Once again, I’m torn. All of BMX rules.
Coffee or Tea?
With out a doubt and 100% coffee. I can drink multiple cups of black coffee every morning for the rest of my life and be totally O.K. with it.
Coping that sticks out too far on an otherwise perfect quarter or showing up to the perfect spot and getting kicked out before getting to ride it?
Showing up to a spot and getting kicked out before getting to ride it is definitely worse. I actually like when a spot is imperfect. It means there are little hidden gems and sweet spots you need to find and unlock. Not getting to ride at all because of situations outside your control is just a plain bummer.
Scooters, Rollerblades or Hoverboards?
I would easily have to say Hoverboards are the worst; come on humanity, don’t give up on walking. There are far more important things that need attention in this world aside from trying to figure out not how to not walk anymore.
A flat tire with no extra tube or having your bars move and no tools?
Oh man, I absolutely hate when my bars move even if I have a tool. One, it makes a disgusting sound that everyone at the session gets a kick out of. And two, once I have my bars in that perfect spot where they are feeling good, the last thing I ever want to happen is for them to move and me have to go through all of that trial and error to find the sweet spot again.
You seem to be someone who is especially grateful for the traveling aspect of being a pro BMX rider. What about traveling is it that makes you say yes to all of the trips you go on?
I just want to take every opportunity and experience everything that is blessed into my life while I can. A life of a traveling BMX rider won’t last forever, and even life itself stops for nothing; the clock is always ticking. The fact that I experience the world with my best friends and my favorite companies is something that I owe entirely to BMX. Of course it is cool to travel around, film clips, shoot photos, and check out spots I’ve always dreamed of riding. But there is still much, much more then that. Traveling for riding, at times, takes us into some of the most beautiful places this world has to offer yet also the darkest. I feel as if I am constantly being taught with hands on experience triumph, adversity, human compassion, humbleness, sadness, happiness, and I can take those lessons with me for the rest of my life. Not to mention, I’m learning all of this in the moment with my brothers. BMX will never owe me anything because it has already given me, and continues to give me, more than I could ever ask for.
You happened to have spent over a month on the road recently. How did that come about and can you give a quick rundown of where you started and where you ended up going before heading home.
Well, it all started around October of 2014. The guys from Red Bull New Zealand spent some time in the states, Huntington Beach to be exact. We all hung out, rode spots, and had a good time while they were here. Then in December of 2014 I got an e-mail from them asking if I was interested in joining them on a 3 week RV road trip from the tip of the North Island of New Zealand all the to the tail of the South Island. I said yes without the slightest bit of hesitation and it turned out to be literally the best time of my life. So coming into this year, they got the same crew back together for another 2-week romp around New Zealand. The crew consisted of Corey Bohan, Hucker, Jason Watts, Jaden Leeming, and myself. We rode amazing events like Paul Langland’s jam, Farm Jam, Gorge Road Jam, and saw some of the most beautiful sights New Zealand has to offer. I feel like after these last two years, that New Zealand crew has turned into brothers to me. From Haimona, to Jon, to Graeme, to Miles, and so on, those are some of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. I am forever grateful for what they have done for me. From there, I flew down for a week in Australia with my long lost brother Jason Watts. It was a blast hanging out, riding his spots, and spending time with his amazing family. Once again, this is a perfect example of what a bike has brought into my life. I am forever thankful.
That kind of travel doesn’t come without a shortage of downtime in the air and in airports in general, how do you keep from going crazy along the way? What occupies your time?
Well, like I kind of touched on before, I am an avid reader. Van road trips are hard, but aside from that, if I am by myself traveling I am usually reading something. Its nice when I’m traveling in the states because it keeps me off of my phone and traveling overseas I don’t have a phone anyways so it’s a perfect way to kill some time. Plus, it’s refreshing to sit down and indulge myself in an activity where I might be able to learn something.
For someone who rides a bike so fast, reading must act as some kind of counter-balance for your mind. Is there any truth to that?
Yeah, that’s a really great way of wording it. I guess I’ve come to learn that my riding style on a bike is myself as a human’s alter ego. I’m very mellow and laid back as a person, so slowing myself down and reading is easy for me. It’s a healthy hobby for myself and it keeps me away from mainstream media on TV or the new viral video that’s taking the world by storm on my phone. It keeps me indulged in actual life and what I have going on in that particular moment so by the time I am back on my bike I feel balanced and refreshed. When I am calm and feel sharp, that’s when I feel comfortable to ride at a personal high level.
It is not very often that you run into a pro rider that likes to write creatively like you do, can you give a little background on where that passion for writing comes from?
I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but I feel like it was sitting dormant inside of me for a long time being so shy as a kid. I kept a lot of things inside for a very long time. Once I started getting stoked on reading at around 19-20 years old, I thought it was cool how each writer told stories and ideas from their own personal experiences. At the time, it was the final years of racing for me and I wasn’t getting the best results. I started realizing that I was traveling to unreal places like France, Australia, and Denmark, but I was always bummed because of my “not riding good” self-pity. So I picked up writing about my travels because it forced me to focus on the world instead of focusing on my own useless self-pity. I wrote about the things I saw, people I met, how I felt in uncomfortable culture shock situations, things like that. I just write about the experiences exactly as I receive through my own eyes. And I still write about all the things I see in my travels today. I have stacks of notebooks in my closet of trips I’ve written about. It will be cool to look back on them later on in my life.
Do you like to write in the moment or do you prefer to say reflect after a trip once you’re on the way home or after you are already home?
It really depends on if I have some quiet time to myself or not. I was private about writing for a long time and never really told anyone I wrote. Usually BMX trips are wide open and there is very little privacy, sometimes never any privacy at all. So it’s hard to fully relax in those environments to actually let myself calm down and write. 85% of the time, I usually get all of my memories and ideas out during my morning coffee at the beach. That’s when the good stuff comes out.
Speaking of home, if anyone knows you on a personal level they know that you are forever down with HB. What is it about Huntington Beach, California that has you stuck?
Oh man, like I touched on at the beginning of the interview, I was born in Fountain Valley (basically one town up from Huntington). My parents and myself moved inland, but the rest of our family stayed here in Orange County. So once I started racing as a kid, I would come down here pretty frequently to ride tracks and see family. Plus all of our family holidays were here in Orange County. Over time coming back and forth, and for some intrinsic reason, I developed a deep attachment to Huntington Beach and made it a goal as a young adult to come back and live here one day for good. Plus, I always had this weird feeling that without a shadow of doubt, I would. Now here I am, living in Huntington Beach and living out each day as I had always dreamed of as a kid. I am very content and love my simple life routine. I am definitely stuck for a very long time here.
Huntington has some serious BMX roots dating to way back when. Sheep Hills has kept the city on the map for decades now and you happen to live close to a BMX legend in his own right who has shredded that place since the beginning. What’s it like not only living in the same city but also riding for the Wildman?
Todd Lyons, man! I’ve looked up to The Wildman since the first time I saw him ride in person at sheep hills. I was a quiet little kid on my race bike with skinny little tires jumping kiddie pack and doing my best to stay out of the way. Now I ride for the guy and could honestly call him a good friend of mine. When it comes to a team manger, he takes incredible care of me. If I’m riding good, riding bad, taking months off for an ACL recovery, getting contest results, not getting contest results, he still always has my back and I have his. Aside from team manager, he’s a great friend of mine. Just the other day he called me over to help him hang some metal sheeting in his garage. We simply hung out, talked BMX, talked life, bolted in the metal sheets, and baby-sat his beautiful new baby daughter. He’s a great guy and I am very thankful for everything he does for me.
Todd has definitely done a good job at steering the ship over there at SE as far as the BMX program goes, but you have also helped out with that over the years right? How has that been going?
The Wildman definitely kills it with everything he does for the company, and it’s a real honor to help give him some free time so he can handle what he needs to handle. If I am in town (or if it’s something I can handle with what I have to work with on the road), whatever Todd needs, I’m there to help him. That goes back to him having my back and me having his. The guy is so incredibly busy all of the time, especially with his new baby daughter and all, the least I can do is help him. It’s a lot of fun hanging out with him in his office as well.
You have had a signature complete with those guys for a few years now, what is it like to have your name behind a bike that kids all over the world get their BMX fix on?
It’s honestly a dream come true to have my name on something that any kid can pick up and have a good time on with a company like SE. I named it the Gaudium because for one, picking a name was incredibly hard and two, its meaning is: joy and happiness. I instantly thought the name looked unique and its meaning is a perfect fit when you relate it back to a bike. I just hope that whatever kid picks it up enjoys it and it gives them what they are looking for in life.
How awesome is it to be teammates on multiple teams with Matt Cordova who is also one of your good friends?
I seriously couldn’t ask for a better situation with things. Matt is one of my best friends in life and has been for a long time. He’s one of my friends that goes beyond BMX, someone I will call if I have a serious life issue, and someone I’ll be hanging with still when our riding lives are long behind us. To be teammates with that kind of friend on multiple companies and traveling the world riding together is something that is a “best-case scenario”. Let the good times roll.
When it comes to Demolition you already have a signature stem but also have a new set of signature “Fox forks” coming out as well. Although they won’t be out until April, can you give some insight into what makes these forks unique?
Yeah, my signature Demolition “Stylus” stem is still available and I love it. I’ve never had a single issue with it and I can’t thank everyone at Demolition enough for giving me the opportunity. Now moving into this year, I will have a new set of signature forks called “The Fox Fork”. When designing went into the fork, I wanted something that not only looked really good but also wanted something reliable. I went with a 6mm thick investment casted dropout that flows into the fork legs. They look really sleek and clean. All 100% heat-treated CROMO tubing, wider blades for bigger tires, 1-pc internally and externally butted steerer tube with a built in race, and a CNC alloy M24 compression bolt to top it off. I have been testing them for a few months now and I absolutely love them. Thanks again for the opportunity fellas!
Riding for one legend wasn’t good enough? Did you really have to go and ride for two? What’s it like having Brian Castillo as a boss?
It’s absolutely amazing having Brian Castillo as a boss! I feel very fortunate to have landed in the companies that I landed in. He has a really good sense of humor and every time I cruise into the office I always look forward to what we are going to joke around about. When it comes to the team manger side of things, like Todd, he has my back and I have his. He lets me be myself with my career and go about my business with more of a free-spirited mentality, which means the world to me. It’s amazing to ride for someone that still rips so hard as well! He is a great guy and I can’t thank him and the company enough for everything that they do for me.
We can’t mention Demolition without mentioning the rest of the team. What’s it like traveling with some of the best riders in the game?
In all honesty, being a part of the Demolition team is an absolute honor for the fact of how stacked the crew is and how stacked it always has been since the start of the company. Traveling around with the likes of Chris Doyle, Christian Rigal, Connor Lodes, Dennis Enarson, Jason Enns, Hucker, Matt Cordova, Biz, and Tyler Fernengel is incredible and there is never a shortage of unforgettable times. It works out great for riding as well because I can ride a spot and have fun on my bike, then sit back and watch some of the best bike riders on the planet absolutely blow my mind.
One thing that stands out to me that you have said before was that you are just a rider doing what you do, and off the bike you are an entirely different person. How do you view riding as a professional and how do you maintain your integrity off the bike?
I view my riding as something that is a direct reflection of what I truly love and value in life. I will always love to ride a bike, and I always will no matter the circumstance. I will always continue to stay true to my values of who I am as a rider, and I hope my riding can make connections with other people who share similar interests. Aside from a rider, I am also a human. With a passion comes a talent, and with a talent comes an outlet to love and indulge yourself in. If you indulge yourself long enough in a desired field, you will become good at that field. Some people strive to be a doctor, so they go to medical school. Some people want to be a musician, so they play hours of guitar. I wanted to be a bike rider, so I put in countless hours on a bike. A talent doesn’t make any one of us on the planet better or worse than anyone else, it just means we fell in love with a craft of personal preference. We are all human and we are all the same.
Instagram or Twitter?
I would have to say Instagram because I love the world of photography. When I’m standing in an awkwardly quiet line in the bank I like to escape from my phone and look at amazing photos of my friends getting rad.
How much of a role does social media play in your daily routine?
It’s the year 2016, I feel like we are the generation of social media. On one hand, it’s cool to have such free access to keep up with my friends who live in different countries and keep up with all of my friends back home while I’m traveling. It’s also cool to connect with people who share similar interests who would be impossible to connect with if social media didn’t exist. But on the other hand, social media can also be a huge distraction. I feel like at times social media is doing more harm than good and it’s way too easy to get addicted to. I use mine fairly frequently to post stuff that I think is cool, fulfill some sponsor obligations, and to keep up with my friends; but I try to leave it at that. I don’t let it consume me and I don’t let it define me.
You know that they didn’t have Snapchat in the 60’s right? How would you have kept up on your obligations as a pro without a phone of the future?
This is true, and in all honesty, that’s a part about the 60’s that intrigues me as well. I feel like fulfilling obligations without a phone of the future would be awesome because that would mean more print! I sometimes feel that the “instantaneous-ness” of a phone depreciates certain things to a degree. I feel like we are too spoiled, we get our needs too frequently and too easily. I would love for my craft to speak for itself. To simply do my thing on a bike and if someone likes it enough, they would put me in their magazine that dishes out monthly subscriptions to eagerly waiting kids. Then those kids could hold the magazine in their hands, cut out their favorite photos, and hang them on their walls. I feel like it would be a more pure and organic satisfaction for the fruits of my labor instead of the self-promotion us riders have to do for ourselves on our own individual social media platforms everyday.
When you are on your end of an interview you always are at the mercy of the person coming up with the questions to ask. If you were someone else interviewing yourself, what would you ask and what would your answer be?
Question: What do you want for the rest of your life?
Answer: Health, happiness, and everyone to love everyone.
The opportunity to ride a bike for a living is seemingly more and more rare these days, and it is something that I am sure you truly appreciate. Who do you have to thank for helping make that a reality for you?
I honestly can’t even put into words how much I appreciate the life I’ve been blessed with. There are countless friends and people that have made it a reality and have helped me out along the way. First off, my family, Todd Lyons and everyone at SE Bikes, Brian Castillo and everyone at Demolition Parts, Jerry Badders and everyone at Vans, Nate Adams and everyone at Deft Family, Matt and Joey Cordova, all of my friends, all of my roommates, anyone and everyone. I could seriously sit here and fill this entire page up. There is a ton of great people in our sport, and I value everyone I’ve ever met and everyone I ever will meet. We all relate to one another, we all love riding a bike, we’re all in this together.
On behalf of DIG, I’d like to say thank you for first of all being down to do this interview and secondly, for taking the time to give a little insight to all of the readers out there looking to know a little more about you not only as a rider, but as a person as well.
Always gotta’ end it with the chance for some last words; the space is yours if you want it.
One world, one people. Lets all be good to one another.
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