IGNITION 05: Dennis Enarson
"There have been some really dark times for sure..."
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, Snapchat, 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.
Next up is Dennis Enarson. This is the scenario where I can say in confidence that someone doesn’t need an introduction. But, it just wouldn’t be the same without one. Dennis is the type of person that can do no wrong. Although he will argue that he doesn’t seem himself as such, he is hands-down one of the best riders to ever do this thing we call BMX. Not only that, but his personality is on par with his skills on the bike. He is as humble as they come, genuine, and full of an incredible amount of appreciation for living the life that he does on a daily basis. It’s almost as if Dennis still sees himself as a young kid just having fun on his bike, when in reality the rest of the planet that is aware of what he does would agree that he is much, much more than that. He is a staple in the industry; he understands what it means to truly give back to BMX and he is sure to be included on your personal favorite riders “favorite rider” list. He is a hero of sorts among the world of BMX and got to this point by doing nothing other than following his passion, pursuing his dreams and staying the course. If for some reason you aren’t already, get familiar.
Let’s start with how you ended up on a bicycle in the first place. Where are your BMX roots planted and what are some of your earliest memories of BMX?
BMX started for me at the local racetrack ten minutes from my house. My parents took me for the first time when I was like seven years old and I got 2nd place to a girl, ha-ha. I didn’t even care about that though. I left that night just thinking about how much fun that place was, and I knew that I was going to be going back to that track no matter what.
Some riders have a specific moment where they can recall thinking to themselves that they want to be a part of it all. Would you consider yourself one of them, or did it all come together organically?
I’ve always known that I was going to ride my bike no matter what. After the first year or two of going to local tracks I remember telling my parents this is what I’m going to do. I told them I was going to save up for a Motor home when I’m older and just travel to new tracks. I didn’t know anything except being on a BMX bike was my favorite part of life, even at those super young ages.
Can you remember your first BMX bike in detail?
Yeah, my first legit bike was this half-freestyle, half-race Redline frame, with all the goofy race parts we had pieced together. I loved that thing though. I could rip the track on it, and it was strong enough to start messing with little dirt jumps too.
It’s always interesting to read about pro riders early influences and have an understanding of what stood out to them, and what got them stoked when they were nothing more than a kid on a BMX bike. What or who do you recall as doing just that in your life?
It was this kid Justin that randomly moved into my neighborhood. We had a sick little mini racetrack in my back yard when I was like ten and I still barely knew about freestyle at that time. Then this kid that was a little older than my brother showed up one day and started riding way different then anything I had ever seen. He blasted and had a few sick jumping tricks. That dude moving in made the biggest impact on my slow switch from racing only, to eventually completely stopping racing. It was so sick following this dude around San Diego. He knew where all of the legit jumps were at the time. Going to those jumps for the first time are still some of my best life memories. Being this little kid rolling up to trails where all these guys were shredding having the best time. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Unfortunately I had to stop hanging with that dude Justin. He was gnarly and his life path was going in a wild way so I had to say peace out. That random homie from the neighborhood for sure was the reason I thought freestyle was the coolest thing in the world at that young age. Thanks Justin, wherever the hell you are right now.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Did you ever imagine yourself to be in the position you are now?
No, not at all actually. I didn’t even know people got paid to ride. As a kid I knew I was going to be riding until I physically couldn’t, but I had no clue people would pay me money so I didn’t have to work and I can just focus on my BMX. It’s something that I am thankful for literally everyday.
Going from being an average California kid with BMX dreams to one of the most influential riders to ever do it seems like one hell of a journey. If we fast-forward to current day, what would you say was the biggest factor to getting to the level you are at in your career?
Thanks for the kind words, even though I still don’t see myself as all that. All I’ve ever done is exactly what I’ve wanted and it just led me to where I am now. Nothing ever felt forced, rushed, or wrong. I wanted to learn every trick I could, I wanted to travel, and do well in contests. I always liked riding everything, and I enjoy meeting cool new people. I feel like everything happened naturally because I pursued the things I enjoyed and truly loved.
After all these years, do you actually look at your riding as a job, and your years as a pro an actual career?
Honestly, not at all. It’s something that I would have done regardless. Getting paid for all of it is just some mind-blowing thing that I am truly grateful for, but still don’t understand fully.
"... that’s what brought me to this point where I legitimately wouldn’t classify myself to any category of our sport. I’m just a bike rider."- Dennis Enarson
Are there moments when you stop and think about how crazy it is that you’ve accomplished all you have so far all thanks to a bicycle?
Yes all of the time. I can’t believe the places all over the world my favorite thing has taken me, all of the people I’ve been so lucky to meet, not having to work some mind numbing 9-to-5 to make a living. It trips me out, and I never take it for granted.
You live in San Diego, and always have. As someone who has travelled the world in search of new spots, there has to be something that has kept you based there this whole time. What is it exactly?
You just have to live here for a year. It will all make sense then. I thank my parents all of the time for making the move here so I never had to.
Having the chance to grow up where the local skate parks were filled with pro riders, the street spots were in all of the videos, and the weather was perfect every day has its advantages for sure. Do you feel like you would have had the same passion and drive for BMX had you lived in the middle of nowhere America?
Oh yeah, no matter where I lived I would have been hooked the same way. It doesn’t matter, if you’re really passionate about something, you’ll find a way to do it.
Do you have any landmark memories from growing up riding? Can you remember your first tailwhip? First barspin? First 360?
When I was eleven my friends Dad took us to this run-down action sports camp they were tearing out called Point-X Camp. I literally still sucked at the time, just getting through the big lines at the trails was my big accomplishment in the moment. I had maybe five tricks on lock like no-footers, one-handers, no foot cans, shit like that. They had the resi-ramp still there and I remember being like, Ok I need to huck something, I’ll probably never see one of these again. So I sent a huge flip, ha ha. I pedaled full speed at it, got it around and smacked my teeth on the crossbar and my teeth are still chipped from it. My friend, his Dad, and myself were all so stoked and none of us could believe I hucked it. I honestly did not care about my teeth all I could think about was how insane it was that I got myself to try a flip. From then on I felt like anything was doable if I just kept working at it.
Would you say that you ever had a “big break” moment in your career so to speak, where you knew that it was no longer a dream, but a reality to make a living off of riding your bike?
The second Dew Tour that I went to in Baltimore, Maryland. I was like sixteen and my Dad and I went out there. I got third in park, got a fat check, and all of my heroes seemed to really accept me into the scene. Looking back it’s probably because my Dad is so cool, not me. But I remember leaving there thinking holy shit! I was just in finals with Dave Mirra, and I beat him. Even though he fell both runs, ha. That for sure though was the moment where I was like here we go, no more riding the local am comps, I need to step it up to this big dog stuff now.
"Getting paid for riding is just some mind-blowing thing that I am truly grateful for, but still don’t understand fully."
- Dennis Enarson
Is being a pro all you thought it would be after all these years? And in fact, is it still just as awesome as when you first turned pro?
I would say it’s even better than I thought it could be. The places I’ve been, the people I’ve met. All of my sponsors have been nothing but amazing to work with.
I’m going to go ahead and say that being a pro rider is better now than in the beginning. It was great then too, but now I’ve been in the game for quite some time, and everything seems to make sense a little better now. I would stress out a little more with my riding when I was younger, but all of that has seemed to fade over the years.
You’ve traveled extensively, won major contests, filmed memorable video parts, have a signature frame and product line, have been on the cover of nearly every BMX magazine, created your own company, and built a BMX community in and around San Diego; what’s next on your list?
Thanks for the love. All of those things mean a lot to me, and I am proud of every little achievement over the years. Next for me is putting out a video part that I am truly happy with, learning to keep my body and mind as healthy as possible, and keep seeing this beautiful world. Also just keep doing my thing in S.D. with my friends and family.
Speaking of signature parts, if people are searching for all things Enarson, what can they go out and buy with your name on it?
We’ve got the Haro S.D. frame, and everything under the Demolition Rig Line. I back that frame and all those parts to the max. I’m so stoked on everything we have out right now. It’s one of the craziest feelings to be riding a bike that is pretty much completely designed with all of my signature products. I’ve been able to make my dream bike, and now people can go out and buy it. It’s unreal!
The BMX world today knows you as someone who can truly ride everything. Was that something you’ve always been conscious of, or have you just enjoyed riding it all?
That just happened. Like I said I grew up racing, slowly moved on to trails, and then found out about the Clairemont skate park. During that time I also found a love for street. All of those styles of riding have been equally as fun for me so I could never just focus on one or the other. I guess that’s what brought me to this point where I legitimately wouldn’t classify myself to any category of our sport. I’m just a bike rider.
The BMX world also knows you as one of the most inspirational riders out there. Do you ever feel the weight of that on your shoulders?
No. I really have a hard time believing that, so I guess I can’t put too much stress on something I don’t think about. In my opinion I’m not one of the best riders at all. There is still so much I can’t do, and so much I want to learn. I still feel like a kid looking up to all my favorite riders for inspiration.
Over the years you seem to have figured out a balance between staying healthy and staying on your bike. What’s the secret?
I feel like I’ve been off my bike during my career a lot more than most other pros due to injuries and I’ve learned a lot about healing and health during my downtime. So much priceless information has been absorbed into my brain during injuries. I guess the secret is simply how much effort you want to put into your healing process. With the right approach, the results will show with recovery time.
Being health conscious is something everyone can benefit from no matter what they do in life but as a rider it seems to only get more important as people get older. Is eating healthy and getting your mind right something you would be doing with or without BMX?
I would like to hope so. But I do not think I would be where I’m at, at 25 with the amount of knowledge I have about this health-conscious life. Like I said in the previous question, all of the information I know about healing the body and mind has been learned during the times when I’ve been injured. I think without BMX and the injuries it has come with, I would be in a lot worse mental and physical condition than I am now. I wouldn’t take back any injury I have had. They made me who I am today and I’m thankful for each one.
You’ve overcome some gnarly injuries and have put your body through the paces for sure in the past decade or so. If you had to pick out one key to healing quickly and staying positive in an otherwise rough time, what would it be?
There have been some really dark times for sure. Especially right around 20 and 21 where I had a rough string of injuries. The main thing to get out of the rut is to realize how good life is, even without your BMX. Then you can get out of the “No-BMX depression” and understand that a positive mindset, and a little determination will get you right where you left off in no time. The body heals itself easily. You just have to be patient, let it do its thing, and don’t slow down the healing process with bad habits.
When you’re not on the road, what’s a typical day like for you when you are at home in San Diego?
Every day here is so different. The only for sure things that I know I am going to do are feed Rudy twice a day and take him on some sort of adventure to keep him healthy and happy. I also do my daily stretches and eat well, and then the rest is up in the air. Other things that I do in S.D. besides ride are skate, hang with my close homies and family, ride my motorcycle all over, spot searching and just cruising. I also read. I don’t sit around too much, or watch much T.V. at all when I’m home. I’m always on the move and just love randomness and getting involved in whatever is going on around here.
I really appreciate the fact that when anyone brings up the current state of BMX you always have something good to say about it instead of taking the easy, negative route. I feel like that is just you at your core to be honest but it resonates with me and reminds me why people look up to you not only as a rider but a role model. What has kept you so positive over the years regardless of what’s going on around you?
I guess I do just feel positive towards life. We all are living in this same world. Some people see the bad in everything, and some see the good. The ones who chose positivity and love over hate and negativity are always enjoying everything in the present moment, while the others are just anxious to get somewhere or something better. They never sit back and realize how good the things are around them. I guess that’s why it is easy for me to be positive, because I truly believe in it, and it’s power to live a great life.
You mentioned selling the original Markit RV and getting a van to get the Markit crew back on the road again to start filming. What’s the plan with that and also, what’s the update with Markit in general? I’m sure everyone is curious.
Yeah the rig was great, and really hard for me to let go, but we all knew we needed something more practical and reliable. So I parted ways with it, and now we have a dope van. It runs great and can fit the whole crew so I’m really happy with the decision, and excited to get the crew on the road again. As for Markit on the business side, we have pulled back a bit. We were doing really well for a little and it honestly blew up bigger then I thought, really quickly. It started feeling like a real job at some points and was getting hard for me to do all of that while riding and traveling. So I just took a step back and slowed things down for a little while. Product wise we are chillin’ for a bit. We are going to keep selling jeans and some other stuff for sure, but I’m not stressing on doing seasonal prints and stuff like that. Maybe one day when riding slows down. But as of now we are still a crew, as well as a family, and we are going to keep selling what we can to help fund trips and whatever else we decide to do.
Am I the only one that thinks you should have saved the RV only to blow it up or send of off a cliff for the next Markit video? The die-hard fans would have appreciated that.
Ha, blowing up another vehicle would be pretty sick!
Staying consistent with sponsors year after year says a lot about you as a rider. You’ve been with Haro, Demolition, Nike, Rockstar and Oakley for years now. With the addition of Pusher Mail-order and of course Markit, how’s that sponsored life going?
It’s been easy since everybody I work with at all of those companies is super cool. I respect the hell out of all my sponsors and try and rep them as hard as I can. Sponsored life is good, and I’m really happy with these sick companies that I get to be a part of.
It still has to be pretty surreal to get checks in the mail for doing what you love for a living. Do you ever stop and think about how crazy that is?
Of course, everything that I have in material form is from riding checks. I’ve never worked one day in my life and those checks are the reason. I’ll never lose the gratefulness for that!
Speaking of checks, you finally got your hands on an X Games gold medal. In my opinion it’s about damn time! Congrats on that, and after years of riding the X Games in and earning many silver medals in multiple disciplines, how did it feel to stand on the box with that gold in hand?
Thank you! It felt sick, especially because this year I really wanted to win in my head. I was over always being in first until the last moment in park and then getting pushed into second on the last runs. That happened too many times. I’m honored with all of the silver medals that I’ve gotten, even getting invited to X Games still trips me out don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a competitive feeling at all. It was something I was just ready to handle. Everything worked out and it felt good putting a little more work in than normal before the contest with my riding and seeing it pay off. It was definitely the best feeling I have ever had from a contest.
You posted a photo of your gold medal on Instagram and the caption said nothing other than “For Mirra.” It goes without saying that he meant a lot to you and your riding, and I’m sure he would have been stoked on your win.
Yeah, that medal was dedicated to him all of the way. He was a hero and truly a great person. Mirra was, and always will be, the best ramp rider ever. I would have another silver medal if he were out there that day.
Not only that but you earned a bronze medal along with Doeby in the first ever X Games “Real Street” video contest and also just won the Sosh Urban Motion contest while teamed up with filmer Peter Adam. What motivates you to do well at every contest after all these years? And does doing well or winning ever get old?
I always just try my best. Some days your best sucks which is hard, but having a good day and being stoked on how you rode is one of the best feelings ever. I think that drive I have for being stoked on my riding just follows over the same for contests. I just want to put out a part, or a run I’m really happy with, the results don’t matter after that. Unless it’s X Games park, and I’ve gotten like ten silvers and really just wanted to win one gold, ha ha.
What is your current bike set up like? And do you see yourself switching it up anytime soon?
Three pegs, a coaster, high-PSI, solid as a rock tires, black-on-black, all Haro and Demolition. I would love to put that fourth peg on one day but it annoys the shit out of me when my heal bumps on it riding parks and jumps and I don’t like smaller cranks which everyone keeps telling me is the solution. We will see.
Is the free coaster here to stay?
Can bikes really get any better than they are now? It seems as though you can’t really ask for more but as history has shown, there is always room for improvements.
I think they will keep getting better and better as long as people keep putting the thought into improving them.
“Yeah, that medal was dedicated to him all of the way. He was a hero and truly a great person. Mirra was, and always will be, the best ramp rider ever. I would have got another silver if he were out there that day."
- Dennis Enarson
When you’re not on the bike, what is it that occupies your time?
My dog Rudy, my family and friends, staying healthy with good food and exercising a couple days a week. Skating, messing with my house, reading, the Harley, exploring all the bomb restaurants around here, mind expansion, and picking up dog poop.
For anyone that has been to your house or follows you on Instagram they would know you have a little backyard spine mini. How did that come about and how often do you sesh that thing?
My boy Jason Watts stayed with me for a couple months over the summer and built the whole thing himself. He is a master craftsman and said he would do it while he stayed. He really did an amazing job with it, and I can’t thank him enough! It was his little project while he was here. Anytime we were chillin’ it was either Home Depot runs with him, or Jason just putting the giant puzzle together. Thanks again! We session that thing a lot now, it has become one of my favorite things to do.
After spending years living in a BMX house with a handful of your closest friends, how is it living on your own and having a rad place to call your own? Well, I can’t forget your buddy Rudy, but basically on your own.
It has been a big change living by myself for the past two years. There are so many differences, but I really prefer living on my own over having roommates at this time in my life. It helps me enjoy my time with my friends even more than I used to. Living with four of my best friends for almost six years were some of the greatest times in my life so far, but there was a point where I was just ready for a change. Alone time is much needed to clear my head and keep everything balanced. It was getting hard to do that living with all of my best friends and never having any time to myself unless I was flying somewhere. So I took off and tried something way out of my comfort zone. It was really weird the first few months but I slowly started to realize how much I enjoy it. Now I can have one hundred percent energy when I hang with the homies and I don’t feel nearly as run down as I used to. I am really appreciative that I got to try this living situation out when I felt the time was right.
You have always seemed to have a lot of support and close people around you. Is it always a conscious decision to stay in good company and what’s the best part about having family and friends so close?
I love my friends and family more than anything and I guess that’s why I stick so close to my pack. I’ve always liked being crewed up and being with cool motivating people. Having close friends and family so close by is amazing in too many ways to list.
As a photographer myself, I can’t not mention the fact that you enjoy shooting photos with an old film camera. What do you shoot with and what is it about film photography that got you into it?
My ex girl bought it for me because she noticed I always liked Polaroid’s, and shooting with disposable cameras. Once she bought me my Pentax K-1000 it was game on, and all I’ve done is shoot film from there on. I love the fact of trying to just shoot one roll on each trip. You try and make every photo special and worth it because there is no re-do’s and every snap is going to get developed. Film is sick and something has naturally always drawn me to it.
What are you into shooting?
Well I need good sunlight for my camera to really do what it does. So mainly well lit landscapes, portraits of friends and interesting people, and for some reason I always take pictures of transition street spots and weird skate parks.
Currently you are working on a new video part for Demolition and specifically mentioned being really into some of the clips you have stacked so far which, coming from a rider like yourself, says a lot. You also said you are going in for this one and want it to feel like a project you can stand behind. What makes this one different?
Exactly, Mastroni and myself are going in to make something we are both really proud of. I want this to be a part that I look back on and don’t dislike any clip. That is how my Demolition “Last Chance” part almost felt to me and I haven’t had anything that has come near that feeling since then. I’m ready to put out something I’m one hundred percent happy with.
With the way edits come and go these days, what makes you stoked to go in for one? And how do riders create a part that stands out and has the ability to get people to re-watch it over and over?
The riding, filming, editing, and the song all have to work in a way that it is enjoyable to keep watching no matter how many years go by, or what is trendy at the moment. These days, edits can range from something filmed at a skate park session, or you can spend years making something really special. That is what is great about the Internet. You can upload whatever you want and the people will decide what they want to watch.
"The ones who chose positivity and love over hate and negativity are always enjoying everything in the present moment, while the others are just anxious to get somewhere or something better. They never sit back and realize how good the things are around them."- Dennis Enarson
You have filmed some pretty heavy moves and stacked banger after banger since you’ve been a pro rider. Is there anything out there that scares you and how do you prepare to handle tricks with do-or-die consequences?
Thanks again for the kind words. Yeah, plenty of things scare me when I’m out filming. I just have to visualize the trick and mentally believe I can do it. When I get to that point, the scared feeling goes away and it just turns into adrenaline.
Having the chance to film in a ridiculous amount of places over the globe, what cities stand out to you and where do you have plans on going back to?
I love the trails in Pennsylvania; I want to get back out there so bad one day. For street spots I have still never been anywhere that competes with Barcelona. Texas is filled with sick spots, and so is Arizona and New Mexico. I always seem to have good luck finding set-ups that I like in the Southwest. I would love to get back over to Australia one day too. That place has sick spots and is just cool in general.
What else do you have going on for the rest of the year?
I’m going to keep working on this Demolition part, and I plan on getting a shoulder surgery before 2017 to finally fix something that has been bothering me for a long time. I met with a really good surgeon who promises he can fix it, so it would be game changing to not be limited by this on going shoulder issue I have.
With the way that time flies these days it seems like years cruise by like months. As someone who is constantly on the go, how do you remind yourself to slow down and appreciate life?
Just live in the moment and remember that time doesn’t really matter much.
You know you have young fans and supporters out there reading this. What advice do you have for the next generation of up and comers looking to follow your lead?
Do what you love and surround yourself with positive good people. Nothing can hold you back if you do that.
Along with that, the industry leans on riders like you that have a positive impact on BMX as a whole. Where do you see the future of BMX going in the next five years or so?
I have no idea where it will go, all I know is I’ll be right there with it.
As with every other interview, you need some space to do your thing and thank the people that allow you to do just that so go for it.
Thank you to all of the people that support me and send me good vibes towards the way I ride. I appreciate every single one of you and you are a huge motivation to keep progressing. Thanks to all of my sick ass sponsors that have been with me over the years including Demolition, Nike, Haro, Rockstar, Oakley, Pusher Mail-order, and MARKIT. Also thanks to my friends and family, and especially my Mom and Dad. Mark Losey and Colin Mackay for being there for me since the beginning. Henry and East County BMX, Jeremy Pavia, and DIG for staying true to this shit!
Any last words?
Peace, love and positivity.
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