IGNITION 07: Broc Raiford
"BMX doesn't 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, 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 Broc Raiford. Broc is the type of person that is incredibly easy to get along with and has the type of vibe where he truly understands that in this world you get what you give. Not only that, but he’s humble, respectful and wise beyond his years. His skills on a bike are at an all-time high and his outlook on riding is refreshing. With progression happening all around him on a daily basis, Broc is more motivated than ever to help keep pushing BMX in the right direction. To be honest, all other pros should take notes on Broc’s attitude and approach to riding in general. He seems to see the big picture for what it is and truly appreciates every day that he gets to make a living as a professional rider. Sit back, grab a beverage of choice, and take some time to learn a thing or two about Broc and who he is beyond the incredible rider.
Let’s get this thing started. How about you take us back, walk us down memory lane and describe your first experience when you recognized what BMX actually was and how it first came into your life.
Growing up I was exposed to so many different things. I actually skated for a while, I played baseball and soccer, rode motocross, ran track, and everything else that came along with being an energetic kid. My parents have always been very supportive since the start of it all and as long as I was stoked on what I was doing, they were happy. In the end, riding was something that always felt super natural to me over everything else. It never failed that if my interest shifted away from BMX for a bit, I would always find myself coming back to it with even more love than before.
Everyone that rides seems to always have a vivid description of their first bike. What was yours, and what are some of your earliest memories of being on two wheels?
Mine was a chrome Dyno that I rode the shit out off. I remember it having a bunch of Motocross stickers on it because I’d sneak a few from my Dad’s sticker collection. I had no idea what BMX was at the time, I was only four years old. I just remember jumping it off of anything that I could find. I had no idea what tricks were either. All I wanted to do was just be in the air. My Dad even built a little double in the backyard and I’d session that for hours jumping over my toys. I started favoring my bike over everything else around eight years old so then we sold my dirt bike so I could get a better BMX. I came up on one of those Hoffman Condor 18/20-inch completes and that was when it all changed. From that point on I didn't want to do anything but ride.
Who is responsible for getting you on your first bike and pointing you towards BMX?
My Dad rode bikes, dirt bikes, and skated when he was kid so basically he introduced me to all-things action sports. My parents got me my first skateboard, BMX bike, and dirt bike. They exposed me to everything and just let me choose what I wanted to do. Both of my parents have always been there for me every step of the way through my BMX career. I’ll forever be thankful for that and all of the opportunities they provided me to find something I truly love to do.
When you really break it down, it seems crazy that people for decades now have made a legit living and career off of what started out for most as a mode of transportation to get from point a to point b. When did jumping curbs come into play for you along that route and do you remember some of your first “tricks” that you learned?
It is crazy to think that to riders like us, a bike is our creative outlet, but to the non-riders, it’s just transportation. Tricks came into play when I was around six and I would go to the track with my Dad to ride dirt bikes and I’d hit one specific jump and would start to take a hand or a foot off in the air. That really sparked something in me and I couldn't get enough of it. Soon after it turned into me recreating those tricks on my BMX and I’d start to figure out a little more each time I went out to ride. My favorite trick at the time was a lofty no-footer. That was my jam, ha-ha.
“I just remember jumping it off of anything that I could find.”–Broc Raiford
How long did you ride for before you realized that BMX was something that you couldn’t live without?
At eight years old I fully dove into BMX. I had been pedaling a bike since I was two and up until then I was just trying to figure out what my thing really was. I was skating, riding Moto, drawing, and really doing anything to keep me busy. It was just one thing after the other. I remember seeing old home video of me riding my bike for five minutes, and then skating for the next five, then running around aimlessly in the yard. I was just doing anything to exert the energy I had from just being a kid. My love for BMX was slowly growing while I was doing all of that and it finally hit home after a trip to the dirt bike track with my Dad to ride but I spent the entire time on my BMX making little kickers on the sides of the track. That's when my Dad offered to sell my Dirt bike so we could afford to upgrade from the Dyno. Soon after I got that Hoffman Condor.
You’re only 23 years old, which means you have a long way to go with this whole riding thing. What is it that you are looking to get out of it and how has that changed for you since the beginning of your path in BMX?
It’s crazy to think that I’ve been riding for fifteen years now, not counting the early curb jumping days. Over those years I’ve learned that BMX doesn't owe me anything and that I should remain thankful for all of the awesome people I’ve met and amazing places I’ve been because of it. As of now, I just want to ride as long as my body will let me. Having a session with my friends progressing or goofing around is a feeling I can't get enough of.
I’ll always be a rider no matter the circumstances.
It is always interesting watching riders go from “up and comers” to legit pros over the years and I remember when we first met you were already getting the hook-up from Colony at the time. How did it feel as a young kid being recognized on that level and going from maybe hoping someday to get sponsored to actually being sponsored?
As a young rider it was an absolute dream of mine to be a professional. Just how the kids at school wanted to be cops and firemen, I wanted to be a pro BMX rider. I wrote stories about it, I’d have dreams about riding in the X Games and of course I watched it when it came on TV. I knew that it was what I wanted to do. I made that my life goal and knew that I’d have to work hard at it. Being recognized at a young age was definitely surreal. Especially when I was featured on that New Pollution show that came on Fuel TV. I just couldn't really wrap my head around it nor did I really want to. I was just riding every chance I got.
If anyone has paid attention to you and your style over the years they would know that your bike set-up is completely different now than it was during those first years of being sponsored. How much does your bike set-up actually determine your riding style an what would you say is the biggest difference between now and then?
When I first got on with Colony I rode a gyro and mostly skatepark set-ups like box jumps, spines, and quarters. I still rode street stuff but didn't spend too much time doing that. Eventually I started to get more interested in grinding and doing tricks on flat. That turned into the dilemma of whether or not to ride brakes. I needed them to do tricks like double whips but if I wanted to do a hop bar, my lever would get in the way. That led to me building up another bike from old parts that didn't have brakes. From then on I’d go back and forth until I finally made the jump to riding brakeless all of the time.
At one point freecoasters used to be primarily ridden by flatlanders, brakeless riders were a rare breed, seat-post heights were measured by the handful and finding a park rider without a gyro was next to impossible. Now it almost seems like bike set-ups can be whatever the hell you want, for whatever type of riding you want to do. With bikes being so different now than they were compared to ten years ago how do you see them evolving over the next decade?
It is cool to see different riders individuality through their bike set-ups and see them ride their bike how they want and not letting that dictate how they “should” be riding. Just the other day at the Vans HB session the bowl was popping off with mostly brakeless four-peggers. I feel like if you were to rewind a few years back that would be more of a rare sight but I love seeing that though. I don't know at what point the disciplines got so divided but I just get really stoked seeing homies and the younger generation riding everything. I’ve been seeing four-peg dudes putting straight cables on, dudes taking their pegs off, dudes who can flipwhip and do feeble hard 180's. I love it. Ride how YOU want and set up your bike how YOU want it to be. BMX needs that. Not clones of who's cool or trendy at the time. Pat Casey is a perfect example of riding the way he wants. That dude put on a freecoaster and created a whole new style of ramp riding. Doing tricks that I thought were only possible playing Pumped BMX.
Is it four pegs and a coaster for life for you or do you see things history repeating itself and things coming back full circle at some point?
It’s definitely not my setup for life. Once things start slowing down for me later down the road I’ll probably lose a few pegs, add brakes, and just cruise bowls and trails. I don't see myself bringing back the gyro anytime soon. My brake lever always bothered me when I’d do barspins. However, I do plan to get back to my roots and knock the dust off of a lot of tricks I stopped doing a while back. I want to give the Vans Pro Cup a shot this year and keep trying to ride more of everything.
I suppose a big part of the reason why that specific style of set-up has been so prominent in today’s industry is because it allows you to have every option possible for grinds whether regular or switch, as well as the choice to go forward and backward equally. As someone who uses all aspects of the bike, what is the main benefit you see from that?
Every door is open when you've got all four pegs and a freecoaster. With that bike setup you are not limited by your setup at all and free to try and progress as much as you'd like in whatever way you'd like. There's no spot or park you can't ride because you're literally prepared from every direction. Right now the biggest benefit of my bike setup is being able to do tricks and gaps going backwards. We are well off into the realm of progressive fakie tricks and it's incredible seeing riders push the limits. It's crazy seeing people doing tricks backwards that are already difficult enough going forwards. Two good examples are Devon Smillie and Pat Casey. They are both killing the fakie game in their own way and both are equally awesome.
Showing up to a spot and having to skip out on a set-up because you don’t have pegs on a certain side, or don’t have a freecoaster is certainly a thing of the past. What is it these days that determines whether or not you get a trick and with so many options now, how hard is it to choose what to do when it comes time to film something new?
For me its how well the trick and spot match up. Spot use is key when I’m getting deciding to get the clip or not. For those of you who haven't been here yet, it's sometimes a challenge figuring out what to do on a spot in Southern California due to the laundry list of tricks that may have already gone down. But that's all part of the game and gives me more motivation to keep searching for fresh spots that may end up being exactly what you're looking for. We are a bit spoiled too though. Being able to pass up a spot because you're not down with the run-up, or the a rail is a little bent knowing you'll find a similar one in the next few days is pretty luxurious. I’d like to think that my crew of friends and I are pretty on top of it with finding and riding fresh spots though. So when we pull up to the spot, we've already schemed up a few ideas and we'll feel it out first to see what will work best. That tends to work for us and we'll usually be leaving with something we're hyped on.
Speaking of filming, you have put out some amazing video parts over the years that accurately represent you as a rider and the level of progression is clear as every new part drops. How hard is it to keep that going and how do you mentally prepare for the next section when you know stepping it up is not only expected, but also essential to the future of your career within riding?
I love pushing myself and knowing that, I put everything into a section and I almost let that motivate me to build a part that I’m 100% stoked on. There’s no better feeling than leaving a spot knowing you landed exactly what you envisioned yourself doing on it. The battle for each clip has almost become second nature now. I see the level of progression from other riders and I know that if I’m going to go out and get what I really want, it's not going to come easy. Having that mindset helps keep me stress-free when out filming for a new video part. I keep in mind that what I’m about to try is going to be difficult, so instead of telling myself I “should” be able to do this, I give myself some slack and just give it my best shot. If it works out, there's no better feeling, if not, I can still go home with a smile on my face knowing I’m pushing myself to do my best.
One of the stand-out parts in your lineup of sections is the Passageways edit that you worked on with Mike Mastroni which was all filmed exclusively within the alleys of Long Beach. I just feel like everything about it was done right from concept to execution as far as coming up with a unique project idea, getting the right people involved and making it happen. How important is it to be able to ride anything that is in front of you and make something from nothing?
I just really enjoy being out riding with my homies. I’ve never been one to be picky on exactly what we are riding. I’ve had some pretty awesome sessions on things most people wouldn't even consider a spot. I’ll forever be thankful for sessions like that because they are humbling and it keeps my head in the right place. It keeps the creative juices flowing. Showing up to set-ups that I wouldn't normally ride and having to figure out exactly what works and what doesn't is such a fun challenge. So when we were given the green light for the Passageways concept video I was so excited to hit the alleys and find some weird and interesting setups to ride. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the perfect spots just as much, but it's a total different challenge and I like to switch it up between the two every now and then.
Even though I’m sure you don’t look at it as your craziest part ever, I think the fact that you did so many amazing things in such a small area is what makes it what it was. Combine that with Mastroni behind the lens and you have a solid piece of work. How important is it to be able to film with someone you trust to get it right when the time comes?
We definitely didn't expect it to go as well as it did. Like we knew that we were going to struggle a little, but that was part of the fun. I knew Mastroni would be into the concept video and we always have a great time working together. I would say that the most challenging part was finding spots that were different from the ones we've already rode. Although the idea of cruising alleys in my neighborhood sounded easy, we suspected that eventually we'd run out of diverse enough spots to ride. That just meant we had to spot search that much harder. Mike was with me every step of the way and there was never a doubt in my mind that when it's time to go in, he will work just as hard to make it look sick.
When it comes to video projects do you ever give input as far as filming angles and suggestions or do you usually let the filmer do their thing?
I definitely let the filmer or photographer do their thing. At most I’ll suggest an extra foot or two if I think they're in the danger zone of me falling on them. I don't know very much about cameras, angles, etc. so my two cents isn't going to help much, ha-ha. What I do know is that my big ass landing on you and/or your camera isn't going to be good for those involved.
You have a solid résumé of parts dating back to 2015 including your part in Volume’s “The Finer Things,” your Pro Part for Ride, the Dan’s Comp Video, and most recently the Odyssey edit we just talked about. How crazy is it to see years of work condensed into a total of roughly seventeen minutes? With that said, where do you go from there and how do you keep motivated to film and progress as time goes on?
It's definitely crazy to be able to look back on old videos at the click of a button. I don't usually watch my old stuff too often. Maybe to get a look at an old spot I forgot about but I like to keep things moving forward. I don't want to turn into on of those “back in my day” guys just yet. I’m proud of those videos for sure, but I watch them now and I just know that I can do better. It's just another way that I keep myself motivated, and constantly wanting to better myself and one-up the last video I put out.
You mentioned filming for “Disco Stew” as one of your main focuses at the moment and although I’ll admit that it just seemed like a side project at first, from what you’ve told me you guys are taking it pretty seriously. Now is a good time to update the world on all things Disco Stew and what we can expect in the future.
Disco Stew definitely started out as just a side project that we would work on when the crew got together to ride on the weekends. Josh always had a camera and we just decided to start taking it out with us and stack clips for who knows what. Eventually those clips started piling up and we realized things were shaping up to become something a little more than just a short web video. And from that Disco Stew was born. Fast-forward to now and we are a year and a few months deep and it's coming along great! For those of you who don't know, the crew is Nick Krauer, Sean Sieling, Taylor Sieling, Josh Clemens as a filmer and rider, plus yours truly. As of now we're aiming to finish around spring of 2018. We're trying to promote as much as we can but still leave everyone in the dark as much as possible. Be on the look out for the pink stickers popping up in a town near you.
“Over those years I’ve learned that BMX doesn't owe me anything and that I should remain thankful for all of the awesome people I’ve met and amazing places I’ve been because of it."
- Broc Raiford
How much does having the right people around you change things and what advice do you have for someone looking to become part of a unique crew, or start their own within their specific local scene?
Going out riding with the homies is the best. Especially when I’m about to go in for a clip I’ve been wanting to get. Having their support and outside view there to help while I battle it out is something I’ll always be thankful for. I’ve been out on filming missions before where it's just me and the filmer and the vibe is so different. Not that it's bad or anything but having my friends there relaxes me and gives the session a mellower vibe. I know that I wont always be able to have them around but when they are the sessions go off. Advice wise, our crew just started as a close group of friends riding together whenever we got the chance. We hangout just about every day and whether it's riding related or not you can usually find at least a few of us kickin’ it somewhere. They're my family and it's really all about the good times man, we've created so many great memories together! I wouldn't give any of that up for the world!
As far as local scenes go for you, your California experience has been based around Huntington Beach and Long Beach pretty exclusively and you’ve been in Long Beach for years now. What is your current living situation and what is a typical day like for you around home?
Huntington was dope. It was a good introduction to California for me. I got to kick it with the Common Crew when they were all still in diapers, ha-ha. The beach was right there too, I didn't think it could get any better…until I moved to Long Beach. Now I can't get enough of this place, I love it! The scene is so awesome here. There are so many homies to ride with and some even live a few short blocks away. I currently live with Josh Clemens in this rad apartment complex a few blocks from the infamous Cherry Park. Most of you already know, but Josh is an awesome human being and also a great roommate! He’s one of the best dudes out there and I’m thankful to call him one of my best friends. A typical day in the L.B.C consists of meeting up with some homies to cruise M.L.K skatepark. Then we'll wander back into downtown where we'll find something to session for a bit until it's time to grab lunch. I’ve been trying to eat healthier so I’ll usually cruise home and cook something and the homies will come over after they're done eating. After that we'll usually chill and watch any new skate and/or BMX videos that are out to get the motivation levels high and then we'll head back out to ride again. When I’m home in Long Beach I like to keep it local and just enjoy this place. It still feels so surreal that I wake up and get stoked that it's another day that I get to ride in this BMX paradise. I love it out here.
Say it rains, or you’re burnt out on riding at the moment, what is it outside of BMX that you get into?
If it's raining out I’m going to be big chillin’. I usually try to make the most of every day out here but a rainy day is a good excuse to kick back and relax. I’ll eventually get bored of sitting around and I’ll work on some artwork. Drawing and painting is another passion of mine and I really enjoy it. To me finishing an art piece that I’ve been working on for a bit gives me similar satisfaction to getting a clip while out riding. Sure they're much different respectively but seeing the finished product of your hard work is always a nice feeling no matter what you're doing.
You’ve been focusing on the art/tattoo thing for a while now and it shows in your work. You have some real talent when it comes to that side of things and I know it has always been something you like to keep on the backburner but at the same time, you show signs of promise so how do you balance your art and your riding?
The balance comes and goes. For example, at the beginning of the summer I was pumping out artwork and tattooing my friends almost non stop. I’d ride for most of the day and then work on an art piece until the early hours of the morning. Or my homie would come over in the morning and I’d shoot him up with my tat gun then go ride after. Again, that feeling of satisfaction when you get to see all of your hard work come together to create something you're stoked on...well you just can't beat that. Fast-forward to now and I haven't done much artwork in the last few months. Right now I feel really good on my bike and I’m just trying to take advantage of that and ride as much as I possibly can. So when I get home I’m usually drained and nothing sounds better than lying in bed.
You are one of the people in BMX that stand out as being able to shred on a skateboard as well. I know you have roots with both, but how often do you skate and how seriously do you take it?
For a while I was skating once a week when all my riding buddies were super busy. I’d meet up with the homie Taylor and we'd go skate one of the local parks. As of late I haven't been on the board as much because I’ve been riding a shit ton. And if I’m not riding the BMX, I’m at the track riding motocross with my Dad. So I haven't been giving the skate too much love lately but I need to get back to it. I love skating and motocross simply based on how different they are from riding. Both total new ways to have fun with no obligations and it's humbling to be a beginner again.
Anyone that knows about riding can clearly see that your trick selection, raw power and ability to ride regular and opposite seamlessly are all what makes you who you are. Was any of that intentional or is that just how you ride?
Well I actually started out grinding on the wrong side. I rode right foot forward with left side pegs and aired to the left. When I was younger and trying to learn feeble 180's I had them originally on the right side but I was trying to feeble hard 180 and my tire kept hitting and I couldn't get the bike around. Thinking it through, I just switched my pegs to the left side and I solved my problem. I didn't hit my tire and my bike landed fakie within a few tries. From then on I just rode them on the left because I didn't know any better. I didn't know what “goofy-footed” was. Eventually I got fed up with people giving me shit from grinding on the wrong side so I set out to learn how to grind on the right side. Looking back, I’m thankful for the shit talking because now I’m super comfortable with both left and right side grinds. I definitely am very mindful of how my riding looks though. I’ll re-do clips two or three times just because it didn't look the way I envisioned myself landing it. I figure if I'm going to put the time and effort into trying something new, why not make it look the best I can.
How hard is it these days to keep up what everyone else is doing and how hard do you have to work to consciously create your own path as to not blend in with the rest of the riders out there putting in work right alongside you?
It's really motivating how absurdly good everyone is at riding these days. Almost daily I’ll see a “WTF” clip of someone on Instagram. I don't take other riders progressive clips in mind as a competitive thing at all. Rather, it fuels me to push myself even harder and seeing them shred honestly gets me stoked. We're all doing our best to keep moving
BMX moving in a positive direction. I also constantly remind myself to ride how I want to ride. No matter what others or doing or what's trending at the moment. I believe that if you're giving it your all, riding how you want to ride then there's no way you could blend in with the rest. It's your style and your trick selection which means it's 100% you. Even if it isn't a N.B.D or a crazy new combo. If its' you doing your best at what you like to do, people will take notice.
How is it having not only signature parts but also a full signature bike?
Becoming a professional rider was a dream come true for me! Being able to move to California and ride for a living is an unexplainable feeling. I’m so thankful for each and every day that I have out here doing what I love. Having signature products from two of the best companies out there is even more surreal. Working with them from specs all the way to down to designing my own graphics. I’m so appreciative of everything Volume and Odyssey have done for me over the years. They are truly great people and have helped this ole’ Louisiana boy make his dreams into a reality.
We had the conversation about how good parts and bikes are these days compared to years ago and it is always interesting to wonder what’s next and what the next game changer might be. Any thoughts?
Shit man I don’t know, can it get any better? I have full trust in my bike that it'll get me through whatever I’m about to send it down. I’ll tell you what will change the game though, cushions for the sides of your crank arms. Anyone who has ever done a tailwhip knows how painful it is to have your crank arm slam into your ankle or the side of your foot. If there could be some sort of cushion in between there, shit I’d switch double whip El Toro! Ha-ha, just kidding.
When it comes to sponsors, who is backing you these days and do you have anything new in the works moving forward?
I’ve got the best of the best on my side. Volume and Odyssey! They're holding it down every day. Odyssey will soon be dropping their half of the long awaited “Odyssey Vs. Sunday” video that I will have a section in. Be sure to vote for Odyssey when the videos go live. I also just finished up a skatepark video for Volume that was super fun to work on. Josh filmed it, and you already know he killed it. I’m currently working on a limited run of Odyssey soft goods that I drew and designed myself. Be on the look out for those dropping in the future. And over at Volume we just finalized the graphics for the third version of my signature Vessel frame. I’m super stoked on how the new colors and graphics look together. I know I said it before but I can't express my appreciation enough to both Odyssey and Volume for allowing me to work with them on signature products and the endless support. Thanks guys, you fucking rule!
"Ride how YOU want
and set up your bike how YOU want it to be. BMX needs that. Not clones of who's cool or trendy at the time."
- Broc Raiford
How much does having the right sponsors play a role in a successful BMX career path?
If you're not stoked on what you're representing, are you really going to be down to put on for them? Being able to create friendships with the guys at both Odyssey and Volume is something I’ll forever be thankful for. Thus having those supportive relationships makes me want to go as hard as I can because they don't half step when it comes to supporting me.
With crazy changes like Dan’s Comp dropping out of the picture (for now at least) and a lot of riders losing a check, if everything stopped right now and the sponsors disappeared, is BMX still for you?
BMX would absolutely still be for me. It has never been about the money. Sure if the checks stopped coming in tomorrow I’d pick up a job and my riding schedule would change quite drastically. But there's not a snowballs chance in hell that I’d just stop riding. I am so thankful that I get to wake up and do what I love every day. I do my best not to take that for granted. BMX doesn't owe me shit and what keeps the flame burning is the fun sessions with the homies, the feeling of landing a new trick, the satisfaction of a hard days work out filming and the celebration when your homie gets a clip. Without all of that in my life I’d become a salty bastard.
How much of a role does social media play in your life? You have around 110K followers on Instagram, which is a solid backing on that platform. Do you see that as an actual audience and post based on that or is it just whatever the hell you feel like posting?
Seeing that around 110,000 people care enough to see what I’m up to is a cool but I don't let that go to my head as some sort of social status. It's just a number on a popular Smart phone app. I am down with social media because it connects me with other riders around the world. I try my absolute best to respond to all the messages I receive from kids wondering about my bike setup or even something like how to 180. I figured if I can stoke them out just by responding, then I can take the few short minutes it takes to answer them. I do it in hopes that it will help grow their love for riding. When I make a post it's usually whatever I feel like putting up that day. Sometimes it might be skating, motocross, video games, or drawings. Sometimes I might not post at all. I try to keep it as authentic and organic as possible.
Do you look at that as part of your “job” or is it more just you keeping current?
I guess if I had to choose, I’d say that it's more to keep relevant. Keeping fresh clips and photos in front of the viewer’s eyes shows them I actually am out putting in the work.
Whether I like it or not, social media is a huge part of everyone’s life in today’s world. Even if I’m out riding every day and riding the best I ever have, just because I don't post about it, then people are going to get the sense that I’m slacking. Even as I’m typing this I’m thinking, “Damn that is a really fucked up dynamic,” but it's true and the name of the game nowadays.
And on that note, what would you say a pro riders “job” is in the year 2017 anyways? It seems as though that job description is quite different than it was even just a decade ago before web videos, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.
I never really look at it as a job to be honest. I see it as an opportunity of a lifetime more than anything. But as for what I think is expected of me as a professional rider, I think as long as I’m representing Odyssey and Volume in the best way possible that I’m doing what I’m supposed to. I want to be a positive role model for the younger generations and get them stoked on riding. Promoting yourself and the brands you ride for on social media outlets falls under that category.
At a glance, you love BMX, tattoos/flash, skateboarding, and motocross. Tell us a few things that we don’t know about you, or a few things that might surprise people about yourself.
That's a tough one being that I’m usually doing at least one of those things. Outside of all of that, I love keeping in touch with and being around family. My Dad recently moved to California and I’ve been spending a lot of time kickin' it with him. I’ll usually Facetime my mom and little sister once or twice a week to check up on them as well. I play my fair share of video games when I have the chance to. I usually play Call of Duty or Guitar Hero. I wish they'd drop a new BMX game for X-Box, that'd be sick!
You posted your winning trick (pegs-to-over-hard-360-transfer-to-feeble) from Battle of Hastings on Instagram and it quickly blew up and currently has 35,000 views as well as 900 comments. That’s a hell of a lot of comments. How did that trick get visualized and can you walk us through the process of how it went down?
The thought of that trick made me laugh at first. Like one of those “Dude, imagine if you did...” moments. Everyone was practicing in the main room at the Source the day before the contest started and I was just getting a feel for the park. I went up the rail and did an over-hard-three and landed really close to the ledge. At that point I thought “shit, it really is possible” but I just kept on cruising around the park. Only four teams advanced to the finals and our team was one of three teams that tied for fourth place. How each team placed in the best trick contest would be the deciding factor of who was going to finals. The only catch was that each team had to choose one rider to ride in best trick. Justin Spriet was on my team and him and I were going back and fourth trying to decide who should ride in it. I mentioned trying the pegs over hard three transfer to feeble and he was like “dude if you send that, you'll land it.” To be completely honest, I didn't know if I was going to land it. I didn't know if I was going to even get close so shout out to Justin and the rest of the team for trusting in me to go out there and send it. That was a dream trick and I’m still in shock that it worked out. It is pretty crazy that something like that can put someone on the map as much as a full part these days just simply due to it being so easy to see, and share.
What was it like to see the feedback come in from that so rapidly?
To be honest I didn't need any of the feedback. Sure, there was a lot on the line out there including a lot of pressure, but I was sending that shit for myself. It was a far-fetched idea that I envisioned myself trying and it became a reality. Not too mention watching all of the other homies sending it right along side me. The energy in that place is unreal and watching your friend stomp something he's been sweating doing is all the more motivation to push that much harder. There's no amount of likes, views, or comments that could overshadow the natural high from how much fun I had at that contest.
It seems as though contests are more raw these days with less outside sponsors in BMX funding the big events. What makes something like the Battle of Hastings contest different than say the X Games?
They are just two different beasts all their own. I definitely enjoy both. X Games has a lot more structure and scheduling with no time for things like last tricks or giving your line another go. In contrast, Battle of Hastings is more loosely scheduled where you can spend your entire run trying something you've been eyeing up. The energy at the Battle of Hastings is unmatched where as being at he X Games is more like “Damn son, we made it to the X Games! I respect them both and really look forward to going back every year.
With that said, you’re a permanent part of action sports history and own your own piece of bronze hardware. What was it like sharing a podium with Garrett Reynolds and what will it take to stand on that top box someday?
That day was so surreal for me. It was such a crazy feeling holding down first place for more than three-quarters of the contest. Being able to stand on the podium next to the homies holding a bronze X Games medal was something that I never could have dreamed of happening. It's no secret that Garret kills it at contests and is an all around great dude, but I’m going to be putting in work this year trying to give him a run for that top spot!
“It's no secret that Garret kills it at contests and is an all around great dude, but I’m going to be putting in work this year trying to give him a run for that top spot!”–Broc Raiford
What is worse when it comes to pressure? Standing on the deck waiting to drop in for your final X Games run in front of thousands of people, TV cameras and fans or trying to film your banger in a full-length video part?
Standing on deck about to take my final run at the X Games is definitely more pressure. I somehow can block out all the people watching and the TV cameras. That stuff doesn't bother me at all. At the X Games you've got two to three runs on the course trying to land both technical and burly tricks without error in order to score highly. That's some real deal pressure. With that said, staring down the setup I’ve been sweating in hopes to have that clip end my video section has its own brand of pressure. Although I’m nervous and a little scared, I know I’ve got multiple tries to get it done. Even if it doesn't happen right then, I can always go back the following day and give it another shot.
It is no secret that BMX is largely based on travel, friends and good vibes. What is it about traveling to different parts of the world that you enjoy and what are some places that you haven’t been to that are on your list?
Traveling to other parts of the world is such a good learning experience. Not only as a BMX rider, but as a human being. I’ve learned some really important life lessons traveling abroad and although some experiences are scarier than others, I’m thankful for them all. Getting to visit different places and see what their riding scenes are like is so humbling. My favorite thing ever is to pedal through a new city and just take it all in.
Basically taking a second to appreciate that BMX has taken me to some incredible places. I’d really love to travel to China. I’ve heard and seen nothing but great things from Catfish and Big Kane. Paris is on that list too. I’ll go just about anywhere with the right people. Traveling with good friends is one of the best ways to make some unforgettable memories.
Actually, you are a part of the new Odyssey vs. Sunday video project where the winning edit/team get to go on a trip anywhere in the world. Where would you vote to go and how gnarly are those videos going to be when they drop? I have to assume people went hard for a chance to travel anywhere they want like that?
Everyone went in! I was part of the last group to stay at the Providence house so we got to peep both Odyssey and Sunday's raw timelines of everything that was handled over the summer. Both teams put in so much work. It was so much fun getting to know dudes I’d otherwise never get to hang with due to our difference of teams and where we live. If Odyssey ends up taking home the win, I’d vote that we'd go to Barcelona, Spain. I’ve been there once before but I could go for a whole year and it wouldn't be long enough. That place is like Disney World for bike riders with incredible spots around every corner that you can ride for hours with no one bothering you. The city is so unreal and I’d love to go back. Vote Team Odyssey!
When can we expect to see the footage come out from that?
I have no idea. I actually just texted Walter who is in the midst of editing that beast as we speak. He's saying end of November so be on the look out, it is going to be sick. Also, shout out to Walter Pieringer for killing it all summer for both teams. Dude is a hard worker and really was the backbone of this entire project. Thanks dude!
You’ve had the chance to work with some amazing filmers and photographers over the years. What is that relationship like and what is some advice that you have for the younger generations of photo/video kids out there looking to break into this world? I feel like people need to learn proper etiquette when it comes to that and what better way to get educated then from the pro riders themselves.
They're all my friends. Mike Mastroni, Jeff Z., Joey Cobbs, Josh Clemens, and Doeby. I trust all of those dudes 100% to point their technology of choice at me when we're out riding. They're all so friendly and easy to work with. That helps so much when there’s already so many other distractions in the streets. They're all riders too so they know what it's like to be stressing over a spot or sending yourself for hours. The mutual respect is there between each and every one of those dudes and if you can form that type of relationship as a rider and/or filmer, than you'll go far in this industry.
Where in the world is Mike Mastroni?
He's off on a spiritual journey filled with crowns made of daisies and tie-dye t-shirts, ha-ha, just kidding. Mike bought a Sprinter van and with the help of his Dad, they converted it into a living space. He's now driving around the U.S. Filming with hand-picked riders for a project that I’m not sure I can talk too much about yet. I miss Mike though. We'd hang out so much. Riding or not, he'd kick it with the Disco Stew crew and we would watch bike/skate videos looking for new spots. He's out doing his thing now and I’m happy for him.
It's no secret that you and your Dad are really close and now he actually moved from Louisiana to California to live full-time. How has that changed things and how cool is it to be able to ride and chill with him on a more regular basis?
Man I swear it feels like a new chapter of life. Not that things were bad at all before he was here, but having some family close is just a nice feeling. The only time I’d get to see any of my family was when I visited home for a week or two a few times a year. Now having him here I can cruise to his place for dinner or meet him at the park for a session. Lately we've been riding motocross every Friday and it has been so fun. I’m hoping that once my little sister graduates High school in two years, her and my mom will move here too.
What does the next phase hold for you riding wise? I know that you mentioned wanting to ride more transition and mix things up a bit. I for one support that and would be stoked to see you bring that into the mix.
I want to get back to riding a bit of everything. Not that I ever stopped, but the ratio is definitely off a bit. I really enjoy cruising dirt jumps and I’ve been making it a point to get out to F.O.D trails to ride with the Cordova's. As I mentioned earlier, I plan on giving the Vans Pro Cup a shot this year. I hope to hit a few of the stops to try to qualify for the rest. I’ve made it a goal of mine to make it into the Vans U.S. Open next year. I’m going to have to knock the cobwebs off some old tricks but that'll be part of the fun.
One of the questions that I always like to get feedback on is what does BMX need moreof, and what does BMX need less of?
BMX could use more events like the Battle of Hastings. I think that would really help grow the entire scene overall. Even though it's technically a contest, I think events like that really show the general public the true essence of BMX. Not only just that but it allows the riders to come together and as a whole we push and motivate one another to progress the sport. I’m not too sure what BMX would need less of. I think it's pretty kick ass right now and if we can keep pushing it in a positive direction as a community, there's no doubt that the scene will continue to grow.
In recent discussions with other industry heads, legendary riders, and current pros it seems as though everyone needs to come together and show the young kids the right path, and the way to BMX. Any suggestions?
Like I said, I think if we could create more events that truly capture what BMX is all about, I think that alone will help steer the younger generations in the right direction. Odyssey's Texas Toast was great example of that. For a lot of us we had the privilege of watching issues of Props and Road Fools to give us that inside look at what the BMX life was all about. Those videos and the print magazines had a lot of influence on me as young rider. Nowadays kids don't have any of that. They pretty much only have Instagram and Youtube and sometimes the attitudes and lifestyles portrayed through those platforms might not show the viewer what it's truly all about.
If your current self had any words of wisdom for your young aspiring BMX Pro self, what would they be?
I would tell my younger self to stay focused and keep enjoying the hell out of riding bikes. I would remind myself to be patient and good things will come. And lastly give him a few pointers with the ladies that I’ve learned along the way, ha-ha.
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.
Always first and foremost, I want to give a huge thank you to my parents. Without their never-ending love and support I truly couldn't have done it. I appreciate every opportunity they've given me and I try my best to make them proud. Also a big thanks to the dudes at Odyssey and Volume for always holding it down for me and keeping my bike rolling solid! Shout out to Disco Stew and my awesome group of friends, they help keep the good times at an all time high. Thank you DIG and Jeremy Pavia for the opportunity to do this feature. And last but not least, thank you BMX for being the sickest shit ever!
Any last words?
If you've got a dream, you can make that shit happen, you just have to sack up and send it! DSFYM.
“If you're not stoked on what you're representing, are you really going to be down to put on for them?”–Broc Raiford
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