RE PRINT: LONG GAME - The Aaron Ross DIG interview
"I FEEL LIKE BMX WAS MY WAY OF SHOWING WHAT WAS IN MY HEAD."
Interview and photos by Andrew White |Originally published in DIG Issue 99.5 / Summer 2016
Aaron Ross is an unusual case. He exploded into BMX some fifteen years ago and took over through his self sustaining fission energy. With radiant bikes that mirrored his personality, and the extrovertness of one thousand trails riders combined, Aaron hit his stride in the rare period where Props, magazines, AND web videos and social media held competitive ground. He became street riding’s closest thing to a celebrity; an enigma in an otherwise closed off micro universe.
Now Aaron isn't interested in doing four web videos a year, it’s more like one DVD part every four years. This gives the appearance that his interests are concentrated outside bike riding, but I can assure you this is not the case. After being on a couple of trips with him over the last year and seeing him really ride hard firsthand, I thought an interview for this issue should be in order. There’s been other pieces covering Aaron on a surface level, and others amounting to a biography, but I wanted this interview to cover his current views on BMX now that he’s over a decade into his tenured pro career. Documenting his standing from within and from outside, being a traveling pro, yet running businesses on the side.
With this is mind, we both sat down in Miami with Garageband queued and a supposed thirty minutes of interview topics laid out. To say that Aaron "likes to talk" is indeed an understatement.
You’ve talked a lot about perspective, of going from the outside and looking back at BMX. Do you think you had that larger vantage point all along, was that something you grew up with that you got from your parents? How to view BMX and how it can fit into your life versus BMX being an all-consuming identity. Where do you think you got that foundation to branch out? You play golf, you have partnerships in businesses, you’re married. Tell me about that.
I was an active young kid. I played multiple sports and also rode BMX, I grew up doing everything. I always just thought you can do anything. You can do everything. You don’t have to choose. It applies to BMX itself. I’m a street rider, and I’ve won awards being a street rider. But during the winter I ride more trails than I ride street. So I think that mentality to me is you can do whatever you want. Do what makes you happy. If you want to play golf, play golf. If you want a fluorescent yellow bike and no-one else does, get a fluorescent yellow bike. I think it’s just part of my attitude, My parents supported me, and one thing, my parents both go to work. So I understood that, I’ve said this to people before, I guess I did a good job of making BMX, well, I wouldn’t say I made it into a job, because it’s not a job to me, but it is a job. It’s 100% a job. But I try to make it into like “Hey, I want to do the best job I can do” to make it last longer, so I can enjoy my passion for longer. And some people don’t like that, some people look at it as “Oh, you’re using BMX, you’re a sell-out, you’re getting paid” but it’s not true. But at the same time, if I didn’t do that, pretty good possibility that there would have been a huge decline in how long I would have rode bikes, starting at 21. If I had taken a different route and not gone and tried and worked… I hate saying “I worked so hard”, but Gary and I were talking about this last night. You do have to work hard. I’d say I’ve gone on 95% of the trips I’ve ever been asked to be on. I’ve been on every one. I’ve missed one flight, ever. I’ve gone on trips with broken body parts. I don’t want to say that I’m a workhorse and I’m the best, but I took advantage of every opportunity that has been given to me and I will do the same until forever. I’ll do that forever. And I don’t say took advantage like “Oh, he took advantage of us!” I take advantage if some-one’s like “Hey, you want to come to…?”
You see it as an opportunity?
Yeah, if there’s an opportunity to do something and someone’s inviting me, asking me to do this because I ride bikes? I’ll take it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to go because no-one’s going to ask me “Hey, do you want to come to whatever country?” because I am good at filing paper. There’s obviously people that do get that opportunity, but no-one’s ever going to ask me that again. No-one’s ever going to be like “Hey, you’re great at making phone calls, come do this, come model for us!” No-one’s ever going to do that, every opportunity that I’ve ever been given I’ve jumped on. Same goes for signature products or signature bikes or signature anything. I think people are always like “Why did you want to do such a crazy ad, or “why did you want to do this orange soda bike with the crazy ad, why would you want to do this, why would you want to do that?” Because, someone gave me the opportunity to choose, and I didn’t go “oh, just give me a black one! Black bike, that’s perfect! Stickers that look like stickers!” I thought “Oh cool, I can do whatever I want? Make it crazy!” because I want to remember it being crazy. I don’t want to look back and go “Oh man, I could have done anything and I chose silver?” No hate to what other people like, I just think I took advantage of the opportunity, as soon as someone said you could have something I was “Oh, I love Saved By The Bell, let’s do Saved By The Bell stuff”. It represents me, I feel.
Odyssey would come to me and be like “We’re going to shoot an ad, what do you want to do?” And I’d think, well I could shoot the most banger ad in the world. Best thing ever. But it’s still just a trick at the end of the day. When I see an ad, or when I think of Gary Young’s name, I think Gary Young is the best, he’s the man. He’s so good. What’s he like? I don’t need to see him table top, I don’t need to see him barspin, I know he can do all that. And obviously, at times that’s great. But some ads, you look at them like it’s just another table top, it’s just another barspin. It is just another trick, it’s just a page. So I looked at it like, well, let’s shoot bike photos. Let’s ride down a hill backwards with a table and chairs and cakes and skateboards, let’s build these giant sodas and let’s shoot them in the sky! No-one cares about the trick! You know what ads I remember from being a kid? FBM ads. I remember XS ads, Duffs ads. They were on planes. I remember Fuct ads. I remember the crazy ones! Like FBM ads, dudes in suits, no shirts on, you remember that, that stuff stands out to you. Things where people are doing something and you’re like “Stop, wow!” That was something that was always really fun, Odyssey would say “Oh we’ve done all these ads all these years, we’ve done all these epic ads of people doing epic stuff.
We did an ad that didn’t have riding and it was the most emails or phone calls we’ve ever gotten from the industry being like “That was awesome. That was sweet. How did you do that?” “It’s fake.” Whatever it may have been, people were like “This is cool!” There’s so much more personality to people. And some people have personalities or lifestyles that no-one’s really into. That’s understandable. Not that I thought I had a lifestyle that everyone’s going to want so let’s show it, it was more like I have these ideas, let’s just do them. I want to do burnouts in cars, I want to travel the world, I want to shoot oranges at my bicycle with a red camera and post it online. That sounds great, let’s do it. So, given those opportunities, I looked at it as a way to be able to do something different and leave my mark.
Looking back, the Redline ad with the guy jumping over the three cars. It’s one of the most iconic ads because it’s epic. He could have just been jumping, you’d be like “Oh cool, he’s high” and flip the page, but no, he’s jumping over three cars, it’s insane, Colin Winkelmann jumping over 12 cars. I get that those are riding tricks, but they’re epic. They stand out.
Rooftop, he would light himself on fire and do tricks and I was always like “That’s so cool!” So many people would hate on him, saying he was just cheesy, but he’s different. Those things go over into other sports, skateboarding or football or basketball, the people you remember are the people like Dennis Rodman. Dennis Rodman used to dye his hair all the time, we all remember Dennis Rodman because he did that stuff and he was wild and crazy but you know what? He was good at basketball. He killed it, so it was ok. But there’s so many of those people. There’s so many of them it’s just hard to pick. Cory Nastazio! Cory Nastazio ads? Best ads in the world! People like that, that’s who you remember. I don’t remember what so-and-so’s ad was. I remember every Cory Nastazio ad, I remember every Cory Nastazio interview because they were epic and they were insane.
"NO-ONE'S GOING TO ASK ME "HEY, DO YOU WANT TO COME TO WHATEVER COUNTRY?" BECAUSE I AM GOOD AT FILING PAPER.
- AARON ROSS
I would say that you’re one of the first BMX ‘social media celebrities’ in terms of stats and numbers. I don’t know about current figures, I don’t know where you stand in the rankings but you had an impact when Twitter came about. With your crazy bikes and your crazy ads and promoting yourself virally, was that ever a conscious way to promote you as a brand or was that just an extension of your personality?
That was just an extension of my personality. I get it from my dad, my dad is a talker. You asked one question in this interview and I give you a 12 minute answer! I get it from my dad. My dad is someone I used to go to work with in the summers and my dad is the guy that knows everyone, talks to everyone and is nice to everyone when he walks into a shop. It takes him longer to get to where he’s going in the shop to do his job than it does for him to do his job. And I grew up with that. I grew up watching him zig-zag through a place, saying hi and catching up. And it wasn’t like a “How’s the kids? “ type of thing, it was just like “Hey, how are you today? This is what we’ve got going on!” And then moved on. I looked at BMX like that. I remember being a young kid and looking up to Van Homan, looking up to everyone. Mat Hoffman, Dave Mirra, all the people, all of them. And thinking that if I ever meet them or talk to them, it’s cool that they gave me a second, then I looked at it like that’s cool that someone wants to hear from me, even if they think I’m the worst. Even if they hate me or they hate my bike or anything. I looked up to anyone in the etnies video, in the Little Devil video. I don’t care who you were, you were in the video. You could have been the worst dude in the world, you could have blown a firework off in the credits, I thought you were awesome. So I looked at myself in there, I have a full part. So even if you hate my riding, hate everything about me, hate everything, you still kind of want to… If you reach out to me, I’m going to reach back. Because I remember what it would feel like to be that person. So I think I took growing up watching my dad and how he handled the day-to-day, he didn’t do it for any reason, he’s just a talkative, loveable guy that wants to talk to everyone, and so I just took that aspect of my life and when social media came along it was an easy way to reach out to people that live all over the world, that I may never get to meet. And now looking back at Twitter, it’s been six, seven years since all that stuff really happened and looking back at it, or meeting kids now at shops or online or wherever. Kids come up and say “Hey I sent you a letter once” or “I sent you a tweet” or “I sent you a Facebook message, it was an important time” or whatever and I’m like “Did I reply?” and they’re like “Yeah dude, you were awesome!” I was a kid once, I would have loved for someone to reply to me and talk to me and give me the time of day. It’s rad. And not because I think that everyone likes me, just because it’s nice.
"I GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL AND WAS IN RETIREMENT FOR 15 YEARS. AND THEN I WENT TO WORK. I JUST DID IT BACKWARDS."- AARON ROSS
Did you ever feel disconnected from BMX and vice versa? Did you ever feel like some riders thought you had too much of a celebrity persona, you were kind of in a different realm?
If there was, I don’t know. If there was, maybe I was oblivious. I felt like BMX was always first, I was always the “BMX is fun!” kind of guy. “BMX is fun! Go have fun, ride BMX!” BMX was at the heart of all of it, I never tried to really leave BMX, I wasn’t trying to go further than BMX, I was just trying to make BMX… I don’t know, I don’t even think I was intentionally trying to make BMX bigger, I was just trying to have fun, and show that BMX is fun, and show people that you didn’t have to do this or do that, do the stereotypical things to be in BMX, to be what was cool, if you wanted to go outside and shoot watermelons on a bike check that’s awesome, you can do whatever you want. I don’t consider myself an artist in any way because I can’t draw a picture and I can’t really shoot a photo, I don’t have that. But I do understand that a musician is an artist and a BMXer’s an artist and I guess people who create commercials are artists, directors, you create a movie, you’re an artist. So I feel like BMX was my way of showing what was in my head and getting it out and doing something.
I think you do have that artistic drive. Let’s say BMX has to end for whatever reason, what’s your outlet after BMX? How do you ‘Aaron Ross’ to the world after you don’t have a BMX bicycle?
Honestly, I think it’s owning a business, owning a restaurant, owning a bar, owning some sort of place like that, a venue or whatever was always one of my ideas. I think I want to be a guy that stands at the door and greets people and invites them in. I think that’s fun. I don’t want to be a door guy! But I think being who I was in BMX made me at sometimes the centre of attention. And I don’t want to say “Oh, I enjoyed that, that was great, I want to do that again”, but in some ways, yeah. I love talking to people and I wanted to meet every single person at every place and the easiest way to do it is to be the centre of attention. Because they’re coming to you. So by that I mean, owning a restaurant, I can invite people in, I can give them free food, I can invite them back, you know, that’s fun. And I think being able to put on parties, put on events, put on activities and doing stuff like that is a way to continue our work and I feel like our work is to meet people and connect dots, I love helping people meet new people, through my connections make new connections and just helping people to accomplish things, I think it’s fun. But as to what my outlook holds? I think BMX will always be there. I think I’ll ride mountain bikes and I’ll ride road bikes and I race a lot more BMX. I think I’ll ride a lot of trails. I think the day will come when I’ll just ride trails. I grew up riding trails, I grew up racing, a tonne of people don’t realise that I’ve gone whole winters where I’ve ridden 90% trails, everyday. I can sit around a fire and hang out with people and I enjoy it and that’s fun. I loved it, obviously I love to talk, so sitting around the park and talking to someone, it’s awesome. I think I’ll still have that outlet of doing it and enjoying it.
"YOU HAVE TO FIND SPOTS,IT'S HARDER, YOU DON'T GET 12 CLIPS A DAY, YOU GET THREE. BUT, THOSE THREE CLIPS YOU GET, THEY'RE MORE IMPACTFUL THAN THE 12 THAT THE 18 YEAR OLD IS GETTING."
- AARON ROSS
You have a great outlook on BMX. And it’s always about fun and super positive. But what if you never went the pro route? Let’s say that at 18 instead of getting sponsors and taking off, you still rode bikes but you got a normal job and did the non-professional routine. Do you think that you would have the same outlook on BMX at 29, like it’s the greatest thing ever, or would you be like, yeah, it was a fun thing I did but I got to go to work now? Can you compare those two scenarios?
I could maybe compare them at 22, but could I compare them at 29? Because BMX changed the path that I was on. I wasn’t on a bad path, but who knows if I would have ever left Corpus, who knows if I would have ever travelled the world? There’s a whole different person today than there was then, so I have no idea. I have no clue. I think, like I said, I rode a lot of bikes and I had a lot of fun, but I do think there’s times in life when life gets hard and maybe it’s something you do give up for years and then you come back to it later. Like I said, I’ve been riding bikes forever. Now it’s easy to say because now bike riding is such a part of my life and has been, and not just that bike riding’s been part of my life since I was a kid, bike riding has given me a life. So now I associate bike riding with the happiest of things. There’s obviously been tough trips and tough this and tough that but bike riding has given me so much. So, going and pedalling a bike is really fun.
That’s also kind of a big reason that I’ve never super been interested in working in the industry. Who knows, because I’m not there yet, and who knows if I would miss it and want to be a part of it, but I’ve always been like, why would I want to go and hate my desk job. I’d rather go and hate selling computers instead of selling bikes. Bikes have been my happy place for so long, why make them the unhappy place when I could make any other thing in the world my unhappy place if I could sell anything. Not just necessarily sell, just like work in any other industry, I could hate it and go home and be like “I hate this!” I’m going to ride bikes. I don’t want to be like “I hate bike riding” and then I go home and be like “I hate bike riding”. But the first 12 years of it were the best years of my life, so that wouldn’t be cool. I’m sure a lot of people say that and I’m not there yet so who knows?
Those first 12 years, are you considering this Year 12? Is this ongoing or are you saying it faded somewhere and then we’re here now?
No, no, I’m saying, like, today. Obviously I’ve been riding bikes for longer, I’m just saying the last ten years have been great, being a professional and enjoying bike riding and enjoying the bike industry from one side, but it’s tough, because some of my best friends work in the industry, so it’s like, would you want to work with your best friends? Or would you want to work with people you don’t know? I’m not there today. So I have no idea.
Sometimes, when you talk to a lot of the older guys, it’s all they know and it’s scary in a way because when it’s done, you’re a however old - say 35 years old. So now you’re starting in the real world with BMX experience, and yeah, you could get a job in the industry, but if you didn’t want to get a job in the industry, then what are you going to do? And you can tell someone on a resume “Well, I’ve ground the biggest rail in the world” but does that get me a job selling houses? So I think that’s something to always keep in mind. I’ve always been good at enjoying BMX and enjoying trips and I’ve enjoyed all of it. But I still think that I was scared of not enjoying what was next because this was so good I didn’t want what was next to be hard or different. Not that I’m scared of something that’s a challenge, it would just be nice if it was not so drastic. So that was why I always wanted to start a business and use my connections and my knowledge from being a part of marketing in BMX for so long to try to market something else.
Let’s say that you move out of Texas, you go get a job on an oil field in Alaska and you live out the next 30 years there. And you’re turning 60 and you’re at your birthday party and your new friends who have no idea about your life in Texas say “Tell me about when you lived in Austin”, how do you describe it, i.e. BMX? Assuming today is your last day riding BMX and you never touch it again. How do you describe the place or impact that BMX had in your life?
I graduated high school and was in retirement for 15 years. And then I went to work. I just did it backwards. That’s it, I’ve heard a lot of people say that. I don’t want to be like “Oh it’s so easy, it’s retirement”, but I also don’t want to be like “I worked so hard”, because it’s hard to say something you love is work, because I have never ever ever completely hated what I was doing. There’s been days where it was annoying, there’s been days where things were stupid, there’s days when you’re doing something that you don’t want to do, but 90% of the time I’m sitting on a curb, riding bikes with my friends. And you can’t ask for anything better. If that’s what you’re into.
There have been people that I’ve grown up with saying “I could have done that, I’d have been great!”, but I’m like, you couldn’t have sat on a curb for the last 12 years and watched your friends ride bikes. That’s not your lifestyle, that’s not your mentality. You can barely even leave this town because you have so much weird girl drama or life drama and here I am, leaving for three weeks to go to the other side of the world. People think it’s easy, but I would say the average BMX career is two years. People get bike parts, they get sponsored, they blow up, they get lazy and it’s done. Over and over and over. So to be someone like Gary Young or Van Homan or Corey Martinez or any number of other people who are on their tenth year, fourteenth year and they’re putting in work filming video parts. That’s work.
"PEOPLE THINK IT'S EASY, BUT I WOULD SAY THE AVERAGE BMX CAREER IS TWO YEARS.- AARON ROSS
Tell me the secret to longevity, what’s the secret for Corey or Gary? Is it raw talent? Or is it work ethic? Or what blend, 60-40?
It’s tough because that blend changes. I would say when Corey or Gary or I, anyone - I don’t want to say at that level because I don’t even put myself on the level of Corey Martinez or Gary Young - I think of them as bigger than anything that I could have ever done. I did something different, but they’re my heroes in some senses. Or Chris Doyle, Chris Doyle is a great example. I look at people like that. At one point it was 100% talent and then it just became… Gary and I talked about this last night. It’s easy to be good at something when it’s easy for you to be good at it! It’s hard to be good at something consistently for that long. There’s a big difference. You can be good at something, we’re all kind of good at something at some point, but it’s when you have to stay there and keep going, it’s harder work.
You see kids that are 15, and they come into the scene and no one’s ever seen them ride, so they do every single trick in their book. But when you’re 29, everyone’s seen every single trick in your book. So now what do you do? You have to work hard. You have to go and, not necessarily learn new tricks but you have to find spots, it’s harder, you don’t get 12 clips a day, you get three. But, those three clips you get, they’re more impactful than the 12 that the 18 year old is getting. Times change, you were once the kid who was filming 12 banger clips a day and now, you went from filming 12 clips a day to “I just need to do this”. We could all go out and film 12 clips a day, but who’d want to watch me do whatever, over and over and over for the last 12 years.
Was there a specific moment when you turned the corner and said, ok, this is my playbook, this is my bag of tricks, this is what I do, so I’m not really going to expand that. When you’re 16, you’re like oh I just learned this today, I just learned that today. Did you ever feel like, ok, these are my tools in my toolbox, how do I go apply these? Was there ever a shift in your approach to riding?
No, you think there is. Like when I’m sitting here and thinking about it? You think there is. It changes as you walk up to the spot. Because you’re still creative. I still have ideas of things for other people to now do. So it never changes. Yeah, I understand my tools, but at the same, if the spot calls for something that I’m capable of, that’s a new thing. I’ve said this before, when you’re young you show up to a spot and you do everything. You let the tricks do the talking. As you get older, you let the spot do the talking. You ride the spot the correct way. That’s where you evolve as a bike rider.
That’s a great way to put it...
We all can do a feeble grind on a ledge, but how are you going to change that? You’ve got to think of something new. So I look at it like, 19 to 23, I was jumping off big stuff and doing big tail-whips and big this and big that, and I loved it. And some people are like “You used to do big stuff”. Yeah, I used to, I still do sometimes when the line calls for it or the spot calls for it but at the same time, how much bigger could I have gone? There’s a point when it hits, for me, and then it evolves, it changes, you start looking at things this way. For myself, yeah, I did tailwhip down whatever sized stair at one point and I look at it now and yeah, I could definitely still do that. But I did it.
I look up to people like Corey Martinez. He’s always been good at practising tricks, he goes to the skatepark or wherever, and he gets super good at doing his tricks. And I am not that way. 90% of the tricks you’ve seen me do in a video, I did that day. And that’s it. Because that was fun for me. Being good at them is not fun for me, doing them is fun for me. So going to the skatepark and learning a new trick is not that fun, because then I have to do it again. So I’ll find a spot, and when I find a spot to do the trick, I do the trick and I’m done with it. And yeah, sometimes you go back to the trick and you find a new spot to do it a different way or the same thing or bigger, but doing the biggest drop? I did one, I did what I thought was my biggest drop. There’s been a few that I walked away from, but I was ok with that. So someone like Corey would be on trips, he’d be like “I’ll do this trick” and I’d be like “That is insane!” - first try. “How did you know to do that?” “Well, I’ve been working on it”.
He goes in the lab. That’s his style.
That’s fun to them. That’s how they love to ride bikes. Me, I’m the opposite, I kill myself to learn it, and then I lay on the ground, I’m done, I’m cool, let’s never do that again! I don’t need to do that trick ever again in my life. Because I did it. Right here.
Years ago I think Rob Wise got some hate for being like “I only film bangers”. I don’t know that he got hate, but people talked about him saying that. But I understand that completely. I don’t want to say that everything I’m filming is bangers, but everything I put effort into to film… I’m not trying to film credits stuff. Because to me, like I said, I’m not going to the skatepark to just hang out and film something. So there’s two different ones, I’m going to ride every day for fun, or I’m going to film something. Me personally, I don’t have the middle, like “let’s just get this clip for the bonus”. I’ll just do it by myself. I need the motivation. Well, I don’t need the motivation, that sounds bad, I’ll do it, but clip-wise, I don’t need to show people that I can kind of do something, like “I can do this too, it’s in the credits, it’s in my bonus”. If you go back and look at every dvd I’ve ever been in, I have no bonus footage. I film the stuff I want to film then I’m done. It’s really weird. But people like Corey, I’m so jealous, I watch stuff and there’s ten minutes of bonus footage, that is so cool, I wish I was like that but it’s not fun for me to be good at the tricks, it’s fun for me to do them.
Sunday - GROW UP - AARON ROSS
Aaron is the Soldier that Destiny's Child was looking for - More Info
You grew up in Corpus which is a couple of hours drive from Austin, which has definitely turned into BMX Mecca. How would your BMX life have played out if you were from the middle of nowhere, Nebraska, and it wasn’t so convenient to drive a couple of hours to be in the hotbed. At 17 when you started getting picked up by FBM or whoever it was. Would you have said “Alright mom and pop, I’m moving across the country or moving to California” versus just moving down the road a couple of hours away and visiting on the weekends? How would that have played out?
I’ve thought about this part and talked about this part but I have no idea. Because it was easy. I would go racing at 14 in Austin. I’d go racing in Houston, I’d go racing in these places. So making the drive to Austin was easy. I was making that drive when I was 16 on the weekends, I would leave high school packed up and I would drive to Austin for the weekend and I’d ride. At 17, I’d ride all weekend. That was just normal. It wouldn’t have been possible to have such great friends by the time I was done with high school because I wouldn’t have been able to drive from Nebraska to Austin or California on the weekend, it was not possible. I lived close enough that I would literally just leave, and then in senior year I was in a work programme and I would leave at noon or something. I’d be in Austin by 4.30. So I was in Austin before traffic was even bad and I would hang out till the weekend was over and I’d drive back at ten o’clock on Sunday night and then go back to school all week and go back to Austin the next weekend. I went up there so many weekends in a row and my parents supported that, they helped me out. I think my parents just knew I loved it and they were like “Well, go have fun and try it. We’re either going to help you go to college or we’ll help you do this, but we can’t do both.” So the first year my parents supported me, I got to a Metro Jam and they helped me do that. I still lived at home but they helped me travel and then I started getting hooked up and then it just kind of kept going and I moved to Austin. So, it definitely wouldn’t have been the same at all, there’s no way. To be 17 and be in high school and already have a group of friends in a city that’s called the BMX Mecca of the world, and not live there yet but be able to just move straight there and act like you were just a part of it? That is a huge game changer. Not even sponsored-wise, just lifewise. To be able to just go to a city you’ve never lived in but BMX had opened so many doors in that city. I was on Empire and I was still in high school. I was sponsored by Empire BMX while I was still in high school because I was making trips to Austin on a regular basis to get to know them. So that is life-changing. And that’s the one thing I try to pass along to people and kids, just don’t take it for granted. This is fun it’s great but… I was texting someone the other day about this, like “How old are you?” They said their age and they were like “time flies!” We’re only a couple of years apart but they were like “time flies, Mr Ross”. And yeah, it does.
The last few years it’s really starting to set in, I’ll be 30 this year. It’s been ten years. To be able to say that you’ve ridden a bike and people, or at least one person has wanted to watch you ride a bike for ten years is pretty cool. Because there will be a day when no-one will want to watch me ride a bike, it’ll just be my friends and we’ll be hanging out riding bikes. Right now there are people who live in other parts of the world that want to watch me ride bikes. Even if it’s good or bad. And you’ll never get another opportunity to be that good at something. I’m not going to go pick up golf and be a pro-golfer, ever in my life. It’s not possible. I always tell people to take advantage, you’re never going to be 22 again, you’re never going to be 23 again, you’re never going to be 25, 28… You’re never going to be as good at bike riding as you are today, so go take advantage of being good at bike riding today. Not to be pro, not to have the best video part.
There’s going to be a time in my life when I show up to a street spot, to a skatepark and I’m going to be scared to jump the jump at the trails. Today there’s definitely trails in the world that I’m scared of, I’m not the toughest guy, I’m not that guy. But what I’m saying is, I can show up to somewhere. And I can confidently just do it. And not because I’m better than anyone, just because I can today, and there will be a day when I can’t and that is going to be tough. Not tough on me, it’s just time to do something different. There are people you see who don’t ride for weeks at a time and they’re so gifted, like dude, there’s going to be a day when it’s not going to be this easy. And it’s not easy for me but I can go ride and do a trick that’s pretty cool. Even if it’s not crazy, it’s just something I can do. But there will be a day when I’ll be like “I’m just not going to do that today”. And then I’ll be like “I’m not going to do that ever again”. So I’m going to ride as much as I possibly can until the day that I’m like “I’m not going to do that anymore”.
I’m sure that some of those days are already behind me. We went to the closing thing at the T1 ramp the other day and I was like “I feel like the ramp days are gone, they might be done!” I was never a big ramp guy to begin with, so I was there and I was like “You know, I feel like I haven’t done this in years”. The ramp one, that one’s the first one to go. I just don’t do it, I didn’t grow up doing it a ton and so it’s like, later!
Band of Brothers...
Who doesn't dream of having this in their backyard?