Re Print: Alternative Legends of the DIG era

Featuring Josh Stricker, Jimmy Levan, Paul Buchanan and Taj Mihelich

4 Dec 2014

DIG Legends BMX alternative 2

First Published in DIG issue 90 'The Legends Issue' September 2012

Back in 2012 we relaunched DIG with a special 'Legends' issue featuring four riders who we felt were the the most important and influential BMXers since we started DIG in 1993. Joe Rich, Van Homan, Brian Foster and Ruben Alcantara were the guys that we felt fitted the bill; the main reason being that they've all changed the way we ride (in a good way) and they all still kill it today. The second part of that statement was the key when it came to making our final choices. There were four other dudes though, who for us, have always been right up there when we think of influential riders. Unfortunately for one reason or another each of these guys dropped out of the limelight over more recent years but they're still more than worthy of any recognition that we can give them. DIG wouldn't have been DIG without them...

Josh Stricker

Stricker is a seasoned pro at running it wide open these days, but that wasn’t always the case. During an all-nighter some of the guys decided to pull a Sheep dawn patrol and all agreed on doing a 360 first jump. Timmy Ball, Fatty Patty and Josh all 3’d a jump before Barspinner also did a 3 naked. Josh quickly fell asleep with his head on his knees while sitting on his bike and everyone tiptoed out to go bodysurfing at the beach. Josh slept for a few hours before waking up at Sheep Hills sitting on his bike at 9 in the morning, a little confused to say the least.

This photo (which didn’t make it to print until issue 90) was shot during one of our first trips out to So Cal and at that time we’d obviously no idea that Stricker would go on to grab two covers (issue 11 and issue 52) and become someone whose flat-out riding style embodied the spirt of a DIG. Who ever said it was all about vegan straight-edgers eh?

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Stricker - DIG 69, circa '09 - Photo by Sandy Carson

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Josh Stricker - Sheep Hills ‘95 - Photo by Andy Coombes

Jimmy Levan

It’s not surprising how well Jimmy fitted into the pages of our magazine. A background in BMX racing, good musical tastes, a highly photogenic style, a tamer of wild gaps and rails, and a breaker of hearts with many a good story to tell. Sounds like our kinda guy!

Austin ended up being the final destination for the Road Fools 1 trip, a trip whose impact on BMX will live on long after the last existing VHS cassette copy of Props issue 23 has been chewed up beyond readability. It’s also where Jimmy scored his first and only DIG cover with this photo, which incidentally, was also his first appearance in the magazine and the birth of Levangelism.

Today’s Jimmy is more likely to talk about Metal Bikes and his latest party exploits, rather than painting and alien conspiracies, but that’s fine by us. Gone are the days of split parts in S&M’s “44 Something” with long-time friend Mike Lausman and riding to Louisville’s Evergreen in a Huffy promo for his MJ-12 signature frame, but they’ll never be forgotten. Jimmy himself might forget a lot of things, but he definitely never forgets to keep things interesting - that’s why we love him. In the words of the man himself, “Radabonzical!”

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JImmy Jimmy - 2009 - Photo by Ricky Adam

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Jimmy Levan - Austin 98, DIIG 8 Road fools cover - Photo By Ed Docherty

Paul Buchanan (R.I.P.)

Affectionately known to few as Boaby Cannon, this son of the great white north with Scottish ancestry made his first appearance in the mag with some hip Euro style on the cover of issue 14. We’d first shot photos of him at a Chenga comp where his style and bag of tricks made him an easy standout (footjam tailwhip on steep six or seven foot quarters way back then). The comp was before his move to ATX and only a short(ish) drive across the US/Canadian border from his home. Through no fault of Paul’s those B&W negatives never yielded a usable image (they probably sucked), so his magazine debut would be delayed until January 2001.

Paul and fellow T-1er, Ruben Alcantara are both members of a particularly small club (actually, they’re the only members). Both have had DIG covers shot in different countries but only these two have lived in the country where each cover was shot. In Paul’s case the US (issue 14) and Canada (issue 27). In Ruben’s, the US (issue 12) and Spain (issue 41 and 80). This photo is actually Paul’s last appearance in DIG from issue 69. It started and ended with an Austin hip. For now at least...

Bonus fact: Paul’s aunt back in Glasgow, Scotland regularly posts comments on the Terrible One Facebook page.

Editors Note: Since this article was written we've had the sad news that Paul is no longer with us. Our love goes out to his friends and family.

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Paul B, Vanvcover - Circa 2002 - Photo by Sandy Carson

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Paul Buchanan - Austin ‘09 - Photo by Sandy Carson

Taj Mihelich

Before DIG was DIG, a trip stateside was made and photos were shot at Twin Palms of an unknown wildman aboard a prototype Standard frame. It’s hard to imagine a BMX world that hadn’t heard of, or knew how to correctly spell the name Taj Mihelich, but so it was back then when the above image was being captured by the film in Irish enigma, Damien Elliott’s camera. Other images from this session appeared in Taj’s interview in issue 1.

As well as the interview, he now has three DIG covers under his belt (issue 6, 10 and 43) and continues to pop up now and again in the odd issue.

Taj’s journey from unknown to legend was filled with too many highlights to mention, and his influence is still all around us today (tailwhips, small sprockets, dreadlocks, etc.). It’ll be a long time before BMX forgets about Mr. Mihelich and a long time before DIG is completely Taj-free.

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Taj, Austin, DIG 38 - Circa '04 - Photo by Sandy Carson

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Taj Mihelich - Twin Palms, 1993 - Photo by Damien Elliott