An hour or so later, Heino replies. He’s thankful that I reached out to him and he’s down to talk on the phone. I felt like a Heino-sized weight had lifted from my shoulders and I was excited to talk and find out more about this era defining street rider who, in my eyes, was one of the most exciting things to happen to BMX in the 1990s and 2000s. Heino personified the rock star image of a BMX pro, he was arrogant, he was temperamental and he was the type of rider that only needed to do one big thing because that big thing would stand out over everything else. He was the big hitter basically, the air strike or the assassin, but he was troubled.
I told Josh I would call him that weekend. I really wanted to be able to sit down with a beer and just have a good, natural conversation that covered everything. That weekend, I called him up as promised and the first thing Josh said was that he had forgotten about our arranged call and that it was weird, since he doesn’t usually forgot about things as big as this. This made me think that there was going to be more to this conversation than just a chat about BMX. It felt like he wanted to explain everything the way it should be told. Within minutes we were discussing the end of his BMX career and I could sense bitterness about how it all went down. It’s public knowledge that BMX gave up on Josh at a time when Josh was not ready to give up on BMX. Over the course of our phone call I began to understand the struggle and regret that Heino has endured over a 10-year hiatus from the pro spotlight.
Josh currently lives in New Hampshire with his family, who he has provided for since the BMX paychecks stopped coming. He has followed in his father’s footsteps and now specializes in antique restoration and re-purposing of old English barns, a totally different way of life to the one he had on the west coast many years ago.
When I ask Josh if he has regrets about the way his career ended, he is pretty open and honest, blunt in his answers but extensive enough to give an insight into a man who didn’t quite do everything he had planned on doing. “I have no fairy tale ending,” he says. Josh had a lot more to give, and that energy is still inside him today, he still rides but not in the same way he used to because he can’t risk any harm to himself. “I have to work, so I can’t hurt myself, its not like it was 10 years ago”. I ask him if he still feels like going out on his bike and scaring himself and he tells me that he has turned around and walked away on seeing a big set up, or thrown his bike in the back of his van at a skate park because he knew that urge was in him but he couldn’t act upon it. I’ve heard this before from Jay Miron, times when he would just have to leave a riding session for fear of hurting himself. That goes to show the type of rider Josh Heino was, a do-or-die rider, one who, in my opinion, fits the mold of a pro in every way.