After over a decade and a half of laying down serious heat for multiple ground-breaking video parts, you'd think at 35, Van Homan would be turning down the flame a few notches and chilling a little more. The other day I watched Van film a complete bike promo on top of a black roof in the middle of a blazing Philly summer day. After witnessing him over-ice a rickety rusted-out metal door out of a loosely defined quarter that was missing more than a few necessary screws, on a fully stock FIT complete bike no less, with one failed attempt almost slicing him in two, it's apparent he isn't slowing down one bit.
On the recent Pool’s Gold trip with fellow CM alumni Jason Enns and Garrett Byrnes, they shared a lot of stories, experiences and wisdom, both about bike riding and life in general. A lot has changed since the days of having that epic closer part in “Criminal Mischief”, but the scalding heat in Van's riding hasn't faded one bit. Here’s nine pieces of wisdom (ok, so maybe the Lil' Kim one isn't exactly "wisdom") recorded from Vandever during one of those conversations:
1. Moving from the Criminal Mischief video era to today:
Over the years, I've developed a level of comfort in who I am and how I want to ride. I used to feel if I didn’t scare myself every day riding, I was getting soft. Now I know if I see that setup, I’m going to do it if I really want to. There’s a very fine line between pushing yourself and forcing things. I still love that felling of scaring the shit out of myself and riding away. So life changes....I guess there's been plenty but really things are the same. I'm riding my bike and traveling lots, I love it and I'm going to keep it that way as long as possible.
2. Soul riding still exists:
I still think soulful, real BMX happening. It’s just different since there’s more going on in BMX, so it leads to more people finding their motivation from the wrong places. To kind of hate on BMX and act like it’s changed; the negative is always easier to point out. I think there are just as many people doing it for the right reasons, you just don’t see them since they are in the nooks and crannies just doing what they love. Soulful riders and weekend warriors aren't worrying about the industry or commenting on message boards, they're out there riding. I think BMX is doing just fine and is as awesome as ever.
3. Bike philosophy:
I feel like I’m quoting something, but it’s like your bike is a vessel for experiencing life. It takes you to places and shows you things that you would never have seen as a regular person. It creates an excuse for you travel; it puts you out there. We're looking for riding spots and those could be anywhere so you see and experience things that just aren't typical for the average tourist. If I go to a new city, I want to see what it has to offer both BMX and non-BMX related.
4. The secret to longevity:
You have to enjoy it. It’s just not stopping. Even with injuries. You get hurt, and it can be really discouraging. With more recent injuries, like with my head injury and then my broken leg, I’ve been more patient with coming back, and learned to appreciate the little things. You take those baby steps and just enjoy what it feels like to be on your bike. Otherwise you’re just going to be so frustrated you’re gonna want to stop. You’re not always going to be your best, even any given day, month, year. You might be good at riding pools, but you haven’t bunnyhopped in a month. Or you might be really good at icepick grinding rails that week, but haven’t 360’ed a set of doubles in a while.
5. Biggest regret:
It was 2002. MTV Action Sports Award, I won a guitar. Lil Kim told me to play the guitar and she’d rap. My biggest regret is not getting a photo with Lil Kim. There's no documentation, ha, ha.
6. Being well-rounded:
I have a background that gives me a well-rounded style of riding. That’s something I’ve always wondered how someone who only rides street or only rides dirt; maybe that’s why people quit a lot of times. I think I would get really burnt out if the only thing I ever did with BMX was ride street and film video parts. I would get tired of that, and be over it. I can always break it up by riding trails or pools, and having that good vibe. The variety is what keeps it fun and interesting for me.
"My friend Keith has a wood shop and I help out there once in a while, and he has a few ramps there. One day, next thing you know we’re buying plywood, and we have a full skatepark setup in a few days. It’s been refreshing for both of us, and motivate each other, using the extra space that’s available there, and having a good time with it." - VH
7. Immunity to trends:
It’s strange how the trends kind of happen. Fifteen years ago if the park had a vert ramp, it was always empty; it’s intimidating. Now it’s almost getting to the point where the six-foot mini is the new vert ramp. To each his own, it’s just that in my opinion, by not broadening your horizons to all types of riding, you’re limiting yourself, and you’re limiting your fun. It’s not that I’m saying any one type of riding is better then another; it’s just depressing to see people not broadening their spectrum. A lot of people pigeonhole themselves as one type of rider or another. My favorite riders are the ones that do it all and their skills cross over, it's more fun to watch.
8. Nothing to prove:
I like where I'm at in my career, I don't feel like I'm out to prove anything, so I can do projects my own way and at my own pace. I’m kind of out to just enjoy myself. I trust my instincts, so I'm not forcing things and luckily my sponsors trust that I'm going to put my all into whatever projects I'm working on, so it's all just going to happen in a more organic way. If you have to change your riding style or compromise what you enjoy about BMX, then it's not really worth it anymore, especially at this point in my life and my career.
9. Next chapter in riding:
Holy Fit is something I’m really proud of. I wanted to film another video part that I put my all into, and I wanted to work with a filmer and editor who was just as committed to the project as I was. It was awesome to be able to work with Stew (Johnson). My life and riding goes through phases. I’m not necessarily in a street riding phase at the moment, but I’m still riding my bike and having a lot of fun. These transitions have happened before. Sometimes I think it’s because I’m getting older, but I did the same thing I’m doing right now at 24, where all I wanted to do was build trails. I think it's just about needing to shift gears with in your riding to keep it interesting and stay motivated.