What is the difference today between quality and quantity? What would you rather have, a closet full of trendy bike parts that hold up for maybe a month or two, or a a couple of modern classics in your trunk that last forvever.
Well this is more of a mindset, not so much an issue over your current sponsor situation. There is always a decision to be made when it comes to what we choose to put into our lives in this day in age. We can fill ourselves with attachments to the things we gather day to day or we can spend time on cherishing and cultivating the items and knowledge we already own. This topic can span over many instances in our lives but here we ‘DIG’ into the matter at hand, which is the longevity and vitality of those who call BMX their safe place. This is such an important subject to those interested in seeing a positive change in BMX. Now it’s time to see that change, not just talk about it happening. I caught up with long time Illinois native, now Arizona local, Jeff Wescott, to see what this seasoned rider has to say to accompany his latest video from Christian Rigal for Mutiny Bikes.
When considering BMX as a profession, what does the word, ‘longevity’ mean to you right now?
Longevity to me at this stage of my experience is more or less the overall goal of riding BMX to me. Trying to maintain physical and mental health is a long term process and one that needs every day consideration. It is no mystery that riding BMX is an activity that is harsh on your body. With the up-coming generation of riders pushing the limits farther and faster than ever before, longevity is something that I feel can get easily overlooked. Time and time again throughout the years, I have learned my lesson the hard way trying to make something happen when the conditions weren't exactly optimum. It's a fine line we walk down every day as riders who are looking to advance and progress our skills and abilities. However, thankfully I feel I have a better grasp on the bigger picture and appreciate longevity much more than I ever have. This not only applies to the ability of riding, but as well as the impression that you leave with the content you create. It seems like now there is such a demand for everyday content with all of the various social media outlets, that the idea of leaving a lasting impression with your riding gets looked past while trying to remain “current”. Don't get me wrong, I do use and appreciate social media. But at the same time, I appreciate the importance of taking the time to properly prepare for producing content that leaves a strong and lasting impression. All of this takes much more time, effort and coordination than one may realize. But at the end of the day, when you get the opportunity to be a part of something you know will stand the test of time, it's much more motivating to push your personal limits for a project like that.
You are now 29 years young and riding for RAWr Superfoods, which helps keep you mentally and physically strong. What is it that keeps you motivated these days to stay on your bike?
RAWr plays a huge role in that! When I first moved to Arizona, my good friends Joey and John kept me plugged with the goodness that helped me transform into a healthier person. Getting myself on a more healthy regiment of both eating and exercise has really helped me maintain the ability to continue riding. Around five or six years ago, I really didn't care about any of that stuff. I would eat whatever I wanted, and however much I wanted without consideration of the long term effects of it. However in living that lifestyle, you most certainly hit a point where it catches up to you. I have realized that feeling healthy is the best policy in general, on or off your bike. It's the building block for everything else, and requires constant effort. When you get in to a routine of a nutrient dense diet and both see and feel the positive effects from it, you question why you would ever go back to intaking those foods that you know make you feel heavy and bogged down. Mostly all of the riders who last through the long haul are conscious of their health and intake. When it comes down to it, you are not just a rider, but an athlete. Transforming your outlook to that gives you a better chance of understanding the importance of a healthier lifestyle which will not only benefit you as a rider, but as a overall living being.
Coming from the Midwest, where respect in BMX was so widely sought after for years by the industry and riders alike… Would you agree that there is a general attitude change in riders, specifically shifting toward uneducated disrespect for riders who have shredded before them?
Well that all depends on how you look at it. I think there is definitely a new wave of riders who have no idea about the legends that set the tone for the current state of BMX. But like I said, it all depends on your outlook and previous experience. When I was first introduced to riding, bikes in general were night and day compared to how they are designed now. That being said, I feel I have a much more wide span appreciation for the past generation of riders who pushed our sport without the technology that is so common to us today. Fact of the matter is that we live in a different age, and the fact that so much progression is thrown in our face day after day, that the sport can't help but rapidly progress. That being said, I feel that anyone who wishes to progress either as a rider or as a person should try to expand their appreciation for both the past and the present. The more well rounded your education on the history of what we do and have done as riders will give you an overall better outlook on our sport and how the world works and progresses.
Do you think that riders over the age of 25 are losing their own credibility within the industry they have called home for so long because of the changing times of instant gratification for validation over the Internet?
To a degree. It all depends on who you are talking about though. Some people are just in different scenarios than others. But generally and realistically speaking, if one wishes to get established and especially if one relocates and tries to make it happen on their own, they will have to work and earn to achieve that. I think the current state of the industry and internet sort of forces people in to the idea that you need to be posting up progressive riding every day to get noticed and remain current. But the one who has to work every day is obviously not going to be able to create as much content as the one who's main concern for the day is where and what to ride. All in all, I just try to keep a sensible and well rounded view point on the whole scenario. I get just as hyped seeing people that I grew up riding with post simple little clips here and there as I do seeing the top pros post their amazing footage every day. It becomes easy to see who is really passionate and in BMX for the right reasons and that is what I appreciate more than anything else.
Over the years you can see who is in this for the long haul and who hasn’t quite figured it out yet, weather it be based on materialized success or one’s personalized success, you can tell when someone is here for all the right reasons… Through your experience as an up and comer as well as a pro, what would you say is the key to spending years behind the handlebars and maintaining a positive impact within the industry?
The most important thing is doing what you are passionate about. Riding BMX to me has always done so much for me, even before I was a sponsored rider. I rode to escape, progress, relieve stress, see new places, meet new friends, etc... Getting hooked up with a sponsorship is a whole different scenario. I feel as if that is more of a combination of skill, talent, positive outlook, who you know and most importantly, luck. Like I said, if BMX is something that you are extremely passionate about, it will shine through and be easy for all to see. As weird as it sounds, not focusing on attaining sponsorship is really the best policy. Go out with your friends, ride bikes, document and showcase your fun times. Be out going, meet new people who share your passion and join forces with them. There is a camaraderie amongst BMX riders that is really hard to find in a lot of other hobbies, and that in itself is something to cherish. Travel, even if you can't make it across the country, traveling with your bike gives you such a better experience when exploring a new place than you would get any other way. Whenever a younger rider asks me how to get hooked up, my suggestion is always to document what you are doing. Get a camera, film on your phone, whatever it takes... The ability to look back on your times is priceless. It enables you to remember certain experiences, and also helps you progress by analyzing your footage that accumulates. Stay honest, humble and passionate to progress. All those things tied together will give you a more rounded appreciation for what riding BMX actually is and can be. The importance lies in the experience and memories that you create from it.
Style on a bike has always been important to any rider, yet still, some master the realm of style much better than others; so basically style matters but how much? Do you see a change in companies producing parts, which are more so leaning towards visual style attributes than the actual strength and durability of their parts?
I suppose it could go either way. Theres so many directions in which this subject could be looked at, and it all comes down to personal preference. I am personally more of “how you do it” than a “what you do” kind of guy. I would much rather watch someone who making what they do seem effortless and fluid, than someone who is flailing themselves over a box jump squeezing as many tricks as they can into one air. I suppose this could relate to parts as well. For me, I would rather ride all raw parts that I trust will hold up to the test of time rather than color coordinate my bike to match that of my favorite rider. However, from a progressing industry standpoint, there is a necessity to stay current with the demand of the target market. I think its very interesting to examine the trend of what you see 'pros' riding and the effect that has on the younger generation. For the most part though, I do believe that companies take care as far as testing the quality of their product before they expand into color options and other visual attributes. Every aspect is important, and the more you look in to it and test, the better the overall outcome.
A quality bike part versus parts which fill shelves with just quantity, what would you say is the better choice for an unsponsored rider coming up in today’s scene?
I would say reasonability is the best bet for any rider on the come up. Before you drop in on a purchase of new product, read reviews and ask a few different sources about opinions and insight. I know how difficult it can be for a younger rider who is excited to freshen up their ride to consider all these aspects before making the commitment. However, keeping your eyes and ears open is always the best approach, education and insight from those who are experienced will give you the upper hand on making that crucial purchase decision.
Throughout the years of your riding career, you’ve ridden for various companies that have helped you get to where you are today, now riding for Mutiny. Do you have certain people you’d like to acknowledge from times past as well as who may be helping you to this day?
Absolutely! Somehow throughout the years, I have been lucky enough to be blessed with numerous sponsorship opportunities. I recognize that it is very rare to be presented with such opportunities and appreciate all of them, past and present. If you put it like that, there is most certainly a number of people that played significant roles in my journey that I would love to give some recognition for. Stemming all the way back to high school, my ex-girlfriends mother allowed me to go wild in her back yard and build as many ramps as I could squeeze in to one small area. We would light them up and ride all night long which led to progression in many ways. Thank you for that Michelle McCue. My good friend Tony Malouf has had my back for the better part of the last fifteen years. We started filming together and still do to this day. For a good span of time, I would say that I rode for the Malouf flow team, since my bike consisted primarily of his hand me down parts. He also exposed me to a more vast outlook on traveling and got me on Tattour, which led me to meet Josh Betley, which led to my first real sponsor, Felt Bikes and a hook up through Osiris Shoes. Through that I was blessed with the opportunity to go over seas with my bike and camera for the first time, so thank you for that Josh. After Felt, my friends Tammy McCarley and Cam Hardy introduced me to Amity Bikes, which created another, more elaborate opportunity to travel the world and persue both riding and videography. Riding for Amity really enabled me to get a better grasp on the world through travel and experience. So thanks to Tam, Cam, and the Mark's that owned Amity for all of the amazing adventures and memories. Although both companies Felt and Amity have dissolved as far as BMX is concerned, I can't help but look back and be appreciative of the opportunities that arose from them. Fast forward to current day where I am so lucky and blessed to still be riding, as well as receiving support from companies that are in it for the right reasons. I can't thank the folks at Mutiny Bikes, RAWr Superfoods and Vans Shoes enough for all that they do for me! None of us are getting any younger, but there is a new wave of youth that we can positively influence through our previous experiences. I feel that the future will hold great things for those who can remain passionate, positive, humble and eager to progress. There are so many others that have played a role in my experience that I cant list them all. Thanks to anyone and everyone that has helped me though out my journey on two wheels, for it's been such an incredible experience that I hope to be able to enjoy for many years to come! Thanks to all for taking the time to read this!