Throughout the past 8 months or so I have been undertaking a lot of projects while working for DIG, and I have to say working alongside Jeff Wescott has been one of the highlights of this journey so far. Jeff and I have been traveling together to new places we haven't been to before, as well as working together in our own separate hometowns. The ideas we have seem to flow together seamlessly and what more could you ask for? In fact I hadn't even met Jeff before this interview idea spawned around the time of Texas Toast in 2014 and getting to know Jeff well enough to work with him through a project like this was definitely a make or break type of deal. But, if you know Jeff, then you know he is one awesome person and always has a smile on his face ready to take on the day. He's conscientious of his overall health and that approach can be seen through his signature products. With his new 'COMB' line from Mutiny, he embraces the characteristics of the honey comb, from strength and durability, to the color choice of the frame. Welcome to the Jeff Wescott interview.
Sweet as honey from Arizona to Puerto Rico... - More Info
So at what age did you start riding, and how did you begin to find your passion for riding BMX? Did you play any other sports before you found bike riding?
I honestly can't remember what age I started riding, I was so young. I can remember jumping this make shift dirt mound out of a ditch at the end of my street with a few older kids that had bikes. That must have been in the early years of elementary school, I don't even think we knew what BMX really was. All we really knew was that we were having a good time away from the house on our bikes, and this fly out was too fun not to jump. I had always rode around my hometown with my friends, and even made an attempt skateboarding when I started middle school. It was until I witnessed a kid that was a few years older than me grinding a ledge by my house on his BMX that really sparked my interest. Like I said, I had always rode for as long as I can remember, but until I seen that I never knew the possibilities of what I had in front of my face. Those same guys were the ones who kind of "guided me" as to what BMX was, introduced me to other people who shared the same passion, showed me my first video "Road Fools 8", inspired me to take trips to The Pit Skatepark and Rampage, ect… After that, it was pretty much a done deal and I've been riding ever since.
Growing up in the Midwest there was a large thriving scene of indoor skateparks and big name pros coming through those parks frequently, do you have any specific mentors you grew up with and watched ride that motivated you to be the type of rider you are today?
Absolutely! The midwest has always been known for technical skatepark riding, and that was most certainly a huge influence on me growing up. I grew up an hour away from Davenport, Iowa, home of Rick Moliterno and the infamous Standard Byke Company. It seems like every OG legend rode for Standard at one point, so being exposed to all of the talent was always inspiring. When I was in high school, I played hockey in Davenport which was an hour away from my home town. I can remember bringing my girlfriend at the time with me to practice one day, and after I was done, I wanted to bring her by Rampage Skatepark to show her the place. It happened to be a Tuesday, which I didn't know was a day of the week reserved for "private sessions". However, Rick was totally cool and let me show her the spot, and even let me grab my bike and join in for the sessions for the next year or so until the doors shut. At the time, it was so unreal to get the chance to ride with legends like that… There was the OG's, then there was the up and comers. Probably the biggest influence for me as a whole, as well as countless other riders from all over the world, was MidwestBMX.net. At the time, they what Jeff Klugiewicz and the late, great, Dominic Trovato were doing was so ahead of their time! It's crazy to say, but had I never been exposed to MidwestBMX and all of the talent that derived from it, I probably wouldn't be riding bikes right now…
"I was pretty much a nomad for a good 3-4 years, for a while it felt like home was on the road..."
- Jeff Wescott
How Long have you been living in AZ and for what reason did you decide to settle down there?
I've been in Arizona close to three years now. I moved out here on a whim originally with David Grant and Tony Malouf during a road trip while we were filming Tony's first Beverage frame promo. When we got to Arizona, we decided to stay in hopes that living together would motivate us to ride and film more...
Before landing in Arizona, did you reside anywhere else besides the Midwest?
No. I stayed in Dekalb, IL while I attended college, which was only an hour from my hometown. But after I graduated, I moved my belongings back home and started traveling heavily. I was pretty much a nomad for a good 3-4 years, for a while it felt like home was on the road, as amazing as that lifestyle is and as thankful as I am for the opportunity to experience that at that point in my life, I'm very happy to have had a "home base" of sort for the last couple years.
Now that you have lived in Phoenix for that past few years, what is your perspective on the lay of the land? There is a big scene all over the entire city and you are fortunate enough to be in the small category of being a "Pro", is it motivating to be in an environment with a large scene of up and coming riders to keep you stoked on riding?
Phoenix is a very interesting place indeed! The city as a whole is pretty crazy as far as expansion and urban sprawl goes. It's wild to think about how big the city will be in ten or twenty years! But the riding scene here is pretty diverse. It's always been known a place that various teams and crews frequent to ride the vast amount of amazing spots, but there are also a variety of locals. You have your OG's, and then you have your transplants. It's weird to think about but a lot of the people that you encounter in Phoenix aren't actually from here, and that applies to BMX as well. I feel like the scene is a bit cliquey like anywhere else, but I would like to think that most of the riders in the Phoenix area get along for the most part regardless of how much they actually hang out or ride together, which is really cool! I've really noticed just how strong the scene is as a whole though all the events and jams that have been going on in the area as of late! It's great to show up to a jam and see hundreds of people with the same passion as you.
Before becoming a part of Mutiny did you have any other major sponsors?
I did... I rode for two different brands from 2010 to the beginning of 2012. This was the timeframe when I really started to peruse traveling and riding more seriously. I had been working for Fuel.TV, doing weekly online bmx edits with Tony Malouf, so that was a huge reason and motivator to travel and ride more. I graduated from NIU in the summer of 2010, and two weeks later I was in Amsterdam and all throughout Germany. In a sense of traveling, I was really fortunate with the opportunity to ride for two different brands that were both based outside of the United States. Because of that I was able to travel to so many different places in such a short window of time. Although things have changed as they inevitably do, and both of those brands have dissolved from BMX, I am very thankful for the opportunities to experience all I have while I was a part of it. After all that, two years passed where I was without a sponsor until Mutiny.
How was your first interaction with the team in Philly? I heard after a short time and a bit of a culture shock you won the team over and it has gotten more like a family as time moves on… What was there first impression of you, as far as you know?
Philadelphia was seriously so good! Easily one of the best trips I've ever been on. It's really hard to say what everyones first impression was, but I feel like we all got along quite well pretty much from the get go. That was my first time meeting most of those guys, except for Grant C. who I've known for a really long time now. But now that I've met most of the guys on the team, it most certainly feels like another family. Nothing but good vibes when the crew is united, which is a really important aspect of traveling together. Maybe the most important aspect… Also, Gaz really goes out of his way to make sure that things go the way they should. All those factors play an equal role in making the brand feel more like a "family" than anything else, which is awesome and makes me proud to be a part of it all. Mutiny in Philadelphia
"The capability of getting on your bike and pedaling any direction you desire with ease allows you to experience so much more than your average tourist."- Jeff Wescott
During the Mutiny trip in Albuquerque this past April, you had a chance to visit with your Aunt, and I have to say she was one cool lady! How important is it to you to keep close contact with your friends and family?
My aunt Jodie is way cool! It was great to get the chance to see her while we were in Albuquerque! Since we are both from the midwest and live away from the rest of the family, we usually try to take advantage of any opportunity to see each other. But family is very important to me and even though it's hard to keep in frequent touch with all of them living across the country, I do try to make efforts to keep in contact as much as I can. The same goes for my friends as well. Nothing beats a random phone call from a good friend or family member that you haven't heard from in ages!
What is your appreciation for the fact that BMX has taken you far and wide, Brighton Ain't Ready, Puerto Rico, countless other places all thanks to the destruction of public and private property?
BMX is something that I am extremely grateful to have in my life. It is something that has taught me so much about the world and life in general. It boggles my mind sometimes how many amazing places that I've had the chance to visit and explore. Because BMX bikes are so versatile, I feel like we as riders are so fortunate to experience the world as we do… Just the capability of getting on your bike and pedaling any direction you desire with ease allows you to experience so much more than your average tourist. It's insane how much ground you can cover on just your BMX bike in a weeks time. Being out and about like that, exposed to the variables, really gives you a more well rounded perspective of the world. It teaches you self confidence, to keep your senses sharp and to make sure to look after yourself, your belongings and your crew. Also, the fact that we document our travels is probably one of my favorite aspects of BMX as well. We scour all over the world for interesting architecture that compliment our individual creativity, and document what we come up with with videography and photography. I just love how you can get something that you are hyped on, and forever be able to look back on it to spark great past memories. Sometimes, one of the hardest parts of traveling is remembering all that you've experience, and the abundance of readily available means of documentation these days make that a lot easier.
"I believe in spreading positivity to people who seem genuinely interested in what we are doing for it gives a good name to what we do and in the big picture of acceptance, thats the most important aspect."- Jeff Wescott
You have been to Europe and all over the states, what would you say is the difference in people accepting BMX in different places around the world? Some people see it as a crime and others see it as an interesting art form they cant help but be entranced…
Well you said it pretty much. It seems like some places in the world look at what we do positively and creatively, while others have the opposite opinion. The fact of the matter is, that the majority of people you cross paths with will not understand what we are doing, but they will most likely have some sort of opinion on the matter, whether it's in your favor or not. It really just depends on where you are at and what kind of luck you are having that day, it's hard to say. Pretty much if someone reports a complaint to the police or you end up dealing with private security, chances are you aren't smooth talking your way in to riding the spot no matter where you are at on the globe. However, in my past experiences, it's far better to show respect, kill the people with kindness, and cooperate as much as possible with anyone that is observing or interested in what you are doing. I believe in spreading positivity to people who seem genuinely interested in what we are doing for it gives a good name to what we do and in the big picture of acceptance, thats the most important aspect.
Can you tell us a story from your travels in Europe?
I don't even know where to start with this question. Somehow, I've been lucky enough to visit Europe over a hand full of times and had the opportunity to experience much more than I can remember… When I was younger I would have never imagined I would have been able to say that. But one thing I can say for certain, is that none of that would have been possible without the passion for BMX as well as the dedication to progress in whatever way that you can…
RB&W is a company that manufacturers metal fasteners, such as wood screws and specialty made automotive odds and ends. This company largely supported Jeff's hometown community of Rock Falls for many years, bringing economic growth to that specific small town in Illinois. While in Puerto Rico we stumbled upon a crumbled structure that was an old RB&W warehouse and this photo is from that once thriving company building. Did you ever ride the building in your hometown? What was the significance of that company in your childhood.
Yea, that was ironic for sure. We were just mobbing though the El Yunque, rainforest in Puerto Rico, and we see this abandoned, interestingly attractive crumbled structure of a warehouse. We had to stop, so we parked and began exploring the premises for gems, I noticed a sign on the wall that read RB&W, which struck my interest even more since RB&W was a huge fastener factory that at one time, before I could remember, employed a large number of people in my hometown. When I first started riding, that building was always closed and boarded up, so we would just go there and make setups to ride in the back little nook to avoid getting hassled by enforcement. It was just kind of surreal to find myself however many years later in Puerto Rico filming for my frame promo and riding the exact same thing I had rode as a child. Another ironic bit is that they ended up tearing that building down in Rock Falls and where the building once stood, is now in the process of becoming a bike friendly skate park thanks to the Mayor of the city, who coincidentally is my uncle Bill Wescott. It's crazy how some things just end up connecting like that over time.
It is quite apparent when spending anytime with you, that you are a health conscious person, in turn you have a great awareness of your overall health and how it can affect your perform as a rider and overall. What does it mean to you to take care of yourself and be a health motivated individual?
Health awareness is something that is very important to me. I truly do believe that in the grand scheme of things, your health is all you really have. I believe that food is medicine and the more that you know about foods and their effects on the body, the more likely you are to make a positive conscious decision about what you fuel your body with. I wouldn't consider myself an extremist by any means, for I still like to let my hair down when the time and place is right. But even with that respect, there can be a healthy balance if you keep it in mind. To me, I feel that balance is the most important aspect of anything health or life related. I believe that physical health and mental health go hand in hand, and are both equally important. There are plenty of health conscious people out there, and any one of them will tell you that it's absolutely worth it to at very least keep an open mind about health awareness. I believe that you will gain more than you give up, in every aspect, and the more you allow your brain to sponge up health tips, the more likely you are to make a conscious decision to apply them to your life for the better. A healthier outlook will allow your body to heal quicker when this chaotic thing we call life runs your body down. A healthier body and mind gives you more energy, stamina and most importantly motivation to progress and learn. Everything above can be applied to BMX, as well as life.
Throughout our time in Puerto Rico I had the opportunity to witness you and Tony Malouf work side by side and both create some great content that almost unifies your intent on being in Puerto Rico. Does it make a difference to you to have a connection with a filmer and/or photographer to, in the end, see a result that satisfies both yourself and the final production?
Puerto Rico was amazing! It was great that Tony had been there before which led to the connections that we made that trip. But on the filming side of things, having Tony behind the lens is always a treat. Definitely one of my best friends and someone who I have always respected and looked up to as a videographer. I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to film with Tony for over a decade now, and it is something that I have always appreciated. Being passionate about filming myself, it means a lot to me to know that the person behind the lens has the same passion to capture the moment properly. I've filmed with others that I have been stoked and honored to film with, but I would say it really does make a huge difference filming with Malouf after all we have been through over the years. Seeing the final product of this video project or any video project with Tony just makes me motivated to continue doing what we truly love to do.
So when you travel, do you take a break from your healthy routine and just deal with whats on the road, or do you have your own way of maintaing a diet that brings vitality and immunity to you while on the road?
If I could have it my way, I would prefer to just make all of my own meals every day like I do when I'm at home. Obviously on the road, that can be easier said than done. But I guess it really depends on what kind of traveling you are doing. For a day or weekend trip, you can typically prepare enough to sort you out easily during your adventure. But in the case of a two week team trip, you are kind of at the mercy of the group decision no matter what… In that case, thinking ahead and preparation is key. I usually try to just make a first things first grocery store stop and get whatever fruits, veggies, snacks and water that I need for a good portion of the trip. That way you can just carry a backpack full of your preferred foods, and don't have to be bothered if you wind up at a particular food stop on a trip that you don't favor. It's also a lot more feasible to shop at a grocery store rather than a gas station or convenient store. In this instance, a little proactive thinking and preparation really does go a long way!
"I am a huge believer that food is medicine and there are plenty of things you can do naturally at home to aid in a more speedy recovery."
- Jeff Wescott
Fortunately enough throughout this interview you have refrained from serious injury, but on the first trip in Arizona you hurt your foot pretty bad which put a hold on filming for this project. Staying mentally and physically strong are two difficult balances... How do you typically get through an injury, especially one that happens at such a height of motivation?
Yes, unfortunately that happened. It was such a bummer since I had just built up the first prototype COMB frame, and just started to film for the promo as well as shoot for this interview. I was kind of overly motivated on account of this opportunity being such an honor, so I had been doing a lot of reconnaissance exploring and logging spots that I wanted to touch for this project. However, the second spot we tried to knock off the list didn't work out as planned and I ended up spraining my ankle pretty badly. Luckily it wasn't broke, though I didn't seek medical attention to know for sure. In that case I felt that the more attention I payed to my nutrition, the quicker I would heal and in turn be back on my bike faster. In this particular situation, that proved true. It has also proven to be true in many other of my previous experiences than that one. As I stated before, I am a huge believer that food is medicine and there are plenty of things you can do naturally at home to aid in a more speedy recovery. It all comes down again to being conscious of your body and mind, as well as what you are providing it with in time of need. The better you treat your body, the better your mind reacts and vice versa. It all plays in to the big picture.
At this point it has been a long road in becoming the rider you are, do you have specific thanks to people in your life that you would like to acknowledge and thank?
Of course, I feel like I have everyone to thank. Without the upbringing, support, motivation and love from both of my amazing parents, I would have never become the person I am today. Also, the rest of my family who have always been very supportive of talent and creativity, through whatever medium it may be, have also played a huge part in my life that I'm very fortunate for and appreciative of. All of my friends from now and then for our adventures and experiences that we have shared together along the way. Any and every one of my previous sponsors that has helped me experience more of the world one way or another. Everyone who currently helps me continue pursuing my passion - Mutiny Bikes, Vans Shoes, RAWr Superfoods and The Gully Factory. I can't thank you all enough!
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