EXPLORE. RIDE. DOCUMENT.
FILM BY WILL EVANS BOOK BY GEORGE MARSHALL Make It Happen is supported by
RIDERS: GREG ILLINGWORTH GARY YOUNG TAMMY MCCARLEY BRIAN KACHINSKY ED ZUNDA JOSH HARRINGTON KEVIN KALKOFF PAUL RYAN BEN HENNON MATT PRIEST MATTHIAS DANDOIS MAXIME CHARVERON DESTINATIONS: CHINA ARGENTINA SOUTH AFRICA
he concept for Make It Happen was simply to explore interesting and unique places with riders that would enjoy and appreciate it, while documenting each trip the way we would want to see it… the way we felt it.
Travelling gives BMX a deeper and more substantial meaning. It becomes more than tricks on bikes. It becomes about learning. Learning about the world, about people, about cultures, about yourself, and about adapting to ride and enjoy what’s around you. It’s a greater satisfaction than being able to do more tricks than someone else. Unfamiliar surroundings bring out a certain energy and excitement in people. As if your mind and body become more aware and more receptive to anything good. Perhaps it’s fear of the strange or uncomfortable that makes us latch on to the positive, and in turn allows us to appreciate those things more. Sharing that feeling with other people and having BMX, video, and photo as a release, brings on an exhilarating feeling of purpose and belonging. Make it Happen is not a company, it’s not a brand, we’re not trying to sell you anything. It’s a way of channeling the support that companies put in to BMX, and creating something that represents what BMX is to me. Something that will inspire riders and non-riders alike. Make it Happen is a combined effort of riders, photographers, filmers, and sponsors. Each playing an important role. So flip through the pages, take time to look at the photos, read the text, watch the video, and enjoy. – Greg Illingworth
NOT FOR RESALE
CONTENTS 8. the numbers 10. heavy bags 12. south africa 32. brian kachinsky 44. argentina 54. greg illingworth 68. tammy mccarley 80. china
editor/photographer/design George Marshall email@example.com
project management Greg Illingworth firstname.lastname@example.org
video production Will Evans email@example.com
branding/web design Rob Loeber firstname.lastname@example.org
MAKE IT HAPPEN is printed by PCP, Haldane, Halesfield 1, Telford, Shropshire. Logo and icons designed by Rob Loeber. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form without premisson from the publisher. The publisher cannot accept responibilty for errors in articles, advertisments or unsolicated manuscripts. The opinions and words of authors do not necessarily represent those of the publisher. Everything contained in this publication is copyright of George Marshall makeithappenvideo.com
MAKE IT HAPPEN THE NUMBERS 160∞ Category
Lost wedding rings
Confirmed date changes
Rolls of film shot
Broken bike parts
N O R T H A T L A N T I C O C E A N
S A T O
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40 ∞ Injury and illness
AA RR CC TT II CC OO CC EE AA NN
Arctic Arctic Circle Circle
C PP AA CC II FF II CC OO CC EE AA NN
Tropic of of Tropic Cancer Cancer
0∞ 0∞ II NN DD II AA NN OO CC EE AA NN
S OO UU TT HH LL AA NN TT II CC O CC EE AA NN
Tropic of of Tropic Capricorn Capricorn
SOUTH AFRICA AFRICA SOUTH 40∞ 40∞
Antarctic Antarctic Circle Circle
40 40 ∞∞
80 80 ∞∞
2000 2000 2000 2000
4000 4000 6000 6000
6000 6000 8000 8000
10 10 000 000
8000 8000 Miles Miles (at (at Equator) Equator) 12 12 000 000 Kilometres Kilometres (at (at Equator) Equator) 9
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SOUTH AFRICA PAUL RYAN BEN HENNON GREG ILLINGWORTH KEVIN KALKOFF MATTHIAS DANDOIS MAXIME CHARVERON MATT PRIEST
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KEVIN KALKOFF Wall ride to table, Cape Town
BEN HENNON, Moto, Afrikaans Language Monument, Paarl
MATTHIAS DANDOIS, Can can mega spin, Maiden’s Cove
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[LEFT] PAUL RYAN, Up rail to whip, George [RIGHT] Pegs to hardway 360, Cape Town, Filming Error 20
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KEVIN KALKOFF, Wall ride, Cape Town
[LEFT] KEVIN KALKOFF, Wall ride, Simon’s Town [RIGHT] MATT PRIEST, No hander, Somerset West
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BEN HENNON Tailwhip gap, Stellenbosch
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GREG ILLINGWORTH 360 No hander, Hout Bay
MAXIME CHARVERON, Truck driver, Cape Town
“If you had one shot, or one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip? His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti” Enimen, Lose Yourself, 2002
CHINA | ENGLAND | USA
MOM’S SPAGHETTI THE BRIAN KACHINSKY INTERVIEW
Gap to ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’
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am afraid. I am not in danger and no one is trying to harm me. Yet my veins rattle with a sickening, nervous energy. It’s a dark, humid evening in the vast city of Shenzhen, China. My companions look worried – all but one. “Mom’s spaghetti,” Brian says calmly with a smile as he stands facing a long and treacherous gap to rail manual. ‘Mom’s spaghetti’ was Brian’s term used jokingly for a moment of make or break, where all could be won or lost. Brian puts on his helmet, I realise that such a moment is coming and I better be damn ready. The gap to the rail is long – a ‘dead man’ set up by anyone’s measure. Success will require mach-ten speed and pinpoint accuracy. Brian is about to risk life and limb to get a photo and as the photographer I have my part of the bargain to keep. Sweat drips from my brow as I rush to set up my camera equipment. Fear is a burden I have never learnt to control. It blurs my concentration, it causes mistakes. I take a deep breath. I double and triple check every cable, battery and switch. I try to ignore the risk. I remind myself I’m not the one in harms way, I’m simply the ‘button pusher’. Still, I feel sick with nerves. “You good?” Brian asks after a few test run-ups. “YEAH!” Filmer Will Evans and I shout back reassuringly loud as possible. My index finger trembles on the button. “Coming!” says Greg Illingworth. I pause in silence staring at the second stage of the rail, my mind entirely focused and free of thought. Brian fires out of the darkness, misses the manual and lands in an icepick on the aluminium rail. Against the odds the rail slides, he lands with a stamp of the foot and he rolls away into the darkness with a deep groan of a man in pain. “I broke my foot”, he says calmly. He drops his bike and limps to the steps. The mood sinks hearing his words. We’re a long way from home in very a foreign land. Brian begins to remove his shoe from his rapidly swelling foot. I fear the worst, I fear a bloody riddled sock of compound fractures. We check over his bike. His pedal is snapped. “Maybe that’s what I felt snapping? Let’s get this shoe off and see.” Brian says optimistically. He then pulls off his shoe in a rage of pain. He runs his fingers down the bones checking for breaks. “I think it’s alright – I’m good for another go.” We all look to each other in astonishment… all fearing his weak foot could easily break. Brian begins to put his shoe back on, his foot now even more swollen and too big for the shoe. He wrestles his shoe on in a primeval roar of agonising pain. Everyone turns away, uncomfortable seeing a mate endure such misery. “Maybe we should say something?” Greg suggests to me quietly. BRIAN KACHINSKY
Gap to opposite pegs, Hong Kong, China
“THE COMBINATION OF TECH AND BURLY IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN BMX”
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“He’s grown a man. I’m not going to tell Brian Kachinsky what he can and cannot do.” I reply and Greg nods in agreement. We replace the broken pedal and Brian limps onto his bike. He hops a 180 on the flat – the measure of any injury’s severity. The foot passes the 180 test and he limps up the stairs for round two.
shudder when recalling the experience. I wondered what gives him such determination and refusal to give in. I have rarely witnessed such strength, both physical and mental. As an intelligent guy how does he justify such risk and suffering? What does he gain from it? Is it to appease sponsors? Does he feel pressure to live up to his own reputation?
“You good?” he shouts. Again Brian pedals through the pitch darkness at the rail. This time he lands perfectly on his back tyre, manuals the rail, but chinks the final inches. “So close. Damn it.” Brian’s permanent smile is now gone and he looks deadly serious – like a man focused and in his element. He limps up the stairs for a third try, a third roll of the dice. With every successive try the odds of injury go against him.
“People ask why I live in Chicago where it’s freezing all winter. I say, ‘yeah it does suck, but the bad days make you appreciate the good days.” Brian tells me months later, as we shelter from the rain inside ‘Arthur’s Café’ in Hackney, London. For the past week Brian had been staying at my home shooting the last photos for this interview. This was our third trip together, the second trip ended abruptly on day one in Chicago with an over icepick and some crushed ribs.
“You good?” he shouts. This time he manuals the entire length perfectly, I shoot the photo, as he lands his bars slip forward causing his foot to blow off the pedal”
“Here yer go, two coffee’s, a fried egg sandwich and a Full English.” A waitress says in a thick London accent.
Brian now looks in pain, tired and frustrated, but more alive and determined as ever. We all stand watching the saga unfold as helpless bystanders to Brian vs. The Rail. He knows at this point he won’t ride for the rest of the trip. He’s running on adrenaline alone.
Over a greasy breakfast, we discuss the rail in China. “I think every rider has a dream set up. I’ve done a lot of gap to rail manuals, but that was the perfect one. It’s definitely the biggest one I’ve ever tried. The gap was bigger and I had to go faster than I ever gone at a rail. The rail was fatter than some other skinnier rails I’ve done in the past so I felt like I had a good chance.
“You good?” He shouts for a final time. Tired and battered, he comes up short, clips the flat part of the rail and bounces to the ground. Brian is thrown off his bike and collides a large umbrella held down by concrete slabs, knocking it all over as if it were hit by a car. The crash is horrific, enough to shatter most people into a puzzle of broken bones.
“When I find something like that I get butterflies in my stomach. I stare at it and know I have to do it. I think well this maybe gnarlier than stuff I’ve done before, but it’s natural progression. I consider the risks. I don’t huck myself at stuff I have no chance of pulling”
Brian rolls into a ball on the floor and stops still. He eventually moves with another deep groan of pain. His body is a littered wreck of injuries. Blood pours from several deep wounds. Minutes pass by as we patch up his various gashes, finding new cuts and holes on every limb. As time passes the injuries swell and worsen. The adrenaline wears off. Slowly we convince him to accept a truce with the rail and against Brian’s will we head to a local hospital. For the next week Brian continued on our trip round China, only able to painfully cruise around as we ventured from city to city. After China, the saga of ‘Brian vs. The Rail’ ran round my head. I could only
I ask Brian if he feels any pressure as a pro rider to do the dangerous rail stuff that he is known for. “The pressure is self-inflicted. The moment you stop riding for yourself would be the most dangerous toxic moment, because no amount of free travel, free shoes and free bikes is ever going to be worth what your potentially risking when do something dangerous. “I do the big stuff simply because I enjoy it – I enjoy the freedom. My head is constantly full of everyday shit. I have emails to answer, text messages, money worries, relationship problems, The Bakery to sort out. That moment when you’re really scared, that moment when you really need to focus, is the only time you’re free from all that bullshit.
[LEFT] Opposite icepick, South London [RIGHT] Curved rail, Farringdon London
“I need a situation where I am full of fear, to have full 100% attention on one thing. It’s like a mini-vacation. It may only last five or ten minutes, but that moment after you pull something you were scared of, that moment is my vacation on the beach.
I doubt any rider in the world has endured more hard slams on street than Brian. Yet he never fails to pick himself up, return stronger and remains undeterred. I ask Brian why the crashes haven’t affected his confidence?
“Do you ever walk away from stuff?” I ask. “All the time. But it almost hurts me just as bad to walk away from something knowing I could do it rather than trying it and eating shit. I used to never walk away, but I’ve learnt to evaluate the risks better.”
“It gets hard to push yourself after some injuries. I’ve had three ACL injuries, they’re six months off riding a piece. When you come back you have to quickly to remind yourself of that feeling of overcoming. I start with small stuff and build myself back up. Overcoming an injury is just the same as doing a rail, it’s all about challenging yourself. That’s what I enjoy. I couldn’t personally stand to be that guy who has the
Brian knows all too well about the risks of his ‘mom’s spaghetti’ moments. After pushing street riding for over a decade, 38
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skill to do something but their fear stops them. I know riders who are way more skilled than I am but they’ve never pushed themselves to doing big stuff because they don’t like scaring themselves. “You need to constantly remind yourself how good it feels to overcome something. I think the feeling of overcoming fear is more addictive than doing the tricks themselves. Overcoming challenges is what motivates me. “The challenge of riding is actually what first attracted me to BMX. Before BMX I played sports in school. It was always very competitive and structured. What attracted
me at first was the freedom of BMX and comradery, but more than anything I liked BMX because it was a challenge, until BMX every sport I tried came easily. “When I started riding I was really bad, both in terms of bike control and mentally. I remember being at the top of a hill with my buddies, everyone bombed down it but I was too scared. Slowly I lost that fear. I don’t know why but I started taking risks. Eventually I would be the guy testing a set of doubles.” As a young rider, Brian met someone that would later set the path for his long career as a pro rider. “I’d heard about a new BRIAN KACHINSKY
“IF YOU LET FEAR TAKE OVER, YOU’LL ACCOMPLISH NOTHING”
Opposite feeble, East London
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park opening in my home town. I pedalled down there. I was a shy kid and I poked my head in. I saw Dave Friemuth building ramps. I recognised him from mags and chatted to him. He checked out my bike and fixed up my brakes. He went out of his way to be cool to me. I learnt from Dave how much impact you can have on people and how important it is to be cool to younger riders. From a riding perspective Dave inspired me. I think his combination of tech and burly is the most beautiful thing in BMX.” In the years that followed, Brian grew up riding in the heart of the Midwest scene, taking direct influence from his mentors Dave Friemuth, Chad DeGroot and Jim Reinstra, in an era well documented by the Baco video series. In that time Brian was a technical ramp rider, he rode a front brake, had a hunger for 540 hurricanes, hitching post combos, Canadian Nosepicks and wore big kneepads.
For Brian’s part in Grounded and for having balls the size of Lake Michigan, he was nominated for two Nora Cups in 2008. The section earned him the status as one of the most respected street riders in BMX, joining the ranks of Van Homan and alike. It’s a status he reaffirmed in the years that followed with further video sections, magazine covers, appearances on Road Fools, endless travelling and winning bronze in X Games Street in 2010. Despite a long list of accomplishments Brian received some bad news from his old sponsor Etnies. “I still don’t know exactly why [I was dropped]. In interviews Povah [Etnies Team manager] would always say I was the ‘model pro rider’. I made an effort to go above and beyond what was expected of me. I was bitter at the time. But now it’s just water under the bridge.”
In the 2000s Brian took his beloved combination of tech and burly to new found heights and dangers on street. It is for his combination of tech and burly that Brian gained notoriety firstly in the Aspire video contest (2004) and later in his landmark section in the video Etnies Grounded (2007). Rarely has a rider suffered so much for a video part.
The Etnies news was a shock to Brian and the entire industry. Through years of tireless work and selfless acts, Brian has gained a reputation as one of the most hard working, friendly and selfless individuals in BMX. Whether it be through the opening of his private skate park, The Bakery, or simply helping a local rider find work, Brian is constantly trying to better himself and help those around him.
“When I got the email asking who wanted to film for Grounded, I instantly said ‘sign me up’. I was conscious it was going to be big project I would be proud of for years to come. I got injured half way through filming. I know the stuff I wanted to do for it, I don’t see it as my definitive section.” Brian recalls.
I ask Brian where he get’s his hardworking nature from. “Definitely my dad.” Brian starts. “My dad taught me about the importance of a strong work ethic. Lead by example, not by voice. He grew up in a poor trailer park and became one of the top attorneys in Wisconsin.
He paid for his college through the army. He was Lieutenant Colonel and served in both desert wars, simultaneously he was an attorney and a judge. “I remember him telling me he wasn’t necessarily the best at the physical side of the army training, he would fall and fall, but would always get back up until he succeeded. I guess that got passed down to me, there’s been lots of times where I’ve just failed, failed and failed, until eventually I’ve succeeded. Each time I fail it fuels the fire you know?” I nod in reply. I know ‘the fire’ all too well. I saw ‘the fire’ when he realised he’d broken his ribs in Chicago and nearly punched through his car door. I saw ‘the fire’ in China the day after his slams on the rail, he hit a pothole cruising down the street sending him over the bars, he got up and threw his bike 30ft in the air. Without doubt Brian is a very determined individual. He holds a deep raging fire and passion that is concealed by a very friendly nature and easy going temperament. “Losing it is just passion showing through. I think that’s normal.” He tells me as we finish our breakfast in the café. “I think my strong point is taking that rage and channelling it.” Brian’s determination has carried him through a long career as a pro rider. For me it is Brian’s true grit that separates him from other riders. Like his father before him, Brian possesses a rare mental strength to never give up. He has an ability to use fear to his advantage, weilding it to focus his concentration and overcome any challenge before him. At the age of 32, his passion has not lost any of its potency and he continues at the top of his riding, an accomplishment reflected by his recent addition to the Vans Pro team. As we walk from the café we discuss how well the interview went. In a moment of clarity Brian turns to me and sums it up. “Life is really all you have. Sometimes you need to remind yourself how important life is by taking a risk. You can’t let health be so sacred that it stops you living. The pain and risk makes the accomplishments more rewarding… If you let fear take over, you’ll accomplish nothing.”
Rail manual, South London BRIAN KACHINSKY
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ARGENTINA GARY YOUNG
TAMMY MCCARLEY GREG ILLINGWORTH
GARY YOUNG, Gap to wall ride, Cordoba
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[LEFT] GREG ILLINGWORTH Smith drop, Mendoza [RIGHT] TAMMY MCCARLEY Access toboggan Mendoza
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GREG ILLINGWORTH Wall ride, San Luis
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GARY YOUNG, Ledge table, Cordoba ARGENTINA
SOUTH AFRICA | CHINA | ARGENTINA
OUT OF AFRICA THE GREG ILLINGWORTH INTERVIEW
t’s a hot afternoon on a remote highway in South Africa. We’ve been driving for hours. Greg Illingworth sits in the driving seat of a white van focused on the road ahead. A handful of the world’s top riders sleep in the back. From the passenger seat I take in the view outside as we cross a scenic landscape of blue mountains, rolling hills, vineyards, beach towns and small hillside villages of traditional round huts and breezeblock box houses. Every turn of the road unveils a new reminder I’m far from home. An old man standing beside a river raises a huge exotic fish into the air as we pass, baboons crawl on the roadside, women walk on the grass verge balancing great baskets on their heads and in places bush fires cloud the road with smoke. Leaving Cape Town we passed miles of sprawling townships beside the freeway, where densely packed homes are built from salvaged scrap and aspiring athlete’s do sprint drills on the hard shoulder beside 80+ MPH moving traffic. “TIA” Greg says from under a pair of dark sunglasses and slowing down for some cattle roaming freely on the highway. TIA or ‘This is Africa’, is Greg’s short explanation for everything my western mind deems as odd or shocking. For the past week we had experienced many ‘TIA’ moments as Greg had taken pride in showing us the beauty of the country he calls home.
With Greg at the wheel we are heading to his mum’s home of Port Alfred, a sleepy coastal community of wooded beach homes that is quite frankly in the middle of nowhere. With a couple of driving hours left, I feel very far from England and Western society all together. Some of the impoverished sights from the roadside can lead you to think you’re in a developing nation, or in a different decade all together. It is at this point I wonder how the hell a rider makes the journey out of Africa to the elite ranks of BMX. If you grow up in England or California you’re surrounded by jams, shops, companies, magazines, photographers and videographers. These all provide opportunities for a talented rider to make a name for themself. In comparison, South Africa might as well be shrouded in an iron curtain, a desert of opportunity for aspiring pro BMX riders. I try to name another full time professional rider from the entire continent of Africa and fail. Greg has a line of signature parts, receives invites to the world’s biggest events, features on magazine covers, has a long list of desirable sponsors and earns a respectable living from BMX – in other words – he made it. But how? How did a pale longhaired ginger reach out beyond the confines of South Africa to become the successful pro rider he is today? All with a trick list he jokingly describes as ‘thin at best’. “I grew up in the south of Joburg.” Greg tells me from the driving seat. “Growing up I had everything you could hope for. Family life was always really supportive and loving. I have two brothers and a sister, I’m the youngest. The whole family 56
would sit down most evenings for dinner and we’d talk. My parents divorced at 16, I suppose they kept it together until we were out of childhood.” Despite Greg’s idyllic description of his childhood, I know from previous conversations he has endured many experiences that would be unthinkable in England. “Growing up crime was always there. I regularly remember waking up to stuff being stolen from the garden, or returning from a holiday to find the house broken into. Sometimes we were in the house sleeping while kids broke in and stole stuff. One time I woke up to gunshots from the school across the road, security guards were shooting in the air to scare off some people who’d jumped our fence. I remember being terrified. “Another time my dad caught someone breaking into our caravan. The caravan had been broken into a few months before so my dad was watching out for it. When he caught the guy he was wearing the same clothes he’d stolen last time. My dad held him at gunpoint until the cops arrived. “Years later on the night of my dad’s funeral, my sister, her husband, my brother, his wife and my mum were held up in my sister’s house at gun point. All my family had gathered together for the funeral. They were tied up and locked in the bathrooms while the house was cleared out. I had just left the house with Brad, when three guys walked in with guns. They were waiting for us to leave. They ripped the jewellery off my sister and my mom, they took everything, they used my brother’s car to load it all and get away. MAKE IT HAPPEN
Bar spin, Guangzhou, China
[ABOVE] 1-foot table, Rio Cuarto, Argentina [BELOW] Gap, Rio Cuarto, Argentina
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“I was still mourning my dad’s death, it was hard to differentiate between the two feelings of loss and anger. I was so fucking furious. I can understand desperate people who turn to crime as a means to survive, but I can’t understand planned violent crime, where people are beat, tied up and worse.” Greg tells me, displaying a rare glimpse of anger. “I remember a few years back the Odyssey guys were here. We were at a pub in Durban. We heard a smash of glass. My friend Colin ran outside to find a guy reaching into the car to steal a bag. We ended up chasing him down and beating the guy up pretty badly… I remember Walter [Peiringer] being horrified. Before that moment I never thought of harming someone who was stealing from you as a problem. I’d grown up always fearing that someone close to me could be hurt, hijacked, shot or killed. You’re always so scared that if you catch someone it’s easy to become enraged. Seeing Walter’s reaction made me think about it more, it made me think about how poor and desperate people turn to crime just to survive.” Greg says uncomfortably. Before my visit to South Africa I had often heard a stereotype that all South Africans were racist (that view being ironically racist in itself). Needless to say but this is a view I found to be entirely false of Greg and all South Africans I met during my seven weeks in the country. “The end of apartheid didn’t change the fact the country is rife with poverty. This year we’re celebrating 20 years of freedom from apartheid. But the problem and divide between rich and poor, GREG ILLINGWORTH
black and white, is so great that it’s going to take more than 20 years to fix. Apartheid set the country back so far, to try to bring it up to a first world or European status is a massive leap. But I’m optimistic.” Under the backdrop of a newly democratic South Africa Greg first started riding. “My brother got me into racing. At the national races I met dirt jump guys, they looked punk as hell to me. They had dreadlocks, spiky hair, chain wallets, baggy jeans and wore Slayer or Misfits shirts. I was just a little race kid but they were so rad to me. I started riding with them. Eventually I would spend my weekends with those older guys, Jimmy Reynolds and Tyrone Bradley in particular, we’d ride all day, party all night and on Sunday evening they would drop me at home ready for school on Monday.” Under the wing of the older riders Greg came to meet another group of individuals who were to also have a lasting impact on him and his future. “Joe Rich, Nate Wessel, Garrett Byrnes and Ruben Alcantara came to South Africa while on their T1 world trip. Seeing those guys ride in person blew my mind. I’d seen them in videos and magazines. Seeing riding like that right in front of me changed my life. “We took the T1 guys to a local bowl that had a 9ft deep end. Back then everyone was scared to air that thing. Joe and Garrett were airing 11 or 12ft out of it within minutes. I couldn’t understand how they were going so high, how they weren’t scared. They were keen to help us learn. From watching them ride and listening to their advice I started to go higher. By the end of the day I was going 5ft. Getting 59
[LEFT] Ledge manual, Guangzhou, China [RIGHT] Kickout, Paarl, South Africa
to see that riding in person left a massive impression on me. That’s why I push so hard to get more international riders to South Africa, I know how much impact it had on me as a kid and I hope it will do the same to the next generation of riders in South Africa.” To this day Greg has a great love of everything T1 stands for and holds great respect for his friend and T1 owner Joe Rich. It is this devotion and friendship with Joe that paved the way for Greg’s first paying sponsor. “I was riding for my brother’s shop The Riot, and my friend Jon Sherwood helped us out through his distro, he gave me a T1 Ruben frame. Jon
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paid for shipping and Joe [Rich] sent the frame from Austin. I was offered a few other sponsors but turned them down.” At the age of 19, Greg was one of very few sponsored riders in Africa. Although a huge honour, riding for T1 through the local distro was just a free frame. New sponsor offers came his way all of which he turned down, until he received an opportunity too good to refuse. “I was about to get a new T1 frame from Joe, when Mongoose offered to pay me a bit and help me with travel. It was a tough decision. I wanted to stick with T1 because I have so much respect for Joe and consider him a friend. At that time paying sponsorship deals were few and far between.
If someone offers you money in South Africa to ride you’re almost stupid if you turn it down. It’s hard in South Africa to make a living from BMX, it hasn’t got any easier in recent years. “I asked Joe what he thought, as I knew he had dealt with similar issues before. He said ‘if you want to spend the rest of your life riding bicycles and having fun – take the Mongoose deal. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you, but it’s a good opportunity for you to see the world and ride everyday.’ “I didn’t need to hear anymore than that. I took the deal, and haven’t looked back. Even then I never saw BMX as a career.
I started studying video production at university and worked for my stepfather’s production company to get by. Looking back, I made the right decision. If I hadn’t taken the Mongoose deal I would have ended up working all the time. I love riding my bike. I want to ride everyday and travel as much as possible. The people that can make that happen for me are the people making money. It’s a case of do I want to ride everyday or do I work everyday. I love riding too much, I wouldn’t give that up for the sake of not promoting a corporate company. All the companies I ride for put a lot of money into the scene, they’re good people that want the best for BMX, I am proud to ride to for them.” GREG ILLINGWORTH
Moto, Mendoza, Argentina
With the backing of growing number of sponsors, Greg left University to concentrate fully on riding. Yet he struggled to be noticed by the wider BMX community. “South Africa had no significant magazines and no coverage in BMX media.” He explains. “It’s hard to become well known without media. Mongoose paid for one international trip a year. At 19 I started going abroad once a year. I’d go to contests without knowing anyone. I’d end up riding street on my own and hanging out with anyone I’d meet.” In 2008 Greg received an invite that would give him some well-deserved limelight. “Mongoose invited me to go on Props Mega Tour. Suddenly I found myself on a US trip to film a DVD with a tonne of pro riders. It was really intimidating. There were professional BMX photographers and filmers travelling with us. Everything was paid for and we stayed in nice hotels. It was a different world.” Greg earned his stripes on that Props trip, standing out with his trademark speed and style. Props Mega Tour was the break he needed. Greg’s foot was now firmly in the door. “After Mega Tour I was invited to join Mongoose on a Ride To Glory trip in 2009 in the UK. On that trip I became friends with Mongoose UK team manager Chris McCardle. He invited me on a CSG trip to the Ukraine that he was organising for The Albion. On all those trips I became friends with people in the UK industry such as the riders, photographers and filmers. Suddenly I knew all the right people to pursue a BMX career and I started thinking about moving to the UK.” 64
The UK is a good choice for Greg. No other country has such high number magazines, shops, skateparks, riders and thriving scene in every city. In comparison to South Africa, the UK is a land of opportunity for a professional rider. “My brother moved to England before me. I thought about just trying it out for six months. Mongoose and Monster said they would help me more if I made the move. Luckily Fox Europe were looking for a new rider. A week later I was put on the team. It all fell into place.” Aged 26, Greg made the unlikely move from the beautiful scenery, golden beaches and warmth of South Africa to the North of England. Once in the country with a fresh work visa stamp in his passport, Greg did exactly that, he worked. He quickly became a permanent fixture of Ride UK magazine and was picked up by the Vans Europe pro team. After working on an outstanding interview and accompanying edit for a year, Greg began to plan an ambitious project – ‘Make It Happen.’ “Adam Dayson from Monster suggested sending me on a trip with a photographer and filmer. I didn’t like the idea of going on a trip where I was the only rider and it would all be about me. I wanted other people around to session with and to also have the opportunity to shoot photos and film. I also wanted to work on something for longer than just one trip. I wanted to make something more substantial. “I suggested doing a trip where I invite riders to come along and we just ride amazing spots and then MAKE IT HAPPEN
Fast plant, Hout Bay, South Africa
Can can, Guangzhou, China
shoot the whole thing. It started from me not wanting to do a video just about myself and getting a good crew together, visiting countries and riding new spots. All my sponsors were keen to support it. Some how it came together, but it was a lot work.” ‘A lot of work’, is a gross understatement. Lazy is not a word you’d associate with Greg. From the five ink stamps on the envelope in front of you to reverse parking a van full of mouthy riders with a trailor on, Greg has made the project a success. Make It Happen wasn’t a long smooth holiday of free travel. Organising four international trips for a huge group of alpha males on a tight budget requires a tireless work ethic, resilience, dependable organisation and a shit load of emails. As the year progressed the name ‘Make It Happen’ became more and more appropriate with every cancelled flight, lost bike, injury and cancelled magazine. No matter how stressful things got, Greg maintained his zen-like temperament, never once finding the need to raise his voice and never losing sight of his goals – explore new places, ride new spots, produce first rate video and photos, and ultimately share a great experience. “I was brought up to not just wait for something to happen. My folks were always into organising trips, it transcended to me. I don’t mind putting in the work. It can be stressful, but it’s forgotten as soon as you arrive. All the hard work and effort was worth it in the end. This project has been one the greatest experiences of my life.” Simply put, Greg Illingworth gets shit done. Whether it be a massive gap on street, organising a contest, emigrating, or producing a year-long book and DVD project. The book and DVD you hold in your hands right now is to testament Greg’s drive and determination to succeed. It is that same determination that carried him along the difficult path from sandy dirt jumps of Johannesburg to being one of the best-known and respected riders in the world. He now enjoys a life he once thought out of his reach. He deserves it all. He made it happen.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
69 THE TAMMY MCCARLEY INTERVIEW
Tooth hanger, Buenos Aires 70
MAKE IT HAPPEN
rom the first day in Argentina, Tammy Mccarley was an untameable mess of energy. Still jet lagged and in a foreign land he filmed a handful of clips right off the plane. Tammy is a man who simply loves riding and isn’t afraid to show it. Yet, despite possessing great natural talent and fierce positivity, Tammy struggles to find a long term sponsor. He works a part-time job to make ends meet. I spoke to Tammy and his close friend Lahsaan Kobza to learn more about him. Where’s home? Where do you pitch your tent? I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I moved here six months ago, I love it.... 69! What’s the significance of 69? You seem to say it after every sentence? 69 is a reminder to me to make light of any situation, good or bad. Life is a trip. You can be stuck in a good or bad trip but regardless of the situation, the trip continues while you strive to do the best for yourself and others around you, and that’s when you look at your homie beside you and simply say... 69 Where did you live before Phoenix? I grew up in East County, San Diego. It’s in California but it’s not all palm trees and beaches. I grew up in a trailer park, it wasn’t a super ratty or grimey one, but it was a trailer park nonetheless. I definitely didn’t have life handed to me on a plate. Tell me more about the life in a trailer park. It was a pretty wild place. It was full of people of all ages... I was just a little rascal kid riding around and getting into shit. You don’t notice sketchy stuff when you’re young. Looking back, there was probably always a tonne of sketchy shit going on. I was probably riding round the trailer park right next to people that were selling or smoking Meth, and didn’t even know. There were a lot of bad influences in there. I grew up hanging out with an older crowd. They were always smoking and drinking, and I bet they did some serious drugs but just not around me because I was so young. They were always going in an out of jail. I didn’t want to end up like that so I just focused on riding my bike. It wasn’t a smooth upbringing, but my mother and father always tried their best. People have gone through worse. – 69 71
How did you get into riding? Dennis Enarson’s house was nearby. When we were young we used to ride dirt jumps with each other. Later I started riding Clairemont YMCA Skatepark. That was my staple, it became my home. Clairemont skatepark is the reason I stuck with BMX. There was a good scene, you knew you could go there, sweat, session and have a party. From the age of 14 I was going to Clairemont everyday, at the time BMX was just fun to me. But I now know it was saving me from getting mixed into the wrong shit at the trailer park. Don’t get the wrong impression. I smoke weed and drink beer, but I’m glad I kept it at that. BMX gave me a reason to leave the trailer park and get to Clairemont to ride. I was so passionate about BMX, I didn’t have time to get addicted to any other shit. I’m proud of myself for getting out of the trailer park and devoting myself to what I love – BMX – 69. What was it like growing up surrounded by such a progressive scene? It was the best. Growing up in San Diego rubbed off on me in great ways. I was surrounded by a variety of really inspiring riders. Ryan Sher and Gary Young made me want to ride my bike all day. I am very thankful I grew up in the San Diego scene. More than anything videos inspired me to ride as well. The first video that made me want to ride and film, would be... Nowhere Fast. All the sections on that VHS were sick but Dave Young’s stood out to me as a young kid, and it’s still good even now. How did you get on your first sponsor? My first sponsor was almost Fit. Years ago, [before Cult] I was riding Santee skate park and was introduced to Robbie Morales. He offered to hook me up on Fit flow and said he’d send me a frame, fork and bar. I was super stoked about it. At the same time one of friends was talking to Jim C [Sunday Bikes manager] about me and I think Gary [Young] was pushing to get me on the Sunday team as well. I went to Odyssey to meet everybody and say hello. I got there and they gave me an entire bike, all brand new. At the time I was hyped on the offer from Fit but Sunday seemed like a better opportunity. At the time I had a shitty ass bike. I left with a brand new Sunday, I guess I made my decision right there when I walked out the door with a brand new bike. Robbie was a little bit bummed out about it and I hated that, but no regrets. I was stoked to ride for Sunday. I had a good ass time for two years. 72
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Gap to wallride, Mendoza
“...BMX WAS JUST FUN TO ME. BUT I NOW KNOW IT WAS SAVING ME FROM GETTING MIXED INTO THE WRONG SHIT AT THE TRAILER PARK”
Toothpick, Mendoza University
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Fakie wall ride, Cordoba,
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Is it fair to say you’re known for having bad luck with sponsors? Unfortunately... Do you have any idea why you’ve lost so many sponsors? Yeah I’ve parted ways with a good few companies. Firstly Sunday, then Amity, Coalition, Federal and recently shit went bad with Freed Bikes. Shit doesn’t always go according to plan but I’m happy knowing I’ve always tried my best. Everything happens for a reason – 69. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team where I really felt a part of it. I’ve always felt like an outsider to some extent. I always wanted to feel included and involved. All the brands that have sponsored me have been great, but I never really fully felt a part of the family. I look at my buddy Lahsaan [Kobza]who’s on a team [Subrosa] with his close friends, they have a close bond. All the teams I’ve been on I haven’t really known anyone before joining. I got on Amity and I didn’t know anyone, they were a European company. Federal was the same. I knew Bruno and Lacey, they’re both cool, but the team was so close already I still felt like the outsider. I haven’t found the right situation, I haven’t found the right crew where I feel a part of it. [Lashann Kobza enters the conversation] Lashann: Very few people have the same passion and motivation that Tammy does. We both love BMX to the full, everyday it’s BMX, BMX, BMX. Sometimes I think that’s too much for some people. I think Tammy’s passion can be too much for people to handle. We’re both too excited about this BMX shit. Tammy: I rode for Amity for two years and I did my best. I went overseas once a year which was awesome, but they weren’t making any moves. I see other companies doing good stuff and wanted to be a part of it. I remember sitting in San Diego for six months straight with not a single project for Amity at all. I don’t care about a cheque, I just want to be out on my bike, riding, filming, doing team trips and loving life. I would try to speak to them to get some motivation going and I would suggest some ideas for stuff, but I guess people don’t like being told how to do their jobs. I take it you were happy to get the invite to Argentina then? I was so stoked, I couldn’t be more thankful to Greg for inviting me. It was a honour to be invited on a trip with Gary Young. The Argentina trip was incredible. That trip was exactly what I live for. What are your plans for the future? All I want to do is continue riding my bike with my friends, creating and capturing the good times. I don’t want to work a job, but I do it because I have to eat. I’ve been working hard with BMX my entire life, it’s all I want to do. I’m not going to let any bad luck in the past discourage me. All I can do is learn from my experiences and push on. 69
MAKE IT HAPPEN
CHINA JOSH HARRINGTON BRIAN KACHINSKY ED ZUNDA GREG ILLINGWORTH
[LEFT] JOSH HARRINGTON, Over toothpick, Guangzhou [RIGHT] BRIAN KACHINSKY, Rail manual, Hong Kong
MAKE IT HAPPEN
[ABOVE] ED ZUNDA, Flair, Guangzhou [RIGHT] Pegs to hardway 360, Guangzhou
MAKE IT HAPPEN
GREG ILLINGWORTH, Moto, Guangzhou
MAKE IT HAPPEN
JOSH HARRINGTON, Toothpick, Guangzhou