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PHOTO: JASON FINN
16 The Burrows A Refugee Camp Of Sorts
76 Live Free Or Die Clint Reynolds
20 Stealing The Show ‘Barspinner’ Ryan Brennan
92 Off The Grid Russ Barone
26 Jailbird Pete Bond
106 A-Town Trash Always Trashy, Never Classy
34 High & Bound United x Éclat Photogallery
120 The Porno Couple Angel Long and Mark Taylor
48 No Saint Chris Mahoney
130 Self Defence Always Run
56 History Of Street Walking To The Beat Of Your Own Drum
136 Devotion To The Cause Inside Zeal Distro
Subscribe! Six Issues for £20 For the price of a few pints of beer, we’ll go to the effort and post you the mag right to your door. All for the convenient price of £20. Turn to page 120 or visit our website for further details and worldwide shipping costs. thealbion.cc
Johnny ‘The Hot Spot’ Elia
Editor Daniel Benson email@example.com
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Associate Editor Steve Bancroft firstname.lastname@example.org
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Contributors Scott Marceau, Chris Marshall, Devon Denham, Jamie Cameron, Mark Noble, Tim Leighton Boyce, John Dye and Brad McDonald. Thanks John Povah, Ian Morris, Bath Trails locals, everyone down The Burrows, Ben Manual, Pitwheels Skatepark, Mahoney’s Michelle, Wigan locals, Dean Hearne, Paul Robinson, Stew Johnson, Matt Berringer and Amy Sylvester.
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The Albion BMX Magazine is avalible at all good bikes shops in the UK & North America. See thealbion.cc for more details. Logo and icons designed by Ross Teperek. This issue is typeset using the Plantin font family, designed by Frank Hinman Pierpont in 1913. Albion Grotesk was designed exclusively for this publication by Robert Loeber. All rights reserved. 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.
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E-nun-ci-ate – Al-bi-on!
For about a year at school one of the bigger lads, an oaf called Dave Shelley in the year above, repeatedly said my name wrong. I’ve no idea how he came to make this consistent mistake, but it spooked me.Was he doing this on purpose? Was it all a mind game? Possibly a subtle but effective way of bullying me, like a schoolyard Guantanamo Bay? I never had the chance to find out, I pushed him down the stairs of the new block and he never walked or talked again. No but seriously, I never worked out how or why he got it wrong when everyone around him said my name perfectly well. Here’s an example:
‘Guys, totally LOVE what you’re doing with The Albino magazine, much love. Chow.’
“Oi! Danny Bentry,does your fuckin’mother use a mixing bowl to cut your hair?”
We’ve come back from trips with recollections of so many mispronunciations, for a time I thought Dave and his subtle schoolyard bullying had come back to haunt me. We never even thought that a seemingly simple word could become the tonguetwister that it did. All across the United States I’ve heard it make people sound like C3PO or a stroke victim, or both.
“No you fucking moron! I go to Tony’s on on Gleadless Townend, like all the other cool motherfuckers on this estate. The reason you’ve got a skinhead Dave is because all your family has lice and EVERYBODY knows it.” Well, that’s what I wanted to say, but I scurried off, unable to muster up a decent comeback, as usual. He did have a point though; she did use a mixing bowl to cut my hair. Thanks, mum. I hadn’t thought about Dave and his subtle verbal bullying for years It wasn’t until we started the magazine and began our transatlantic journeys that this strange phenomenon I’d tried to block out of my mind reared its ugly head again. We all began to notice that Americans really struggled with saying the word ‘Albion.’ In fact, who am I kidding? Even people over in the UK were getting it wrong.
What the f…! There’s an Albion pub on every street corner in England, in fact, chances are you were probably conceived there. I think I can understand how Americans might not be familiar with the word but some Brit making the mistake is not only inexcusable, it’s downright stupid and probably has a lot more to do with not paying enough attention. We were number two in Adam 22’s top 20 of 2011 for Christ’s sake.
Much like I thought Dave was saying my name wrong to bully me, I suppose the tables have turned and now it’s me having a little laugh at other people’s expense. The bullied becomes the bully. Yet over time, I’ve come to enjoy hearing these verbal misfires, these fuck ups that people make. It reminds me that we’ve flown the nest and got the magazine out into pastures new, where people talk different and drive on weird sides of the road. The examples on the cover of this issue are some of those mistakes, but whilst we might all talk funny, eat dodgy foods and live a whole myriad of different lives, our passions remain the same.
THE BURROWS A Refugee Camp Of Sorts For some, the environment down the local public skatepark has become so toxic it’s no longer bearable. The place that once acted as a safe haven – a sanctuary for like-minded bike riders – now resembles a Blue Peter Bring-and-Buy Sale on crack. It seems the ramps, ledges and bowls that were once the sole jurisdiction of bikes and boards are now infested with all manner of neon-coloured wheeled vermin.
Words and Photography by STEVE BANCROFT
Endlessly wheedling around their miniscule slithers of metal like modern day football rattles, the cockroaches on scooters are the worst of all. Like crop-stripping locusts they drift around the park in swarms removing any trace of fun from bike riding, leaving in their stricken wake nothing but hate and anger and thoughts of ‘monging it off and going down the pub.’ Empty energy drink cans litter the floor like used needles in a crack den. The noise is deafening as hundreds of jumped-up kids scream around aimlessly in a futile effort to burn off the excess of sugar and calories and whatever else it is that makes the can’s contents glow that colour. Track-suited middle teens sit awkward and paranoid on the wall. Scared that mum might catch them their red eyes darting around under their pull-up hoods. Pasty white and void of personality, the amateur stoners cough and splutter as they puff on badly rolled joints of cheap smelling hash. With this influx of undesirables – unable to swim any longer against the surging tide of brightly coloured cartoon covered boxer shorts and tinny dub-step being played through the crackling speakers of an Asda smartphone – one by one the experienced BMX riders are forced out of their home. Starved of fun and tired of fighting the unwinnable battle against the guerrilla tactics of hyperactive 12 year olds – although not through the traditional scenarios of famine or war – these once content riders are now refugees.With their heads hung low and carrier bags of cloudy Dorset cider hung off their bars, the now older riders skulk off into the woods, displaced and despondent.
Ousted from their once comfy sofa in the world of action sports they sit on tree stumps smoking rollies and drowning their sorrows. But, through this tired darkness comes new light. Regrouped and rehoused in the woods, a new bout of motivation begins to flourish. Just like years earlier when they used to have the skatepark to themselves, the sharing of space and time and interests and mindsets throws fuel on the embers and ideas start to flow. Like a rebel army, built up on shared ideas and ideals they rebuild and reband. Solitude in the woods. Solidarity in the woods. Away form the superfluous noise of the park and on their own terms, battle plans are drawn. Ramp plans are drawn. Wood is scrounged, screws procured and money pooled. Favours are called in and newly acquired skills from the working week are employed. The ramp takes shape and people drop in. Smiles return and fun is had. The sounds of a good time carries on the wind and old riders emerge from the woodwork, once familiar faces have dug their bikes out from the shed. Congregating and rekindling, reminiscing and reforming, soon the scene is back to full health. New kids hear rumours of the woods and stop by to find the truth. They learn the way, they see the light. Theirs is a heavy responsibility. They’ll carry the torch. The flame will never die. The sessions last long into the night. The airs are high and loose, the cider flows strong and free. Apart from good friends, the ramp is empty. The ramp is perfect.
STEALING THE SHOW ‘Barspinner’ Ryan Brennan Words and Photography by DEVON DENHAM
In 1996 Barspinner released the seminal Californian trails video, Soil. With its punk rock soundtrack and equally punk rock attitude, the video showcased a scene of raw, dusty young trail riders, mostly known as the Sheep Hills Locals (or SHL) with talent that surpassed their young age. Whist injuries might have forced Ryan to take a back seat from riding for now, his passion has been shifted to the demos and workshops he organizes for young and eager riders, without ever forgetting those punk rock SHL roots.
So how’d you get into the stunt show business? I got into doing BMX bike shows about one year after I fell off the dirt jump contests – I needed to make money and got offered a job if I could flip a box jump at every show at that time. I had only pulled one flip on dirt and I was like, ‘okay, why not?’ So I got dialled at doing flips, then no-handed flips, and rode with Mike Saavedra in shows and he pushed me. I soon found a second wind in BMX and I loved to ride in front of kids and get crowds stoked on BMX. After working for all the teams I didn’t like, the old school mentality of the eighties that was behind it all, it wasn’t my era. So that’s why I started Team Soil. Where’d you get the ramps for your shows? I built the original Soil box jump from scratch with a drawing on a napkin and it took over a month to build. A guy from LA called Steve McCloud helped build it, he was an old concrete rider – I traded him a frame and fork from S&M to weld the box and help make my design real. I then traded an ad design to Chris Moeller for a free frame and
fork and some other parts to give to Steve. I got my quarterpipe from K2 up in the great Northwest. It was thrashed after a tour and I got it for real cheap. We put down a ton of work on it all, and all of the SHL guys helped me revamp it. Nowadays I weld and build all my equipment myself, or I buy companies who are going out of business or in different directions.
Is that your full-time job right now? Yes, it is my full-time job. Team Soil is good for the industry, I work with guys like Joey Cordova, Dan Norvell, Dylan Stark, Mike Hucker Clark, Chris Hughes, Shawn White – the BMX version – Kris Fox, Matt Cordova, and Larry Edgar. I am proud to say I’ve helped some of these guys get through the battle of getting a nine-to-five. Team Soil does a transition during the summer from shows to BMX camp. I love doing camp, there is nothing better than watching all these kids keep coming back each year and getting better. Plus the camp is located at a school I went to in Newport Beach, California.
Stealing the Show
I remember you telling me that you can’t fully extend your arm out any more. Can you ride at all now? What happened? Ironically I crashed doing a barspin over my box jump in a show. It was the second time I had broken my elbow and the damage from not fixing it the first time, and the fact that it didn’t heal right, left me with a bad arm. It was real bad, then I got surgery and asked ARF [Athlete Recovery Fund] for help. They referred me to a program for corporate insurance, but I was expecting them to want to help pay, but I guess I wasn’t relevant enough in the industry to get financial help. I thought with all the riders I have helped they would’ve jumped on the chance to help cover my bills. Anyways, I got one surgery and I need to get another. I can ride a little, but my left wrist is also jacked, so I need a lot of doctor work and that’s gonna cost money I just don’t have. I know you come from the original line-up of locals at Sheep Hills. What are your thoughts on the current state of BMX? The current state of BMX on the streets is awesome. Great filming, high quality edits and progressive riding. At the parks there’s unreal tricks, like… a 720 whip to bar? That’s amazing. But at the trails, it’s all about the tabletops – always will be. The industry now, that is a different story. I think the same cats have been running all of the contests – the big ones at least – and
hiring all the same judges year after year. Inviting only a handful of riders with no open qualifiers is wack. At the X-Games there’s no open qualifiers, it’s like the Academy Awards. I mean, people need to root for the Cru Joneses, the local boy. That’s what BMX is. That’s what I was and that’s what it should be for this generation. Everyone should have a chance to qualify. I feel like a lot of the media out there needs and tries to protect its friendships and it doesn’t cover BMX like an adult sport, and because of that some views get overlooked.
Do you have any stories you could dig up from the X-Games? Ok, so in 1997 my Dad drove me and the whole SHL crew to the X-Games in a limo. At that point I was too young to drink and my Dad was like, ‘you guys need to pull over and get some drinks.’ It was awesome, we bought a bunch of beers and we drove down the I-5 next to the Pacific Ocean blasting music and drinking beers. It was so much fun, we were so stoked. We were these young SHLs and those were our credentials. I was so happy to be in the X-Games, that was the best. We really did have the strongest clique. It seems like you were an entrepreneur from a young age. You were the person behind the MTV Sports and Music Festival in 1998. Could you give me an insight into some of your past jobs in BMX?
‘Barspinner’ Ryan Brennan
Growing up and looking up to Chris Moeller I saw a guy who could make it happen for himself. My dad is like that too, he owned a punk rock bar in Hollywood in the eighties called the Cathay Degrande. I saw Black Flag live whilst I was still in Kindergarten. My dad and I would always film home movies, like my football game or my sister in a parade for example. That led to me being the kid with a huge VHS camera mounted on his shoulder at the Dover BMX Jumps. After meeting Mike Tag – R.I.P – and the FBM crew and seeing their videos, it influenced me to go out and make Soil, a 45 minute BMX video and VHS classic. Besides that I had one of the first BMX blogs – barspinner.com – I started it 1999 and I ended up getting jobs like working for Bluetorch, and got paid to cover the X-Games. I did a lot of jobs building jumps at contests; that was fun, good and hard work. I have worked on TV sets doing stunts. I once performed in a level-four prison. I had to hit the deck as the cops were running around with tear gas.
"At the trails it’s all about the tabletops and always will be"
What’s up with Shaun Butler? Do you guys still hang out? Shaun Butler and I don’t hang out as much as we did. We will always have a bond from traveling in our youth together. These days I think he is searching for his next chapter in his career after BMX. It’s got to be said, Butler is still doing some real good three tables…
Do you feel like BMX has given back to you what you have given to it? For sure. I could sit back and see so many people I have met, shared life with and made happy all because of riding a BMX bike. My program is developing new riders at BMX camps and helping current pros and that is a reward that makes me walk proud. What are some of your best memories of BMX? For myself I think traveling the world, going to the Backyard Jam in ‘97 and winning that and then going the Worlds. That was just an amazing trip. I met Boyley out there there – R.I.P. Another good one is driving to the ABA Grands King of Dirt back in ‘95. I was sixteen years old and we broke down on the way there, so I ended up taking a bus cross-country, totally broke and getting fifth place and 100 bucks. You can’t buy the stories BMX has given to me. At any moment I can see a montage of so many eras, from early HB to Soil days. I have gained so many homies and lost a few also. SHL is up there, but I’m still making memories. Can you tell me about the local scene in SoCal during the nineties? How has it changed? We were young, wild and super punk rock. Nowadays it’s a little more serious. Like guys either riding to ride or training for a comp. I think either way, power to ya. I love watching people push the limits of what’s possible on a BMX bike. Team Soil seems to be hitting it off pretty well.You guys recently went to Aruba. How was it? Any wild times? Aruba was awesome, the whole trip was wild – instead of only going out with a few guys we brought a big crew. Shawn White, the BMXer, again, Chris Hughes, Dan Norvell, Dylan Stark, Joey Cordova and I had to all be saved at sea. We swam far out to a shipwreck and we didn’t realize the shore was so far away. Hughes was almost drowning at one point. We had to get a lift back into shore by a dingy that was on a snorkeling tour.
Stealing the Show
‘Barspinner’ Ryan Brennan
What happened after the show the other day during the 4th of July? After the show on the 4th of July, I was out with the Team Soil riders celebrating working a BMX show for my third year in a row with the same client, and seventh year in a row doing shows on the 4th. I was yelling stuff like ‘if you don’t love moonshine than you don’t love your country.’ I was really happy, running up a big tab and watching fireworks. Then I started asking people which way the beach was. Next thing you know, I’ve asked some cops and as soon as they gave me directions a minute later another cop car drove by, looked at me and pulled me over. He asked me to come over and gave me a free night’s stay at a cold lil’ shack at the end of main street. It wasn’t a big deal, kinda funny really. They sent me home a few hours later.
Stealing the Show
Any shout-outs or people you’d like to thank? I would like BMX to point out that everyone needs a chance to shine. I am one of very few people that make a living from BMX with no help from sponsorships or big corporations so I speak without a hidden agenda. I want to see less invite only contests, and open qualifiers for X-Games. Different judges, I mean how did Zach Warden get ripped off at Jumbo Ramp? I would like thank Ricky Vigil Pope brothers, SHL, Maligmat, Cordova bros, Ari at Pro Tec, the POWS, ECD, FBM, Dan Norvell, Hucker family, Hughes, Stark, White, Jonah, KFox, Castillo. Anyone that reads this article you can find Team Soil on all the web outlets. Big thanks also to Sean Duncan, the mayor of Sheep Hills, Chris Moeller, for motivation and help. Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to remain balanced you must keep moving forward!
JAILBIRD Pete Bond
Prisons have always intrigued me. I like the way that, in an effort to keep society civil, if people are naughty, then they’re not allowed outside. They are kept indoors for a length of time that is determined by the severity of their naughtiness. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the Law, but they’ve mostly been minor riding related incidents – trespassing, grinding private things, riding on the pavement without lights, etc – and in the UK at least, that kind of misdemeanour, when dealt with in a polite manner, more often than not leads to nothing more than a slap on the wrist before being sent on your way. However, I did once find myself in the wrong place at the wrong time and subsequently spent a night in jail. And I didn’t like it. It felt a bit too much like I’d been kidnapped. As a young BMX rider back then – with no responsibilities, friends dotted all over, and a pair of free-rolling wheels underneath me – I enjoyed about as much freedom as any man ever has, and for that to be suddenly taken away got me thinking just how lucky I was. Comparing spending one night in jail to a stretch in a high security prison is laughable I know, but the whole experience got me thinking about what it means to lose freedoms that are taken all too much for granted. The other day I met a friend of mine, Peter Bond, down the skatepark – he’d just been released from prison and was out on his bike. He’d been let out for good behaviour after serving six months of a year-long sentence. He’d been in prison before, but he’s not a bad guy, life just gets complicated sometimes, emotions can run high and actions have consequences. I’ve been riding with Pete for over ten years and I know how much he loves bikes, I was asking him a bit about his experience and it brought my mind back once more to just how lucky we are to be free to enjoy riding our bikes however and whenever we please. I recorded our conversation and here it is, with the waffle cut out.
What’s it like in prison? It’s horrible.
What did you go to prison for? Something I didn’t do.
Is it as bad as it is in the movies? Nah, it’s not like that. It’s bad, but it’s not like ‘don’t pick up the soap’ bad.
Is everyone in prison innocent? No…
You didn’t get bummed then? Nah, it’s not like that.
In court, when you got found guilty and were sentenced to a year in prison, were you gutted? Yes and no, but nah, not really. I didn’t
really have anywhere to live then, I’d been kicked out of Julia’s and I was sleeping in my car. I was half expecting it anyways.
When you were in prison how many hours a day were you in your cell for? For the first two months it was a 23 hour bang-up, constantly. After that I
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went to a Prison in Shaftsbury where it wasn’t so bad.
How many people are in your cell? One other cellmate, so two per cell, and it’s about the size of the box-bedroom in your house. If you’re not allowed out, is there a shitter in there then? Yeah, it’s just in the corner of the room, so you have to watch each other take a shit. There’s a sink and a TV and a bed and a toilet and that’s about it. Is it clean in there? Is it fuck! It’s grimy. Most people in there are smackheads, the people in that cell before you were more than likely smackheads. You have to clean everything. So what did you do all day? Well you’re allowed out for association and a meal, apart from that I watched
Do you talk about it amongst each other, like what you’re all in there for? You do and you don’t... depends who it is. Mostly you hear about it from other people. Tell me about the tattoo you got while banged up. I got it done in Winchester. The guy in there made a tattoo gun, he was in the cell next door... and there’s not a lot to do in there, so I got ‘BMX’ tattooed on my arm. How did he make a tattoo gun in prison? What you need is the motor from a cassette player, a biro, a paper clip, an elastic band and a pin. From there it’s pretty obvious what you do to make it. Then you run a wire up to the light in the ceiling. You burn a hole in the plastic covering and connect the wires to that starter for the light tube.
Haha, glad to help out. I told you before how long it took me to get those mags. You’re not allowed stuff sent in by people outside, but you’d sent them from the magazine’s address, so I blagged it. It sounds like in prison you’ve got no option but to be resourceful, what else did you used to make, beside tattoo guns? We’d wire razor blades up to the light, one to the light and one to the earth on the tap, and use that to boil water – you just gotta make sure the blades don’t touch else you’d get electrocuted! We’d turn our bed springs into a toaster too. And the classic is a weapon with razor blades and a toothbrush, two blades next to each other, one of each side of the bristles, that way when you slash someone the cut won’t heal. There’s a lot of people in there with big scars across their faces.
"We made our own alcohol, Hooch it’s called. There’s loads of different ways of making it. We’d save up our fruit, add a bunch of sugar and then add some marmite or bread or something with yeast in. We’d make 25 litres at a time. We’d have to hide the smell too" TV. Saturday was a highlight, when the TV guide turned up and you could plan your week. My left hip is fucked now from lying on it for so long watching TV.
Association? What’s that? It’s the time you’re allowed to ‘associate’ with the other prisoners. What was your cellmate like? A speed freak, he’d spend most of his time pacing up and down the eight foot long cell. Did you get on with him? No. We spoke a bit, but I didn’t like him. Were there any other riders in there? No. Were there murders and rapists in there with you? Yeah, there was a bunch of lifers in there.
What do you use for ink, the biro? Nah, that would fade too quick. You use ink from a printer cartridge, most of them use Indian ink. I tried to hold the skin tight, but the thing shakes around so much it wobbled my arm around and came out all over the place. I think it’s amazing. It only took two minutes, not really even a dent in a year’s sentence, but it helped pass the time. While sat in prison you obviously have a lot of time to think, the fact you chose the word ‘BMX’ over anything else says a lot about what was on your mind in there. I guess you missed riding your bike? Of course – you miss everything, family, friends, bikes. But you just gotta keep your head down and do your time. It didn’t help that you sent those magazines in.
If you believe the movies then you’d think that, when you first go in, you have to knock out the biggest guy there so no one gives you shit after that. Did you do that? No. It’s the younger people who are the worst, they’ve all got something to prove. The older people mostly just sit around, getting on with their time. You just need to have mutual respect for each other, but you can’t let yourself get walked over, else they’d do it all the time. Did you have any fights in there? Nah, came close a few times though. Living so close to people for so long is hard. What else did you get up to in there? We made our own alcohol, Hooch we called it. There’s loads of different ways of making it. We’d save up our fruit, you get some every day, chop it all up – apples and oranges – stick it in a plastic bag, fill it up with water, add a
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bunch of sugar and then add some marmite or bread or something with yeast in, and then at night you get some heat into it with wires, then just hope the screws don’t find it. We’d make 25 litres at a time. We’d have to hide the smell too.
Did it taste of Marmite? Nah, after a few weeks it tastes like Vodka... nasty Vodka though. How strong was it? It’s hard to tell... the stuff’s lethal though. What would happen if you got caught brewing alcohol? You’d get 28 days with no pay and you’d get sent down The Block for two weeks. What’s ‘The Block’? Segregation. In a room with only a bed for 24 hours a day. Did you ever get sent there? Only for one day… What did you do? Well at the last place I had a job in the kitchen – you have to have a job – and they said I quit, but I didn’t. They stopped my pay. It pissed me off so I pressed all the alarm buttons. The next day I got called in front of the governor. Tell me another story? Well, every now and then they’d try to put nonces in with us, you know, paedoes,
child molesters. One of the screws let slip that one was on the wing, he was sitting on his bed and someone threw a bucket of scolding hot water over him, it had baby oil and sugar in it. It takes your skin off. He was a mess. After that the police were in, CID were in, that was a big deal.
Are you allowed computers in there? Are you fuck. There are a few mobile phones in there though. Loads of dumb people take photos of themselves and put them on Facebook and they get grassed up and searched by the screws. Idiots. How do people get phones in? Loads of ways, but most get thrown over the fence from outside, big bundles of them at a time. Someone with a phone will arrange it and tell their mate where to throw them and they just try to get it without being seen. I saw a screw get hit on the head by a parcel coming in over the wall once, haha… Does time go slowly in there? Yes. What do you wear? In Dorchester we had prison-issue tracksuit bottoms and a way-too-baggy T-shirt. But at Guy’s Marsh we could wear our own stuff. I had these skinny
jeans and I got enough shit for it! You can’t explain skinny jeans to those people, not even in six months.
Did you ever think about trying to escape? Nah, the walls are about 20 foot high and they have pressure pads on top so part of the wall collapses if you get up there, but Guy’s Marsh is just a 15 foot fence. Does it have razor wire on top? Yeah. By law it’s not meant too, but they pay the fines so they can keep it up there. But you’re not going to break out, you just keep yourself to yourself and do what you have to do. If you had your bike you could have made a ramp and jumped to freedom? I’d be lucky if I could even make it over the jump box these days, haha! What are you going to do now you’re out? I’ve been applying for jobs, trying to keep working in the bike industry. That and I’ve been riding a bit... I’m a bit rusty now though... that’s what six months off your bike does to you. Do you think you’ll ever get locked up again? I’ll try and avoid it. No one really wants to be in prison…
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[a] Geoff Slattery, Wallride to Tuck.
High & Bound
hit happens and it happens on road trips. By design, road trips attract fuck-ups, accidents, damage, injuries, speeding tickets, broken bones and broken bikes, punctures and punch-ups, lost teeth, lost luggage, lost riders, lost wallets, lost passports and lost van rental deposits. Stay at home – it’s safer. There’s too much to go wrong. The basic concept is fraught with risk – gamble huge sums of money to fly a group of reckless young male adults to a foreign city and watch them out-compete each other to get into the most dangerous situation they dare, and just hope no one gets hurt. So much shit happens on road trips team managers are employed to manage the shit – they should be called Shit Managers. The hotel bill needs paying, someone broke the pump, a rider needs taking to hospital, somebody missed their flight, somebody lost the hotel key, somebody wants to ride trails, somebody wants to ride street, “that’s my iPhone charger”, “where’s the next spot?” “I’m vegan”, “I need steak”, “I need WiFi”, “do you have one in XL?”, “This is private property, who’s in charge in here?”, “What terminal does my flight fly from?” Shit Managers have to keep a diverse group of personalities happy, fed and motivated. It’s a tough job that demands the rare combination of both a calm demeanor and meticulous organization skills. In the past I have had the bad luck of coming back from trips with a bag full of unexposed rolls of film still sealed. Expensive flights, months of planning, and it can all be wasted. Every time I return from a trip with my camera equipment intact, all the riders unhurt, the photos I need in the can, all my possessions accounted for and bones unbroken I feel a sense of enormous relief. But often things don’t go to plan. Sometimes riders get arrested for grinding a ledge. Sometimes the police and security are so tight you suspect you have a tail. Sometimes the rain doesn’t let up from the day you arrive until the day you leave. Sometimes the local cuisine doesn’t agree with your stomach and shit happens all day at any given second. Sometimes you get that lost you become violent. Sometimes a volcano in Iceland grounds your flight in Germany for a week. Sometimes you fly to the other side of the world to an ‘untouched’ city only to find ‘fuck all.’ Sometimes the videographer cares about his video more than your photos, and a vicious turf war ensues. Sometimes riders don’t want to ride. Sometimes the van gets broken into and thousands of pounds of bikes and camera equipment is stolen. Sometimes you fly to islands off the coast of Africa to shoot an interview only to carry the rider into the airport on the third day with a broken foot after attempting to shoot the first photograph. Sometimes riders have crashes that severe that it changes their lives and the bad memories scar the minds of all those present – road trips can be shit. Often road trips are plagued by bad luck and ball ups, but not this trip. This trip was a rare joint venture between two overlapping teams, both high and bound for the Bay Area from Long Beach. With the exception of Geoff Slattery losing his bike on the first night, this trip was shit-free. Never have I been on a trip so blessed with such good fortune. The sun shone all day every day. The spots were plentiful. The schools were abandoned and the gates were unlocked. In a week of riding private property from the morning till dusk we experienced zero interruptions from security staff or the police. The riders spent their days forming an orderly queue awaiting the attention of a camera. Everything in California seems to happen with less effort. It’s a place where everything is easier, the cars are automatic, the hotels have vacancies and the car pool lanes are empty. It’s hard to imagine such a shit-free trip in any other country. God bless America.
[b] Iz Pulido, Crankarm.
High & Bound
[c] Shane Weston, 180 fastplant.
High & Bound
[d] Christian Rigal, Up Rail to Hardway 180, San Jose.
High & Bound
[e] Chester Blacksmith, Roof drop to curved wallride. [f] Geoff Slattery, Rail fast plant.
High & Bound
[g] Corey Martinez, Curved Luc-E.
High & Bound
NO SAINT Chris Mahoney Words and Photography by STEVE BANCROFT
About a month ago, while we were sat in our makeshift studio finishing the last issue of this magazine, Benson recounted us a great story. He couldn’t recall exactly how he came to know it, but he knew we’d like it. And like it we did. We sat there in George’s living room with our tea and biscuits listening intently as he relayed a real life story about one of the most prominent UK contest riders from the last decade, and one of BMX’s most mischievous characters, Chris Mahoney. Benson told us how the cheeky northern toothless doubleflipper had once landed himself in a spot of serious bother with some well-hard gangsters. He owed them money, more than likely for drugs. £500 was the debt. It wasn’t enough to lose his life over, but unless he came up with the reddies quick sharp, it was enough to earn him a couple of badly broken legs and a good all-round pasting. Unless paid back in full it was to be a punishment just short of guns, but definitely one involving bats, possibly even knives. He managed to elude his would-be assailants for a few weeks, but they eventually tracked him down and passed a message that he had until the weekend to cough up or they’d beat the living shit out of him. With the goods long gone and with no means of raising the capital, things were looking decidedly bleak for young Mr Mahoney. Then, just when it looked like going on the run was his only option, came a glimmer of hope. Back then Chris was riding most days at the local indoor skatepark and it was there that he heard about a contest they were holding that Satur-
day. The prize for first place was £500. It was as if the BMX gods themselves had sent Chris a golden lifeline. If he could just win the competition all his troubles would be solved, he wouldn’t have to run away and he could go back to his normal life of stealing cars and doing tailwhips. So the day of the comp rolls around. Chris got there early to get in as much practise time as possible, he knew he had a shot at the win, but he’d need to put in a flawless run to avoid snapped bones. As the event started he saw the gangsters in the crowd, their shaven heads and bomber jackets standing them out from all the mums and kids like a sore thumb. As he sat on the deck waiting for his run, he looked down to the crowd and caught the eye of the biggest gangster, the 6’6” meathead gave him a knowing wink, gently tapping a wellused baseball bat into his open palm. This was the gamble of Chris’s life, and he was all in. He had nothing to lose. Getting ready to drop-in he hoped, that if he crashed, he would break both legs, so at least it would be over quick that way. The pressure was unbearable. It was quite literally “do good tailwhip tricks, or die.” Fighting back images of paralysis and even less teeth, Chris dropped in and laid down the run of his life. The crowd, oblivious to his grim predicament, cheered and screamed as he flipped and whipped and goofy one-footed tabled all over the course like a man possessed. He’d done it, he’d pulled out the run of his life and got first place. He threw down his bike and punched the air letting out a victory roar at the top of his
lungs. It was a bright fairytale ending to a hopeless looking nightmare. The innocent crowd cheered back... if only they knew...
ing forward to speaking about all that, but mostly I look forward to talking about double backflips and the kind of story Benson told me.
As he climbed down off the podium the gangsters blocked his path like a wall of meat and well-hard brainless muscle. With a wry smile Chris handed the wad of prize money over to the chief gangster. He took the cash, stuffed it into his inside jacket pocket and flicked Mahoney a look that said, “you’ve got away with it this time, but only just. I don’t like you and really I wanted to beat you up, but you’ve pulled it off and we think you’re well all right now.” They shook hands and Chris did a double backflip to celebrate.
On the maps thing on the phone England all looks the same, there are roads and rivers and towns and villages, but they all look the same. If you believe the phone then you’d think the country is the same top to bottom, but the reality of making the journey looking out the car window, compared to looking at the screen on the phone, is a very different one.
It was a great story – the stuff of Hollywood movies – of that there is no doubt. But, unable to recall where he’d heard it, Benson couldn’t vouch for its authenticity. I wanted it to be true. I needed it to be true. I just had to find out... if true, it was a story that needed to be told. If false... it needed telling anyway. So I went to stay with Chris Mahoney. Chris lives with his girlfriend and their four young boys in a cosy semi-detached house in Wigan. I get his address in the maps thing on my phone and I follow the pulsing blue blip along the big blue roads from where I live on the south coast, to where Mahoney lives in the top middle towards the left. I’m excited to hang out with him again, I’ve heard stories of him working as a stunt man and opening a tattoo studio, I’m look-
I live on the edge of a forest by the sea, there’s space and it’s clean and the grass is clipped short – I’m a southern fairy. As I drive towards Wigan the grass grows longer, litter appears long the roadside, accents turn gritty and a general atmosphere of cynicism engulfs my car. Chris’s street is narrow, lined with houses and cars. I follow the house numbers up, I find number 10, 11 must be opposite. Number 10 has a poorly looking three-wheeled Corsa in the garden. I pull up outside the Mahoney residence and there’s a bunch of riders and kids in his front garden. I say hello and shake some hands. Some go to do fancy handshakes, but ‘traditional English’ is what I give them back. A striking woman with tattoos, large breasts and bright pink hair walks out of the house and starts rounding up the kids. I’m introduced to her, it’s Michelle, Chris’s girlfriend and mother of his young son, Coban. I try not to stare at her tits. They’re
nice. They look fake. Is it rude to stare at fake tits? Is there a time limit? If so does it go up with cup size? Does it follow the inverse square law? I’m offered a cup of tea but politely decline, the sky is peppered with ominous looking clouds so we opt to go out riding straight away, before the forecasted showers make their inevitable descent. I get my bike out and lock up my car. Upon Chris’s suggestion I take out my laptop and leave it in the house. I lock my car again and check the handle and – although my central locking has never so much as skipped a beat – I walk around the passenger side and check that one too. A few of us head out on our bikes towards a local concrete park, on the way we ride through the estate where Chris grew up.
"I tried 53 double backflips and rode out of three of ‘em"
I ask him what the estate is called, wondering if I’d maybe recognise it from Neighbours From Hell or another one of the TV programs southerners watch to make themselves feel better. “Worsley Hall,” Chris replies in his thick Lancashire accent, he cracks a sly smile as the words leave his lips. “Why did you smile like that?” I ask with genuine intrigue. “That’s the estate’s proper name, but most people call it Worst-OfAll…” he answered with a laugh. Although it’s only midday the street looks dark, the sky is smothered with cloud and the houses are just dark. Some residents are out wandering around, their faces look white against all the dark. One man in a tracksuit shuffles past, his mouth is open and there’s a vacant look on his face. His face is the dead white colour of a fish’s belly. When we get to the sorry excuse of a skatepark I take off my camera bag and ask him how it came to be graced with such a nickname. “There’s a lot of crime and a lot of drugs,” he says without hesitation. I move my bag closer to my feet as he continues “It’s a lot better now, but a few years ago there was a big drug scene around here, lots of dealing and using and people squatting in all the houses... there must have been ten stolen cars a week dumped and burned out here. The air was always thick with black smoke and the tarmac was scorched and melted all the way along here. There were drug dealers having parties in these houses and they’d just set fire to everything. No one gave a fuck about this area. It got so bad that the council demolished most of it, there was nothing else to do. They’ve rebuilt it now, so it’s not that bad.” Although it’s called a ‘skatepark’ no skateboard has ever been ridden here. It can’t have been. The ground is so rough and the kinks at the bottom of the ramps so sharp, that it’s quite simply not an option. The park is surrounded by over-grown playing fields with saggy rusted goal posts, unused facilities long neglected by the local council. The flashy bikes of our group look foreign here, shiny tourists
in a third world country, they attract attention – I’m unsure if people are interested in watching sweet bike tricks or stealing something expensive to swap for smack. The ramps are impossibly hard to ride. God knows who designed them, I can only imagine the brief the designer was given read something like “objects that will last until the end of time and be impossible for any human to have fun on.” But, after growing up here and thereby being no stranger to tough challenges, Chris gives it his best shot and we end up getting some sweet photos. Chris can do tricks, if there’s one thing I know about Chris Mahoney, apart from the fact he has no front teeth, is that he can do tricks. Having immersed myself in the contest scene of the late nineties and early 2000s I was very much aware of what he was capable of on a bike. I’ve been in the crowd or shooting photos on the deck what feels like a hundred times whilst Chris was steaming around the street course with relentless energy and enthusiasm. I used to love watching him ride, his obscure combination of predictable tricks and unpredictable gaps and lines made him a treat to watch. He was a showman, a real tricks man. Back then he was notorious on the contest circuit for trying double backflips. At that time only Mirra and Murray had pulled them and the trick was still very much a coveted big fucking deal. On the five minute pedal to the next spot I ask him about his history with the ‘Barney Rubble’ and his answer goes right back to his beginnings on a bike; “I started riding in 1994 and I got into BMX in a big way. By the late nineties, I wanted to be Dave Mirra. I’d ride all day every day. All I’d do is ride at Rampworx and play Dave Mirra on the PlayStation. That was my life. In the opening credits of that game, the last clip is of him doing a double flip over a massive jump box. I wanted to do that so bad, I just said, ‘Right, if he can do it, I can do it.’ One year I rode Rampworx every day it was open, 362 days or something.” The simple reasoning and logic behind his decision to learn the double flip are unarguable, but, just like our shiny bikes in this run-down estate, it’s a reasoning that seems somewhat out of place. Judging by the dilapidated houses and drugged out residents, it looks like people around here subscribe more toward a dictum of ‘I’m owed a living’ rather than ‘I can accomplish anything I put my mind to’. But it’s this vision and positive energy that make Chris such a diamond in the rough, it’s this trait that has taken him and his bike up and out of Worst-Of-All and to all corners of the earth. “A few years past and then, in 2002 – I think it was my first contest – at The Bike Show I was chatting to Jon Taylor and Bas Keep about double flips and Jon was like ‘You should just send one.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re right, I should just send one.’ I remember Grotbags was commentating, I dropped in, did my little run and the whole time I was just thinking about the double flip, I’d never tried one
before, but I couldn’t think of anything else. Last tricks came round and I just thought, ‘Fuck it!’” “I manualed the box backwards, cranked at the quarter, aired as high as I could, landed, pedalled at the jump box and just threw this double flip with all I had. I got to my wheels, but I was all off axis and slid out. As I was sliding down the landing my peg went through the box, stopped me dead and spat me out on the floor. I just remember everyone going mental, as I lay there I remember looking up and seeing this shocked expression on Ian Morris’s face. I was just a little kid from nowhere back then, I don’t think he expected me to go round twice.” There is a genuine passion and excitement in his voice as he recalls his beginnings with the ‘Double’, and as I’d had the awesome fortune of watching many attempts in the past, we were both happy to be talking about this. I asked him how he ended up riding away from one – “There were no foam pits at that point,” he reminisced, “I’d never tried one before The Bike Show. I’ve always ridden like that, I’d much rather try something for real than into foam. I wanted it so bad. I couldn’t try it at Rampworx as the roof wasn’t high enough, so the only chances I had to try it was at outdoor comps. I tried 53 double backflips and rode out three of ‘em. At comps I was chasing it, I had some pretty big crashes. The one at King of Concrete sticks out as being bad, a piece of metal went through my kneecap and into my leg and I broke my jaw. It’s ironic really as that was the only one I’ve ever tried with a full face on. I just got into it, I knew I just had to pull that trick, no matter what it took. I came to the Bike Show in 2004 and I tried it again and crashed, I’d hurt myself and I thought, ‘Come on Chris, let’s give up on this.’ And just then Anthony Pill came running up to me and just shouted ‘Get up and do it again!’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I looked around and they were all there, Mirra, Nyquist, all the big names were there. I picked myself up and dusted myself off, went around again and just gave it everything I had. I went around twice and pulled it clean, the first one ever over here, probably the third person ever to do one. The whole place went mental. I threw my helmet into the crowd like an idiot.” As we’re riding through the streets of Worsley Hall, Chris is stopped by numerous people, it’s obvious that he’s well known and well liked around here. He chats to builders, shirtless chavs on bikes and teenage mothers, it seems everyone knows who Chris Mahoney is. Eventually we arrive at the next spot, it’s a small tarmac bank under a block of flats. A discarded toilet sits near by. “This is where I grew up riding,” he proclaims with pride. Although not your conventional street spot we session flyouts for a while and shoot another photo. There are a few people milling around, and if I was by myself I’d be worried about my camera gear getting half-inched, but Chris’s status around here puts my paranoia at ease. It starts to rain so we head into Wigan town centre for a bite to eat. We get two pies each from a Gregg’s kinda place, it’s a pound for two. I have one Meat
and Potato and one Chip Shop Chicken Curry, Chris had something similar. We find a covered shopping precinct and eat, sat on our bikes. I ask him more about the city he grew up in – “Wigan is a rundown town. People here haven’t got much. It’s an old mining town, not many people in Wigan have ever had money. No one used to lock their doors, because no one had anything worth nicking. It’s only since modern-day stuff like TVs n’ that has come along that crime has risen.” Again, his voice is laced with pride – northern pride I guess. As we start our second pies, I tell him he should be proud to have achieved so much from such humble beginnings. I ask him what some of the friends he grew up with do now – “A lot of my old friends have died from drug overdoses. A guy called Frank who I used to ride with, he could jump pretty good, they found him dead to an overdose.”
"His obscure combination of predictable tricks and unpredictable gaps and lines made him a treat to watch"
“So would you say BMX saved you?” I enquire. “I’m no saint, don’t get me wrong,” he replies, “But yeah, I’ve seen too many people throw their entire lives away through getting into drugs.You see good kids turn bad too quick, kids from nice families who you grow up with, then one day you’ll see them throwing up on a street corner ‘cos they ain’t got enough smack.”
I push him on why he didn’t consider himself a saint. “We were horrible, when I was 14 or so we used to take a cars from Wigan, drive them up to Blackpool, dump it, take another one, and drive it back here. Just for something to do. There was nothing else to do. I used to go for Renault 5s, something fast. It was the same feeling you get at a comp, kinda nervous and kinda excited. I’d never do that nowadays though.” After spending time on his old estate and hearing of how it used to be, I think it’s fair to say that Chris doesn’t come from much, and for him to have climbed up and travelled to places like Australia, Malaysia, America and all over Europe is a feat made all the more astounding for it. I ask him how he did it. His answer is, as always, honest – “I’m an attention seeker, and I always have been. I grew up in a small house with no money with three sisters and a brother. I grew up competing for attention. At the comps, most of my riding was just to impress girls. That was the main thing. There were a lot of cliques in BMX, style vs tricks. I didn’t care about any of that, I never tried to impress other riders, I just tried to impress the girls in the crowd. I’ve never taken any notice about trends in riding or about fashion. Anybody who’s seen me ride knows I don’t give a fuck about the whole fashion thing, or about what anyone else thinks about my riding.” I love Chris’s ‘Don’t give a fuck’ attitude. After hearing the stories of his formative years, it’s clear
"I was just a little kid from nowhere back then, I don’t think he expected me to go round twice"
to see where he gets it from, but through sheer persistence and positive energy he’s managed to harness that attitude and turn it around to propel himself above and beyond Wigan’s reach.
I’m not disappointed that the story was exaggerated, I’ve got to the bottom of it and I’ve spent time with a man who hung with some bigwigs during one of UK BMX’s most exciting times, it’s been a great trip. After hearing his tales and seeing where he grew up, I can see exactly how a story of that nature could have been born.
I think back to the story that Benson told me and, after spending time with Chris and seeing what makes him tick, I know it’s not true, he’s never been one to get involved with drugs and he’s never been in trouble like that. I put it to Chris and he laughs. I ask him if there’s any truth in it, he smiles and says, “Maybe something like that did happen once... a lot of stuff happens around here.” It turns out that he did pay a debt with contest winnings once, but a debt of a far more innocent kind – it seems the BMX grapevine has once more twisted the meat of a story into something more tasty.
I ask him if he’ll ever move away from Wigan, almost hoping he’d say no. “Now I’m getting older and have a kid of my own, I don’t want that for my kids, I don’t want my kids growing up in an area like I did. I don’t regret growing up here myself – I’ve seen some pretty unique stuff in my time – but it’s not the nicest place in the world. But saying that, I don’t really care too much where I live, having a son is by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If me, Michelle and the boys had nothing for the rest of our lives, so long as we’re together, I’d be the happiest bloke alive.”
And that is Chris Mahoney: BMXer, tattooist, stuntman and happy family man. Ha, “tapping his well used baseball bat into his open palm”... you just gotta love the BMX grapevine.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum Interviews by DANIEL BENSON Photographs by BRAD MCDONALD (VITAL BMX), TIM LEIGHTON BOYCE, MARK NOBLE, JOHN DYE AND JAMIE CAMERON
As the gears of progression grind forward, it’s easy to forget that everything from our bikes to the tricks we do has a starting point – a eureka moment by a rider who thinks outside the box and pushes us into the future. Many follow suit, copying what was done before, trying to add their own original angle.Yet as the course of history has shown, it’s often a handful of iconoclastic individuals who stray from the norm and shake things up for everybody. It’s a hard path to take, the one of most resistance, yet as time passes, what these few people knew all along suddenly becomes the new normal. As BMX reaches its half century, we’ve had our fair share of pivotal and influential movements. Whether it’s leaps in technology or revolutionary riders, we’re often unknowingly indebted to a minority who walked to the beat of their own drum. In the period from around 1987 to 1991, BMX went through an unprecedented change that shook every aspect of it to the core: street riding was born. A handful of riders in the US and the UK pushed the envelope of what was possible on a bike and in turn, laid the foundations for future generations to build upon. BMXers took control and dragged it away from its embarrassingly dated style of freestyle demos in racing leathers and ventured out into the streets of towns and cities, on both sides of the Atlantic. The following pages feature a selection of these revolutionary riders who changed the course of BMX. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides enough insight into how and why these changes needed to happen and in turn, provided the fertile streets with the seeds of creativity that our generation and ones after us will continue to nurture, refine and surpass.
[prev] Vic Murphy, Fastplant, San Diego, ‘92. [a] Eddie Roman, Sproket Grind, San Diego ‘88. [b] Aggroman advert, Go! Magazine, Feb ‘90. [c] James Shepard, Peg Fakie.
History of Street
EDDIE ROMAN Always one to think outside of the box, Eddie Roman was an innovator in many areas of BMX, not only did he push the boundaries of street riding on a bike, he was the first to put it into video, with the seminal Agrroman. Okay, let’s start right at the beginning. How did you get into BMX? I used to play a lot of video games at the local 7-11 convenience store. I won a local Pac Man championship one year, the prize was a Pac Man belt buckle. When I wasn’t playing a game, I would read the magazines in the store. I think the first magazine I saw was BMXA with Clint Miller on the cover. Then I started seeing the BMXA trick team and the first AFA skatepark contests. I had a paper route, so I saved my money and bought a used Torker with yellow Skyway mags. Boom! In many ways, street riding had always been around, what pushed it into the mainstream and also what, if anything, stopped this happening earlier? It was around in the form of wheelies, big curb jumps and any kind of trick that was done in the street. I’m sure the magazines had everything to do with labeling it ‘street riding’. I just used to call it ‘doing tricks’ or ‘getting rad’. What year did you start to notice street riding becoming its own entity, a different discipline to racing and freestyle, or ramp? I was at Balboa Park in San Diego in 1987 or ‘88. I saw Ron Wilton and a bunch of guys from Santee blow through the park, and I followed them to watch. This was the first time I’d seen a pro up close, not in a show. He did a bunny-hop 180 off the fountain – about a 10 inch ledge – and landed in a rollback. And everything changed for me. It wasn’t ramp, it wasn’t flatland, it was sick. So at any time were you aware that what you were doing was groundbreaking? Nope. A lot of times I thought it was stupid. Who bunny-hops up onto a fence, grabs the fence and hangs on for a while? Well… Me, and it was fun. You’re equally well known for the videos you made along with your riding. How important was it to document what you were doing? I never thought of it as documenting anything, I was just filming rad stuff my friends were doing. My dad let me borrow his VHS video camera and I just filmed everyday life, which for me at the time was riding with Vic Murphy, Mat Hoffman and all the other guys. In high school I took video production as an elective class, and just really got into it. This was before you could edit videos or even do slideshows on computers, so it was really new and creative and just cool. I started reading books about lighting and directors and all kinds of film and video production stuff. Video production just became another fun, creative, challenging thing to do, kinda like freestyle. What camera equipment were you using back then? I can’t remember what my dad’s VHS camera was, but the first camera I bought was the Panasonic AG450 Super VHS camcorder. You couldn’t afford editing equipment back then, it wasn’t done on computers yet. I edited Aggro Riding and Kung Fu Fighting with my high school’s equipment, but after that, in order to edit you had to rent an editing facility that was around $35 an hour. I ended up getting a job at a small-time editing
company, and made a deal with my boss. I traded work hours for editing hours. This is how I managed to produce ‘Ride On’. Which rider from that late eighties, early nineties do you think personified that new street aesthetic most? I don’t know, I never thought about our image much. If I helped start a ‘look’ or whatever, I wasn’t planning to. I just wore cut-off T-shirts because I liked them. When I got sponsored by ‘Life’s a Beach’ and then Jimmy’Z, I wore clothes because it was free. I liked the clothes I wore, but I’ve never really spent a lot of time thinking of my style or whatever. As far as other riders go, I’ve always enjoyed watching a sick trick, no matter who it is. Outside of California, who else would you say was pushing it too? Were you aware of any guys on the East coast, or even over in the UK or Europe? Nick Phillip was the first guy to do a wallride, he showed me and Dennis McCoy his bunny-hop to wallrides inside the arena at Holeshot back in 1986, ‘87 maybe? As far as street goes, I don’t remember many others during that time. I was fortunate to be riding with Vic Murphy, Pete Agustin and Maurice Meyer, so I got all the street I needed. The bikes back then must have provided many hurdles, simply because they were under designed for the sorts of stuff you guys were trying to do. It seemed that wallrides, sprocket grinds and fastplants were all the rage. Chris Day does a really good feeble on a bench placed on the top of a bench, so the idea was there, but throughout Aggroman, peg grinds are pretty slim pickings.Were you aware of the potential of peg grinds at the time, but didn’t risk doing them for fear of stripping axles? Ummm… you’re asking the wrong guy because I really never liked pegs much. I had about five peg freestyle tricks, but I took them off after my Skyway days because I just thought they were dangerous! I loved riding fast through tight spaces in traffic and sometimes kicking out on trashcans and other things. The thought of a peg catching something and making me wreck just lingered in the back of my mind. Pegs were good for giving friends a ride, but that was about it. I had a lot of respect for guys who rode pegs – which was pretty much everyone except me – but I wasn’t a peg guy. I was the coaster brake guy. I think you can look at some of your early videos and say that BMX has changed so much, but I think you can equally argue the opposite. It’s strange how Vic Murphy’s tables are just timeless, Craig Campbell’s wallride 360s and 540s, your halfcabs and Craig Grasso’s attitude in general, just seems so current, even by today’s standards. Looking back, who do you think had the best style in those early days of street riding? Me?! I really never looked at it that way much. When someone did a huge trick that scared me to watch, that was awesome. Dave Voelker jumping over a huge fence from off a tiny bump, that was sick. Mat Hoffman doing huge handrails on his pegs, when no one else had tried, that was sick. Maurice Meyer blasting down a steep hill and launching off a curb in San Francisco… BOOM! Style was part of each individual rider, but it’s kinda like asking me who’s hair I liked the best. All hairstyles show personality, individuality, and some are definitely nappier than others, but I’m not one to focus on a hairdo. Let’s see what ol’ Harry Hairstyle can do with his bike.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
So how important was skateboarding to the progression of BMX street riding? It seems an obvious link, but I’m sure at some stage you started to realize the potentials of the bike, instead of just mimicking skateboarding? This will probably sound strange, but I never attempted to mimic skating. Some of my friends were around skaters a lot – Maurice, Pete, Vic etc – but I actually didn’t like skating at first. My first skatepark was Del Mar, and there was an attitude from the skaters towards the BMXers, they didn’t like us. So in my immaturity, I returned the favour, and I chose to think skating was lame. Still to this day, whenever I hear someone refer to a bunnyhop as an ollie, it bugs me. Stupid, huh? The more I saw skating, the less I could deny it, good skaters are sick. There, I said it publicly. Also, which may relate to the previous question, how important was it for you guys to move BMX along stylistically from the race pants and helmets of the mid to early 80s? Was that something you wanted to get away from? I wanted to get away from uniforms simply because I thought they were lame. On a BMX track, yes, I see the value. On the street, who in the world wants to wear a motocross suit? I remember going to London for Holeshot, and I had silk-screened some heavy metal band names onto my Skyway shirt, and cut off the sleeves. The UK riders were tripping out, and the ‘Anarchic Adjustment’ crew loved it. I got back to America and was asked not to destroy my jerseys anymore. Hmm… Something must have went down in ‘managersville’. Whatever. Because it was so new and different, did you receive any bad press about this ‘new’ and strange angle BMX was taking? It seemed like it only really came into prominence in the magazines around ‘86, if I’m not mistaken, but you guys were already pretty good by that stage. Was street riding frowned upon before this? And what brought on the change that got it into the mags finally? I think some of the ‘adults’ in the sport, the people who were running companies, businesses, contests, etc. but didn’t actually ride… They didn’t like it because they saw it as affecting their sales.You can’t sell a BMX frame if it’s covered with punk rock stickers and the brand isn’t visible… or so they thought. And maybe they were right, but that no longer matters to the riders. Riders just wanna have fun. Finally, how do you feel about BMX today, particularly street riding? It must be strange when you see some of the crazy stuff people are doing these days, but also pretty cool when you see someone doing something you invented, or did over twenty years ago?! It’s fun to see people doing my old tricks. And I still love seeing a sick photo or video part. Page 91 of The Albion Vol 2, #7, Geoff Slattery doing an invert in someone’s shady backyard or wherever that is… That shot is sick, that might just make it up on my wall. I’ll catch a BMX comp on TV every once in a while, or someone might send me a YouTube video. The feeling is still there, I love seeing a street rider get AGGRO. ShAuN AllISON When street riding was a tight knit community of underground riders, there still remained a handful of people who flew under the radar. Shaun Allison was one such rider.With an aggressive mix of speed and control, Shaun’s riding was easily as good, if not better, than some of his contemporaries elsewhere in the UK.
Did you come from a freestyle background? Yeah, we all started riding flatland then progressed to halfpipe. The lucky thing that happened with me was that I had a halfpipe about a mile away, which was pretty unheard of back then. The amount of luck, to be there at the right time, to have that ramp and have all these sponsored riders around – I think there were about six sponsored riders in a 30 mile radius. I was lucky to hang out with these guys and have this ramp so close. So what made you go out street riding then if you had this amazing ramp scene close by? That’d have to be my hometown. I still maintain to this day that it’s a really cracking place to ride. I’m a product of my environment to a certain degree. If the street wasn’t that good, I would’ve probably just kept on the ramp and riding flatland. But it was that good and I seemed to pick it up better. Another advantage was that I was a few years older. I guess I was a little bit stronger, to pull some of the stuff off. My vision of street riding at the time was to be powerful, aggressive and technical. I think I met those criteria to be honest with you. People were doing a lot of wallrides and footplants, but I just wanted to push it and see what we could come up with. There’s been a lot of trends in BMX. Some things have progressed it and given it a really big jolt and others haven’t. Case in point would be Plywood Hoods for flatland. They really pushed it along. Whereas when you look at the Skyway Curb Dogs, they kind of moved it sideways and slowed flatland down to a certain degree. You’ve got to make your mistakes if you want to be creative, then you’ll forge your own path. At the time, when the UK street thing started kicking off, the focus seemed to be in London. I think it’s safe to say what you were doing back then was as good, if not better, than riders down south. I was unemployed at the time, so I didn’t really travel. I was chasing a dream, to be honest with you. You were sponsored at the time, right? I got flowed through Pete Hawkins at Sports Style Management, who dealt with brands like Skyway. Street was the new thing, it was fantastic publicity for them, as street was the new cool thing. I think at the time, I could’ve been the first guy to be sponsored – or more accurately, flowed stuff – primarily for street riding.You’ve got to remember, the scene was very small and hardcore, so it was no great shakes at the time. I didn’t get a great deal. I got some free wheels, which was good. I got coaster wheels, which Eddie Roman used to use really well. A lot of tricks were only possible by using that type of wheel. But it was a technology that was on its way out. Was it a bit like the Curb Dogs thing, like a sideways step for BMX? Maybe… Not so much, but maybe. Some things are evolutionary and others are revolutionary. I’d say coasters were part of the evolution, whereas someone like Mat Hoffman was a revolutionary. Going back to the thing about not leaving Worksop, did you ever think that when you saw people like Craig Campbell going to America and making a name for themselves in street riding, did you ever have any desire to go and do the same? I think you’ve got to remember that at the time, even though street was growing and becoming really progressive, the money was still in doing demos and freestyle shows. There still wasn’t any money in street riding. It was becoming very influential,
History of Street
[d] Shaun Allison, Fakie Wallride, ‘88. [e] Dave Slade, Gap out to manual wallride, ‘90.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
[f] Craig Grasso, Wallride to Table, San Fransisco, â€˜90.
History of Street
but relatively it was still really small. You’ll find in many things that the true pioneers often don’t get the credit they deserve, it’s the people that come after, once it’s gotten more mainstream. They’re the ones that make the money. I think if you asked Eddie Roman, I bet he didn’t make a lot of money from street riding.
How do you feel when you look at riding now? I’m immensely proud, to be honest with you. I think you’ve got to remember that even for the time, I was pretty underground. So I’m sure there are only a handful of people that remember me. But I’m happy, no regrets. ZINES
I think what needs pointing out is that BMX was about to hit the skids anyway… When I started in ‘81 there was about 100 kids on bikes round my area. Within two years there was about two or tree kids still doing it near me. It went from a fad to a lifestyle for those who stuck with it. I put everything into it. All my heart, soul and creativity. I really loved it. I don’t even think I’ve put that much into a relationship or a job. I’ve done nothing since that matches it. Was it frustrating, putting that much time and effort into it when BMX was on its way out? Not really, it just didn’t matter to me. There was still a scene, although it was more down south. I remember Nick Phillip coming up on a shoot with Tim Leighton Boyce. Nick was one of the first people I really saw riding street actually. I remember thinking, ‘I could do that.’ Then Pete Augustin came over riding at the Alfreton National and he was doing some street riding. He was good, but I thought, ‘I’m as good as that’, so I went and rode with him. Dave Slade was the bike guy at R.A.D and he was trying to get an interview done for ages, but it never materialised. Saying that, I had a lot of lucky breaks before that to even get where I was at the time. I remember going to a South Bank Jam and I remember being a little underwhelmed by the riding to be honest! Like, don’t take that the wrong way, but I had heard all these names and seen all these pictures of these guys and I think in my mind, I just expected them to be ten times better than me. It seems like you were looking up to all these people without realizing your own talent? Yeah, I was just a rider from a small town in the North who was just doing his own thing. It’s not like now, where you have the Internet and there’s loads of videos. I didn’t even have a phone, if you wanted to get in touch you had to write to me! Talk about underground! Your name has come up a lot whilst researching this article, but even now, few people… Even have a clue who I am?! That’s fine, I like that. Were you into all the stuff that Nick was doing with Anarchic Adjustment? Yeah, I was definitely into it. It was either that or some precut BFA approved uniform. A few years before you had to do compulsory tricks at competitions. It was so outdated. This new thing that was happening was people taking control and not conforming. It wasn’t well documented at the time either. I think people like Nick and TLB had seen street riding happen in skateboarding and could see some worth in it. Other than that, the only places where you could see street riding were in these ‘zines that riders were making. Like Ed Docherty was doing Warehouse. Mike Rose and Dave did theirs, but they went off to Uni to do their own thing and I guess in many ways that’s when the scene started to unravel. Where did that leave you then? Stranded, I would say. I think I lost direction for a while. I think looking back, I put too much of myself into it, because I loved it so much, and I still do. It kinda fizzled out, as I’m sure most riders will tell you.
Without regular magazine coverage, ‘zines provided a regular(ish) source of street riding media. Jamie Cameron talks about how they came about and also why they were necessary. We all collect memories, some of them permanent, some of them not. Ever since I can remember, I’ve taken BMX photos – collected BMX memories and made them permanent. I was never alone. In the latter part of the eighties (yes, before the internet and before DVDs) the latest developments in the world of BMX were communicated by means of magazines and hear’say. One such magazine (Freestylin’) had planted a seed long before its closure… ‘zines! ‘Zines were nothing revolutionary in concept; music and skateboarding had produced ‘zines to express the opinions our mainstream media was unwilling (or unable) to for decades. BMX ‘zines brought talent (that might have never been noticed) to our attention whilst satisfying those with a thirst for more knowledge than any monthly magazine could hope to convey.
"I think the direction freestyle BMX was going was the catalyst to go in the extreme opposite of that with street riding" - Nick Phillip
At their worst, ‘zines were a mixture of sterile contest reports, reviews, and re-cycled photos. At their best, ‘zines allowed a freedom of expression for some of BMX’s more creative and dedicated individuals. Individuals like Sheffield’s David Slade (now a Hollywood film director) and his ‘Damage’ ‘zine. Good ‘zines were, at times, deeply personal and often political: Blogs with bollocks and a soul.
Every couple of months I’d gain access to a photocopier, duplicate my memories and Pritt Stick them on folded sheets of A4 with some thoughts articulated via an Amstrad 1512 and a dot matrix printer. Bingo, I had a ‘zine. Lads would send 50 pence pieces from around the country and I’d send them a portal into my world of BMX. I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of the ‘zine scene of the late eighties. Swapping photocopied BMX memories with like-minded individuals. My ‘zines never reached the creative heights of ‘Damage’, but they did allow me to meet some amazing people I would never have otherwise met. Without my modest ‘zines of the late eighties my bike would have been gathering dust ever since.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
Regardless as to whether they were happening in the UK or in the US, street jams showed that this new street movement was picking up momentum. Even though the money at the time was still in freestyle contests, the jams showed solidarity between riders that helped cement this new direction riding was going into as something worth pursuing. Here, Chris Hardy and Ron Wilkerson explain what was happening on both sides of the Atlantic. Chris hardy
A couple of years before I did my first jam in Wath Upon Dearne, a small town near Rotherham, Dave Slade had already done two jams in Sheffield. I did mine in 1987, so we’re talking 1986, 1985, or maybe ‘86, early 1987. I did mine in August, so Dave’s second jam could’ve been earlier in that year. I remember seeing in the magazines that Ron Wilkerson was doing his first street jam around the same time, but I think Dave might have been slightly earlier. Ron was a big influence though, like the jam he did at the Brooklyn Banks in 1989. That looked amazing, although it was Dave who got me interested. Either way, these things were happening over here and in America.
You should be interested in them all, because nearly ALL of them were exactly like that – pushing the boat out, so to speak! The energy was very pure; guys just into riding, being creative and throwing down. And yeah, the first ‘Meet The Street’ was just that, completely ground-breaking, pure creative energy that everyone who had the opportunity of being there felt. The first event was a pretty powerful, unique experience that really could only happen once ever. We all knew that by being there we were part of something that was breaking barriers. It’s kinda like your first time having sex, or where you were when the UScorporate-government-planned WTC event happened, you’ll never forget it.
You’ve got to remember, that back then everyone was still really young, 25 at the most, so the creativity was really flowing. You had people at that age, like Ron, or younger starting up bike companies! There were no rules back then. I asked Dave what I needed to do to put on a jam. He was a bit older and more experienced, so he went, “get some flyers, hire this place and try and get some sponsorship.” Shaun was getting stuff from Haro and Skyway, as were the Hudson Bros and Jason Ellis, so we managed to get stuff in through that. It ended up being quite a lot of stuff at the time, nothing more than tees and bum bags – they were the craze at the time – but we got it. A couple of years later I did another jam, this time in Sheffield. I think this one is the one people really remember. The idea was simply, ‘we’ll meet here and we’re riding.’ And that’s it, just a big crew of riders going around spots, much like you’ve probably seen with DFTU’s Battle Royale and more recently DUB over here in the UK. Back then nobody was doing that. Street jams were cobbled together on ramps, blocks and small quarters and even though they were very much ‘street’ jams, they’d often be additions to spots and things like that. I don’t know where I got the idea… I don’t know if I saw it somewhere else, but I’m sure no one else was doing it in BMX at the time. I think it was simply because that’s what you do when you go street riding. You generally don’t sit in a schoolyard all day riding makeshift ramps, you go out into the city and ride. I think it was simply that, it seemed obvious. We met up on a rainy Saturday, at the train station I think, and just went out from there. That was 1989, the first one. If I remember rightly, around 70 riders turned up for that one, which was amazing. I haven’t been to anything DUB have put on and I couldn’t make it to a Battle Royale, but back then, that really was fucking nuts. You never saw 70 riders in one place. We got the whole South Yorkshire riders out, the Nottingham guys, the Derby lot and the Leeds guys… It was unbelievable. I put on about five jams in total, including another jam around the street spots of Leeds, right up until about 1991. I look at the street jams people put on now and I think ‘good for them,’ because they’re going out and doing something. It’s great that there’s loads of skateparks around these days, but back then, we didn’t have that. BMX almost forced you to think outside the box and do something different.
Putting on the ‘Meet The Street’ jams was really no different that any of the jams I’ve ever put on. Pretty much every single jam was just that, breaking barriers, just fucking going for it and thinking creatively. I’d already put on vert contests for a couple years by then, and those were breaking though barriers. With the Meet The Street the events were started for the same reason as I had started the King Of Vert, events that fulfilled a need and making events that were reflecting the coolness of what I knew BMX to be and creating events that I would be excited to ride in. With ‘Meet The Street’, the bottom line with it, is that I wanted to create events that make me actually feel proud to be involved in. The KOV jams were such amazing events, but only for riders that were vert riders. I wanted to create the same type of event as I had with the KOVs, but for all the riders that were not just vert riders. It was definitely a breath of fresh air, blowing the doors off, all of our minds wide open, like a new, fresh painting that Van Gogh had just finished, paint still wet. Riders were really psyched with both the KOV and MTS jams because they were not so ‘structured’ and they could be themselves. Like some guys would try and be ‘anarchists’ and drink beer or whatever. Normally they would have to sneak into other BMX events. At a 2Hip event they just didn’t get the same attention trying to be anarchists because the jam itself was already the definition of anarchy. For example, the first BMX jam ever held at Brooklyn Banks. To the bystander it was like we just showed up, broke out a PA and a few punk ramps to add to the banks, and had a jam with a thousand mad riders. From my end though it was, and always is, some serious work handling and organising all the details so that everything flows smoothly, thus keeping all the riders entertained to not start any trouble. I don’t know where I learnt how to do this, I just knew. I guess I learned from experience, that if the event was not well organised then people, especially BMXers, get bored and start to find something to do – like break things, paint, or steal... And don’t think for a second that I’m done yet, I’ve still got some blood running through my veins. I’ve got some more BIG THINGS brewing to throw into the BMX-mix in our future.
History of Street
[g] Chris Hardy, X-up footplant, ‘89. [h] A collection of BMX zines from the late 80s and early 90s. [i] Ron Wilkerson, Bank to wallplant. San Diego, ‘91.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
NICk PhIllIP It takes someone with clear vision and an unwavering attitude to make their mark on something as broad and disparate as BMX. Nick Phillip was that person. Nick knew what street riding should be and distanced it from the stale, rules driven world of freestyle. Nick was one of the most influential people at the time and he played a huge part in pushing what would become the foundations of modern day street riding by the tricks he invented, the style he gave it and in the way he worked it into the media at the time. What were some of the things that made you want to push BMX in a different direction? I was the riders’ representative for the UKBFA and they’d have these meetings with all these parents, like Peter Hawkins. I was the only person who was actually a rider on the committee. They kept saying that they needed to get BMX in the Olympics, which is somewhat ironic, having this conversation now. At the time to me, it seemed they wanted BMX to be this team sport, with uniforms and all that. Perhaps to represent a value system that was healthy and somewhat middleclass, I think you could say. I was a rebellious teenager, adolescent and a little bit silly. To me, they were trying to make it stand for everything I was trying to rebel against. Like at school, there’s that social hierarchy, how good at football are you and how good at fighting are you? It’s a real Darwinian thing. BMX was this thing that I always saw as a much more individual thing, as form of expression. It was more creative in a sense, than the team sports. It was just much more personal. There was a camaraderie to it and you pushed each other and it evolved, but it seemed like you didn’t need the team aspect of BMX, it’s much more about the individual… So when you started street riding, was that an avenue of BMX that you, as a bunch of individuals, could take control of? Yeah, I think the direction freestyle BMX was going was the catalyst to go in the extreme opposite of that with street riding. It was something that was unorthodox, it was frowned upon by the organization that was supposed to run it. Anyone could do it anywhere. Maybe I’m over-intellectualising now, but there was another element to it too, more to do with growing up in an urban environment, around tower blocks, curbs, brick walls. It was about utilizing the environment we lived in, in a creative way, because for a lot of people it can be very alienating, being in urban spaces. I did a talk a little while back about cyber culture in the 90s and now. One of the things that I can see that’s different is that before it came along, it was really necessary to have individuals who had this clear vision and were pretty irreverent and maybe a little in the way of wanting to think they were iconoclastic, going ‘fuck everyone else, this is the future’, and push into it. Now, everything permeates so quickly, in real time, and the barriers and access to information are not nearly what they were before. There’s just not as much resistance, because there’s so much more access. I think that’s a very important distinction between then and now. I grew up before the Internet and eventually moved into that arena. Before the Internet there was this distinction between the mainstream and the underground. That distinction, resistance and tension allowed the underground movements, whatever they are, to germinate under their own steam and creativity. I think it’s the big difference in the evolution of culture, from the pre-Internet to post-Internet generations. There just isn’t the same gestation period. If someone asked me what the next big thing was, I’d say there isn’t a next big thing. All there is, is simply ‘the thing’. Were you aware in those early days of the potential in street riding?You were riding regularly with a lot of good
people, but you seemed to really notice the worth in it. Erm, I definitely felt that street riding was going to be a very important part of BMX. I think a more tangible part of what we knew at the time was that there were only a certain number of skateparks in London at the time and there was a huge amount of street out there to ride. Just in the terms of that, if you have meager resources at your disposal, like you don’t have access to a ramp or some dirt track, chances are you’ve got a street and some curbs. With ‘Anarchic Adjustment’, was that something you did because you wanted BMX to look a certain way, or at least offer a new style? Actually, Anarchic started because I wanted to get really cool Vans custom shoes. The only place that sold them was Surrey BMX and all they had was a really limited selection. I realised that after looking through the American BMX magazines, that I could contact shops direct and order custom Vans, which nobody in the UK was doing or even had access to. So I started importing Vans to my house and I’d sell them in North London to my friends. I did that for a little while then I had to come up with a name. I can’t remember how I came up with ‘Anarchic Adjustment’, but it just got a bit of a vibe going to it. I made up some stickers and I’d say, “I’m importing Vans and this is my company”, and give them one of these ‘Anarchic Adjustment’ stickers. People seemed to really like it and say I should make up some tees with the logo on there. I’d screen-print the tees in my bedroom and to begin with, Craig and the other guys would just wear them in our little group. I ran an advert in BMX Action Bike to promote this new thing I was doing. Another part of the puzzle here is that BMX was on a downward curve and it needed something to freshen it up. I went into BMX Action Bike to give them my ad. Richard Grant and Tim Leighton Boyce saw the ad and were like, “we like this, do you want to be involved in the magazine in some way?” I was 15 or 16 at the time and the art director there was on his way out, so they were like, “do you just want to come and be our art director?” I was still at school, had no training whatsoever, but it was so exciting working on a magazine. Anyway, because I was working there, I got free ads so Anarchic Adjustment just grew organically through those events. By then it had grown into this symbol of overt rebellion and I guess was on the way up as the whole uniform thing was on its way out. How did you end up moving to America? Americans would come over occasionally and we’d meet up. For example Eddie Roman came over and we went to a Holeshot comp and at the time, we’d started doing wallrides. Eddie was doing ground tricks and we were like “have a look at this.” And inside the place, we’d try and ride up the walls. He was like, “wow…” He was blown away by it and he took that idea back to America with him. He was showing people like Spike and Andy Jenkins what he’d seen over in the UK and was like “this is what they’re doing in London.” A period just before this too, a few of us were going out there and staying over. Jess Dyrenforth got hooked up by GT in the UK and then went to US and got hooked up by the team over there. Once he’d moved out there, I went on a few holidays to stay with him… Actually, another interesting part of this is that before I went over, I got a call from this guy called Dave Durrell who was running this club night called Delirium which was in this theatre right by Centre Point in central London. He basically wanted to make it into a nightclub, but because it was a theatre, he needed a certain amount of live acts to get the permit off the council. He couldn’t just have music or DJ’s, even if these live acts
History of Street
were only on for an hour, half an hour or so. He got in touch and asked if we’d like to ride on stage. I thought he wanted to showcase BMX, but the reality of it was that he simply wanted his live music permit. It ended up being arguably the best Hip Hop club in London at the time. So to give it a time, it was like mid to late eighties. Maybe ‘86 to ‘88, ‘89. Hip Hop was just breaking in the clubs in London then. There was a bunch of us, including Craig, who’d go and set up these janky halfpipes on stage and perform. But it just ended up being this super happening Hip Hop club.We performed on stage with the Beastie Boys, which was really funny actually. None of us had heard of them, it was before ‘License To Ill’ had come out. Before that, Schooly D had played, Run
“I think we were the precursor to what was to come. It didn’t stop the inevitable slump, but when it did hit the bottom, the foundations were already there for the way it was going to evolve, " - Nick Phillip DMC, EPMD. It was black, Hip Hop guys doing their thing that at the time was all the big gold chain style, which is what we perceived Hip Hop culture to be. Then the Beastie Boys turned up, but before they played we were kinda poking fun at them, thinking ‘Beastie Boys?! What a funny name?!’ Taking the piss out of it. Then they came over, these white Jewish kids and we were like, “whoa, this is kinda different.” Then they went on stage, and they were this punk band! We were like, “holy shit!” That whole time was really influential. You had BMX crashing into urban street culture for the first time. I might have been 17 at the time, probably not even legally allowed in the place, but at that young age we were exposed to the cutting edge of street culture. And that had a big effect on us and what we did. It put a big element of street fashion into what we were doing. I think that was an important part of our own urban, ‘streety’ aesthetic that we were doing with our bikes at the time. When I went to the West Coast for the first time, nobody was listening to Hip Hop. We’d play it at contests and this aspect of urban culture started to permeate into our own urban subculture. Delirium was another key factor in how street developed, how it took influence from Hip Hop even before it had been taken up in the US. That’s a really interesting point. I mentioned this to Craig too, but whilst I was researching this piece, someone said, maybe a little tongue in cheek, that it was the Brits who took street to America. This sort of things happens culturally in much bigger ways than BMX. Take pop art for example, it was invented by Richard Hamilton at the ICA, but it was the Americans and Andy War-
hol who really jumped on it and really popularized it. I think to some degree, the reason that happened in BMX was we were afforded a lot more freedom over here in the UK because although there were rules in BMX that we were kinda rebelling against, the industry was over in America and there was so much more of an economy over there and in turn, much more of a vested interest for it to be the way it had been set up. There was less to lose in the UK, there was less risk. Andy Jenkins saw what we were doing with Action Bike and R.A.D magazine and really liked the aesthetic of it. He kinda invited me over to hang out, ride and do some stuff with the magazine. That’s how I actually ended up moving out there, after taking a few holidays. He offered it to me, asking if I wanted to come over and do some stuff. I think he wanted that UK street thing in the magazine. Do you think that street riding would’ve been very different if it hadn’t taken the crash it did shortly after street riding became established? Or do you think that street riding had already set its course and was out there? I think there’s something built into the cycle of trends, if you look back at a macro perspective – where what happens, is where something will well up, hit a peak and then start to go down and hit a trough. I think we hit BMX on the down curve. It didn’t hit the bottom and we reinvented it, it hadn’t bottomed out just yet. I think we were the precursor to what was to come, we’d laid the seeds, so to speak, of what was possible and it took people in those dark years when nobody was doing it, to understand the potential of the bikes and the streets so that when BMX did come back, it was almost inevitable that street would be the main thing. It didn’t stop the inevitable slump, but when it did hit the bottom, the foundations were already there for the way it was going to evolve. I think that’s a really interesting point, it kinda leads me onto the next question. How did you end up getting out of BMX around that time? I was at Freestylin’ for about a year and they were looking at making cuts. They started ‘Homeboy’ and tried to incorporate skateboarding but that didn’t work out. I was the sleeping on the couch, English import guy, so I was understandably the first one to get the chop. I’d done enough in the mag to network a little bit and also won a design award for some of it, so I was able to get a job at Ozone bikes with Alan Brown in San Jose. He needed an art director to reinvent his brand as he was suffering because of this downturn too, so he wanted to reinvent his brand to try and save it from the inevitable. I was there for a couple of years, but we couldn’t reinvent the brand during a time of such attrition. I was like, “oh well, I’ve got this brand ‘Anarchic Adjustment’ that I’d been kinda doing whilst I was at Freestylin’ and slowly that started to become more of my focus than Ozone. Around this time in San Jose, my bike got stolen and I didn’t get another bike. That was the point. Rave culture had started to emerge in San Francisco and the Mac computer had just come out and I just knew that was where I wanted to go. I wanted to move more into design. I think it was around 1990 that my career in BMX ended. How do you think when you look back on it all? I’m so blown away by it. It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. I get that feeling every now and then, something I used to get as a kid, to go and do something and push myself. Every now and then there’s a twinkle of that [laughs].
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
[j] Craig Campbell, Fakie Wallride. Freestylin’ Magazine. Sept ‘88. [k] Early Anarchic Adjustment t-shirt. [l] Nick Phillip, Backside boneless in Club Homeboy advert. Freestylin’ Magazine, ‘88.
History of Street
CRAIG CAMPBEll Before street riding broke out, Craig Campbell was already a household name in BMX for his talents on ramps and in bowls. Although Craig was already riding street in London, it was a move to America and more specifically, a 540 wallride at the the first 2Hip Meet the Street contest, that cemented Craig’s reputation as being one of the best all round riders BMX produced.
there was this big transition, like a vert wall and he was trying to do a 540 on it and I thought, ‘that’s kinda like a bank to wall, I wonder if you could do that on a bike…
Before the whole street riding thing took off, you were already really established within freestyle. Weren’t you British Champion in ‘85? Yeah, I think it was ‘84, ‘85. That was the era of flatland, little kickturn ramps, quarterpipes and the UKBFA and all that carry on. To be honest, I was never all that into it. There just wasn’t anything else out there at the time. I was more interested in the King of Skatepark stuff, like at Rom for example. It was just more gnarly. All that sports arena stuff on skinny quarterpipes was all a bit fabricated and a bit crap.
Did you come out fakie first? Yeah, I used to do 360 wallrides before I did the 540 version, but I hadn’t found the right wall to spin all the way around. When I went to the ‘Meet The Street’ contest in ‘88, they had this bank to wall and I saw Voelker going about 10 feet up this wallride, so I could see you had the airtime to do it. And that’s where I did it, for the first time.
Was Christian Hosoi a big influence on you? Yeah, definitely. We used to ride for ‘Life’s a Beach’ clothing, so we’d see each other a lot. It was just his whole style, really. That big, fluid style he had. He was like a rockstar, even off his board. I used to meet him in clubs in L.A and he’d always have the hottest bird hanging off his arm. I always admired him, I still do I suppose. Before you went to America, were you riding much street in the UK? There was a really big street skating scene in the UK around ‘86 and it really started to influence what we were doing. Nick [Phillip], Jess [Dyrenforth] and I started going down South Bank and riding street in North London and then we’d mix with the local skaters down at the mini ramp at Chingford. It was quite influential, like at the time BMX was still stuck in the uniform BMX racer look and around this time, it started to shift into this more grungy, anarchic skate look. Which obviously tied into what Nick was doing with ‘Anarchic Adjustment’. All of a sudden, BMX just had this new vibe, it was quite exciting. Then eventually in 87’, we headed out to the US. I guess in the grand scheme of things it was a relatively short time that this happened. Maybe four or five years until it was out there and a well-known thing, but you guys set the momentum for it to be where it is now. I think in many ways, we were creating things that have been built upon. Like the first wallride, the first halfcab.You get riders now doing stuff that is absolutely incredible, but it’s all based on these building blocks of what we kinda started. Dave Vanderspek, he needs a mention. He was a total pioneer. Another one that’s dead, bless him. I used to look up to him like a big brother. All these early tricks, do you think you were personally just trying to mimick skateboarding? Yeah, I was at least. Jess and I used to skate a lot aswell, street skating mainly, so it wasn’t hard for us to know the moves and try and translate that into BMX. Like where could it come from? Racing and freestyle were so different to what street riding was, so it made more sense to look at skating and be influenced by that. People like Mark Gonzales. Even the wallride 540, that came from Tony Hawk. I was at this skate contest in Hawaii and
I love the rationality of BMXers… Yeah, but that’s all it was. It worked. I got it in the end.
Someone said that it was the UK that brought street riding to the US with guys like yourself and Nick. I don’t think it’s entirely true, but do you think there’s any truth in it? Well, it isn’t entirely true, no. But there is an element of it. It’d be better if you saw it as a fusion. We did bring a new element of street riding to the states, but it was already going on there. When we all got together, it really started to develop as we had our style and they had theirs and it all started fusing together. It just got really exciting. It was all very anti-establishment. Back in freestyle contests, you’d have this thing where you had to do compulsory moves, that’s not freestyle, is it? It’s all about self expression, but you were having to do a wheelie, a bunnyhop… I think when street riding started happening, that’s when I really got excited about riding, especially when I went to the States. We were doing that stuff with Freestyle because that was all there was, then this street riding thing started happening and that’s when everything changed. It changed for everyone, really. How come you ducked out of riding not too long after street started kicking off? Around ‘91 the bottom fell out of BMX, big time. I was doing it for a living and suddenly there wasn’t any money. I couldn’t make a living anymore from riding my bike, so I had to do something else and DJing was the only other option for me. The house scene was really kicking off back in the UK, well it had been since about ‘87, but I just saw that there was a lot of money kicking around for being a DJ and I thought to myself, ‘I wanna piece of this’ – and I did for quite a few years afterwards. BMX came back around the mid to late nineties, but by that point I was fully immersed in this world of of DJing, out in Ibiza and all that stuff, making a lot of money. The DJing thing started to drop off around the end of the Millenium and that’s when the bike came back out. How do you feel when you look at it now? I feel pretty proud to be honest. Like, just looking how big BMX has become. It’s nice to have played some part in that. At the time, we didn’t realise how significant what we were doing was. It’s good that you’re doing this because I’m sure there are riders out there who don’t even realise where all this came from. I mean, kids are kids, so they’re going to look back a couple of years and base everything from there. I suppose we were doing the same, but we were just doing things for the very first time.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
VIC MuRPhy During the formative years of street riding, Vic Murphy was a young 17 year old kid who had just moved to California. Orignally finding more interest in the local skate scene, it wasn’t until the first 2Hip Meet the Street jam that Vic started making moves within street riding. As street riding moved into the 90s, it was Vic who bridged the gap between the old and the new, adding a personal style to riding that remains as timeless as it did then, as it does in 2012. How did you get into street riding? I think it was 1984, ‘85 and I remember they’d put Dennis McCoy’s phone number in the magazine, that’s how small it was back then. My friends and me called him one day and his mom answered the phone, we were like, “Hey, is Dennis there?” and his mom was like, “Oh heeay, hang on a minute” – and you hear her go outside as he’s riding his ramp and go, “Dennis! You got a call!” It was crazy for me, being 14 and being able to call the house phone of one of these superstar up-and-comers in BMX. I remember telling him, “I’ll meet you sometime in California.” Before my senior year in school my uncle had moved to California. I’d quit school in 11th grade and he said if I stayed in school I could move down to California when I graduated. So I did that and when I moved down there I wasn’t riding, I was skating all the time. The reason I was into skating is it was simply better, it was more entertaining and the media was better. In BMX, as good as Dennis McCoy was, it looked like he’d stepped off a motorcycle and that just didn’t appeal to me. I just hated it even when I was young and riding back in Alaska. I was skating in Santee, where they had a lot of skate jams at the time. Huge skateboarding jams going off in parking lots. Hundreds of people, you never saw anything like it. It was so legit. Here’s me coming from this small town in Alaska and riding into the Mecca of all action sports. I was so fired up. So I was skating, but I’d see the BMX guys and I’d go and hang out with them. Then one day, we’re skating and this big lifted 4X4 drives by and one of the BMX guys goes “that’s Dave Voelker right there.” I’m like, what?! Something just clicked in my mind, “what am I doing? I’ve waited all my life to ride BMX in California, why am I here skating?!” It’s interesting though, because it was the media and the portrayal of BMX that didn’t get me stoked on riding. Here Voelker drives by and I see some different side of it. I immediately went to Tucson and bought a Torker from a buddy. I got back to California and right then, they announced the first street jam, the one that 2Hip put on. It was also at the same spot where I was skating, the same shopping centre. I was like “it’s on” – and for two weeks, it was the closest thing I’ve ever done to training. How old were you then? I was 17. So the day comes and I remember meeting Eddie Roman. I’d seen videos of him riding but nothing does it justice. He was so good. I remember seeing him hit kicker ramps, do a 540 with a coaster-brake and just fly out backwards, full speed. It was the strangest, amazing thing to see. Even on 360s he’d keep his bike really level. It was so epic, how good he was at street riding at the time. I thought ‘there’s a chance for bikes to be what I want them to be.’ Anyway, the contest rolls up and it was the most epic day of my life. There’s Craig Campbell, Craig Grasso, Pete Augustin, the list is endless. After the contest Ron Wilkerson had an after-party at his house and I’m just this 17 year old Alaskan kid and I’m here in California, having ridden this comp with all these guys and now I’m at this party. Later on I’m about to leave the party and RL Osborn rolls up
in his Porsche with this Targa top. He gets out and he’s wearing sunglasses. It’s nighttime, like it’s fully dark. I’m a messy dirt rat kid. I’m wearing an Independent trucks tee and here’s RL Osborn in front of me. He’s like, “Hey man, pretty good riding today, fancy riding for Hammer?” RL at the time was everything in BMX. He was all over the 80s and he even got third in the street jam. He ended up kooking out later on when I was riding for Bully, which is part of the reason Dirt Bros was born. He was trying to tell us how to dress and things like that. What year was it when Dirt Bros got started? The summer of 1990 was when it started up as a business. It took a while to get going, but we were even doing stuff before that. I still have no idea what I’m doing and I definitely didn’t back then. It was good timing really, with street making a rise. Hey did you ever hear when Stuart Dawkins came over to San Diego? Nah… go on… You know Ronnie Farmer? He’s on the first Dirt Bros video. He was a gangster… [laughs]. Like a legit, kill your family gang member. The last person you’d want to meet up with is Ronnie Farmer. He was so good at riding because he was always riding away fast from the cops. He had bike throwing down like no other; he could throw it straight over a car. It was all because he had so much drugs on him at all times he needed to know he could get away for sure. He’d never let me get involved with any of it because he knew it was too much for me to handle. They lived in this ghetto part of town and I’d go round and Ronnie would go, “hey, I’m gonna get weed and I’m gonna get beer. You stay here.” They’d be gone like an hour and the reason it took that long is they’d be waiting outside ATMs for someone to take out money then jump them. It was off the hook. So, Stuart Dawkins decides he’s gonna come to San Diego. I don’t know what he’s thinking! He gets off the plane, rides to East San Diego, which at the time was not the place to be hanging out and started riding these banks. He’s there, all crazy and goofy looking with all these pads on doing tricks on these banks. Then Ronnie Farmer turns up. He’s with his buddies and they see this kid with this nice bike and they’re like, “we’re getting this bike, it’s on.” So he’s this close to getting his bike jacked on his first day in San Diego in the middle of the ghetto. Luckily for Stuart, he was doing some moves and they saw he can ride so now Ronnie’s all, “yeah man!” I don’t know what Stuart credits his influences as, but that changed him dramatically. Ronnie and his ghetto buddies basically adopted him for that whole summer. He went from front peg hop guy to this street dirt head. It was an amazing transformation. I think it was at the Pelican wall when I first met him. That was another epic street moment, because he took what he saw back overseas. You mentioned The Dirt Bros video, that must have been 1990, ‘91? Well, it’s hard to say. The weather is always so nice here it’s hard to tell the seasons. But I’d say it came out in ’91, but was filmed in parts in 1990 too. I found that video amazing. Obviously with Aggroman being the first street video, the Dirt Bros video came out two, three years later and the level of progression was huge. How I’d say that happened has a lot to do with my job in construction at the time. I was earning a lot of money back then
History of Street
[m] Vic Murphy, Curb cut table, Etnas Pizza Curb. San Diego, â€˜92.
Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
and was working in increments, like three months at a time and three months off. That’s kinda another reason Dirt Bros was born, because I had enough money to support myself. I’d work and then just ride and party non-stop. It’s known as the pro life now. But back then it was non-existent unless it was self funded. So we made Aggroman and maybe I’m biased, but I thought we did do something influential with Dirt Bros afterwards. We just had this weird crew of dudes like Ronnie Farmer and Brad Blanchard who were all really good. I think it was Nick Phillip who actually named us though. How that happened was the crew of guys got in the S10 pickup truck and we drove 20 hours from San Diego to Salem, three of us in the front, three in the back. What we did for the journey was make 24 joints to smoke. We kept them in this zip lock bag and when we got to Salem there was only four joints left. When we got there it was like a disaster. When we get to the venue of this contest, Nick saw us all in a mess and was like, “Look! It’s the Dirt Bros!” Then it got in the mags and went from there. That was probably right after Aggroman, but we were going that way anyway. If you look at my part in Aggroman, it’s pretty horrible. Something hadn’t clicked yet. In my mind it had, but something was missing. I remember when I saw Craig Campbell do the 540 wallride, in my mind I was like ‘that’s what I’m talking about’ I thought it was going to blow up. ‘Three, four years and we’ll all be there.’ That’s what I thought. I’m still shocked to see how long it has taken to get somewhere close to where we were in my mind. Going back to the original question, I think that jump in progression was a lot down to when I moved to Long Beach with my construction job, I started riding with Pete Augustin. The thing with Pete that I hadn’t done before was just ride around the city, I mean we’d just head out and ride full speed, for miles. That wasn’t my deal, I was just trying to keep up. But it completely changed my riding style. It’s like we were road biking, we’d jump curbs then hit a wallride, circle round and do it five times then just head off full speed. At the time, Pete wasn’t the best rider, that came later, but he just sped up my riding and I’ve got to give him a lot of credit for that. Before that a lot of riders were like turtles. I think what you said about the death of BMX back then because we didn’t push it enough in that area. We were on the right track, with the tricks and the type of things we were thinking about.
We’d jump curbs then hit a wallride, circle round and do it five times then just head off full speed " - Vic Murphy
The money was always in freestyle though, wasn’t it? BMX was taking a crash and although this really revolutionary thing was happening with street, the financial backing remained with freestyle right up until the crash, really. You have this problem of the corporate kingpins and you still have that problem today. In the mid to late 90s you had these brands popping up who were like, ‘let’s do this ourselves’ – S&M had been doing it a while now and we’d been doing our
own thing for a while too. I don’t know if you remember, but at the end of the Dirt Bros video we do this little thing with these Claymation dudes that basically pokes fun at GT, like this GT figure ends up getting beat to a pulp by a DBI figure who then takes a dump on him. We just thought that we needed to start running the show, like this is our deal. The Homeless Bikes guys, Standard… these crews around the world started saying, “we want this to ourselves” and that was the death of BMX right there. These massive companies couldn’t handle this tiny little uprising. We were changing BMX. We were thinking about BMX and they were thinking about units and when they couldn’t work out how to make money out of it, it’s like they rebelled against us and they just thought ‘we’ll just stick to what we know’ and they didn’t actually reflect what was really going on in riding. It was like they’d prefer to regress back to the eighties. I guess you can see that in the bikes. Like up until the early nineties people still couldn’t get a bike that could put up with the pressures of street riding, even though it had been around for four or five years. For most people, you were riding bikes that were modified ramp bikes. It’s almost like the bigger companies didn’t want to acknowledge street riding as it wasn’t as marketable and as wholesome as other forms of riding. Yeah, it’s interesting stuff. BMX in a lot of ways hasn’t grown into what it should be. There’s a lot of big companies like Free Agent, Diamondback, Redline… I’m not going to pick out all of them, but there’s more. The problem is, they sell so many units they think they’re legit. The problem with that is that we know BMX is a lot more than just selling units. I say BMX, BMX is a lot of things, but in my mind it’s street, mostly. In other peoples’ minds it’s dirt, ramps, but in my mind when I talk BMX I’m talking street riding. I feel that these big companies are holding it back. They kinda dominate a lot of the advertising dollars and once you have that, you can control the media. It’s sad… But going back over 20 plus years you had the same scenario as we do now. The same players were in place. You had this great thing happening in BMX. I actually got into doing up cars back then because I was so disappointed in the rate of progression in BMX. It used to really annoy me, I guess it still does. I have to contain it. But at least with cars it was my project and I had full control. There’s so much more we need to change. It needs to be our deal. In the long run I’d like to see the riders controlling it and I think we’re a long way from that. Going full circle, do you still look at skateboarding and think it’s better? Absolutely. If I started getting into the problems in BMX I’d offend a lot of people. It’s sad, like even a lot of the hot brands, I look at their advertising and how they market their brand and I think this is so weak. It’s like one step above Redline. In skating you’ll have a full-page ad of a hotdog because they’re so confident in their marketing. We’re still putting up these shiny photos of a stem! It’s ridiculous. “Look kids, it’s shiny! Buy it!” The best companies are still doing it. Even the most cutting edge companies are so far below what skating does. There’s no confidence so you end up fighting for the same customers as Redline, or Free Agent or whoever. That stuff drives me nuts. It’s all street riding to me, it’s all BMX. There’s still so much more potential in street riding and BMX in general. It’ll just take time and commitment to change that.
History of Street
MACNEIL BMX CO. RIDER: DILLON LLOYD / CRANK ARM TO 180 PHOTO: JUSTIN KOSMAN / MACNEILBMX.COM
BORATO V2 FRAME COMPLETELY BRAKELESS, SUPER STRONG BUTTED TOP AND DOWN TUBES, STAND OVER HEIGHT - 8.8” 25.4MM ID SEAT TUBE, TOP AND DOWNTUBE GUSSET, CLEARANCE FOR LARGE TIRES COLORS: MATTE BLACK, MATTE RED, MATTE RAW
LIVE FREE OR DIE CLINT REYNOLDS: AMERICAN INDEPENDENT
A trail of leaking oil marks our path through the desert. The perfectly straight highway divides the dry lifeless landscape without turn or junction. Our long oil track is visible on the baking asphalt until it disappears into a mirage of heat and blue mountains on the horizon. The oil track makes a sudden turn on the road marking the moment of our van’s demise and our limp exit onto a rough dirt track. The old Mercedes diesel motor won’t start. The last town we passed was over an hour ago, or a day’s pedal, maybe more. We have no phone signal, nor anyone useful to phone.
Words and Photography by GEORGE MARSHALL
Life In The Slow Lane
[a] 270 1-foot table, Nederland.
Two weeks ago Clint Reynolds, myself and a group of his close friends left Austin at 2am under the cover of nightfall to avoid the draining Texan heat. Since that early start the six of us, including Raja the dog, have ate, sweat and slept side by side in Clint’s van slowly heading northwest. We’re driving across America in search of deep concrete bowls, running the van off vegetable oil stolen from restaurants and we stink like a deep fat fryer. So far it’s been a slow 1,500 mile journey of changing climates and landscapes, at a top speed of 60 MPH, shunning showers and soft beds in favour of swimming in ice cold rivers and camping on the roadside. Our days have been spent driving up hills in first gear, fishing for supper, swapping drivers on the fly, cooking 25 cent noodles in car parks on camp stoves, washing in gas station toilets, waking up with the sunrise and shooting ball bearings at the beer cans we drank the night before. We’d driven for days through the empty wilderness of America, occasionally dipping into towns for the allure of fast concrete, food and friends. We sleep anywhere and everywhere. We camp under the stars in rattlesnake inhabited woods, up snow crested mountains in June, on top of garage roofs in cities and on living room floors of local’s homes. We’d left Texas behind, crossed the great mountains and pine forests of Colorado and now here we were – broken down in the Utah desert. Clint lies down on a blue foam camping mat beneath the engine surrounded by scattered tools, a roll of duct tape and grease rags. He tightly holds onto the tree log bumper bar to steady himself, his visible sterile glove is covered in black oily dirt. “Arrhhh man… she’s toasted,” he says calmly from under the shadows in his high pitched East Coast accent and grabs a wrench from the dry floor. My companions look wholly unconcerned. Matty Aquizap sits in the driving seat chewing tobacco under his bottom lip and awaiting commands from Clint below, a shirtless Brian Yeagle walks purposely down the dirt track to an abandoned ranch with his old film camera, James T. Nutter rolls up a smoke and his dog Raja, a Red Heeler pants in the heat taking a needed break from the hot van interior. These are Clint’s close friends, the Team Credence skate team. All of whom have spent many long summer months crossing America in Clint’s van. They have come accustomed to these roadside episodes of patience, as have I. For the past two weeks barely a day has gone by without a raise of the hood and seeing Clint in a pair of transparent medical gloves. When there’s a problem he fixes it and he hasn’t failed us yet. With Clint at work, none of us consider to be stranded for an instant. An hour later Clint’s tied headscarf is drenched in sweat, a new oil filter is in place and with a turn of the key the deep diesel engine starts. We rejoin the straight highway bound for Matt Beringer’s home in Salt Lake City.
“I think that veg’ oil we took yesterday was bad dude,” Clint tells me from the driving seat fighting to be heard over the loud diesel engine and Bob Dylan playing from a portable stereo powered by a drill battery. “I think the oil was dirty and clogged up that filter. It’s never worth getting super dirty oil.” He shouts and turns down Bob. Trash Fuel The day before our desert breakdown, we were in the city of Denver and low on fuel. Instead of pulling into a Chevron and reaching for his credit card, Clint parked up beside some bins round the back of a Mexican restaurant and pulled out his gloves. In under ten minutes Clint had found some vegetable oil, taken a sample, given it the all clear and pumped 20 gallons straight out of a dirty barrel next to some rotting food and into the van, in what he refers to as a ‘grab and run.’ “It’s crazy that fuel is so expensive and there’s a huge supply of free fuel sat back with the trash at every restaurant. Mexican restaurants are always good, they just fry chips all day, there’s less meat and crap in the oil. Chipotles are the best – they’re a big chain and switch the oil daily so it’s clean and burns well. Typically I’ll ask before I take it but sometimes I just roll up, pump it in and roll out with a tank full of free fuel. “When I’m back in Austin I’ll hop on my BMX and go into a town and cruise all the back alleys behind the restaurants searching the oil. I’ll take a cup and scoop some out and look at the colour and viscosity of the oil. The more golden it is the easier it is to filter. If I’m not on the road I filter the oil and polish it up ready for a trip. You can do a hot pan test, where you put a drop of oil into a hot pan and if it bubbles up it means there’s a lot of suspended water in the oil and that’s bad, that will ruin your injection pump. Water is heavier than oil. To remove the water I have a massive centrifuge at my parent’s house in New Hampshire. If you don’t have a centrifuge you can store the oil in a barrel, leaving the water to separate and drain it off from the bottom.” Clint says, as I picture him on a first date rummaging through some trash to fuel his van for a romantic drive. I also wonder what kind of a person keeps a centrifuge in their garage and I begin to realise how much work running a vehicle off vegetable oil demands. “I understand why people don’t convert to veg’ oil.” Clint admits. “Going through with it is hard work. It’s gnarly. Going out, scoping diners for full oil drums by the stinking trash isn’t for everyone. You’re going to get covered in oil, everything I own stinks of veggy oil. It takes a certain type of person that can live with that. You have to be committed. You have to be constantly polishing the oil and scoping out the next pick up. I’ve been doing it long enough I know what to expect and I’m comfortable with all of it now. I’ve been through all the problems. You have to be prepared and expect to breakdown.
Live Free Or Die
[b] Whip, Eastside.
Live Free Or Die
“On the bright side you can go on long trips for very little money. I pretty much spend my summers driving around in the van. Two years ago myself and five dudes all drove from the northeast coast to the tip of the northwest coast and back again. We burned over 700 gallons of veggy oil and spent little over $50 on diesel. Veg’ oil is also easy on the environment compared to diesel. It’s a renewable fuel. You’re not sucking dinosaur skeletons out of the ground. It’s not a super toxic fuel like diesel. Vegetable oil is food, you can eat that. But I can’t notice driving on veggy oil compared to diesel. At full roast on the throttle it has a little less RPM and the miles per gallon are slightly less than diesel. Some say veggy oil helps your motor, because it’s an oil it lubricates the engine. You can run a diesel engine off motor oil or even transmission fluid. Some old diesel mechanics run their diesel engines off transmission fluid to help clean the engine as it has detergents in. The diesel motor is a beast. Especially the older Mercedes ones with all mechanical pumps, they’re super rugged and simple. They just burn it up.” He says nodding in admiration for his beloved German diesel engine. Sat in the back of the van rests a huge 100 gallon oil tank, designed and welded by Clint himself. The tank is full of oil that just the day before was deepfrying tortilla chips for the good people of Denver. The large tank doubles as a heated bench for the passengers, human or dog. During a long drive the tank becomes hot enough to cook an egg on. The thought of that tank rupturing in an accident and a hot oil spill deep frying all six of us did cross my mind as I sat on it with a stack of foam mats so not to burn my legs. I simply forgot about it and turned my attention to the veneer of grease that covers my clothes and skin, that gave us all a familiar chip shop aroma. The large tank is just one of three fuel tanks adding to a maze of pipes, pumps, valves and filters all required to run the van off vegetable oil. The dash and floor below the driver’s seat is cluttered with an array of levers, buttons and switches, that all have to be pushed or turned in a long set sequence at every start and stop. The veg oil modifications are a piece of robust scrap metal engineering, without a second thought of aesthetics or elegance. The modifications are all Clint‘s own design that he has evolved over years of learning the hard way. “I first heard about veg’ oil in high school and I almost didn’t believe it. I did some research and it began to make sense so I thought screw it. I bought an old Ford Econoline van for real cheap. I spent all my time trying to get the dam thing to run off veg’ oil. I’d constantly be broken down by the side of road and crawling under the van. It was always a choice; fix it or be stranded. You can either spend a load of money to pay some dude to fix your car, who won’t care and won’t do a good job, or you can buy the manual and fix it yourself. You’ll learn and save money. I learnt everything about vans by tearing that thing apart and trying to rebuild it.”
From the jet powered water pistol on the bonnet aimed permanently at passers by on the sidewalk, to the windows Clint hand cut from sheets of flexi glass, there is not a single square inch of the van that Clint hasn’t modified. When a new larger engine didn’t fit he welded new bracket mounts, when his larger Dodge rims didn’t fit he drilled the correct Mercedes hole pattern into them on a vertical mill. Every bolt, panel, bearing and nut has been taken out, swapped or replaced. Other more cosmetic additions have come along way. Stickers have been slapped on, at some point a deer skull and antlers were stuck on the front grill, a golden BMX racing trophy figure is screwed to the bonnet, a racoon tail hangs from the rear roof. On the inside helmets, a catapult made with an inner tube, drying swimming shorts and dirty flowery curtains all hang from string on the of windows. The front dash is awash with various small screwdrivers, state maps, a jar of BBs, pens, suntan lotion and mouthwash. The rear of the van has no seatbelts, just a fold down wooden bench and the fuel tank for comfort. The floor is cluttered with camping stoves, skateboards and bags that sit on various carpet off cuts. The entire van reads like a story book of all the previous trips, gaining a new modification and accessories with every journey.
" I just roll up, pump it in and roll out with a tank full of free fuel"
The van has slowly and unintentionally diverged further away from the look of a conventional vehicle and into the lawless, free spirited realms of a Mad Max movie. Despite the sinister deer skull on the grill it’s a character that resonates with people. Whether it be a convoy of leather clad hogs on the highway or pedestrians on the street, the van attracts attention. “People are stoked on the van, it spreads smiles coast to coast. We get a lot of these,” Clint says pumping his fist in the air. “We get that or peace signs. People see the van, the bikes on back, five shirtless dudes and a dog, and they look like they’re thinking, ‘Yeah they’re doing it – cool.’ People seem almost envious of living that freedom of being on the road and spending each day not knowing what’s going to happen.” Live Free Or Die Beside the deer skull on the front grill sits a battered license plate. Above the registration number it bears the New Hampshire state motto – ‘Live Free Or Die.’ They are the words of General John Stark, a soldier in the American war of independence who fought for freedom from English colonial rule, and famously said, in full, ‘live free or die, death is not the worst of evils’. When I saw the encryption on the number plate I knew I had found my title. If there was one word to describe both Clint’s life and the trip it would be ‘free’, and in every sense of the word. The van was given to Clint in exchange for some welding
[c] Lawnmower, Southpark. [d] Fast plant table, Denver. [e] 5-0, Denver.
Live Free Or Die
jobs, the hard floors we sleep on are free, the skateparks are free, the rivers we swim in are free, the beer at house parties is free, the fuel is free, but above all the trip is free spirited. With the exception of my booked flight home to the UK from Salt Lake City, we have no commitments, no route, no jobs, no goals, we have few cares or concerns. All we have is the road, an unlimited source of free fuel and a map with pencil annotations from Joe Rich. “Keeping it simple is my motto I guess.” Clint tells me, when I ask him how he considers the way he leads his life. “You can do more with less. I see a lot of people get some fancy car they’re paying monthly payments on and paying rent on some fancy apartment, then they’re forced to work some crappy job they hate… I see that and think ‘bummer dude.’ It doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t justify giving up living life for a few possessions that are kind of meaningless.” Clint has spent the last winter living in Austin. Unlike many of the other residents who live in luxurious condos and apartments, he lives in a vintage caravan parked in Stew Johnson’s backyard on the less desirable Eastside of town. Clint being Clint, he has organised the small area of backyard into a home. Beside the silver caravan stands a 6ft mini ramp that Clint resurfaced. Suspended from the ramp hangs a fine mesh sock full of dirty oil, filtering down clean oil into a barrel below. A line of stepping stones runs from the driveway to the caravan door, some sheets of plywood and the remains of the Texas Toast contest have been converted into a ping pong table. “The trailer is a 1959 Air Stream 24 footer. I’ve remodelled the inside – it’s cosy. I have a kitchen, air con and a shower… everything I need. My rent is $125 a month. Stew hooks me up with cheap rent. I pay $50 for my phone and $40 for van insurance. During the summer Stew lets me park the caravan for nothing, so right now I’m living rent free. I have temporary health insurance which costs $50 a month, it’s sketchy health insurance, emergency room only, but it’s better than nothing. My bills are cut down pretty good. Paying rent puts a bad taste in my mouth. Keeping the bills down equals freedom. It allows you not to be tied down, and be able to get up and go.
“I think that attitude comes from my pops. He’s always gone against the flow, done things his own way, not worried what people think about him which is pretty admirable and rare I’ve found. He got me into bikes and has been a huge influence on me and the way I live my life.” Laying Beads “My father built our house up on a hill in a blue-collar town called Derry, New Hampshire. My parents trusted me growing up, I wasn’t out doing super shady stuff. They had trust with me, they gave me a lot of freedom. My dad was stationed in Korea where he met my mother, this little Korean lady, who weighed 100 pounds. He scooped her up and they’ve been married for thirty years, they’re still killing it. After the army my dad got a job in Boston working at a mountain bike company called Fat City Cycles. They were a grass roots style company. Everything was all American made. They did a lot of titanium work there and they made some awesome bikes, and my dad was one of the main welders. When I was young I didn’t go to nursery school, I went to the workshop with my dad. I was just skateboarding around while the welders would be laying beads [welding]. Metalwork has always been a part of my life. “Eventually that mountain bike company moved to a bigger shop, but they couldn’t afford it and went under. My dad started his own thing, the ‘Reynold’s Weld Lab’ from the family house. He started building custom frames for people, he made a couple of BMX frames, but mainly road frames, mountain bike frames and even racing wheelchairs. He even made handicap bikes with a hand crank. They were all custom one offs. Then he got really into recumbent bikes. He started building those frames in more of a production style. He had two models, one was called ‘The Redundant’, you could ride that as a recumbent or as an upright bike and you could switch on the fly. I worked for my dad in the workshop ever since I was old enough to hold a grinder. I was welding from the age of ten, but I was probably twelve before I did any useful work. I just grew up always working in the shop. He never paid me any money but I was eager to learn.
Live Free Or Die
"Paying rent puts a bad taste in my mouth. Keeping the bills down equals freedom"
[f] Matty, table, Denver. [g] Brian Yeagle, wallride to moto, Texas dust town.
Live Free Or Die
“My dad made my first BMX frame when I was real little. He made me a mini cruiser. It was made out of double butted Reynolds 853 tubing. That thing was ahead of its time. It had 990 mounts on the seat stays, Euro bottom bracket and it was super light all fifteen years ago. It had a stars and stripes style paint job. It was a badass bike. After that he made me more of a freestyle frame. By the time I got to high school my dad started doing a lot of titanium work, we ordered a tube set to make a titanium BMX frame. It weighed just a hair over three pounds. It was probably the first titanium BMX frame built for freestyle and dirt jumping, but not the first for racing. Titanium is an awesome material. You don’t weld it the same, you have to be in an oxygen free environment and be super anal about cleaning stuff. It’s so expensive you can’t afford any mistakes. You have to take your time building with ti’, it takes three times longer to do it right. If you don’t clean everything you’ll get some poor welds and that thing will snap on you. My pops and I probably built four or five of those ti’ frames, and we sold them for $1000 each. Even at that price it was hardly worth it. Few people want to spend $1000 on
a BMX frame. One day I’d like to build another ti’ frame. I’d over build it, with thicker walled tubing, it would almost be the same weight as a chromolloy frame but would be really strong. Ti’ doesn’t rust. You could potentially build a titanium bike so strong that you could hand it down to your grandchildren, but it would still be light.” Credence Picturing Clint as a boy in the ‘Reynold’s Weld Lab’, tig welding titanium frames before his first girlfriend, it’s easy to see the source of his hard working, patient and problem solving attitude. Possessing the skills of a master craftsman while his peers were still in high school, a workshop next to the family house and a passion for riding, a bike company was always inevitable. “Me and Joel Miller were working for my father. We both made frames for ourselves and our crew saw the bikes and wanted some. So we started making some frames for our friends. Joel came up with the name Credence, and that was it, Credence was born. The word Credence is to have faith in something, it means truth.
[h] Lookback, Berringer’s backyard, Salt Lake City.
“All through high school I planned to run a bike company. I thought I’m going to do Credence, I’m going to travel and ride a lot. I planned to do Credence legit, all in house production and American made. As I got older riding became more of the focus. Building bikes is great, that’s a passion of mine for sure but riding is more fun. I didn’t want to sacrifice my riding to build bikes, I didn’t want to put my bike down and pick up the welding torch. I’m healthy right now and I want to ride my bike. If I wanted to run Credence as a legitimate bike company, for it to be a business and make money, I think I could do it but just having the luxury of being able to go down the trails five days a week would suffer. I want to be able to ride a lot and not be pinned down by emails, designing stuff, making frames…It’s insane how much work goes into it. Running a bike company is so much more than welding. I could see Credence turning into a monster that would ruin BMX for me, and turn into a regular job.” With the desire of keeping his riding close to him, Clint has taken the step of joining with S&M, and handing over the welding torch. “It was a tough decision to take on. With S&M it’s the best of both worlds, I can still ride all I want and do Credence as a legitimate American made company. I will have some role in welding the bikes and finalising all the production. I’ll have my hands on every S&M Credence Bike. “I’ve been doing Credence for ten years. I guess I’ve made over a hundred frames in that time, but most of them have been sold to friends. Credence has never made any money. Before S&M came around, my life was pretty good. I was living in the trailer with my girlfriend, in my buddy’s yard, riding Eastside. I worked welding jobs on the side every once in a while and scraped by. I couldn’t have been happier but Credence was going nowhere. Something had to change. Down the road I could maybe see myself doing my own company, but right now I just want to ride and dig at the trails.” New Hampshire As Clint demonstrated in his landlord’s video Anthem II, he is one of most natural and dedicated trails riders around. He has that light weight, flexible and effortless style that only comes with years in the woods. “I had trails behind the house growing up. I was out there everyday just riding with older dudes, they showed me the way. After a couple of good roasts I was hooked. We had a good scene in our little town, there’d be 25 kids pedalling around with each other. Years on I think of those old friends and now they all have kids or are drug addicts or something, and I’m still doing the same thing. I’ve just stuck with it. “Growing up in New Hampshire there weren’t any badass skateparks around. If you wanted to catch some hang time you had to build a jump and that’s kept progressing from there. It’s an awesome feeling when you and some friends build some stuff
and it works out. That’s one of best feelings on your bike. I think a lot of people have never really dug enough at trails to experience the feeling of going to a raw landscape, envisioning a scene of take offs, landings and berms, seeing the project through and then finally getting to blast through those woods with your boys after months of hard work – it’s a great feeling. A lot of people don’t have the time or motivation to commit to it. I think once you experience that process you’re hooked and it just snowballs. You get a sense of accomplishment you don’t get from going down the skatepark, although that is fun. You get a different sense of reward, it gives me that much more motivation to ride.” Eastside Clint’s passion and skill for building trails has manifested into one of America’s most respected and talked about set of trails – Eastside. Taking influence from their East Coast trails roots, Clint, Matty and Nutter spend the mild Texas winters digging and riding, creating what could only be described as a masterpiece. The Eastside trails have one of the most loved, and rather uncomfortably, the most photographed hips in BMX. Photographs of trails in magazines can lead to some unwanted attention. Despite rumours of a media ban at Eastside, Clint was happy to shoot photos there in the days before our trip and I felt privileged to hold a camera there. “Anyone can come down to Eastside to ride, but everyone has their own opinions on the place. It does get weird when people come down to directly make money off your hard work. You’re out there five days a week stacking dirt and then some dude who’s never touched a shovel shoots some big flamboyant ad, he makes money from it and next thing you know your spot is sought after and becomes a destination. I like people coming out but when you get hoards of people coming out who don’t respect the spot, it can get hectic. I don’t want to see people come down, get hurt and the spot gets shut down. I’m trying to keep the spot alive, that’s the first priority. We make decisions to keep the spot going for the long haul.” A Free Spirit The long skilfully crafted lines of Eastside trails are just one of many accomplishments in Clint’s creative life of hard work and craftsmanship. Clint Reynolds is a do’er, and he doesn’t know half measures. When Stew Johnson needed a new gate Clint welded together a solid iron structure capable of withstanding the charge of a tank. When Clint builds a hip it’s the biggest in BMX, when he helps his dad make a BMX frame it’s made of titanium and arguably the most advanced frame of all time. Whether it be a spanner, a welding torch, a spade or a needle and thread, Clint builds, repairs, fixes and all with a joyful smile on his skinny face – a man happy in his work. He bucks the growing trend of lazy people who lack skills and motivation, who plod through life doing what other people expect of them.
Live Free Or Die
[X] Trick, Location.
[i] 360 1-foot moto, Eastside.
Inherited from his father, Clint has a rare and striking independence. He is entirely self sufficient and a free thinker. Heâ€™s a man who questions everything. But such independence is not to be confused with arrogance. Clint is not a nostalgic bohemian hippy, opposed to everything expensive or modern. He has a top of range the laptop and listens to MP3s. Every decision he makes is calculated, heâ€™s not different for the sake of it, but because it makes practical sense towards the end goal of riding bikes and being free.
Live Free Or Die
As we draw closer to Salt Lake City I realise my time sleeping beside a dog, riding the best bowls in the world and stinking like a kebab shop is coming to an end. I left Clint, Yeagle, Raja, Nutter and Matty, to continue their mammoth drive like a band of free spirits on the highway heading northwest. Their search for good times and vegetable oil is not over. I returned home with an urge to dismantle my van and live in a trailer. The trip had been a lesson that the best things in life are free and that Clint Reynolds is one of them.
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the russell Barone Interview
“our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify.” —HDt
The drive to Patchogue, Long Island is a diverse and winding road. My directions tell me it will be under an hour-and-a-half, but with the Friday afternoon surge of eager Island-goers, it ends up being two. As I travel farther from New York City, the traffic eases and the roads empty. For a moment I find myself lost in the backwoods byways, and with the warm smell of saltwater I could swear that I have somehow ended up in South Carolina. It never ceases to amaze me how an hour’s drive out of the city can completely transform the perception of my surroundings. I mull over my own living situation, as I usually do when I escape the bustle of The Big Apple. Why don’t I just move out here to Long Island? It’s much more peaceful and a whole lot cleaner. I’m just a suburban boy struggling to remain afloat in a city of eight million. What is this all for? The drive has been 120 minutes of introspective contemplation.
"When I grow up, I definitely want to be self-sufficient and try not to be so materialistic. Just living comfortably without so many material possessions."
I finally arrive at a rustic beach house at the end of a street that runs into the bay. The bulk of the residence is the house that Russ grew up in, partitioned by the garage into a quaint annex where he and his girlfriend Lauren live. Complete with a greenhouse constructed from an old mini ramp, the bucolic dwelling reminds me of a simpler time. No microwave, and a cooking pot that’s bigger than the television. A compost pit and a 200-foot walk to the beach. Reality as I know it has turned ass over teacup. I halfexpect to wake up in my bed and this all to have been a dream. It’s so surreal, like I’ve been transported back to the 1960s. Alas, I am fully awake, and to my amazement, I have full reception on my cell phone.
[a] Gap to Wallride, NYC.
I’m greeted in the driveway by a shirtless, sandalwearing Russ and promptly offered a bowl of vegan Vietnamese soup made with mostly homegrown fare. The weather is temperate, albeit a bit muggy, while we eat on a picnic table in the backyard. Lauren serves us lemonade then folds up the dry laundry from a hemp clothesline. Russ and I talk about the time he’s just spent at Woodward West riding with the Demolition team. He still wears the camp’s wristband and claims he’s never taking it off. He is optimistic for the younger generation of riders and grateful for his own health. I can tell by the way he talks that he truly appreciates the opportunities BMX has offered him. Russ’ mom brings out a large folder filled with old number plates and copies of publications in which
Off The Grid
he’s been featured. I shuffle through a small pile of 4x6 prints commemorating moments, like his first time at the Brooklyn Banks and his first dreadlock. She comments on his immediate ability as a child to ride bikes in the street due to their gravel driveway. Russ is thoroughly embarrassed by some of the stories she tells but her support and delight is apparent. Russ is an incredibly good-natured person who rarely says anything negative, about anything. He speaks softly to the point where you should ask him to speak up, but instead you simply move closer to him, and soon find yourself talking just as quietly. His tranquility is infectious. For some odd reason, I had always thought Russ to be older than me. He has a very mature demeanor, and whatever he says seems wise beyond his years. He is someone you remember meeting; a unique person with a wild head of hair. So wild in fact, a local artist once approached Russ about painting a largerthan-life portrait that recently sold for upwards of $50,000. “I’ve had the dreadlocks for about six years now. It represents a natural way of living. It’s like your journey... I’ve been through so much with the dreads. I try to keep them real clean. You gotta watch what goes in your dreads, because it’s an extension of your body. Sometimes I’ll be at like a bar and a girl will want to touch my hair, and it’s like, ‘No, I’m not gonna go touching your hair...’ I don’t know where your hands have been, like eating chicken fingers or something. Keep your greasy hands out of my hair!” Surely a number of clichés pop up in your mind when you see a grown white man with dreadlocks, especially with Russ, his Zen-like placidity that borders on permanently stoned. Quite contrarily, Russ rarely smokes the ganja anymore. “I just kinda grew out of it... It just made me lazy and sorta unmotivated. There’s too much to do just to be sitting around. It is nice, when you’re relaxing and there’s nothing going on, maybe have a little spliff sitting around a fire or something. I like to be as productive as possible. Another reason is I don’t like fulfilling the stereotype of the dreadlocked stoner.” In a lighthearted monotone, Russ explains his apprehensions about sharing his theological views and a wariness of labels. “It’s kinda hard to get the real perspective of Rasta when you’re in the United States, because a lot of people just think it’s, you know, red-yellow-green, smoking weed and dreadlocks. Shawn [Garrett] and I used to read these books about these old Rastas living in the bush out in Jamaica. It was real interesting, almost like they were wild animals or something. Seeing them with these huge dreads just eating off the trees and stuff, it grabbed my attention.” Around this time, Russ’ late-teenage years, the two of them began to frequent Caribbean festivals in Queens. Making friends, they came upon the
opportunity to visit Jamaica and personally experience the movement that had them so intrigued. Spending a month-and-a-half enveloped in the lifestyle opened his eyes to the less glamorous aspects of Rasta, but also cemented his spirituality. “What really put me onto it was the natural livity [it’s a Rasta term] of it. Living off the grid, growing your own food, eating healthy. Just trying to treat everything peacefully, you know? To me it’s more about just doing what you think is right and living righteously. I don’t think there’s any one God out there. I know the universe is looking over you, watching what you do, and I just try to do what’s right. I’m not out there telling people to pray to Jah every day or to believe any one thing... Same with being vegan. I’m not telling anyone how they should eat or what they shouldn’t eat. Maybe I’ll give them some tips, but it’s really my choice, it’s what I think is right for me.” Just as organic as Russ’ lifestyle is his riding, a quality present only in those who have real experience on two wheels. Even watching him pedal, he exhibits a calm confidence, as if he’s already done a thousand times what he’s trying for the first time ever. He flows through any terrain as if riding his local trails. “I grew up racing and all the trail riders would come and mess around on the track. I loved watching them do 360s over the jumps. I was kinda serious about racing, but it looked like they were having more fun joking around, doing berm-to-berm transfers. I just fell in love with that... Freestyle, I guess. I thought it was just cooler doing your own thing. After the races we would go to Sevs [7-11 Trails] and there would always be pros there I’d be psyched to watch ride, dudes like Robbie Morales, Keith Terra, Brian Iarocci, Superfly, John Lee...” “Long Island Bike Shop was right up the street from me, and they had a mini-ramp in the back, and in the wintertime a lot of pros would come. There was always someone new there... Garrett Byrnes, Darryl Nau, Joe Rich. It was awesome to watch those dudes just shred the ramp. I started riding the ramp too, but about two years later they had to take it down to make room for inventory. That made me want to build a ramp in my backyard. My parents had divorced, but my dad lived next door. He pretty much built a ramp for me and I would always have people come ride, and that’s how we got good at ramp riding.” “When I was like 14 or 15, the trail riders would take trips to the city and they would invite me and my buddy Kenny Hirsch. We would leave at like ten o’clock at night to catch the train into the city. I wouldn’t really do anything, I would just be amazed watching them ride. We started riding street more and didn’t ride the ramp as much, so we took it down. We saved all the wood and had plans to build something else, but that never really happened, so I built a greenhouse out of it.” Right around this time I had some pretty heavy information dropped on me. Apparently Robbie Morales himself had spent his mid-twenties residing in the same apartment Russ now lives in. “My dad ran the local racetrack and Robbie would always be there. He needed a place to stay and my dad hooked him up with pretty cheap rent. I would come home from school and Robbie would be riding in the backyard or be in the pool and stuff... it was definitely crazy seeing that. We had a trampoline set up like right outside his window, and we would jump on this trampoline bike almost every morning and wake him up. We’d be jumping and looking in his windows and laughing. He still brings that up to this day.” In fact, Robbie has been hooking up Russ longer than he even realizes. “He’d always put products in this closet between the houses, like stickers and boxes of shoes and stuff. There would always be stickers coming out of the bottom of the door, and I used to snatch them from my side of the house.”
Off The Grid
[b] Downside table, Cleveland, Ohio.
Off The Grid
“Eventually Robbie moved out to Cali and started with Fit. A year or so later he came back during a trip. We met up at a skatepark and he saw how much I’d progressed. We filmed some stuff and he was pretty confident he could get me hooked up. So he gave me some Fit stuff and it just evolved from there. My friends and I made a trip out to Cali to film for Fit Life and it was just amazing having Robbie show us around. We liked it so much that after high school, we went out there and got an apartment right in Santa Ana. A tiny little studio apartment, with three dudes in it. All we could fit were our beds and our bikes.” Ultimately finding his way back to the Island, Russ expresses his gratitude for friends who share a common vision and work together to reach a communal goal. He thanks his family and girlfriend for dealing with his often-times erratic schedule. As filming wraps up for the upcoming Cult release ‘Talk Is Cheap’, Russ reflects on riding alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. He is not afraid to admit that he is intimidated, but in a way that forces him to push his own abilities. “The other guys on the team are obviously really good, and I feel like I need to keep up with their pace. Maybe not on the same level, but I don’t want to stay stagnant, I want to keep doing more and more. I want it to look like I tried my best, because everyone else worked their asses off. Everyone involved with the video did.”
"I’m not telling anyone how they should eat or what they shouldn’t eat. Maybe I’ll give them some tips, but it’s really my choice, it’s what I think is right for me"
To watch Russ ride is to watch a man struggle with his own physical limitations, constantly striving to grind a bit further or click a turndown just a few more notches. The only reason it takes him long to film a clip is because he won’t stop trying until he is completely satisfied with the quality of the trick. He claims that not one clip of his was filmed in under a half hour. “If it doesn’t feel good to me, then I’m not really into it. I like to do stuff that’s smooth.”
With this perfectionist mentality and veteran filmer Ryan Navazio behind the lens, there is a high level of refinement coming from both sides of the camera, which will surely shine in the resulting video. “I love going to different spots and trying to create something. Especially when you’re with a filmer or a photographer that is passionate about it. They see that you’re thinking about something and figure out how they can make it look the best. It’s amazing when the rider and the filmer or photographer work together to get this finished product that they can both be proud of, and other people can enjoy and respect as well.” Off his bike, when most find diversion in video games or on the computer, you can find Russ in his backyard tending to his many plants. “Working in the garden definitely takes time away from riding, but it’s nice, it’s relaxing. To me, it’s like meditation when I’m in there. There’s no other feeling like planting a seed in the soil and raising that plant for however long it takes, then picking it and making it into dinner, filling your body up with this food that’s real good for you. You won’t know that feeling until you try it. People have lost their respect for the soil. It’s like a long-lost tradition, gardening. People don’t do it anymore. They don’t even know where to start. They only know going to the supermarket.”
[c] Tyre-slide, Canton, Ohio.
Speaking on organic farming, Russ displays an uncommon amount of knowledge for the inner-workings of the land. “There’s a whole world underneath the soil, of different organisms and worms and fungus. The more you learn about that, the more you keep that stuff intact, the better your soil is, and the better your veggies will grow.”
Off The Grid
[d] Pipe Ride, Queens, NY.
Off The Grid
“I grow like five different types of eggplant. I like experimenting; you can do so much with it. I really like growing kale. I have three different types. I mean, they all taste kinda the same, but it’s just cool to have different types. You can make kale chips, you can drink it, bake it, cook it; you can do a bunch of different stuff with it.” However, it wasn’t until last year that Russ realized the profit potential for an activity he could hardly call work. “I was helping a friend run a farm stand on Saturday mornings, and we would sell these organic vegetables to people for a good price. I would bring some stuff there and I would make like a hundred bucks a day on veggies that I was just gonna give away to friends. So we’ve been selling to a bunch of different families, every week or every other week... It just worked out that they liked the quality of our veggies and they keep buying them.”
you just feel it. They have spirits. All the trees there have spirits, and you can feel it. My girl would start crying, just looking at a tree.” Peering into the future, Russ plans on leading a simple life; somehow more simple than his life now. He imagines himself living somewhere in the Caribbean, surfing to pass the time. “I could see myself having a farm or something like that. I really enjoy that. Or having a homestead where a group of people live and all work together to be self-sufficient. When I grow up, I definitely want to be self-sufficient... Like growing my own food and preserving it, building my own house. Trying not to be so materialistic. Just living comfortably without so many material possessions.” However impossible it seems to make a peaceful character like Russ angry, he does have his share of annoyances. “People being disrespectful. Seeing
"I would come home from school and robbie [Morales] would be riding in the backyard or be in the pool... it was definitely crazy seeing that. We had a trampoline set up right outside his window, and we would jump on it almost every morning and wake him up. He still brings that up to this day" Although Russ cherishes the time he spends at home on Long Island, he also enjoys getting out and traveling. Mostly to escape the harsh East Coast winter, he and Lauren packed up their partially-electric Toyota Prius and hit the road last Fall. “Our destination at first was to live in California, but we didn’t really have a plan. We pretty much made a loop around the country along the borders. We stopped in a bunch of cities, like Asheville, North Carolina, we stopped in Florida and New Orleans. Once we got to Austin it was real cool because a bunch of my friends were there. I loved it and Lauren really liked it too so we stayed there for a few months. We finally left and went to the West Coast. We stayed in California for a month and a half; we travelled down to Mexico and up the coast to Portland.”
kids nowadays, how they are being raised, with all their material shit... Seeing how we are messing up the planet for future generations. Seeing corporations taking over the world, stuff like that. It just sucks to see people not giving a shit about the earth and the future of the planet, you know?”
It was on this leg of the trip that Russ and Lauren found themselves at the most memorable location of the voyage; The Avenue of the Giants in the Redwoods State Park. “The energy from those trees is just amazing. These trees are so old that
The drive to Brooklyn is a diverse and winding road. My directions tell me it will be under an hour-and-a-half, but with the Saturday afternoon surge of eager city-goers, it ends up being two. As I travel farther from Patchogue, the traffic
I stay the night at Russ’ and sleep deeply in a silence that New York City will never know. Not a buzzing streetlight nor speeding garbage truck dare wake me. 60 miles separates me from the chaotic reality I’ve learned to cope with, and although my entire stay on Long Island lasts less than 24 hours, the therapeutic relief it provides transcends time. I want this serenity to follow me wherever I go, like a calm umbrella for life’s scattered shit-storms.
[prev] [e] Icepick, Akron, Ohio. [f] Toothpick, Brooklyn, NY.
thickens and the trees disappear. For a moment I find myself lost in the maze of streets, and with the hot smell of garbage I could swear that I have somehow ended up in New Jersey. It never ceases to amaze me how an hour’s drive out of the city can completely transform the perception of my surroundings. I mull over my entire life, as I usually do when I return to the bustle of The Big Apple. Why don’t I just move back to Ohio? It’s much more peaceful and a whole lot cleaner. I’m just a human being struggling to stay alive in a world of 7 billion. What is this all for? My life has been 25 years of introspective contemplation. Fuck it, I’m moving with Russ to the Caribbean. Letting my hair grow long and eating homegrown veggies. Living in the bush and off the grid.
Off The Grid
Ollie Palmer, Secret Barn, Tiverton. 07.06.12
A TOWN TRASH Always Trashy, Never Classy Allentown, PA
Located just by the New Jersey border, Allentown, Pennsylvania has been known for crazy action even before I started visiting the place over ten years ago. It could be in part because the population is largely made up of people whose spots got too hot or are evading warrants from other surrounding states. On top of this add in the crazy Pennsylvanian southern type people and BAM! You’ve got the demilitarized zone known as the A. Allentown is also neighbored by two small cities each just as crazy as the next. Bethlehem is the first, with its casinos, cheap bars, good Spanish joints and Leigh Valley college skanks. Easton would be the next city. Crackheads, spots at liquor stores, openly racist cops and the Crayola crayon factory are all things you can expect to find here. Out of all this chaos came A-Town trash. James Hess, Weng Khuu, Rogelio Villanueva and Nelson Colon all paved the way for the nearly dead 610 scene to thrive. After I started to ride with those dudes I started to meet all the ‘Young Bulls’ of that time, namely Nick Smith, Okie and Fateem Williams. They all carried on the Trash tradition of getting loose as hell, not giving a fuck, living life full throttle and in turn passed it on to new young bulls like Devon Albino, Jose Querpo and Jameer Williams. May the tradition of Always Trashy Never Classy never die.
Words and Photography by CHRIS MARSHALL 107
Weng Khuu A Town is kinda like New York during the immigration period except with people from New York, New Jersey and Philly. Allentown is divided in four sections, there’s Southside, West End, Eastside and Center City. I started off digging and riding trails because I resided on the Southside back then for about three years. I moved to Center City in about 20002001 and started the transition from trails to street. Things were definitely a lot grimier. I heard gunshots all night, crack fiends leaning on buildings, dirty syringes, cop cars flying around and prostitutes looking to make a buck and I gotta say, I loved it. Fortunately with myself being Asian, it worked for me for being easily recognizable. Wherever I went, I made all the right friends. If you want that in other words, my hood pass was set. Unlike some of the other riders who had to worry bout getting their bikes taken or not even being able to ride down to spots, I never had those worries. As the years passed everyone slowly started riding together. It was more of a movement and we got love throughout the city by bullshittin’ with the people on whichever block we were on. It was by far one of best things that could’ve happened for all of us, they were great times. The crew was tight and we stuck by each other no matter where we went. We did what we wanted and said what we wanted, unlike other riding crews who were more timid and shook. Fateem, Nelson, and myself definitely had more of a raw vibe. Quicker to just rock shit and end it. So problems we ran into were quickly solved. Slowly but surely a handful of us had kids and had to do the grown up thing. Gotta take care of our A Town Litterbugs! Now we’re older and falling into the same path as our forefather East Coast Destruction BMX and bar scene. Luckily we built a strong crew, a lot of upcoming kids we slowly decided to pick up and let ride with us have helped make A Town Trash way bigger than I could’ve imagined in 2002.
Devon Albino I just graduated from a school where everyone is fucked up, especially the slores. In Allentown the schools are almost as wild as the streets. In the school I went to anything could be going down in any part of the building. After school knife fights, niggas selling drugs in the bathrooms to all the different school staff, young mami’s trying to wild out in the stairwells, teachers cutting class with students to buy ‘em bud and brew or even fuck ‘em. I’ve seen security guards all smacked up, faded in their chairs not even giving a fuck about their jobs. We even had a Principal get caught for for cookin’ meth in his office. The dude was watching gay porn or some shit whilst he was cookin’ up too… Basically, what I’m trying to say is school was live action everyday. Who’d really wanna cut with shit like that going down? Going to school was almost like going to the bar. Get a skoonta some liquor or bud and you’re set to have a good time with her regardless. Thankfully I actually graduated unlike a lot of the other people in my grade that fell off. Now that I’m out my days consist of smokin’ hooka, ridin’ bikes with the homies and all the usual other bullshit.
[a] Devon Albino, Double set barspin, Allentown.
Always Trashy, Never Classy
[b] James Hess Smith, Bethlehem.
James Hess Cruisin’ thru the A there’s always some live action, so I thought I’d tell two quickies bout some close times getting jammed up with the boys. After a long session we decided to end the day at this sub box spot. The spot is in the cut, one of those spots you never get kicked out of. The only worry is getting stuck up. There was bout seven of us and it was a usual late night Gordon St. sesh - beers blunts and jokes. We were just chillin’, enjoyin’ the herbs, brews and having a good time. That was till the boys rolled up. Three bike cops tryin’ to jam us up. Empty beer cans all over and the smell of piff flowing in the air, I thought we were fucked. One cop just says, “Hey smells real good here guys” and we all froze up. Only a second later they get a report on the radio of a child shooting at pedestrians a few blocks away. We all got that ‘oh Shit!’ Look on our faces as the bike cops pedal off. Shout out to that wild young bull for getting me out of some fines. It was a brick winter day, Butcher and me were out cruising filming for ‘Still Folded.’ There was this setup I wanted to check out in this little factory. We roll up to the spot and the gate was open so we rolled on in and I decided I’m gonna hook it. First time I loop out. I realized I was getting a flat but decided to try it again anyway, of course then I eat complete shit. Next thing I know this big old Spanish dude who works there is in my face screaming and then just swings on me. I duck the punch and all I see is Butcher tackle the dude, get him in a headlock and I start to kick his face. We let the dude up and he boogies. I told Butcher to dip out while I pack up the camera. He rolls out, then when I get up to the gate it electronically shuts on me. And then the boys rolled up deep…
Always Trashy, Never Classy
Fateem Williams Hmm… It’s hard to pinpoint one fucked up situation but there was a time we went out in Philly for a party, I mean we were squad deep wit A Town niggahs....Long story short, I saw this kid I had problems with, like the niggah was talkin’ mad shit like he’s going to fuck me up next time he see me and all this rah rah bullshit. Well, the pussy passed out on the couch at this party! So I took the matter into my own hands and pissed all over his face and neck. Girls callin’ me nasty and other niggahs laughin’. The dude didn’t even wake up! I’m pissin’ on his face and he’s probably dreamin’ about being in a pool or some shit. Well the niggahs whose crib it was didn’t like that I was pissin’ on this dude on their couch so I ended up havin’ to fight him. I end up knockin’ the dude out. So I leave and I’m walkin’ back to my girls, and there’s this chick on the sidewalk fightin’ multiple fat bitches. I ended up havin’ to slam this random bitch on her head to stop her from pullin’ my girls hair. I get up from slammin’ this bitch and BAM! The dude woke up from being knocked out hits me in the head with a beer bottle and runs. We end up dippin’. Two weeks after that party I saw the boy I pissed on at a bar in Southside and I end up fightin’ the clown. I knock the boy out and the cops come so I dip across the street were my car was parked. I watch this niggah wake up and get arrested for wildin’ out on the cops! If you want a moral too this story don’t fuck wit A Town niggahs or better yet, don’t fuck wit me.
[c] Fateem Williams Access Hop, Allentown.
Always Trashy, Never Classy
Nick Smith I got my bike stolen a few months back at the CVS down the street from my house. I brought my bike inside with me and walked to the Arizona ice tea isle. Whilst I was walking to pay for my drink I saw a proper fat booty and of course I had to get a better check on. Turns out that bionic booty took me on a little longer detour to get back to my bike. Right as I got to the front to pay for my drink I saw my bike wasn’t there anymore. Right away I went outside and no sight of anything. I went back in and asked to see the security camera to see if I knew the person who did it. The schlep manager let me see the security tape of the guy running off with my bike. It was an older guy with his hat low so you couldn’t see his face. The manager asked if I wanted to call the police but I knew that would be a complete waste of time. I knew my bike would turn up in a matter of time because the town is small and we know people all over. About a week went by without seeing it. Me and my roommates James and Karter were at Mcdonalds getting coffee with the dogs and a Latin king came up to us and asked if we had a missing bike. I told him I’d got mine taken from the CVS a few days ago and I told him what it looked like and explained the setup. He must have seen us riding around and figured to ask. He said it was one of his little kings who’d stolen my shit and that he didn’t approve of the action. He told us, “I need my bike riders out here riding and doing their thing”. Later that day we met up and he got my bike back to me. I got it back with a flat tire and a broken stem from the mark ass thief moving my bars. Shit, this is the second time I got a bike stolen and got it back just the way I left it; a rolling piece of trash.
[d] Nick Smith Rail Hop, Allentown. [e] Nick Smith Over pegs pop out, Philadelphia.
Always Trashy, Never Classy
Okie Okie is what some would call the epitome of a Pennsylvanian. He loves Kid Rock, Budweiser and Amurica and he isn’t scared to let you know it. Okie is also nicknamed Cokie. Not because of an insatiable need for blow, but because of his attitude towards life. Of all the riders in Allentown he is by far the biggest wild card. You never know what he’s going to do. He could show up to a spot with two girls from the army openly talking about threesomes to making bank deep in the farmlands milking cows while high on some weird shit from the Amish. You never know with this guy. Same goes for when he rides. Never know what kind shit he’s gonna go for, could be some crazy seatstand grind combination or something like this switch wall ride out of the storm door. - Chris Marshall
Butcher A-Town Trash, always trashy never classy. This is the new generation out of the Allentown, Bethlehem and surrounding areas of Pennsylvania and it’s a wild ass crew. A bunch of raw street shredders riding anything and everything and going in on it. It’s a diverse crew of all different people, all into same things and different things. Anywhere from riding all day to pitbull breeding, video gamers, partyers, chillers, rappers, money move makers, hood shit, going to school, working hard, some have kids, families, houses. All in all we just get along, hang out and have good times. A-Town Trash is a bad ass crew. I remember one time riding with Mel Cody (OG A-Town) on Hamilton St. This drunk trashy guy drives up in this beater and is being all drunk sayin’ ‘yo do some tricks!’ Mel said ‘OK let me ride over your car it’s all beat up anyways.’ The guy was all ‘yea I see that!’ So Mel rides over it and breaks the windshield. The guy flips out, grabs the camera out of my hand and takes off. The cops ended up finding him down the street and he got arrested for drunk driving, stealing the camera and some other shit. It was funny, but sucked at the same time as the guy stole the tape, so no footy. A lot of funny and crazy things go on around the A. This one time I had to beat down some 40 year old guy for swingin on one of the homies. Dude was fucking pissed! I even once saw a girl shooting at some guy in a car, probably some baby momma drama. I seen high-speed police chases through the city, crackheads, gun fights, girl fights. I can’t even remember them all. There are so many crazy things that happen on the daily here that there’s never a dull moment.
Always Trashy, Never Classy
[f] Butcher, Over opposite smith, Allentown [g] Okie, Opposite wallride, Allentown.
[h] Jorge Herrera, Wallride whip, Allentown.
I moved to Allentown from the Jersey City area of New Jersey about six years ago. I’ve seen a lot of shit go down since I’ve been livin’ out here. Riding around Center City Allentown can get a little wild at times from crackheads houndin’ you for bread at the nearby bodega to strippers getting their asses beat on the corner for talking too much shit on Facebook. You can always count on seeing a chick fight on any block. I love A-Town though and after all this time I can still find countless riding spots down any alley. The skoontas that be walkin’ by with their fattys and the live action that goes down always makes street riding a lot more interesting. One time my boys and I were riding this sub and heard some felon crash into seven cars and saw him take off running into the alleyway. My one boy took his phone that he’d left in his crashed whip and came right back to filming at the sub. If you ain’t comin’ up on phones or cash layin’ around town you can bet you will come up on a skoonta on a sunny day. Sometimes I would walk up to a chick and just tell’em to give me their digit n be fuckin’ em that same day. No sweet talkin’ or any of that extra shit. Just be careful who you step to, you best wrap that shit! The flip side of riding around A-Town is all the hothead niggas that are lookin’ to start trouble over everything and anything in this small town. Whilst riding to spots I’ve witnessed a shoulder rub turn into a gun threat, but most of the fights you will find here are between a bunch of bitches who are just trying to act tough. I can’t even count all the fights I’ve been in here, but that’s only because I can’t walk away from shit. When it comes to riding, you can find a lot of good spots all around here: Bethlehem Plaza, Catty trails, etc. But I prefer Allentown because aside from the skoontas, it’s the closing thing to home for me.
THE PORNO PEOPLE Angel Long and Mark Taylor Words and Photography by STEVE BANCROFT
Angel Long is a top British pornstar and porn movie producer who rides BMX, we sat down with her and boyfriend / rider / producer Mark Taylor at Bath Trails for a few words on the contentious subject of hardcore pornography.
So what kind of pornography do you make Angel? Really nasty, filthy stuff. I just love to go all out and fuck people up. If you could compare the porn you make to a style of riding, what would it be? Well it wouldn’t be trails or smooth flowing bowl riding, that would be like erotic, sensual porn. I’m not interested in anything like that, that doesn’t appeal to me at all. What I do is pure filth, nasty fucking, so I guess it would be the biggest gnarliest tricks out there, definitely not the prettiest, but definitely the most scary.
nasty and you’ll get 110%, and just like in any industry, people like that.
So you know when you guys got together Angel, you were already in the industry right? And Mark, did you know about that when you met? Mark: Oh yeah, I knew. I’d wanked over her before we met, I told you that on our first date, didn’t I love? [Sarah laughs and nods] So Mark, you film a lot of Angel’s stuff. Is that not weird? Well I film all the girl on girl stuff, and that’s not weird nah.
So how did you guys get into the porno game? When I was younger I used to watch a lot of porn, I just got really into it. I filmed my first scene when I was 19. I grew up as a farm girl, I was a Tom Boy, I didn’t wear make up and used to drive quads around and work on the farm. It’s only through doing porn that I learnt how to put make up on. I just love the idea of men wanking off over me.
But isn’t it a bit weird going out with a pornstar? I’m into it, we work together. I can’t watch her older scenes though, I just can’t bring myself to watch her getting fucked by other guys. It would be like you watching your girlfriend get fucked by her ex boyfriend, in the name of work or not, that’s just not gonna be a nice watch. But I film all her girl on girl stuff now and I’m well into it, it’s just what we do.
Mark:When I met Angel I just got involved, and now we produce films together. The porn we make would be like doing really big tricks over really big street gaps.
Do you get a hard on while filming? Of course.
What does it take to be a pornstar? You have to like sex. Like really like sex. The reason why I’ve managed to make a career out of it is because I’m professional, I’m not a flake, if you book Angel Long then people know that you’re gonna get a proper job, I’ll turn up on time and I’ll get 120
So Angel Long, is that your real name? Nah, my real name is Sarah Reed. Angel Long is my porn name. I’m two people, when I’m at work I’m Angel Long, and outside of work I’m Sarah. At work I like to dominate and take control and fuck really filthy, outside work I’m quite shy really. Angel Long is a brand as much as a person.
The Porno People
ABDBIKES.COM PAUL LANGLANDS
TRAILS OF RECOVERY
P H O T O G R A P H Y R I C H I E M AC I V E R
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A B D P L A Y E R 3
So you’re kind of a big deal in the industry right? If there were a league table of UK porn actresses – where would you be on it? Sarah: Erm, that’s a tricky one. I can’t really answer that without sounding pretentious or big headed here. . . Mark: She’d be number one, definitely. We’ve won awards, we won best sex scene at the SHAFTA Awards [Soft and Hard Adult Film and Television Awards]. She’s the best at what she does, people know that, just the other day this scene was really flattening off, she noticed that and pulled out this strap-on and just turn the scene 180°, she’s really good at what she does.
closed doors you don’t really get any of the perks from that? Yeah, we’re well known in the industry, but it’s not really annoying that it’s kept under wraps, it’s just the way it is. It’s very different here than over in LA, over there the actresses are superstars, because it’s more open and accepted over there. Even though, over here, everyone watches it and everyone wanks over it, but just because of how English we are, it’s just not gonna be like that. But we get respect from people for what we do though, our talents are recognised.
Do you make a lot of money? We do all right, but there’s not much money in it anymore, there used to be, but free porn on the Internet has killed the industry. When I first went out to America getting on ten years ago there was good money to be made, but not anymore. People think you get thousands for a scene, but that’s not normally the case, as producers, nowadays, we pay £350 for a girl and £250 for a guy. Is there such a thing as a “fluffer”? Haha, no. I’ve been doing this 22 years and I’ve not seen one. Maybe they use them for big gang bang scenes in America, but generally it’s the guy’s job to be able to get hard when required. Do the dudes use Viagra? Some do, some don’t. For long gang bang scenes they might, if they need to stay hard for hours. But normally they don’t, staying hard and coming on demand are the skills you need to be a male porn actor.
"...that would be like erotic, sensual porn. I’m not interested in anything like that, that doesn’t appeal to me at all. What I do is pure filth..."
Us English are renown for being prudent, sex in general just isn’t spoken about much over here, so it’s pretty obvious that the films you make aren’t ever gonna go mainstream. Does that piss you off, because I suppose in the porn world you guys are famous, like the Posh and Becks of porn, but because it’s kept locked behind
It’s weird huh. I guess porn is so popular because it taps into the most primeval instinct that we have as humans, the desire to procreate. If you believe in science then you must believe that, fundamentally, we’re all alive to in order for our genes to reproduce, so surely, as it’s something so important, we should be more open about sex, shouldn’t we? Yeah, sex is just human nature, and you just can’t argue with that. Yeah, what we do may take sex to extremes, but it’s something that everyone thinks about. I find it strange how many people watch porn, but at the same time how few people talk about it. . . How did you get into BMX? Well Mark got me into it, I started going to PSA trails and helping dig down there. Then I got a bike and started out riding pump tracks. I want to learn to ride trails, and I will eventually, but right now I’m starting with the basics, just pumping around tracks and going from there. We went to Corby last week, me and Mark, that was a great time.
Why do you do it, porn that is, not bike riding? I just like working on a project and seeing it through to the end, and then I like the idea of guys wanking over it. I enjoy it, I’m an exhibitionist, I like cutting loose and going wild. I like fucking people up.
The Porno People
Photo. Robin Pearson
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BMX SELF DEFENCE Words and Illustration by ALEX SPREADBURY
Although this article is about how to protect yourself when some jumped up chav tries to steal your bike, I thought I’d first stray away from BMX and tell you a little story a guy called William Smith once told me. “In west Philadelphia, born and raised, in the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and shooting some b-ball, outside of the school. When a couple of guys, who were up to no good, started making trouble in my neighborhood. I got in one little fight and my mom got scared, she said “You’re moving to your aunties and uncles in Bel Air.”
often don’t know our own strength. I’ve seen guys crush beer bottles, accidentally strangle cats and break everything from cars to walls, all by a seemingly slight touch of a hand. If you out-number them, man up and show some balls. Remember the Fresh Prince, look where he ended up.
I’ve no idea if William won the fight, but who cares, this lucky son of a bitch got a free ticket out of the ghetto and ended up moving to one of the most prestigious areas in the US, all because he got in a fight. That’s where fighting got him. Sometimes, beating someone up is more than worth it.
I love the idea of manning up but the reality of it is… I’m a bit of a pussy. If it’s one on one, get the hell out of there. Fights are generally best avoided. I can hear all the hard men BMXers now, ‘What the fuck! You’ll turn us all into spineless pussies!’ Maybe so, but there are some very nasty people out there, people who are willing to go to extreme lengths to get that new and shiny bike from underneath you. Our first technique is ‘ride away fast’, that’s the best bit of self defense advice we’ll give you, but if you do get stuck between a rock and a hard place, here are three more techniques that might come in handy and also show you the inner Rocky you never knew you had.
“What’s this shitty analogy with the Fresh Prince of Bel Air got to do with BMX?” I hear you say.Well, the point I’m trying to make is ‘Don’t be a pussy’. If there are two guys trying to take a bike from one of your group of ten buddies, it’s time to bring those fuckers down. BMXers are strong, but we
Technique 1: Run Away
[Disclaimer: The Albion BMX Magazine does not encourage violence in any shape or form. Be safe. Run away.]
BMX Self Defence
Technique 2: The Bike Toss If a thief asks you for your bike simply give it to them. If all other non-violent methods are exhausted, turn your bike from an expensive item of desire into a weapon. Bicycles are heavy metal objects, with multiple hard points that can cause injury if applied appropriately. Simply raise the bicycle high above your head and throw down onto the aggressor. The strength of the throw combined with the weight of the bike will determine the success of your attack. Attempt this technique with four pegs, metal pedals and without bar end plugs for excellent results. This classic defensive technique was made famous by Rob Ridge who, when jumped by a gypsy robber, fought off the attack by hurling his bike at the thief, braking his jaw and knocking his teeth out. ****
Technique 3: The Sucker Punch This third technique also involves the handing over your bike to the thief. But, instead of throwing it, lift the bike to chest height by holding the fork and seat tube. The thief will naturally take hold of the bike in both hands, thereby lowering his guard. With the thiefâ€™s hands now occupied by holding your treasured bicycle, take the opportunity to sucker punch the scumbag straight in the face. A direct punch to the nose will disorientate the thief long enough for you to continue your attack. ***
Technique 4: The Clothes-line You leave your bike for a two-minute period and go to a nearby shop. On exiting the shop you see your bike being ridden towards you at speed by a fleeing thief. A sure fast, effective and simple technique to dismount the thief from your bike and send him head first to the pavement is The Clothes-line. Made famous by mid 90â€™s American wrestling, move is executed by holding your strongest arm out in an extended right angle position and colliding it into the upper body/lower next of the thief. For best results achieve maximum impact by tensing your arm and running at the thief, whilst being careful to maintain the element surprise. A catalogue of wrestling moves can ensue. ***** [We do not recommend this technique if your shoulder is prone to dislocation or if you have a thorough insurance policy.]
BMX Self Defence
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A Relentless Devotion to the CAuse inside Zeal Distribution
Words and Photography by steve BAnCRoFt The BMX industry in the UK is a funny place, for the most part it’s fairly generic – brands and distros following tried and tested models to proven ends – and generally a company’s success can be measured by how efficient they are at toeing that line. But behind this seemingly simple façade of shiny new products and flashy new web edits, lie countless hours of hard graft and a degree of passion and dedication that would put an Russian Olympic gymnast to shame.
bile phone and a room full of boxes. Every night when he finished work, with his eyes squared from staring too long at inventory spreadsheets and courier’s websites, he had to shuffle around between the piles of products and move the boxes off his bed and stack them on his desk. six hours later he’d get up and move them back again. To say that James ‘lives’ BMX is an understatement worthy of a slap. If you cut him, this guy would bleed 4130.
The majority of you reading this, as consumers of BMX media, will only get to see the good bits. You only get shown the big tricks, the big names and the all-smiling cast of the road trip edit. But behind the outward face of the advertising and promotion lies a reality that is far less glamorous.
We went up to Upton in Pontefract to catch up with one of the industry’s most favourite faces and see how the Zeal empire has been getting on since it moved away from the high rents of London to a new spacious location up north.
For six years, Zeal’s owner James Hitchcox ran his distribution empire from his bedroom. He had a laptop, a mo-
Zeal are the underdogs in UK BMX distribution. They have a modest stable of small to medium sized brands and are far removed from the big bucks of corporate affiliations afford-
A Relentless Devotion To The Cause
ed to some of their competitors. James runs Zeal with his business partner Aaron, from the same building that houses Ben Manual’s long running Pitwheels Skatepark. Situated on the site of the old mining baths from the former Upton coal pit – like the once shining glory of the British Empire – this place was built with hands-on, hard graft. With hands calloused from ramp building, fingers toughened from lacing wheels and shins scared from riding bikes, these guys are the working class heroes of BMX. Away from the glitz and glamour of product-launch after parties and energy drink team building skydives, these guys clock in early and they clock out late. Above the desk in the office is a bed for when the nights get so long there’s no point going home, a bed where the occupant often lies tired but awake, struggling to turn off after 12 hours of dollar exchange rates, stock checks, invoice numbers and just where
to hold your weight to tweak a Canadian nosepick a few more degrees. The work is long and the hill is steep but the rewards are there to make it worthwhile. The energy from a successful new product or a well-received edit does as much to keep the whole thing alive as the money in the bank. The financial rewards are modest, but with overheads cheap and ramps on site: ‘the man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest’. Zeal’s is the kind of BMX you live and feel with every available receptor, the ramps are cold and hard and you can feel the air on your lungs, harsh and gritty from industry. The sounds of riding and laughter echo from the skatepark, the sounds of computers and stress hums out from the office and the ripping sound of tape guns fill any gaps in the ether.
Inside Zeal Distribution
How do you see Zeal fitting in with the other UK distros and what do you think of the industry as a whole? It just seems that there is a set way of doing things that is tried and tested and they all just do that. They look at skateboarding and see how they’ve done it and just copy that. I think BMX should be itself, you can only ride a foot high ledge for so long. The freestyle element has gone, which I hate. BMX has become so huge that it’s lost its individuality. It doesn’t have to be that way either huh? I don’t know whether some people in the BMX industry have seen a bunch of skaters who have made it, cruising around in their expensive cars, and they’ve gone. . . “Oh I fancy a piece of that.” I dunno. Tell us about the beginning; give us two minutes of your history with riding Growing up, my dad was into motocross so I was riding bikes at a young age. I started riding motorbikes when I was six, we lived just behind Harrow skatepark back then. I used to get pushed around there in my pushchair, just watching everyone do their stuff, so I knew about skateboarding and BMX straight away. I started riding BMX and fell in love with it, my dad took me and some guys to events – old Backyard Jams and King Of Concretes – we loved it so we did as much as possible. I started doing okay in some contests and started to travel more. I got picked up on Standard Bykes through Custom Riders, that was my first proper sponsor.
"Jimmy [levan] was laying on the floor unconscious and right next to us they’re loading a dead body into the back. My stomach was in my throat"
Obviously back then Standard Byke Company was a big deal? It was a massive deal, one of the biggest. That was around 1997, I was riding a Standard before, loved them, so it was a dream come true. Then I started pushing pretty hard, I started getting some coverage in magazines and videos, and going to even more events.
What about contest placing, did you have any memorable ones from back then? Well I used to place pretty well at King Of Concrete, I was up in the top three in most events. It wasn’t about winning, it was just about being there. We’d go to every event we could, big ones, small local ones, it didn’t matter, we just wanted to be there. Standard wasn’t about winning with me, I never wanted to win and pay rent. I always wanted it to be fun. I never wanted pedalling my bike to pay wages, it disgusted me to think like that, it just weren’t my thing.
I’ve ridden for 22 years. I hear people get to my age and be like, “that’s it, it’s over for me, I’m too old” But that’s not the way it has to be, you can always pick up a bike, BMX will always be there and it’ll always be fun. If I took it seriously, I know I’d end up hating it and I’d end up hating what I originally loved.
You were on Standard when those guys came over for the Euro Tour. Did you see Gonz get hit by the bus? Nah, it was the day before I met up with them. I would have loved to see that epic moment. It’s no big deal though, I’ve got enough good Gonz stories. After that tour, Rick was like “Well now we’ve met and we get along, we might as well sort you out bikes, instead of Custom Riders”. And with that he invited me over to America. A few weeks later I was over there riding Rampage. After that we became really good friends. We both see eye to eye on our BMX views. Do you still ride for them? Yeah, I say so. I have my own company, Alone. So I try to represent that too, but I ride a Standard… I’ve got a Standard tattoo on my arm for God’s sake. So you were first sponsored by Standard in ‘97 and you still ride for them now? That’s pretty awesome. There are not many people who can say they’ve ridden for the same company for that long. Odyssey picked me up and there was a kind of pinnacle moment in my life. I was working on the spanners in a motorbike garage when Mark from Odyssey phoned me up and asked me if I want to go on a Props Mega Tour with them. I just said “Of course I do.” About the same time, my girlfriend wanted me to go to OZ with her and when I mentioned it to my boss, he said no. I asked if I could then go on Mega Tour and he said no to that too. I didn’t mind saying no to one, but both, I couldn’t handle that. So I quit on the spot. So I did the Mega Tour, stayed out there longer than I should, flew back, had time to wash my clothes and sell my car then it was back to the airport flying to Australia for a month. Lindsey Brown hooked me up with an X Games entry over there and I came fifth in that. I just did goofball tricks for my whole run and made everybody laugh, the commentator had me go back out and do another barrel roll tailwhip because the crowd loved it so much.
What’s a barrel roll tailwhip? You know. You go chainring, roll on your back whip and in. I was just mucking about, being silly, I was laughing my head off. When I came back I walked straight into a sales-rep job for Odyssey, that was 2002 and that started off my BMX industry career I guess. You were still riding for Odyssey back then right?
A Relentless Devotion To The Cause
Inside Zeal Distribution
Yeah, they were one of the only companies paying back then, £50 a month we got. We went on loads of trips with them, with people like Jimmy Levan, Mike Aitken, Beringer. Jimmy beat his head so hard at Dusseldorf Uni… He was doing a gap and hung up on a rail, I thought he was dead. It was such a weird scene, as soon as he crashed, literally three seconds later, an ambulance turned up. We all looked around relieved thinking “bloody hell, that was quick” but it turned out it was because they had found a dead body floating the in the public swimming pool, right by where he crashed. It was too weird, we got that ambulance to call for another one, Jimmy was laying on the floor unconscious and right next to us they’re loading a dead body into the back. My stomach was in my throat.
You’ve got a lot of miles on your BMX clock haven’t you? You must have seen some sights over the years? Yeah, I guess so, too many to tell really. So you never fancied going down the paid pro rider route then? Nah, I used to go to comps to ride my hardest, but mainly to ride new obstacles with good friends. I’d just go and try to push my own riding a bit, and not really worry about what everyone else was up to. I just wanted to do something different. I get sick of seeing everyone doing big flips or flipwhips over the box. That’s when I’d drop in and do a stem stall or something. Oh yeah, I remember you doing them at a Bike Show one year. Yeah, it wasn’t much, but it was a bit of fun and it looked different, and I tell you what, I still have people come up to me all like “I remember when you did this, that or the other back then.” And that makes me happy. If you look at all the riders today doing feeble hard 180 on the driveway, how many of them are doing something recognisable or fun. . . Not many. The type of riding that is popular today just doesn’t stand out, and that’s what BMX is to me, it’s why I started; because it was different and no one did it. I like being different. I like being original, that was the appeal to me. It seems to me like you guys here at Zeal are holding on to a bit of that golden era, and it’s working. It seems like you bring some personality and character to the table. I think with the team riders, we don’t say “right we are a street brand, or we are a ramp brand”. A lot of other companies do that, but to me that’s soul destroying, to watch a video of all these guys all riding exactly the same. Some people like it and that’s fine, but we’ve got Isaac Lesser who’ll hold his own in all the ramp comps and will jump off of anything. We’ve got Sam Collison who does all the street tricks. We’ve got a girl on the team: Kayley Ashworth. We’re keeping it mixed and fresh, because that’s what BMX is to us. Do you ever get any negative feedback from holding on to that approach? Err, I don’t think so, but if you hear any then please do tell me, I’d love to hear it. Even if people slate me, for anything, the tricks that I do, the business decisions I make, let me know, I like being told ‘that’s shit or that’s good’, I don’t care, I do what I do and sod anyone else. Well I think you’re a torch-bearer James, you fly the flag for what I love about BMX and I think it’s obvious that you think with your heart and not your wallet, and it’s great to see that doing so well for you. It seems you guys aren’t really ones to shy away form controversy either though, what’s with all the slogan tshirts you put out? We try to add a bit of tongue in cheek comedy and inside banter to things, and we’ll tell you the inside jokes too, we’ve got nothing to hide. We made the ‘Sulky’ tshirts for Jim Cielencki after he got egged, it’s funny and it’s good marketing. We did some parody MirraCo ads too, just poking fun at how cheesy they were. And our latest one was
A Relentless Devotion To The Cause
Inside Zeal Distribution
the sticker we did with Ride UK, it was a Rasta sticker with “Jump On The Brand Wagon” written on it.
It seems like you guys are lighter hearted than most. Yeah, a lot of people are very serious about making money but the way I look at it is that money ain’t gonna make you happy. Yeah, it might buy you more stuff, but it ain’t gonna make you happy. I was most happy when I was 14 years old pedalling around on my bike, I had nothing back then, but I was happy as pie. I think you guys are winners, you’ve managed to keep alive the spirit that got you hooked on BMX and – even against the tide of these modern times – you’ve managed to make a living off it. I mean, the Danny Glovers!!! Haha, awesome.You got anything you want to add?
“It’s too cold for this shit!” BMX isn’t ever gonna stop. I just want to be involved in it, it’s been my life. It puts a smile on my face. And when I was first blown away by first getting stuff for free, that’s the sort of feeling that I want to give back. BMX is open to all, whether it be a kid with special needs or a chav who rides after football at the weekend. Let’s keep it free and open and encourage people to be different. Don’t try so hard to make everything the same, people want an easy life, people don’t like to stay up until four in the morning, but life’s not supposed to be easy, just man up and put the effort in.
What does Zeal mean? A relentless devotion to the cause. You’d struggle to find a more fitting word huh, cheers James.
A Relentless Devotion To The Cause
PHOTO: VINCE PERRAUD
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The Albion BMX Magazine, Issue 9, published in the UK and North America August 1st, 2012.