Sunday, March 26, 2017
As you can see from this clip, old school Midwest BMXer Scotty Zabielski has a beard. I'd rate that beard as slightly bigger than a 19th century lumberjack beard, but still a ways from wizard status. Scotty Z is raising money for ST. Baldrick's to help fight childhood cancer. That big ol' beard is coming off April 23rd. If he gets enough money, the eyebrows are getting shaved, too.
Scotty's a straight up guy, and the leading patron of my artwork as I've worked to turn that into my business. So help him out with $$$ or a share, or both!
Saturday, March 25, 2017
This just popped up on my You Tube feed. My first question was, "Where was this chick when we lived at the P.O.W. and S&M Houses back in the day? Then I remembered, "Oh, I'm old, she wasn't born yet." My next thought was, "This woman can seriously handle power tools and welders, so she'd probably kick my ass for calling her a "chick."
So here are two great things old schoolers. #1 is this awesome invention, BMX bike and beer hauler. I have a feeling S&M Bikes will be producing these by next weekend. #2 is Laura herself. One of you lucky BMXers watching this just found the perfect woman. This thing is awesome on so many levels... right up there with the Shipper Ripper in the SE Bikes warehouse in 1985. It was a shopping cart with handlebars welded on and custom stickers.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Here's Rich Bartlett in 2015 on a mountain bike. He's still riding trails.
In the summer of 1987, I got a call from Dave Alvarez, the genius video editor at Unreel Productions. He's the guy who actually edited the six American Freestyle Association videos I produced in 1987, so that's how I knew him. He told me he was being sent to shoot video in Lancaster that weekend at Rich Bartlett's house, and since it was a BMX thing, he said he'd give me a ride. We rode up in the Unreel Toyota van, north of L.A., to an event that changed the course of BMX jumping forever.
BMX Action editor Craig Gork Barrette and pro racer/jumper/vert rider Rich Bartlett had this idea to throw a BMX dirt jumping jam. It was the first King of Dirt jam, held at Rich's trails built at his dad's house. Everyone who rode a BMX bike back then jumped on dirt. But there were no jumping contests and there were two schools of jumping then. The traditional BMX racer school of jumping focused on jumping at speed, smoothly, over big sets of doubles. Their tricks were mostly the classics: tabletops, the Leary (lookback), X-ups, and maybe a one hand one footer. The other school of jumping then was the freestyle jumpers. Freestylers couldn't pedal worth a damn, and mostly loved flyout jumps with no gap to clear. Freestylers did 360's, Leary's, and more technical variations with much smaller air usually. Both groups didn't think much of the others.
That first King of Dirt brought riders from both schools of jumping, and from all over the U.S. (and even the U.K.) together for the first time in a big way. There was a smaller track near the house which both groups liked. Then there were the bigger jumps spread over the huge lot. Rich had built those jumps in a way none of us had seen before. It started by pedaling fast to a big tabletop jump. All day long he kept telling us all, "If you clear the tabletop, you don't have to pedal through the rest of the jumps." That was totally new then. To the best of my knowledge, Rich Bartlett built the first rhythm section in BMX. The racers got the rhythm idea down first, although most still wanted to pedal between jumps. Us freestylers, who rarely jumped that far, had trouble. But most of us were coasting through some of the jumps by the end of the day, even if we couldn't clear that first table top.
To put that 1987 day in perspective, when we went to the local McDonald's for breakfast that morning (about eight of us crashed on Rich's floor the night before), jumping phenom Chris Moeller was panhandling money for breakfast. He and friend Greg Scott had just started making "Mad Dog" frames under the name S&M Bicycles, which stood for "Scott" and Moeller." About a year later, Chris bought out Greg and went to town with the little company.
There were a handful of guys from England there, and that was the first time I met Will Smyth, who went on to publish DIG BMX magazine (and now an awesome website) a few years later. Another kid made his debut that day, a kid from Utah named Tim "Fuzzy" Hall. There were probably 40 or 50 riders there, maybe more. It wasn't a contest, and the main sponsor was the local Domino's Pizza place, which gave Gork and Rich a discount on pizzas for us all.
It was an epic day in BMX, and everyone there rode, and Dave was about the only guy shooting video because Vision Street Wear was a co-sponsor. Most of the craziest jumps went to the young S&M team with Moeller, Dave Clymer, John Paul Rogers, and a couple others flowing 360's and stretching Nac-nacs. Freestylers tried to pedal with more speed and die hard racer/jumpers tried 360's, which dinged a few rims as I remember. Everyone had a great time. One goofy kid who couldn't jump very well started trying tailwhip jumps, a brand new idea at the time. I remember that part, because I was that goofy kid. All kinds of riders tried new variations, and went home with serious stoke on dirt jumping and what was possible.
The day ended with Fuzzy Hall trying this ridiculous canyon gap of about 35 feet or so. He made it a couple of times, as I remember. Everyone thought Chris Moeller would be the guy to do it first, but he'd just had his bike stolen, and didn't attempt it on a borrowed bike.
But the big takeaway that day was Rich Bartlett's idea of rhythm sections. That became the standard way to build jumps over the next couple of years, and the trails have only gotten bigger since. Here's a few of the epic rhythm sections inspired by Rich's idea:
Posh Trails- 2015 Halloween Jam
Sheep Hills- Boozer Jam 201?- Costa Mesa, CA
Ninth Street Trails, Halloween Jam- Austin, Texas
Brian Foster and Justin Inman
Red Bull Joyride 2014- Whister, BC, Canada
Thursday, March 16, 2017
But one of the fundamental tricks of BMX vert, dirt jumping, and park riding came from a lesser known, but still rad rider, Jeff Carroll. Like Jeremy Alder and Jose Yanez in the last two posts, Jeff showed the riding world that a trick thought impossible was actually possible. Jeff gave us the no-hander. It wasn't an eight foot air, his arms weren't stretched like later riders would do, but in the photo above at what I think is the last skatepark comp of that era, in 1985, Jeff showed the BMX world that you could take both hands off the bars in the air, put them back on, and survive. With that one trick, he changed BMX riding.
Here are some of the other guys who later built on that idea:
Joe Johnson- 1988-Stretched no hander about nine feet out, 1:48 in this clip, AFA Masters contest.
Chris Moeller-1991- no hander over Death Jump at Mission Trails (San Diego), 1:57 in this clip. That's Ron Wilkerson himself yelling "Yeah," in the background.
Mat Hoffman-1991- no handed 540 and huge no handed air 1:57 in this video, Eddie Roman's Headfirst, the most influential video in BMX history.
Mat Hoffman- 2002- No handed 900 in the X-games.
Shaun Butler- 1996- Stretch no handed barspin over doubles, 1:40 in this video.
Cory Nastazio- 2000- Pinch seat no hander, :10 in this video.
Dave Mirra- 2006- No handed 720 and no handed 360 flip, 1:02 and 1:39 in this clip.
Ryan Nyquist- 2005- No hand 360 over a spine (:41), and other no hand variations at :51, 1:18, 1:34, and 1:56 in this clip.
Travis Patrana- 2005- motocross candy bar backflip to no hander lander.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
In 1984, Eddie Fiola, Mike Dominguez, Brian Blyther battled it out for the King of the Skateparks on a BMX bike. Doing a seven or eight foot air and letting go of one hand and one foot was the peak of aerial radness. That summer, the first BMX freestyle flatland and ramp contest was put on by BMX freestyler turned entrepreneur Bob Morales. The term "BMX freestyle," was new. Wizard Publications put out the first issue of FREESTYLIN' magazine. BMX "trick riding" was just morphing into an actual sport. Dozens of riders showed up at each contest with brand new tricks. Nobody was sure what we were really capable of on BMX bikes. Racers had been jumping bikes for 14 years. NOBODY in the freestyle world even thought seriously of attempting a backflip on a bike. It just seemed far too dangerous.
Then out of nowhere, Arizona came this kid named Jose Yanez who did the impossible. He wasn't a top pro racer. He wasn't a known freestyler. He was just a kid who liked riding and decided to try the scariest thing any rider could think of at the time. He learned, landed, and got a cover photo doing the trick no one thought was really possible on a bicycle. Jose Yanez did the impossible, became instantly famous in the BMX world, then wound up in Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus touring the world doing that trick. Most of us freestylers back then never saw him do it live. Even after he proved it possible, no freestylers learned the trick ramp to ramp until 1990, when flatlander Jeff Cotter learned it from Jose himself while working in the circus. Mat Hoffman, in his traditional role of taking a new idea beyond possibility, learned backflip fakies and flairs, the backflip air, that same year. Even then, it was a couple more years, around '92 or '93 when a group of BMX riders started learning to do backflips. By that time, Jose Yanez had already done double backflips on a BMX bike into water, AND flipped a motorcycle ramp to ramp, the first to do either of those feats.
To put this into perspective, let's compare Jose's feats to the life of freestyle motocross pioneer Travis Pastrana. Jose did the first BMX ramp to ramp backflip when Travis was less than a year old and in diapers. Jose did a double BMX backflip into water when Travis was about four years old. Jose first flipped a motorcycle ramp to ramp when Travis was about eight-years-old. Travis tried a motorcycle backflip on dirt for the first time in 2000, but missed and broke his foot. He was about 17 at the time. That was nine years after Jose had already done it. I'm not trying to diss Travis, we all know how much he's added to the action sports world of progression. I'm just pointing out how far Jose was in front of the curve. But Jose Yanez, like many pioneers, didn't have massive TV coverage or tons of press around when he flipped that dirtbike. In fact, he didn't have ANY press around, just a friend with a video camera.
The BMX and MX riders of today, as well as those in other action sports, grew up with backflips and flip variations as part of the lexicon of tricks. These kids don't remember a time when a flip on two wheels was "impossible." But us old guys remember that time. In every progressive endeavor, someone has to put it on the line a be first. In the world of flips on two-wheeled vehicles, Jose Yanez was that guy.
Here's a look at what's been built upon the foundation that Jose Yanez built with that first flip:
1984- Jose Yanez, BMX ramp to ramp backflip (Original photo sequence, 1:23 in the clip above)
198?- Martin Aparijo claims to have landed a BMX front flip into soft dirt, no photos or video.
1987- Jose Yanez- BMX double backflip into water
1990- Mat Hoffman, BMX backflip fakie and backflip 180 (Flair) on vert
1990- Jeff Cotter, First BMX freestyler to learn backflips into water, 44:23 in this video. He also does a one handed flip (45:16) and quick no-hander (45:37) into water, the first backflip variations on a BMX bike. Jeff landed his first ramp to ramp flip a week later, but I was editing the video then and didn't document it. That was lame of me.
1990- Damien Sanders and Steve Graham flips and double flips on snowboards (segment at 53:43), At a time when snowboards were still banned from many ski resorts, and building snowboard jumps was illegal, these two put flips into the mix of snowboard progression.
1991- Mat Hoffman, First BMX backflip attempts in a dirt jump comp, 2-Hip King of Dirt, Mission Trails. Dennis McCoy sort of tries a flip attempt on Death Jump as well.
1991- Mat Hoffman learning flairs (3:16), closer shot of first dirt flip attempt, other attempts into water.
1991- Jose Yanez, first ramp to ramp motorcycle flip, 1:17 in the clip above. I believe freestyler Bob Kohl also flipped a motorcycle that year, no pics or video though.
1993- BMX Freestylers are finally flipping in contests... starting at 9:38, you see three flips, unknown rider (Jay Miron?), Mat Hoffman, and then Bob Kohl with a no-footed flip (11:36).
1997- Jay Miron, first ramp to ramp BMX double backflip (3:29) for Canadian TV, ten years after Jose's double back into water.
1999(?)Cory Nastazio, Double BMX backflip on dirt attempts, Core Tour in Huntington Beach, CA, a few months before Dave Mirra landed double backflips at a CFB contest and then the 2000 X-Games. I was there shooting video of this one, Cory knocked himself out on the second try.
2000- Cory Nastazio, JNCO commercial, Cory was the first guy (as far as I know) to backflip a bike on the first set of a rhythm section and keep riding. That was huge at the time.
2000- Dave Mirra, The BMX Double backflip heard 'round the world, 2000 X-Games. Dave landed a double in a CFB contest a couple months before this, and ESPN built a box jump to Dave's specifications so he could debut it to the world at the X-Games.
2000- Cary Hart, first backflip in a freestyle motocross contest (9 years after Jose did it clean)
2000-something- Todd Lyons, backflip at a BMX race, date unknown.
2002- Mike"Rooftop" Escamilla, BMX backflip over helicopter (blades going, of course) and 50/50 grind to backflip, from Etnies Forward.
2000ish- Koji Kraft in the circus. He was the second guy to do a BMX double backflip in a contest, and the first rider to really have BMX double backflips on lock. I saw him do one in practice in Huntington Beach one year, about 2003, with no cameras rolling. He had them wired before anyone else.
2004- Matt Berringer, BMX Flip-O-Rama, Hip front flip, backflip wall slap, street flair, snowbike flair, backflip disaster, from S&M Bikes Please Kill Me.
2006- Travis Patrana, First motorcycle double backflip, 2006 X-Games.
2007?- Stephen Murray, first BMX double flip on dirt in the X-Games. Stephen later crashed a double flip and was paralyzed, reminding everyone in action sports just how dangerous flip tricks are. STAY STRONG!
Stephen Murray-5 years later... still a part of the BMX world and a great dad. He's moved back to England since.
Dave Mirra- No hand 360 flip to flair on Mega ramp, X-Games 14
2008?- Slednecks 4, First backflip on a snowmobile. This is nuts. Seriously, just plain nuts.
2008? Pierre Maixent, First double backflip on a jet ski.
2009- Dave Mirra "Crank Flip."
2010? Snowboard triple flip attempt.
2010- Cam something, Longest MX backflip (129'7") and longest MX flip with trick (no footer, 126' 11")
2011- Jed Mildon, First BMX triple backflip.
2011- Anthony Napolitan, BMX double front flip on Mega Ramp.
2011- A backflip like no other on this list.
2011- Harry Main, BMX bunnyhop backflip.
2013- Cam Zink, Biggest mountain bike backflip cliff drop, Red Bull Rampage
2013- Russian girl, backflip tailwhip into foam pit. I don't read Cyrillic, don't know her name.
2014- Brandon Schmidt, BMX 360 double backflip, "Aussie Roll."
2014- Cam Zink, 100 foot mountain bike backflip.
2014- Jolene Van Vugt and Lyn-Z Pastrana, Jolene, first female MX backflip, BMX backflip on mega, BMX front flip on mega; Lyn-Z, first female skateboard rodeo flip on mega.
2015- Jed Mildon, First BMX quad flip. Seriously guys? Olympic gymnasts don't even do quad flips?
2015- Josh Sheehan, First triple backflip on a motorcycle.
2015- Ryan Williams, First BMX triple front flip
2015- Jolene Van Vugt, First female BMX front flip.
2015- Compilation, 9 Best FSMX flip variations
2016- Daniel Bodin, First double backflip on a snowmobile.
2016- Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, first wheelchair frontflip.
2017- Ryan Williams- BMX front flip OVER skatepark bowl in New Zealand. The progression continues...
Yes, yes, I know there are dozens more flip variations, but you get the general idea of what Jose Yanez started 33 years ago.
Monday, March 13, 2017
With Steve Swope's Old School BMX Reunion at Woodward West Happening this coming weekend (March 18-20, 2017), I decided to dredge my memories for some of the people who changed BMX freestyle forever, but you have have forgotten. At :27 in this video you see East Coast rider Jeremy Alder huck a barspin air, the first person ever to do that to the best of my knowledge. I think he debuted this trick in 1987. Lots of great riders were inventing new stuff back then, but Jeremy gave us one of the now standard and classic tricks of all times.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
If you're invited to the Old School BMX Reunion at Woodward next, you already know that it's next weekend. For the rest of us, I'll try to post a bunch of my better stories of the old days this week. Stay tuned.