Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Solo Missions

I picked this clip of Italian street rider Simone Barracas because it has the feel of those days of riding all by myself in the 1980's. It's a current clip, so the riding is much harder and he's going bigger than we did back then.

Huntington Beach in 1987 was a new world to me.  Every day I spent hours working with Bob Morales, the guy who made BMX freestyle a sport by starting first skatepark then flatland/ramp competitions.  It was exciting, but it was a $5 an hour job at the same time.  When I got off work, I wanted to ride.  Once I moved into an apartment, I was on my own at night and on the weekends.  I practiced my flatland tricks in one of the parking lots near my house every night.  Then on weekends I continued the tradition I started while working at the magazines.  I would get up and make a huge plate of pancakes, then go wander around on my own all day, riding wherever my intuition took me.  In those days I was looking for trails, jumps, and banks mostly.  I'd session each spot as long as I felt like it, and then mosey on to somewhere else.  I found Huntington High School pretty quick, a big skate spot in those days.  I ran into a  skater I later learned was Ed Templeton often, along with a few others.  By 11:00 am or so I would end up at the Huntington Beach Pier which had a small area where freestyle skaters and BMX freestylers would session, drawing crowds of 100 people or more all day long.  The three main skaters were Pierre Andre' (Senizergues) from France, Don Brown from England, and Hans Lingren from Sweden.  Mike Sarrail, who commuted to H.B. from the San Gabriel Valley, was the most local BMX freestyler.  The Lakewood riders, Jeff Cotter, Ron McCoy,  Derek Oriee, Nathan Shimizu, and Ron Camero showed up pretty often.  The H.B. Pier was a known spot, so on any given Saturday or Sunday, anyone could show up.

So I went on these solo exploration missions for a couple of hours, then was a social rider all day, then rode home tired around dark.  I did this because I loved to ride my bike, and because I was broke.  I don't know where I would have gone if I had a car.  Probably to Pipeline Skatepark, which was open in those days.  Whatever the case, I loved just wandering around the urban environment all by myself, and my best riding was always done alone.  Exploring,  that's how I thought of it then.  Anyhow, that's the routine I settled into for my seminal years of riding, from 1986 to 1991.     

McDonald's BMX commercial

JUst stumbled across this McDonald's commercial from the 1980's. They actually say "bunnyhoppin'" in the jingle.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I'm just getting this blog going again, it's wandered around for the last hundred posts.  I'm starting again in 1987, where I left off the original version of this blog.  I wrote 500 posts on this blog, and 200 on FREESTLIN' Mag Tales before that.  Then I got really depressed after my dad's death two years ago, and took down all of my blogs.  I've written in fits and spurts since then, but not continually.  So here's a quick recap of where I came from.

I got into BMX in a trailer park outside Boise, Idaho in 1982.  I was heading into my sophomore year of high school.  There wasn't much to do in the trailer park, so we started riding our bikes on this little track that some motorcycle rider had made.  There were two roosted berms, about a foot high, and two small jumps.  That was my first BMX scene.  Over the years I've learned the importance of scenes.  Few people get good at something alone, usually you have a scene, friends that push you to improve.  I raced for the first time in the fall of 1982, and raced all season in 1983 and into the winter of '83-'84.  I got into "trick riding" in 1983, which became known as BMX freestyle around 1984. My biggest dream at that point was that maybe I could one day go to a magazine photo shoot and watch the amazing riding. 

I joined Boise's only freestyle team with Justin Bickel in 1984.  We did a few shows and a few parades, and I rode both flatland and ramps.  I did airs just under coping on a 6 foot ramp.  Justin got co-sponsored by SE during that time, and started riding a Quadangle. 

In 1985, my family moved to San Jose, California.  I started a zine as a way to meet other riders.  I soon found the Beach Park Ramp Jams and then the Golden Gate Park scene.  Pro riders Dave Vanderspek, Maurice Meyer, Robert Peterson, Hugo Gonzales, and Rick Allison all were in the Bay area then, and I got to know them and interviewed them for my zine. 

When I started my zine, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I typed everything on a manual (as in not even electric) typewriter that I bought at the swap meet for $15.  I'd never seen a zine before, I just read about them in FREESTYLIN'.  My zine sucked in design, but I was smart enough to send copies to all the magazine editors.  My zine got better, and was listed as the top zine in FREESTYLIN', which blew my mind.  Somehow, my zine got me hired at Wizard Publications, where I worked at BMX Action and FREESTYLIN' magazines for five months.  I got laid off because I just didn't fit in with Andy and Lew.  Or because I didn't like the band Skinny Puppy.  One or the other.  Honestly, I was super shy and wound really tight in those days, and I wasn't into punk rock yet.  Whatever the reason, they hired Spike Jonze to fill my spot a couple months later.

In January of 1987 I went to work at the AFA, the American Freestyle Association, under BMX uber entrepreneur Bob Morales.  I was hired to edit the AFA newsletter, but I did a little bit of everything.  I'm starting this blog over in mid 1987, halfway through my year at the AFA.   

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A fresh start

Here's the AFA Socko Finals from 1987.

Life's a wild ride.  I've had a lot happen in the past couple years since I took down the original version of this blog.  Then I started it again.  Then I moved the blog over to Wordpress for a while.  It looks better there, but I'm more comfortable blogging here on Blogger.  I'm picking up about where I left off, in 1987.  I worked for the American Freestyle Association (AFA) that year.  So here's the AFA finals to get you back in the mood of 1987.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New location

In yet another new start for this blog, I've moved the blog over to wordpress.com, which looks a little better and gives me more options as a blogger.  Check it out here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


So here's the deal...  My laptop crashed a couple weeks ago, and I had to sell it to buy minutes to keep my mom's phone turned on.  That was a mistake.  Now I finally made it to the library to get in a post or two, and the library computer here won't let me embed videos anymore.  Really lame.  Obviously, since this is a blog that's largely text, I can just keep writing if I can get to the library, but Ilm going to try to find some computer that lets me embed videos.  My personal drama is ongoing.  No money, living with my elderly mom, and unable to find a job in the super slow job market here in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina.  So the blog is on hold for the moment until I can find a decent computer to use.  If I can't embed videos, then I'll just start walking the 3 1/2 miles (each way) to the library and write text only posts from now until my life completely crashes down, which will be in the next two or three months with all the current drama.  One way or another, I'll keep this blog going as long as I can.  I can't tell you all how bummed I am that I had to take down the original 500 posts of this blog last fall.  I'll try to build it back up to that, no matter what the obstacles and how long it takes. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Rise of BMX Freestyle book

I'm out of the loop on a lot of stuff, so you probably already know about this.  A guy from the U.K. named Dominic Phipps has written a book called The Rise of BMX Freestyle.  It's coming out soon, and here's an interview with Dom talking about his background and the book.  It's 144 pages, backed by Haro Bikes, and covers the era from 1978 to 1986.  Sounds like a cool book.  Check it out.