Here's a little edit I did from the Santa Cruz Candy Corn Jam - October 4th, 2014.
First and foremost, I want to thank all my readers for the wonderful comments and great responses to my "Hurt" edit. That is my final edit regarding that time in my life; everyday is a struggle... a battle with myself which - I have learned recently - is a battle I must fight alone for fear of having others hurt along with me. I've had to make changes in my life for the ultimate good, although that pill can be hard to swallow.
Recently I've been "flushing" and purging my old memories. And, since you are most likely a fellow bike rider, you have a relationship with your bike(s) as we all do. Sometimes those bikes carry a spirit in them... a soul or a memory. And sometimes that soul is a ghost of a past you want to let go. My Cannondale Jekyll was one of those bikes. My past life had a lot to do with the purchase of that bike, and it was time to let it go.
With the sale of that bike, I purchased a Specialized Crave 29'er hardtail for the Santa Cruz trails. You may be wondering "Why a hardtail? Especially for Santa Cruz?". Santa Cruz has plenty of great XC trails, and the single track flows pretty well. I don't think a 26" hardtail would fair well here... but the 29'er works really well - especially for my riding style. MTB'ing for me is a compliment to BMX - helps me stay in shape and something to pedal during the week. In other words, its my "cardio". I'm not interested in long powerhouse rides... just out and back for an hour in the afternoon.
I've been riding the previous version of S&M BTM for 8 months that I got through a trade for my Cult Butter frame. I truly enjoyed the BTM: The sharp geometry, the quickness (almost too quick) and the shorter top-tube - I believed I learned more on that frame than I did with any other frame I've owned.
However, it was time for a change. There were things I didn't like about the BTM - mostly the fast geometry. While it helped with a lot of things, it was a pain for other things. I wanted a nice compromise: not too fast, but fast enough. Something that would fit 2.4 tires, and something that was, um, pretty.
Both my homies Greg and Sean ride BSD's, and I never gave the company a head turn. But after months of looking at different geometries, different companies (I don't have loyalty towards one company over another), colors offered, and anticipating frame releases, it became a toss up between the Fit Mac and this frame.
What was the final decision maker? The Fit Mac wasn't in stock. That was all. Brake mounts and a tall standover height were a must. The sweet red color offering: a must have, although the "ice blue" Fit Mac frame was what I would've got. BSD has a good name in the industry and I trust what they put out. But overall, it was the geometry that caught my eye:
It rides great, but the geometry is specific. It is different that your standard geometries and I can appreciate that. I would recommend this frame for folks looking at an alternative to standard 75º/71º/13.5".
#bsdbeveragereview #bsdbeverage #bsdforever
I've chosen to take a different approach to this edit: an art piece with a story, rather than just riding and music. There is a personal narrative within this edit; it is very personal, but I am approaching it as a self-portrait through the medium of video.
My edits, for the most part, have been humorous, tongue-in-cheek; silly. I have hit a boiling point in my life where my demons have had a feast - and BMX has been my saving grace. This edit is not for everybody, and I am sure I will be criticized for my approach. However, this is a narrative art piece, not product promotion.
Thank you all for the support you have given me during these trying times. Your kind words, your messages, phone calls, e-mails, visits and incredible riding sessions kept me from totally losing myself. I was devastated, broken and my soul had died. This edit is an expression of that, and finishing it has allowed me to move forward.
Location: Santa Cruz, Ca.
Camera: iPhone 5
Software: iMovie, Apple Motion 5, Photoshop
I use BMX as a drug.
I use it as my friend.
I use it to escape my failures.
It is the only time I feel like myself. It is the only time I feel like I am home.
With all my failures as a human - the regrets, the poor decisions; my love lost. With regretfully failed relationships... with her abandoning us - BMX is sometimes my only friend. The scarring deaths I've been a part of. The depression. Thoughts of suicide and more regret. And missing her. And hating her. And loving her. And despising her.
Yes. I have friends. I love them... they seem to want to help me. They invite me to BBQ's, events, going out, hanging out, mountain bike rides, road bike rides; over-for-dinner-and-hang-out. They mean well... they want to bring me in close. They send me very sweet messages and e-mails and texts. They reach out, and it's what people do. But, in my choice of seclusion, my naturally reclusive behavior that stems back to when I was a child - I look to BMX - sometimes my only friend.
I think they don't get me.
They don't know that I am truly a recluse. They see me typically as an outgoing person - I have a strange sense of humor that comes from pain and not happiness. I make people laugh, but that is mistaken for an outgoing person. They read into that - that it is company I desire. When in fact, I just want my friend - that BMX bike and that ride. That session. That grind. That fully rotated 360. That hang-5. With nothing but a 20" bike with four pegs, my music in one ear, my low brow cap, my pads, and my dark sunglasses covering my face. That is my mask - I don't want them to see me.
With BMX, I get to be the man I would like to see myself as. BMX is a fully tailored choose-my-own-adventure by simply stepping out the front door. And no matter what page I turn to - I win. That's what BMX does. That's why it sometimes is my only friend. It allows me to be the hero of my own story - when most of my story is a sad failure. Even with the crashes - there is triumph in the attempt.
I cheer myself on... tell myself to keep going. That didn't hurt - it's only a bruise or a scrape. That didn't hurt - you are that much closer to pulling it. That didn't hurt.
With a life full of failures... with watching the man I keep pulling for... but rather he remains broken and scarred - I give him BMX. Because BMX is that rare opportunity he becomes the true hero - even if it's for a brief, triumphant moment. I love that man on the BMX bike. That's me, right there.
The rest of him, I hate.
I've experienced a significant life change in the last week. A person whom I've held dear to my heart has abandoned me. I am confused, hurt, in pain; broken.
I now reside in Santa Cruz, Ca. - my hometown, and will stay here indefinitely.
This loss has robbed me of my identity - everything that I've believed in and held true to promises made are now gone.
The grieving is heavy, but not so heavy that I can't pedal. And riding bikes has been the constant in my life that burns bright in the darkness of life.
If you are a reader of my blog, you know that I search for life metaphors through bike riding. When the initial hit happened, I was at a complete loss - it was instant chaos in my life - an earthquake. Now, the aftershocks are heavy and unforgiving. However, the one place I know I could find solitude, was riding my BMX bike. Riding BMX is when I have a brief moment to talk to God - to work through the empty vastness of life and death that surrounds me.
I now live 2 miles away from a BMX-only ramp park. I have never been good there; I've always been scared to ride any of it. Any time we went there, I mostly parked my bike and watched the other riders.
I don't know why I've been scared - I see riders of all age ranges and skill levels ride those big ramps. But I always just sat and watched, hesitant, waiting for an open opportunity to try and get a run in.
The other day, I let go. I let go of the fear, the hesitation; the wait. I dropped in and rode those ramps as if I've always been riding them. I crashed - rashed my elbow, got up, and kept riding. I put elbow pads on over the open skin.
These ramps looked so menacing to me in the past - there was no way I could ride them... and why would I put myself at that much risk? The more I ride them, the smaller they get. By removing my fear, I let the ramps take me under their control. They tell me what they want me to do. They will either guide me safely through the line, or ball me up and throw me.
When you have nothing left to lose, surrender to the emptiness. Allow it to envelope you and guide you to unknown places. I am grieving, but I am not afraid. I let go.
Riding from a BMX session yesterday, the sun had set. Wearing my backpack, helmet strapped to my bag, I turned on my red, blinking light, and rode home through the incoming dark.
I have a "friend" that goes way back to my childhood. We're talking kindergarten or the 1st grade... somewhere around there - this person initially blocked me from their feed on Facebook, then deleted me altogether. I have family members who have moved away or died. People who were so important to me have come and gone. I'm really happy we've shared some sweet memories and I have no ill will towards them - even that childhood friend who seems to have his reasons for blocking me out of his life. I love that guy and can't be mad at him for whatever his reasons are for eliminating me from his virtual and practical world.
I've come to realize that life is temporary. I mean: everything. I go through cycles where I buy stuff, then throw it away or donate it. Then buy new shit, use it, get rid of it. I can remember my most prized possessions - the stuff I put so much heart into. Gone.
Then I think of those people who I've shared snippets of life with - the hysterics, the laughs, the bad times... the times I felt like punching them in the face. Gone.
And finally I think of my own life. My pending demise... the short time I have here to do - what? I'm not sure. I know it's gonna happen - leave this Earth - whether it be tomorrow of in 50 years. So, with that in mind, I don't take any of this for granted. I use my time to focus on what's important to me: my wife, my current friends and family, my pets, my riding. My job? I've come to understand what my "career" means to me. Not much.
I am so grateful for all of it. I know that it all just comes, stamps a memory, and then is gone.
Well, it's been 24 years since I've had the pleasure of doing those tricks. I've had my Sunday Knox sprocket for some time, but that was more of a "chain protector" rather than an actual thing to do tricks with, but with my purchase of my Shadow product, I've been using the Knox sprocket for tricks, as well.
The Shadow Conspiracy Disaster Guard has been a great compliment to my pegless Solid Mind Erasure. This bike has gone through some pretty drastic changes in the short time I've had it - from a hybrid street/flat bike, to a fully loaded flat bike, and now to a pegless street bike - which is where I think it should be. It still rocks the Taska U-Free Freecoaster (I don't think I could ever ride cassette) and of course, a rear brake. The Mind Erasure geo is great for street riding, and with the Odyssey F25 Fork and Shadow 53mm stem, the fast geo is tamed down quite a bit.
Note on pegless street: FUN. Interesting. I'm completely stumped on how and/or what to do. I know there are a lot of really good pegless street riders, but my bag of tricks is completely limited at this point. I'm having a great time figuring this pegless thing out.
I am 200lbs, and the Disaster Guard seems to be holding up to my abuse so far in the two sessions I've ridden it. I don't know if I should constantly bash on it all day, every time I take this bike out. I know aluminum has its threshold for impact, and I foresee it eventually breaking if I overdo it. However, I do trust the guys at Shadow and I'm sure they put their prototypes through the test. I feel the same way about my Sunday Knox sprocket. If you're going to do sprocket stalls and such, you really want to be as light as possible. I find myself only bunnyhopping as high as I need to to clear the ledge, as to not completely land full force on it. Also, wood obstacles are probably a lot better to "bash" on, although I'm not a fan of destroying property (wood breaks off).
I have not attempted to slide the guard - but I think there will be special circumstances where it will. I have not tried to slide it on super slick, waxed ledges, but I understand aluminum for grinds, and park and super slick ledges are probably the only things this thing will somewhat slide on.
If you're into sprocket stalls and disasters and other variations of those tricks, this is a relatively cheap way of getting into the bash game. Installation was easy and Shadow even provides a how-to video.
I really hope this guard stands the test of time. I try my best not to completely kill it on the sprocket stalls, but they are just too fun to not do them. Any issues with it, I will definitely follow up with a future review.
#shadowconspiracybmx, #shadowconspicracy, #theshadowconspicracy, #fitbikes, #fitbmx, #sundaybikes, #sundaybmx, #solidbikes
I haven't felt like "myself" in years.
In retrospect, I have a hard time finding the time when I stepped outside of my being and took distant control of the drone. Since my late teens, I have been trying to build my human self into - what I believe - a human should be: good to others, strong, reliable, trustworthy, compassionate, attractive both physically and mentally, spiritual; a provider. While these are traits I would definitely take ownership of and continue to strive for, it has been the lifestyle and career that have always felt a bit foreign.
College was a blur. I was a "commuter" and didn't live on campus. I had a few girlfriends and not many friends.
My mid-20's was a reality show I watched on TV. I moved out of my parent's house. Started my first "real" job (Creative Director), and moved in with my girlfriend at the time. Later, I got married to my first wife.
My 30's have been melancholic: phases of happiness and sadness; stressful, even in the good times. Went on a different career path. By this time, I've experienced death a number of ways and awe struck reality of absolutes in my life. I got divorced and re-married. No children.
As I enter into my 40's, I have found myself reaching out to grab my own hand. To pull me back. The activity that has done this for me is BMX riding. Street, in particular.
While it sounds trivial, BMX is the one thing that connects me - the drone operator - to "the drone" and makes me whole. It makes me feel alive and well. Sweat, dirt, pain, bliss, observation, pensiveness, creativity - it is a type of spiritual connection that happens through a BMX conduit.
As I try to meditate of why this is, I can only assume that it connects to the last time I felt like "myself" - my teen years. Like a song, smell, sound or place that transports you back to a time of happiness (or sadness), the activity of riding BMX does that for me. And while I definitely enjoy MTB and CX riding, that place I go in my mind is never found on any other bike.
The feeling of being lost is an awful one. I've been lost for two-and-a-half decades. I've finally found myself, however, on a 20" freestyle bike.
Another X Games has passed and BMX was represented nicely in vert, dirt, street, park and big air. There was strong competition in all levels, and some amazing riding, notably the Vert winners whom were all over 40 (Dennis McCoy is 47). There is even a lot of debate over who should've won the Park event. This "buzz" is good for the sport.
As BMX continues to evolve and change, one thing is for certain: in the eyes of the public, flatland is fading. Now, for us BMX'ers, it is alive and well. But, with the discontinuation of flatland from the X Games (and not a good outlook of it coming back) and the stagnant growth of flatland riders (with the exception of Japan)... it's hard to tell where the future of flatland is going in regards to these large events.
In a 2011 interview with Ride BMX, Tim Reed (X Games Sr. Director Content Strategy) stated:
"X Games had seven successful years of BMX Flatland. Our evaluation of sports in the X Games include a sport’s progression, growth and infrastructure, as well as a review of viewership, spectator, demographic, and psychographic as they pertain to that sport. Results of those factors led ESPN to the decision of not including Flatland anymore at X Games."
In response, it's is easy for flatland riders to buck the system, and exclaim, "WE DON'T NEED X GAMES" - and in the spirit of defiance inherent in freestyle, I understand this. However, the question must be raised: Why the downfall? And, what kind of message is being sent to the public when Call of Duty gaming is included in the X Games and flatland BMX is not?
Flatland was an essential core of freestyle during the budding years during the "rad" 1980's. You couldn't turn on the TV and not see a soft drink commercial with somebody doing a cherry picker or boomerang. It was part of "kid" culture, accessible, cool, fun... marketable. In fact, if you told somebody you rode BMX freestyle back then, they would reply, "Oh, you do those tricks on those bikes...". The idea of "tricks on a bike" meant the inclusion of flatland in some form.
Conversely, in 2014, the idea of BMX translates to much more bigger stuff a la X Games. If I told somebody I ride BMX today, they wouldn't picture me doing front wheel hops; they would picture me attempting a backflip. The egging on of heckling spectators have gone from "DO AN ENDO!" to "DO A BACKFLIP!"
Will pure flatland ever have a place in the public's perception of BMX riding, or will it continue to go deeper into the underground niche it is slowly becoming? Can flatland ever take seat next to big air and draw a crowd as it did in the 1980's? Or is flatland going somewhere else?
Quite possibly, like BMX does, it is evolving as young street riders find themselves practicing flatland moves in parking lots to eventually be taken to a ledge or park. Yes, we will always have the purists - riders with flatland specific bikes pushing the boundaries of balance and style. But as technical riding becomes more apparent in street/park contests and video edits, it is hard to shake our flatland DNA. As I said before, flatland is in us, inherently, from the moment we bunnyhop on flat ground. Every BMX'er does it in some form - a trick on a flat surface.
It is possible that flatland is evolving into an entirely different type of riding altogether: common ancestor of pure flatland that branches off into 1) the purists, traditional form of flatland riding and 2) the street/park interpretation of flatland riding.
Recently I watched a video of a kid attempt a flat ground bunnyhop flair, with no assistance in terms of a drop, jump, or even a bump. Just flat ground. Eventually this kid will land it - is that a street move, or a flatland move? Is the bunnyhop tailwhip on flat ("whopper") a street move, or a flatland move? What about hop bar spins, flat 360's or cab variations? While I'm not a fan of categorizing or compartmentalizing riding (if you look at my own riding style, it's all jumbled under the "BMX" heading as one style), if we are to play this game of calling out names and labeling, then what is flatland becoming in the context of large commercialized events?
Maybe flatland will find its way back to X Games. Not through the decisions of money driven corporate sponsors, but through the riders incorporating it into their street and park runs. There will come a time when a rider will incorporate a whiplash drop-in on their park run - or possibly a time machine drop-in. Because BMX freestyle has never been one to allow marketing, sales and corporate sponsors to tell us what to do with our sport. We always find our way to make it happen for us.
I foresee flatland coming back to the X Games, maybe not the form of a separate class of riding - but incorporated into the street and park runs of the elite technical riders that are gaining popularity. Whether that is accepted by the purist flatland riders, is another story.
BMX INSPIRED GREETING CARDS, PHONE CASES AND BIRTHDAY INVITATIONS FOR THAT SPECIAL BMX RIDER IN YOUR LIFE!
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About Rider In Black
• O.G. 80's/90's Street BMX'er
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