Memories from Maderasota

Sometimes it’s hard to see outside of your bubble. And Madera may have been victim to that for the last few years. With the factory in Florida and the TM in Wisconsin, the riders and the trips often centered around those two places. On one hand, that isn’t a bad thing: there are cool riders in those cool places after all! But on the other hand, there is a big wide world out there.

In the last few years, the Madera world has expanded once again. Team riders have moved all over the place and most of them have left the Midwest. But when planning our yearly team trip this time around, we came to the conclusion that we all sure missed the Midwest in the summer. Great weather, good food, cool riders, and of course, awesome spots drew us back to our old stomping ground and we invaded Minnesota with the guidance of our local team rider Erik Elstran.

What ensued was a whirlwind of long and fulfilling days packed full of riding, swimming, exploring, and hanging with friends—new and old. We hope that the full Maderasota edit and the soon-to-be released bonus footage that Grant C. put together will tell much of the story, but in an attempt to catch all of the things that those videos may have missed, we asked the whole team to share…

Taylor Thompson

My adrenaline took over at this point and I knew that I was not gonna let this ledge get the best of me.”

As we were driving from Minnesota to Wisconsin, I could not help but be overwhelmed by the feeling I got seeing all of the farm fields and wide-open spaces. You really do not realize the different lives you live when you go from a farming and manufacturing based state to a place like California. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t miss the Midwest. Sights, smells, and sounds really bring a familiar feel to your senses and after that your imagination and memory take over. I was really humbled to have been invited on this trip and I will remember it forever.

Everyone on the team always seems to be on the same wavelength as far as riding the spots we go to and chilling when someone is trying to film a trick. This is why Madera is a family: we all support one another and push each other to try new things and overcome our fears out in the wild streets. Hanging out at each spot really gives everyone a chance to catch up with everything that has been going on in our individual lives. There is a great sense of comradery among everyone and the amount of love that is spread on these trips is never ending.

I had found a kinked hubba while cruising around with some friends that drove six hours to visit us. Justin Bagemehl and I spotted the kinked hubba the night before and we both knew it was a banger of a grind and could even be a deadly one seeing that the rail was raised above the ledge in the beginning and there was a good 25 to 30 foot drop on the back side of the ledge. In the morning, which was also my very last day with the team, I told the guys that I wanted to get it done before flying back to California. Erik knew right away where it was and everyone was hyped to see this mysterious hubba. The run up was tight (half crank), but I knew I had it with the support of the Madera boys. The first go was not so good, I ended up tumbling down the second flight of stairs and having my bike hit me in the back of the head. My adrenaline took over at this point and I knew that I was not gonna let this ledge get the best of me. Second try came around and when I got on I instantly knew I had it. With the whole team there watching, I felt nothing but confident that my boys had my back, and this feeling really helped me get this ledge done! I love you all, and thank you for this opportunity Mike/Madera!!

Mike Hinkens

“After 20 minutes of arguing with the con-artist, he gave up and left us alone.”

Being extorted by a fireman. After a full session in a small town in northern Wisconsin, we packed up the truck and were about to leave when interrupted by a fireman. Oddly nervous, he proceeded to blame us for ripping the mirror off of a city truck parked near a rail we rode that day. He claimed to have video footage (so good it could see up our nose) and requested we give him cash to resolve this. We countered and asked to see the footage before paying. He repeatedly said he just wanted us to be “honest like men,” which we were when we denied damaging the vehicle. After 20 minutes of arguing with the con-artist, he gave up and left us alone.

Sitting on the ground behind a camera watching your friends ride. As long and boring as it can be, one of the coolest part of any trip is watching your friend battle with the spot, the trick, and themselves. This trip saw a lot of battles, but a ton of victories, so it was worth every second on the ground waiting.

Hanging out with Gabriel. At some point during our session in downtown St. Paul, 50-year-old Gabriel showed up on an electric razor scooter. He respected action sports, loved to talk punk rock, and wouldn’t leave us the fuck alone. He followed us around for quite some time and even offered to get us super high on some sort of imported Chinese synthetic drugs. Eventually, the session required us to ditch Gabriel and crush his plans of hanging out with us later.

Getting up at 8:00AM, riding by noon, filming clips until 9:30PM, and eating dinner at 10:30 at night….

Getting free Little Caesars pizza in an alley while riding a ledge because we helped a woman move a 300-pound dough mixer into the back of the store. Sadly, Erik’s iPhone was a casualty of this event when the delivery truck left and ran over his shoe (with his phone in it!). [Editor’s note: Why was Erik bare-footed while moving something that weighs 300 pounds?!]

Dylan McCauley

“This dude looked like a combination of Newman from Seinfeld and Willy Wonka!”

It was the last day of the trip and the only Mike, Erik, and myself were left. Mike was filming Erik in his apartment for an AMA video and at the end Erik wanted to play some music for the video… Next thing we knew, the lights go red, a dinosaur appears out of nowhere, and Erik is jamming away on a keyboard doing some sort of remix of the pre-programmed songs!? You will have to wait for the video to see!

The whole Madera squad and some locals were with us in St. Paul and we were riding around downtown when suddenly there was some dude cruising towards us on an electric scooter. This dude looked like a combination of Newman from Seinfeld and Willy Wonka! He got right up in the crew and started talking super loud and excitedly. It was apparent he and Jeff got along really well. Newman—or I think his name was Gabriel—let Jeff ride his scooter which had a bunch of weird stains all over it. Then Jeff jumped off and we all started pedaling in a different direction. But then, so did Newman! In fact, Newman—sorry Gabriel—proceeded to follow us around all day to every spot. We tried to lose him, but his electric scooter was too fast for us! We started to get frustrated with his singing and also the fact that he wouldn’t shut up. Even when his best friend Jeff told him he had to go, Gabriel stayed with us. Eventually we all got a little weirded out because he started saying, “You guys should come over to my place, I have lots of things we can do. I have lots of drugs.” Finally, we took off and lost him!

One of the last days, Erik and I were riding a long and perfect rail. I think it was like a 16 or 18 stair rail next to a park and a football field near the rec center there. Both of us had something we wanted to do on it, so Grant pulled out his camera and Erik started jumping on the rail trying a switch hanger to crank arm down it! It was a pretty serious move and after the first time he jumped on the rail, three little 10-year-old kids, gathered like three feet away from the top of the rail. They were stoked and shouting, but had no idea what was going on. Things got pretty intense as Erik was dealing with a swollen ankle from a wasp sting the day before and also his falling down the rail as the kids are laughing at him. I’ve never seen Erik get mad, but he was pretty goddamn mad at those kids. But, who wouldn’t be mad at kids who are laughing at you when you’re falling down a crazy rail? Finally, Erik tried again, took a bad fall and seriously rolled his other ankle and the kids started laughing at him again. I don’t exactly remember what Erik shouted, but I know it was something like “Why the hell would you guys ever laugh at someone that’s getting hurt!?” I had never seen Erik so bummed/mad before. After I made sure that Erik was good, it was my turn. First thing I did was make sure those kids weren’t right there. Shortly after that I landed a trick that I really wanted to do, and in a way, it was a little bit of revenge for Erik!

We all got to have “the best summer ever!” when Mike, Grant, both Dans, Jeff, Erik and I all went swimming in a lake in the middle of Minneapolis! It was an awesome spot and we all needed a day to chill, so it was perfect. There was a bunch of people at this swimming hole so seven grown men that looked like high-schoolers wasn’t weird at all. Ha! The whole crew swam out to the small floating dock, got on top of it, and rocked it and splashed everywhere while literally having the best summer ever! The best part was when we all held hands and jumped in the water as we shouted BEST SUMMER EVER!

Every morning the whole squad would go out and get coffee. Me being a nerd and a coffee snob, obviously I knew the spot… Spy House! They have one of the best shops in the city. It was just good to be with the whole crew every morning bull-shitting and such and just good to be around good dudes that you actually care about.

Dan Foley

I have a bad habit of instantly not accepting a trick if it doesn’t 100% feel the way I want it to feel.”

Mike had an infamous experience at a handrail in one of the towns we visited, hence the spot nickname… Anyway, Mike wanted to return to conquer his demons. Unfortunately, there was a truck parked right next to the rail, adding to the existing mental stress of the spot. Today wasn’t the day. While Mike was feeling it out, Taylor went around the far side of the truck to shoot an iPhone clip of the trick. Here’s where it gets weird. Literally hours later when we were about to leave town, a guy who works in the fire department where the aforementioned spot was noticed us riding through town and followed us to our truck. Basically, he claimed Taylor had damaged the truck at the spot and that he had it all on camera. However, he wouldn’t take Taylor back to review the footage, even after Taylor offered numerous times to pay for the damage on the spot once given proof. After almost a half hour of back and forth and the situation not going anywhere, we were able to get away and get the hell out of that town. Pretty sure the guy had seen us on camera, came up with a scheme, and was trying to come up on some quick cash from Taylor. What made the situation worse is that Taylor is the most well-mannered and responsible guy on the team, so to see him legitimately bummed out afterwards sucked.

Toward the end of the trip, we went to a spot consisting of an angled ledge leading up to a wall. It was a pretty rad setup that both Mike and Dan K. got clips on. I decided I wanted to wallride 360 it, so Grant set up and I started messing with it. Shortly after, it worked. However, I have a bad habit of instantly not accepting a trick if it doesn’t 100% feel the way I want it to feel in my head. That’s what happened. Grant told me it looked fine, but I didn’t listen. I needed it to feel perfect and looped right back up to keep trying. Several tries later, I popped off the wall weird and jumped off. It wasn’t a bad bail by any means, but my bike landed right beside me, forcing the side of my pedal right into my kneecap. Not sure what happened exactly, but it took about a month of taking it easy till it felt normal again. Always review the clip before you get too greedy. Lesson learned.

Taylor is one of the most dedicated riders I’ve ever met. One night after a full day of riding, Taylor went out with a couple of old friends to keep cruising and searching for spots. The next day, he told us about a gnarly kinked ledge he found and wanted to hit. It was on a college campus we had already ridden, but it was now mid-week making it way harder to sneak in and hit. This didn’t phase Taylor at all. We rolled up to the spot and Taylor immediately ran up the stairs and started eyeing it as Grant set up. The ledge was insane. It’s something I would never even look at to ride. The kinks were harsh and the run up was maybe 10 feet long. Taylor didn’t waste any time and jumped on the ledge straight away. Things didn’t go as planned and he came off the ledge early, sending to the bottom of the set only to have his bike crash on top of him. It looked rough. I think we all expected Taylor to be done after that, but he popped right up, ran back to the top, and handled it perfectly like the boss he is.

Erik Elstran

Riding a half-abandoned mental institution a mile down the road from my parent’s house.”

We didn’t go to the X-Games, which was coincidentally happening in Minneapolis during the trip, but Jeff, Dylan, the Dans, and myself went to the afterparty which was at First Ave, a super iconic music venue downtown. It was funny seeing the BMX world gathering at a place where I’ve been to a bunch of shows at. The highlight of the night was dancing and getting loose with Jeff Z, hah!

Chanting, “best summer ever!” and holding hands while jumping off the swim raft at Point Beach in Cedar Lake, one of my favorite beaches in Minneapolis.

Riding the Northern Center, which is a half abandoned mental institution a mile down the road from my parent’s house in middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin. It’s a definite treat to bring your friends to spots you grew up riding—which really was the whole trip.

Introducing Mike to Settlers of Catan and feeding his candy addiction, subsequently making him stay up way past his bed time.

Hosting all the dudes at my house! I’ve been on the receiving end of traveling and being hosted so many times and it feels really good to give back a little. Not too many out-of-town BMXers come visit Minneapolis (but they should!), so it’s always a treat to show new people around. I think we were out 8-10 hours everyday for like 10 days straight and we didn’t even get to all the essential go-to spots. I think everyone had a really good time, I know I did!

Jeff Dowhen

“Thinking of a move I want to try, then having one of the boys one-up it before I even put my helmet on…”

It’s funny to think, but a good deal of those I consider my best friends live nowhere near me. There are the homies you ride with on the weekend, grab a quick bite to eat with, and then don’t text till the next sesh. This crew is the opposite of that; we all connect with each other beyond the bike. I mean we’re all humans, we have emotions, personal lives, jobs—Taylor is even a proud dad—it’s incredibly fulfilling to have a heated session with your homies and real conversations over some cheap tacos. That’s hard to find these days and I think we overlook it too often.

Watching the former flow dudes absolutely destroy every spot they touched. It’s so cool to see the young kids like Dylan and Dan—even Erik who was my camper at Lake Owen—now be some of the best bikers on the planet. It’s inspiring to see their dedication and creativity paying off. Those dudes are insanely talented in other areas that don’t result in them laying on the ground in a pool of dirt and blood and sweat—but that’s half the reason they chose BMX as their canvas.

Thinking of a move I want to try, then having one of the boys one-up it before I even put my helmet on, haha! Being around some of the best to do it makes you look at things in a different light and forces you to create your own style.

The Minnesota Locals are nice. Shout-out to the many crews we ran into, kicked it with, or just got to say “hi” to. Being in a strange place hours from home, yet feeling entirely welcomed will never get old.

Taylor firing the banger after staying up all night riding. He was so delirious he left his backpack in front of a Starbucks across town, but somehow kept it together and stomped that.

Jeff Z having exactly the right number of wristbands for us to get into the X Games after party! Thank you! Then getting to bump into friends from across the globe in the middle of our own little BMX trip. BMX runs deep, if you’ve never been to a large jam before you need to go and experience our community firsthand.

Dan Kruk

Learning what cold press juice is versus normal juice.

Monster X-Games afterparty was lit fam.

Getting to ride Midwest spots is always fun.

Hanging with Erik Elstran is always an experience.