The Bikes Over Baghdad crew is heading over to Kuwait and Iraq for their third tour next week to bring support and holiday cheer for the U.S. troops still stationed in the desert. As a send-off we’ll be doing interviews with the B.O.B. II crew this week. First up: Brian Kachinsky.
Brian was on the first Bikes Over Baghdad tour in 2009 and after that amazing first trip he had no hesitations about going on the second tour. Brian put in lots of time talking with the troops, and put a lot into his riding during the demos with lots of street moves mixed into the shows wherever possible. During downtime he could be found riding bunkers and finding various spots on the different bases—BK definitely made the most of his time in Kuwait and Iraq, and will be doing it all over again on B.O.B. III…
Your dad was in the military, did that factor into you wanting to go on these tours? Why did you want to be a part of B.O.B.?
The fact that my dad was in the military did make me curious as to what military life is really like. My dad had served in both Iraq wars, but was never deployed to Iraq. He was always stationed elsewhere. He has always mentioned how he wanted to go to Iraq to help the cause and experience what it's like over there. When I was invited on the [first] trip I immediately said yes for both my curiosity and my father's curiosity.
What was the most rewarding thing about doing this tour (B.O.B II) for you?
The most rewarding thing for me was just being able to make the troops happy. Life isn't easy over there in Iraq. The conditions, weather, and stress all wear these soldiers thin. That being said, you don't really realize what they go through until you experience it for yourself. I was both shocked and impressed by the hard work and overall strength of the people serving over there.
Were you ever scared on this tour?
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concerned. Even though we are never intentionally put in harms way, the risk is always there. After all, we were in an active war zone.
What should riders/people here at home know about what's going on over in Kuwait/Iraq?
I think everyone should know that there is much more going on over there than you see on the news or read in the paper. War is a very complex thing and all we really hear about at home is the death toll and other negative things happening over there. Whether it be good or bad, I think that everyone should realize that there is plenty they don't see, so it's unfair to make assumptions when you're not fully informed. I'm not the President or a Four-star General, so I don't know everything either, but I have talked to many servicemen, seen what they do, seen how they live, and seen both the good and the bad. Just know that there is much more going on than you will ever see or know.
How did the second tour compare with the first?
This tour was different in that we got to see and do different things, bases, and meet different people. Both tours were equally as rewarding. I did notice that in the eight months we were gone things have calmed down quite a bit, and the withdrawal (of U.S. troops) from Iraq is visibly apparent.
Which was your favorite show and why?
My favorite show was at FOB Falcon. The crowd, ramp setup, and overall vibe was amazing. It's hard to say one show was better than the next. Each show was unique and had awesome aspects to all of them.
What went through your head as you were riding some of the spots we got to go to at the palaces and on the various bases?
It was a bit surreal to be in the environment to begin with. It's insane to concentrate on doing tricks when all I could think about was that this was once home to one of the most vicious dictators of our lifetime. The palaces are both breathtaking and mind-blowing. Some are in ruins and others are still elegant and functional. It's bizarre. We were also limited on time. I could have rode the Ba'ath House for days, but we only had about 20 minutes.
The bases were interesting as well, some of them are well established and some are barebones. When someone says they are stationed in Iraq, I now have to ask "where?" because it gives you a whole different perspective on how their life is over there.
Any good quotes from soldiers? Anything you'll never forget that was said to you?
Many soldiers said "you’ve made my deployment" or "this is the best thing our eyes have seen since we've been over here." Statements like that truly make our trip worthwhile and give a whole new meaning to the phrase "Mission Accomplished."
What was it like riding in 120°-130° temps?
It was horrible. It was so hard to get motivated to do your best in those conditions, but we all sucked it up and made due. For a second you feel sorry for yourself that you have to ride in that kind of heat and dust, but then you glance over and see soldiers in full fatigues doing twice as much work as you. It's humbling and also gives you a newfound respect for everything they do over there. Now, when I'm at home and it's a sweltering hot summer day, I think, "This isn't as bad as Iraq," and I go out riding. In the military they call that "getting acclimatized."
Incorporating different military vehicles (Hummers, MRAPs, a fuel tanker, a Bradley, an ambulance, etc.) into the shows was rad. Which was your favorite and why?
I liked riding the MRAP and fuel tanker the best because they made for good and unique sub-box setups. All the vehicles are extremely sturdy. If it can handle a roadside bomb, it can handle a tire or a peg.
What was it like going to the Ziggurat pyramid, and seeing the ruins of Ur?
That was probably one of the best parts of the trip. That is by far the most historic and ancient thing my two eyes have ever seen in person. It's a part of human history that 99% of people will never have access to see in their lifetime. I felt very fortunate to be able to see and walk around that place. Although it was "outside the wire" (off base) I felt safe knowing that we had the best security guards we could ask for: the U.S. Army.
Out of everything we got to see and do, what was the best/most fun/most memorable?
The most fun thing for me was just talking to all the troops over there. They have so many experiences and skills to share. Not one soldier has the same story as the next. They have all seen and done so much crazy stuff. I oftentimes had to cut the conversations short because I realized I had been pelting them with questions for over an hour! Their reactions to us were all positive, and that made it the most fun for me.
It was cool meeting different riders who were over there doing their service. What was it like talking to them and learning about what it's like for them to be over there?
I love meeting BMXers from all over the globe, but this trip was particularly unique in that we got to meet people from home, average people like us, who were living a life that we can never fully understand. It just goes to show that BMXers are everywhere and that they are all unique. I could still sense their passion for BMX and their excitement when we came to visit them. Many of these people would never have riders visit their towns at home even, so for them to hang out with us in Iraq, of all places, was pretty special. I can't wait for all of them to get back home and be able to shred again!
Click on the first photo below to view the photo gallery…