It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about how looking at a single photograph can trigger so many memories. After I sifted through my archives I found a handful of photos that grabbed my attention. Maybe it was the trick, the spot, something about the trip I was on when I shot it, there really wasn’t any rhyme or reason why I choose these specific images, all I know is that I was psyched enough on the photos to scan them and send them to the riders to see what they would have to say about them. Some of these photos date back upwards of eight years ago, and while eight years might not sound like a long time in the grand scheme of things, in BMX a lot can change in that amount of time. However, I think the riding and style in all of these photos is pretty timeless.—Jeff Zielinski
The Euclid-V, Orange County, California
Mike Escamilla has been riding this spot since he was in high school. I first saw footage of him trying to do a half-barspin out of peg stall in the groundbreaking video Dirty Deeds. (In my opinion, Dirty Deeds was the most cutting edge street riding video of the late ’90s). I went back and shot Mike stalling the same fence, but in a different and more challenging spot a decade later.
“This spot has seriously changed me. I’ve been riding it almost my whole life. It was the closest thing to a halfpipe we had growing up and I learned so many things there over the years. I remember thinking we had the best spot ever and no one else knew about it, but that was before I looked through an old issue of GO! Magazine and saw a photo of Craig Grasso doing a no-hander fly-out at the same ditch back in the late ’80s. And I’m sure people have been carving it as far back as the ’70s. Which made me realize then, and even more now, that rarely are you the first to do or go anywhere in bike riding. Which I think is what makes bike riding so awesome. Separated by generations and trends this ditch has inspired, shaped, and influenced over four decades of riders and skaters. I bet the workers who poured this ditch could never of imagined the lives they were shaping in the decades to come. This ditch truly changed my life, not to sound like I’m exaggerating about some cement, but really, it did. Looking back, I have spent hundreds of hours in that ditch growing up. Brian Castillo and I used to ride this thing so much and I learned so much there; 540s, 360 lookbacks, tailwhips, over-tooths, over-ice, and so much more.
So many other people have ridden this ditch since then, each contributing their own perspective to this ditch’s history. A spot like this never gets old because as trends and bike riding change so does this ditch and what is possible there. And that’s what makes this thing so good. The pegstall in this photo at one time seemed impossible in the area I’m doing it. While filming Dirty Deeds I pegged this fence and tried to half bar off it, but it was in a slightly different spot where the fence sat further back form the lip. To peg it here, you have to go off the steep part of the lip (pretty much where the crack is) where there’s literally a six-inch deck, so I would actually alley loop at it off the steep part and air backwards a little where the fence was a bit farther back, which also caused me to grind backwards a bit. And I went back recently to try something that I would of never dreamed possible even from the last time I visited it. I love this place. Hopefully it will stick around another few decades because I’m running out of spots…and I know I can always count on this place!” -Mike Escamilla
Los Gatos, California
While working on an interview with Ryan Nyquist for Ride issue 83, Glenn Milligan and I drove up to Northern California to shoot some stuff in the town where Ryan grew up, Los Gatos, California. Prior to committing to our drive up North, Ryan tried to describe to us what he wanted to shoot, but we just figured it was Ryan Nyquist and if he wanted to shoot stuff on a mobile box jump-that was already enough to convince us to drive six hours.
“This photo is awesome! It brings back so many good memories. It may look like I’m jumping over a car, but the car is actually the jump. We call it the Jiffy Jump. It’s basically an old Cadillac hearse that was chopped with a hydraulic arm welded onto it to raise and lower the ramp, and a landing on a hinge, so you can lift it up and drive with full visibility-pretty amazing if you ask me. But what is even more amazing was the first version of the Jiffy Jump.
The first version was built on an old pick-up truck with a landing didn’t lift, so you had to drive it with the help of someone else to look where you were going. Sketchy. And the lip wasn’t attached to a hydraulic arm. Instead, we notched the templates of the lip so it would sit on the tailgate nicely, and we jammed a piece of angle iron behind it and used that as a lever to basically lift it off the ground when we drove around.
I can’t remember why or how the idea came about, but the owner of the Jiffy Market of Los Gatos, Dave Dellaveccia (AKA Jiffy Dave), had an old tan 1972 Dodge D100 truck, and thought it would be cool if we made a jump out of it and entered it in the Los Gatos Christmas Parade. I was all for the idea, so we started planning how we were going to build it. There were never any blueprints or anything definite about the design, which made it that much more exciting. We just figured it out as we went along. If we ran into a problem, we figured out a solution, or in most cases, just added more screws or another brace. [Laughs] Looking back, I don’t think the ramp was even securely attached to the car. Everything was just set on top of it and braced so it wouldn’t fall apart during the parade.
We finished the Jiffy Jump the night before the parade, and we were all pretty nervous. Jiffy Dave and I were both scared that it was going to fall apart during the parade and one of the riders were going to get hurt. We didn’t have time to test it that night, so we pretty much winged it, and took our first jumps in the actual parade the next morning. It was so nerve racking. I also forgot to mention that this thing looked so ghetto, that it literally looked like we had broken through some barricades somewhere and crashed the parade. The town of Los Gatos is a pretty affluent area, and compared to a lot of the floats, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies rolling into town. We made a great effort to make it look nice with some decorations like tinsel and some colored sticky paper. We even tried to get in the holiday spirit by writing “Happy Holidays” on the landing, but we misspelled it and wrote “Happy Holidaze” instead. [Laughs]
Nobody had ever seen anything like it. We eventually got comfortable with the jump and started flipping it, and doing 360 variations. The parade goes for a half mile at the most, but it felt like the longest half mile ever. We were all so happy that we actually pulled it off, but the icing on the cake was that we were awarded second place for our “float.” So awesome.”
Between all of his wild transfers, his refusal to slow down even the slightest when heading towards a quarterpipe, and his double loop around a full-pipe are a few examples why I think Morgan Wade is one of the burliest ramp riders out there. He has the ability to scare the crap out of you and still manage to pull whatever it is that his crazy imagination might come up with. Take this rafterpick for example; he’s basically clipping his back peg on a beam on the ceiling while airing a ramp…think about that for a second.
“Wow! That was a while back! Seems like yesterday, but at the same time it seems like forever ago when we shot that. I used to do that peg bonk on the rafter all the time, and then when we went to shoot it I started having trouble with it. I know that I pulled that one in particular, because I remember it feeling kind of weird and not knowing why until I saw the photo. I also remember scaring the crap out of you in my truck by driving about 50mph with two wheels on the sidewalk! Haha good times back in the day! I still drive that truck almost everyday, but I’ve chilled out on the curb riding though! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.” -Morgan Wade
Watching Taj ride the T1 ramp is a spectacle. His fast and powerful, yet smooth riding is a sight to see, and then just when you thought you’d seen it all, he’ll bust out some kind of innovative combo, like his backwards Luc-E grind with his hand sliding along the deck. I think Taj needs to explain this one…
“This picture brings back some good memories for me. Backwards Luc-E grinds are one of my favorite tricks for sure. I got to see some of the first Luc-E grinds back when I lived in Pennsylvania with John “Luc-E” Englebert in the ’90s. He made up all kinds of interesting tricks in his time and this particular grind actually ended up with his name stuck to it. I rarely saw them for a few years after first seeing Luc-E do them, but then Dave Mirra started bringing them back on vert in the early 2000s. Seeing Dave do them really fast across a big ramp really stuck in my mind. I can’t really remember when, but at some point I started making a point to do more of them and really fell in love with them. If you have a wide ramp covered in Skatelite that’s about six-feet or taller with good coping this can be such an amazing feeling trick. What makes it so good on taller ramps is that you can let the front end stay down in the ramp and grind on your grip end and side of your handlebars. Sometimes if I’m really whipping into it I can hook the side of my bars and lift my pedal off completely-then it’s epically fast! Just back peg and handlebars…you end up slightly tabled and leaned and it’s outright scary how fast you will be traveling backwards! The one thing you have to watch out for is that when you drop the front end this far your fingers will get pinched between your bars and the deck, so you have to open your hand to avoid it. This creates a lot of fun because (like in this photo) you can take your hand completely off and even use it to push back into the ramp.
I learned how to do forward Luc-E grinds and even did some down some ledges, but I never really took them to street the way guys are doing them on rails now. I think it’s awesome and every time I see this grind it’s like a mini homage to the great Luc-E himself.”
Chris Doyle is equally adapt to filming bangers for a video part, killing it in a contest, or just flowing a spot doing perfectly executed tricks with absurd style. On this particular trip across Europe, Chris managed to kill every spot while filming for a video and he even scored a cover shot-all while riding someone else’s bike.
“That was a rad trip, man. Hectic and stressful, but rad. This photo was taken on our trip through Europe to film for the System video. The name of the town escapes me now, but those trails were in Germany behind a little strip mall (Europe’s version of a strip mall, anyway). The trails were pretty sweet and the locals were very accommodating… I think Markus Hampel was even there. The most unique aspect of the trails was the way you had to generate speed to get into the lines. The locals had obviously run out of room for speed so they built a six-foot quarter out of dirt and butted right up against the backside of the building, so to get speed you had to roast up the wall; lower for the small lines and higher for the big one. This photo was shot on Cory Muth’s bike. The day before this photo was shot I broke my bike in half at a concrete park so for the rest of the trip Muth was nice enough to share his bike with me. Lucky enough, Muth and I run our bikes the exact same so adapting wasn’t too much of an issue. Actually, half the things I filmed/shot on that trip were on his bike. Looking back on this now, that trip was really hectic; living a gypsy life, crowded vans, broken bikes, and everyone thinking in different directions. Regardless, we got a ton of footage, some great photos, and some unforgettable memories.”
This was shot during the peak of Jim Cielencki’s assault on rails. He used to flip through every skateboard, snowboard, and rollerblade magazine in search of the perfect rails for the variety of grind combos he had up his sleeve and then we would go on trips searching for them. We had a lot of late night missions driving around getting lost, pissing off Ryan Sher, and we even had campus police surround us with their guns pulled on us late one night at a college because the guards had post 9/11 jitters. Fun times indeed.
“This photo of a double peg-to-crankslide was shot back in 2003. It was my ender in the Kink video Cheap Thrills. This is the same trip that my one and only Ride BMX cover was shot on. I think I was looking through an issue of Daily Bread when I heard about this rail. Rollerblade magazines always gave the locations of the rails that were on their pages even though spots were getting taken out or stopped up because so many people would go to them. I swear they even gave the exact location of this rail, too. We showed up in Boston late one night and in traditional fashion we went spot searching because it was a little too late to go ride. We ended up finding the rail and I realized it was perfect for this trick. It seemed like it took forever, a bunch of weird slams, a few almost pulled, and then I got the one in the photo. Jeff Z. captured it perfect and I think Puck and Rob Tibbs captured the two video angles.
Those were good times back then, nothing really major to worry about except riding and I got to hangout with the rest of the Kink team at the time. I’ve been on so many trips with Rob Tibbs, Chris Arriaga, and Ryan Sher and this trip was no different. We probably even stayed at Ryan’s parent’s house in Fall River on this trip, too. We traveled so many places, up and down the East coast, across America, and over to the UK. There are too many funny stories to mention and they usually involve Ryan. [Laughs] It was great to become a part of that team and even better to have become good friends with those guys.”