Every so often a rider will come from out of nowhere and shake up the status quo and then vanish from the spotlight seemingly over night and leave you wanting more. For me, Garrett Reeves is such a rider. Garrett's riding was easy to be enthralled by—with his Spiderman like abilities on vertical surfaces, an unorthodox approach to setups, a lust for speed, and a general lack of fear. He was like a new-school answer to the void left by Josh Stricker when he moved on—sans the pegs and punk rock. Rest assured, Garrett left a lasting impression on countless spots with a pair of black rainbows, but his actions left a lasting impression on plenty of riders as well.
I can vividly remember the first time I met Garrett in the winter of 2010 in Austin while I was in town shooting an article called Snowbirds for Ride. He was fairly quiet and reserved until he got on the bike. Garrett ended up getting the opening spread of that article—rockin' his trademark (at the time) red jacket with the yellow hood—doing a tabletop over a kinked rail to flat. We shot that tabletop, a 360 (over the same rail) and a wallride by the days end—and I knew right then that Garrett was someone that I'd be seeing a lot more of. And sure as shit, not more than nine months later Garrett was living in Long Beach at the OSS house. Being a photographer and huge fan of his riding, I couldn't wait to get out in the streets with him. Over the course of the next four years we pedaled many miles, covered countless more crammed in my Volvo, and we shot a lot of sick photos along the way! Garrett's chapter in BMX may have come to a close, but his story will live on with his influence he left behind for his fellow riders.
Photos by Jeff Zielinski (unless noted)
Garrett's influence was far reaching. Here are some words from fellow riders and homies…
"Reeves is a dude with a wealth of bike control, outside-the-box ideas, and a truly fearless, borderline dangerous style. Everyone approaches BMX a little differently. Filming with Garrett over the years definitely gave me a peephole into how he ticked and how his riding worked. Garrett was a master spot hunter and loved to milk his immediate surroundings as much as possible, searching out every little cut, nook and cranny. Cruising the alleys of Long Beach with Garrett 100% sculpted and improved my own spot hunting abilities and advanced my spot use conception… (You know, the way each rider sees a spot and its potential a bit differently). Reeves and I would sit in alley cuts and stew over the varied possibilities of any particular bump, wall, rail, bank, etc… And to this I owe much of my own spot hunting process.
Garrett definitely came into BMX, quickly made his mark, then quietly made his exit soon after—too soon after. If Garrett had stuck around longer maybe BMX would be different, maybe there would be more pegless riders, more people sending huge gaps and doing wallies. It's hard to say, but I'm certain that Reeves left a lasting impression on a generation of riders in just a few short years—dudes like Eric L., Morgan Long, Yumi Tsukuda, Denim Cox, Alex Donnachie, Matt Miller—anyone who's going big / savage, pushing pegless maneuvers, or just doing their own thing.”
"I always admired Garrett’s eye for spots first and foremost. While we were looking at eye level, Garrett was always looking up. Whether it was a crazy roof setup, some giant wallie, or a big wallride, Garrett was always really confident, focused on what he wanted, and eager to put him self in the scariest of situations. Pretty much everything he ever did was totally on another planet. One that comes to mind since I walk by it all the time is that crazy ledge ride on 4th street in Long Beach that goes straight into the corner of a wall. I remember he was wearing a leather jacket unzipped and it caught the corner on the way down. A couple more inches to the right and he might not still have all his vital organs. The same goes for that insane gap-to-wall through the poles and down the stairs. He essentially pedaled full speed, gapped 10 feet, hockey checked a metal beam with his shoulder, and sailed the rest of the way down the stairs. That was actually one of the few things I’ve ever seen Garrett walk away from…I’m pretty sure we kinda had to talk him out of it, too. I hate to compare anything to sports, but I’m gonna say Garrett rode like a seasoned rugby player—totally fearless, but with great taste and very in touch with his abilities. He had a thing for buying all these different soccer jerseys and stuff too, so he kinda looked the part.
It’s honestly hard to even compare any current riders to Garrett. I think Garrett in his later years definitely drew a lot of inspiration from Eric L. That would be the closest in comparison, but even those two are very different. There are some other pegless guys who kill it and may have a similar eye, but to me they don’t really ride anything like him. At the same time there are tons of guys jumping off roofs and doing big wallrides and stuff, but none of them are really making it look as good. Garrett was one of a kind."
"For starters, Garrett’s riding style is timeless. Going fast, carving vertical walls like they're quarter pipes, smashing/bashing into any and everything possible, the flattest hop tables since Vic Murphy, and one of the most creative and stylish of his generation, in my opinion. Without a doubt in my mind, Garrett left an everlasting impression on BMX for those who saw him do his thing. On the otherhand, he’s crazy underrated to a newer generation that has probably never seen or heard of Garrett. They truthfully may have no idea the impact he put into motion with real cutty-ass riding. Which ironically, kids are all very inspired by unknowingly. Small example, everyone likes to bump jump now—not to say Garrett was the first to do a bump jump—but he was one of the first to make it his own style and that’s just the thing, bump jumps are a style of riding now. Many people probably have no idea, but I was pegless for the first 8-9 years I rode BMX. Tons of people used to tell me, you’ll never get sponsored or be a part of the industry if you are a pegless rider. So being able to see Garrett out there doing him, pegless, sponsored, respected, and loved by everyone who saw him ride was one of the biggest influences I’ve ever had in BMX. I was still fully pegless when I got my first real sponsor and I don’t think I could have made it that far pegless without the influence of Garrett’s riding."
"When you see a spot or setup that looks a little too crazy to be possible, Garrett's the person who would try it. The curve wall from the Ride cover, the 270 wallride thing from OSS, and the tires up the massive concrete polejam… they just stand out to me because none of them really seem possible. All those tricks seem at odds with psychics. He left an impression for sure—especially with different bump-jump and wallride variations. He always rode fast and had good taste in spots—which is something that always sticks with me when I watch someone else ride. I don’t think progression is just about technical lines or adding variations to existing tricks. It can be reimagining certain basic tricks like a wallride and doing it like no one else has before. I think Garrett is a good example of people that can do that."
"I feel like Garrett will forever have his diehard fans that have stuck with him since day one, but I definitely think he remains underrated. Unless you know Garrett and have seen him ride in person, I don’t think you are able to fully take in exactly what he did on a bike. It’s unreal and it seems like he would be the only one crazy enough to do some of the stuff he has done. One of the things that stood out to me the most was when he did the up ledge ride-to-gap wall on the famous hubba in downtown Austin. It was a perfect example of what Garrett’s thought process was like and what he thinks is possible. No one would have though of doing that. We all believed in him when watching this trick go down, but we didn’t have a damn clue how. To this day it is still one of the wildest things I got to witness in person.
The one person who stands out to me the most [to be carrying the torch for Garrett's style] would have to me Morgan Long. From what I could see, they rode together often and when Garrett was slowing down with riding it seemed like Morgan was right there picking up his slack with his trick selection and style. I’m glad Morgan could carry on the legacy with his own twist! That style is a breath of fresh air for BMX."
"Garrett's just a freak of nature. He was a super well-rounded rider and very creative when it came to his choice of setups and tricks. I’d like to say that his riding reached out to a lot of people. He for sure influenced me—and still does to this day.”
“I know multiple people—myself included—who call Garrett their favorite rider. He was powerful, pegless, progressive, and did bangers. He made BMX look good. But to the masses I think he will always be underrated. Most of the setups he rode are hard to comprehend unless you have a high skill level on a bike yourself or if you have seen some of the spots he rode in person. Before Garrett moved to Long Beach and we became friends, I would watch what I think was his first Sunday edit quite often. Not long after that I put out one of my first edits and recognized that Garrett left a positive comment about it. The mutual hype on the edits made his name one that I didn’t forget and if there was something new that he was in, I was watching it. Fast forward a few years and we ended up living in the same town and became friends. After every thing from chill Cherry [park] sessions, to cruising alleys, and watching him film a banger, Garrett's way of looking at spots definitely opened my eyes.
One of the best parts about Garrett's riding is the clips that he chose to film were always memorable. All of his sections were always put together really well. Clips that pop into my head right away are… The huge pole jam in Long Beach on the traffic circle from one of his Lotek edits. For sure it has to be the biggest/steepest pole jam ever done and somehow Garrett did it with only one fish film angle and no photographer. He told me he was maxed out pedaling as fast as he could to do it. It would have been awesome to see a long angle zooming and showing how fast he was going. Every time I drive by that setup I still can't believe he did that. Another clip from the same Lotek edit was the big/steep hubba ledge ride coming out of an apartment off Fourth Street in Long Beach. It is a perfect setup except there is a wall right at the bottom basically leaving it unrideable, Garrett tire rode the ledge and dodged the wall at the bottom by what looked like less than a inch. Garrett was the wallride king (after Ruben Alcantara) and two wallrides that stick out to me are… In his OSS Football section he hops into a satelite dish-to-270 gap-to-Ruben wallride. The other one is where he tried to do a rail hop gap to wallride/thread the needle with that crazy red beam [in the way]. They made a whole behind the scenes video about it with all of his attempts. He didn't pull it, but the fact that he tried it multiple times and got really close to pulling it is insane. That setup was huge and precise so I can only imagine how much of a head game it was to get himself to try it.
He was only progressing more and more so it would have been awesome to see what he came up with if he would have kept pursuing his pro BMX career longer. I totally understand his situation, though, he had some bad luck with two bad back-to-back injuries. The BMX industry needs to take care of their riders better so when we are lucky enough to have someone come along that does things differently and pushes it to new levels they have the motivation to stick around to their full potential. BMX is only going to grow so big if we can't keep legendary riders around long enough to influence multiple generations.”
A few much watch Garrett Reeves videos…
Garrett’s section from OSS’ Football hits you like like a 300+ lb. linebacker. This video part put Garrett on the map in a big way.
Garrett’s thirst for big and fast continues in his Lotek video, however, having since relocated to Long Beach, his eye for setups improved and his spot use is at a new level.
“Garrett Reeves took to the alley ways of Long Beach to film his latest. This video was filmed during the making of his Ride BMX Magazine interview which came out in July 2012. As with everything Garrett, his tricks will be fast, unique and very creative.” —Sunday
As the title implies, Garrett’s GSport video is comprised of footage from both Cali and a trip back to his home in Maryland. Zach Krejmas shot and cut this video—making for a pretty dynamic duo of pegless progression. Garrett’s riding is noticeably less do or die and much more technical and progressive with his wallride concepts.