Interview and photos by Jeff Zielinski (unless noted)
At some point in time I've described Drew Bezanson as an "unstoppable force"—and I think anyone who has ridden with him can attest to that. But I don't think a character witness is necessary, because Drew lived up to that description all on his own. With almost six months off his bike due to a serious head injury, no sooner after he started riding again did he pick where he left off with his awesome web edit at the Joyride 150 park, followed up with his recent dominance at the 2012 Toronto BMX Jam. I guess it just goes to show that you really can't keep a good man down. Are we three months into Drew thousand and twelve? Keep reading to find out…
So what's the deal with Joyride 150? Didn't you help redesign the park and get funding for ramps?
Joyride 150 is the first and currently only indoor bike park in Canada and it's 90,00 feet of pure fun. I rode there in 2010 when it first opened and loved it. Then after my head injury when I started riding again in 2011 I went back there with a bunch of ideas to change and improve on what they already had. I went to the owners with my ideas and they said, "We'd love to, but we don’t have the funding for it at the moment." That's when I got the idea to ask Red Bull to help out. I put together a full 3D drawing of the how the park was then, and what I wanted it to look like after all the changes. Red Bull was psyched on idea and gladly helped out.
Joyride is like a dream come true for you, isn't it?
Joyride is like a dream come true and then some. It has everything in one building and the people who work there and those who come and ride make it even better. It’s just like one big family.
What's the scene like there? Do you have a good crew to ride with?
The scene is incredible. It’s wild to see how fast all the locals are progressing there. The vibe there is incredible, as well—never any negative vibes and everyone is just there to have fun.
I'm sure you've told the story more than enough times, but for the record, do you mind rehashing the injury that kept you off your bike for most of last year?
Last year I was off my bike for five and a half months due to a TBI (traumatic brain injury). I fell over in Iraq doing shows for the US troops and suffered four points of hemorrhaging on the left frontal lobe of my brain. At first I didn’t realize I hit my head that hard, but as time went on things weren’t feeling right and it just got to the point where I knew something wasn’t right.
What were some of things you did to occupy your time while you couldn't ride?
While I couldn’t ride I wasn’t allowed to do much—since I had to spend most of the time resting. So I spent most of my time with family and close friends. My best friend bought an excavator—which he taught me to operate and was probably the only thing that kept me sane during the time off my bike.
An excavator? What did you do with it?
I just cruised around in the woods and started clearing a path to start some trails at some point and also digging random holes and filling them back in—I loved it. I’m actually buying a bulldozer soon, as well. When I was a little kid I was obsessed with Tonka toys and still would be, but they're just a little small. Now onto the real thing…
You didn't waste any time after getting back on your bike and you dropped that amazing edit shot at Joyride. It seemed like you never even missed a day of riding. How did you bounce back so fast?
Five and a half months off your bike gives a fair bit of time to think about things. In that time off, it made me realize just how much I still love riding a bicycle and how much I want to take advantage of being young. I hope to be riding and progressing still when I’m Jamie Bestwick’s age. There is going to be a day when I’ll actually get old, and until then I don’t want to miss out on any moment of BMX.
I think one of the last things we saw from you prior to your injury was your section in Props Owned, which was insane, by the way. Was that your first full-length section in a DVD?
Thanks Z. It was an honor to work with Stew and be apart of a Props project. It was my first full-length DVD section. It was an absolute treat to work on, although frustrating at times because I didn't know how much footage I had after a while and I always just wanted to keep plugging away. I wanted every clip to be something unique or stuff that I was psyched on. With the first one out of the way and seeing the finished project I’m definitely looking forward to working on another.
It's hard to imagine what else you would've done for it if you didn't get hurt. Do you feel like you were cut short?
I definitely wish I could have filmed more for sure. With a video part you can never have enough clips. If they don’t make it into the section they can be used for other things, but there is still a handful of things I want to film, but I just don’t want them to be in a web video.
I think my favorite footage was from the Eastside trails in Austin, those jumps are so huge and you were doing insane contest winning tricks over them and having a blast while doing it. Was that your first time riding trails that size?
Those jumps are incredible! I went to Austin for ten days and rode them every single day. We would go in the afternoon to help dig and water, then I would just do continuous laps until the sun went down. Half the time I think Stew was frustrated with me because I would just want to jump through them and do kick outs. They were definitely the biggest jumps I've ridden, but once you jump through them a few times they're just like a roller coaster. I can’t thank all the locals there enough for letting me ride and film and have a good time.
How does working on a DVD section and seeing the finished product compare to winning a contest? I mean you get a sense of satisfaction from both, but they are different battles, you know?
Seeing the finished section on a DVD that you have worked on for months and winning a contest are two completely different feelings, but both incredible. I feel like filming a video part is more rewarding because you are going to have that for the rest of your life. With contests you can tell people you won them twenty years ago, but with a video part you can show them and reminisce.
Tell me more about the brakes and lever you've been working on with Shadow…
First off, I love Shadow—it’s been like a dream come true to help design BMX products—and they gave me the opportunity. I couldn’t be happier with what we created. The brakes are out now, and no word of a lie, my brakes have never felt better—if you see me around you have a feel. The lever is still in the works, but I’m super excited to get it into stores. I just sat down with Shadow and told them about every lever I have ever ridden and took what I liked from each one of them and created the one I’m testing now and I love it.
I know you've been spending a lot of time at Fox, too. Do you have anything in the works with them?
Fox is another dream come true, as well. Growing up being a moto kid and being obsessed with Fox I never in my wildest dreams expected to be a part of their family. I started riding for Fox footwear in 2010 and it’s been incredible. I’m currently working on a shoe with them that it designed specifically from top to bottom for BMX. I’ve been working on them for about six months. We're on the second sample now and they have listened to everything I have said along the way. They are the best shoes I have ever ridden in. I can’t wait to share all the details with everyone. Hopefully they will be out this fall.
With the contest season warming up I'm sure you have a pretty hectic travel schedule. What's on the horizon for you?
I’m in Canada only for a few more days then its full speed ahead. On the 21st of March I fly to Austin, Texas, for a Red Bull trip. From there straight to Tallinn, Estonia, for Simple Session 12, then straight to Paris for a few days, then back to Cali for a day, then Atlanta for a Shadow trip, and then back to Cali and that’s all within a month.
Where are you moving to in California? And what brought on that decision?
I’m moving to Costa Mesa with Anthony Napolitan and Brandon Dosch. In the last few years I’ve wanted to move to the US just to have a home base, but it never worked out. I always talked about moving in with Anthony. Then he told me he was moving to Cali and I thought about it and said, "Save me a room." California is just convenient. Most of my sponsors are out there, flights are cheap in and out of California, you can’t beat the weather, spots are everywhere, and there are a ton of filmers and photographers out there. I love being busy and there is always something going on out there and on top of that I can ride motocross all year. I can’t wait to have a place where I can unpack for a few days and on top of that it’s with two of my good friends. I'm really looking forward to the change.
Do you want to give some thanks?
Of Course! I would like to thank everyone that supports me and allows me to live my dream. From my parents, family, friends, and all of my sponsors—Red Bull, Toyota, Fox, DK Bicycles, The Shadow Conspiracy, Skull Candy, POC, Ethika, Ryder distribution, Equalbryum. I can’t thank you guys enough for all the love, support, and opportunities over the years! Also a big shout out to Jeff Z. and all the staff at Ride BMX for giving me the opportunity to do this interview, cheers guys!