For this week’s Friday Interview we hit up a pair of brothers who have been riding together for more than a decade. Mark and Mike Potoczny answer the same set of questions about what it’s like growing up with another rider in the house and how it’s affected them over the years…

Interview and photos by Jeff Zielinski.

An Interview With Mark Potoczny

Name: Mark Potoczny
Age: 26
locations: Independence, PA
Sponsors: Deluxe, Sun Rims, Square One

How much of an influence does your brother have on your riding?
Mike has influenced my riding so much over the years in so many directions whether it was racing, riding and digging trails, or working on a tech trick on a ramp all night. Mike has always been around and been a badass riding buddy.

Describe your beginnings with BMX.
At our house my dad has a small motocross track, so from early on I had an interested in that. Before I could ride it on a real motorcycle, I rode it on bikes, literally bicycle motocross. I just wanted to ride like my dad. Eventually we got dirt bikes and we kinda switched on and off between the two for years, as well as other sports like baseball and soccer. Later on, our interests started to focus on BMX and we turned the motocross jumps into ones more specific to BMX. Soon after that we started racing as well.

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Which of you started riding first?
I started riding first just because of age. I raced a few times at South Park BMX when I was around age six, but it didn’t stick then. It was hard for my parents to drive 45 minutes to the track all the time, but eventually we both got back into it and we were hooked. From that time BMX has always been a part of my life.

Who digs the most?
I do. Mike is away at school in the spring and always has a heavy work load. Mike is a really well rounded guy…he is also president of his student body at college.

Who crashes more?
I think I do…Mike is more consistent then me.

What are some upsides to having a brother who rides?
Growing up there was always someone to ride with, we built jumps together, and we always worked on new tricks together through the years. It also helped a lot with our parents understanding of it. First off with racing, it was a lot easier to talk our parents into driving us states away to go race a national and later on it worked the same with going to contests.

What about downsides?
I can’t think of any. It never hurts having anyone to hang out and ride with.

Do you ride with anyone else more often than your brother?
There have been certain times I ride with other people more than Mike when he is really busy with school. At one point, I lived with Bobby Valentine and Mark Mulville and during that time period I would say I rode with them the most.

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You guys have done a lot of traveling together, where have you gone?
Mike and I have seen a lot of great stuff together over the years. Last summer we went backpacking across Europe—riding, site seeing, and just hanging out. We saw a lot of unforgettable things and made me want to go back and see even more. The year before that we travelled across the country for six weeks with Ryan Wert all packed into a two-door Ford Focus. We hit the coast of California and worked our way up to Washington before making our way back through Montana and Wyoming. Despite the small space we made it work and had a blast. Trails, concrete, and camping in the Northwest…what more could you want?

Do you think being brothers makes it easier or more difficult to travel together?
It makes it easier for sure. We shared a room half of our lives, so it isn’t hard for us to get along on the road. Mike is really fun to travel with because we do a wide range of things as well besides riding. We hit up a lot of national parks on our way across the U.S. Mike studies history at school, so when we went to Europe we went to a lot of historical sites and museums as well. We both find it important to take in everything when we find ourselves somewhere new.

How has Mike moving to Pittsburgh affected your sessions together?
We still get to ride together a lot. During the week I might hit up the other spots around Pittsburgh with my other riding buddies. Then one the weekend Mike usually come home and we get in good sessions on the weekends.

Do you think you’d be a different rider today if you didn’t grow up with a brother who rode?
Yeah, having a constant riding buddy really kept things exciting over the years. I think it made both of us ride more.

An Interview With Mike Potoczny

Name: Mike Potoczny
Age: 22
Location: Pittsburgh, PA during the school year, and Indenpence, PA during the summers.
Sponsors: Sun Ringle flow

How much of an influence does your brother have on your riding?
I don’t think that influence is measurable. We’ve been riding with each other for over 15 years. We have learned endless tricks together growing up. But we do have kind of a different riding style. During sessions we’ll push each other to try each other’s tricks—that makes it fun.

Describe your beginnings with BMX, which of you started riding first?
Mark raced BMX when I was really young, then we both got into racing motocross for a couple years. During that time, our uncle’s friend gave us the classic BMX video Juvenile Trickery, and after that we wanted to ride BMX instead. I got a chrome GT Interceptor and we changed our motorcycle jumps into BMX jumps and it went from there.

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Who digs the most?
Mark.

Who crashes more?
I’d probably say Mark.

What are some upsides to having a brother who rides?
There’s always someone to ride with, it’s easier to get your parents okay with digging up the yard when two of their kids want to do it, you have someone to ride with on family vacations, and it’s easy to travel together.

What about downsides?
There really aren’t any downsides. We don’t have a competitive rivalry or anything. When we were young we did a little, but that was just us being kids. It’s just cruising and having some fun. The only downside is people getting our names mixed up. But that’s more funny than a downside.

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Do you ride with anyone else more often than your brother?
It’s dependent if I’m in school or not. But usually I ride with Mark the most.

You guys have done a lot of traveling together, where have you gone?
We go on a lot of summer and winter trips. In winter, we usually head south to Florida to avoid the cold and ride the trails at Casselberry, and sometimes we head to Austin, Texas. Over the past two summers we went on longer trips. We spent a month and a half driving across the country with Ryan Wert and spent a lot of time in California and Oregon. Last summer Mark and I traveled around Europe doing some touristy stuff and riding. It was an awesome trip. We got to ride some trails and spots I’ve always wanted to ride. We hopped around and went to England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

Do you think being brothers makes it easier or more difficult to travel together?
It makes it way easier. We know how each other ticks, so it works out pretty well.

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How has moving from your parent’s house to go to school affected 
riding with Mark?
It’s affected it a good bit, and riding in general—weeks full of tests, projects, and student government meetings are rough. But during fall, I go home about every weekend to enjoy the trails until winter hits and we usually make a weekly Ray’s Mountain Bike park trip when it’s winter. So we still get to ride a decent amount together while school is in session.

Do you think you’d be a different rider today if you didn’t grow up with a brother who rode?
For sure, I think we’ve really helped each other to become the riders we are. While growing up and to this day we push each other and try tricks and lines together. I have no idea what kind of riding I’d be doing if it wasn’t for Mark.