The Friday Interview: Van Homan

Age: 32
Hometown: Pennsville, New Jersey
Sponsors: Fit, Ipath, G-Sport, Duo, Square One, Two by Four

Interview and photos by Jeff Zielinski

It should be easy to come up with something to say about someone as accomplished and legendary as Van Homan, but that's just the problem, where do I even begin? Even if by some odd chance Van Homan isn't one of your favorite riders; it's safe to say he's probably on the top of your favorite rider's list of their favorite riders. Van has a library of insane video parts to his name (and a few NORA Cups for his efforts). But not only can he deliver the heat in the streets, but he grew up riding trails, shreds FDR, and has ridden in countless dirt and park events. Without further ado, here is one of the greatest all around riders BMX has ever seen.

John Vandever Homan.

Of all your video parts, which is your favorite, or which are you most happy with, and why?
Criminal Mischief seems like the obvious choice, but Derek [Adams] and I put a lot of heart into that section. We didn't even really know what we were doing at the time. That whole project just happened so organically. It's really cool watching every section though. Every video part tells a story that only you and the people involved in the project know about. It's kind of like a scrapbook. I really like going back and watching stuff like my Props interview and our house check in Standpoint.

You set a benchmark with your Criminal Mischief section. Do you feel a certain amount of pressure to live up to or exceed that every time you work on a new video part?
Thanks. I don't really feel pressure to live up to my past video sections anymore. I used to feel that way. I would be on a trip and I would feel like I had to do something wild everyday or at every spot. I'm a little more patient now. I know when I really want to do something I'm going to give it a go so I don't feel like I have to prove to myself that "I still have it." It's a good way to be, I feel like I enjoy my bike and my time on the road more when I'm not striving to live up to my past accomplishments.

This isn't the epic icepick grind we're used to seeing from Van, but that wobbly bridge made this one really challenging.

I know that filming and finding new setups motivates you. How much do you think the importance riders have put on filming has helped progress riding in general?
Yeah, finding new setups is what BMX is to me. It's what keeps it interesting. I think there are a lot of different ways to enjoy riding and the setup dictates what sort of fun you're going to have. Sometimes the setup means just messing around and having a fun casual session. Other times the setup scares the piss out of me, but it feels amazing to challenge myself and roll away from it. It might sound cheesy, but I love that buzz. I'm sure filming progresses things. It's easier for people to work on videos and edits then it used to be. Filming usually motivates people to push themselves a little--"Kodak courage" [laughs].

A lot of riders reference your video parts as an influence of theirs, so what I'd like to know is, what video parts does one of the most influential riders ever get inspiration from?
It's such an honor when I hear people I respect say they took inspiration from my riding. Guys like Garrett Reynolds and Brian Kachinsky. It's like, Wow, really?" It's cool to feel like I'm leaving a foot print on a younger generation. My early influence came from videos like 1201 and the early Props. Joe Rich was one of my big inspirations when it came to pushing myself on street. I think my trail background helps me respect, appreciate, and enjoy all types of riding and I think that just comes from the era I grew up in.

Van's downside style whips are unmistakable.

You've kind of fell into a "team captain" role with Fit. While on trips, how is being a rider and helping steer the ship at the same time?
That just kind of happened naturally. I just stepped in and started helping with things I felt needed some direction. I've spent most of my life on the road traveling and filming so it just kind of came naturally. Stew Johnson and I work together planning all the Fit trips. Stew and I chatted a bunch before he was officially part of Fit. It's cool to see our video guy have as much heart and passion for the projects we are working on as the riders do. I feel like things are just hitting on all cylinders at Fit right now and I'm loving it.

You grew up racing, riding trails--pretty much riding everything. Then it seemed like you transitioned into mostly riding street. But on the last few trips we've been on together you've been hitting the trails and you rode the dirt comp at Texas Toast, too. I even saw a no-footed half barspin go down...
Yeah, I enjoy it all. Street is mostly where I push myself so that's mostly what ends up in my video parts. I love doing it all and always have. I was really hyped on Texas Toast and it felt good to ride in a dirt comp again. I like to think that my racing and trails background shows through in my street riding, at times.

Curvy kinker as seen in the pages of Ride.

How is Two By Four doing? When you're not on trips or busy filming locally do you go in the shop and put in hours?
Dan Palumbo holds down the shop for me. I'm involved in most decisions that go on behind the scenes, but Dan holds down the daily operations. Jay Dyer has been helping out a lot recently, too, with Web stuff and new clothing designs. I couldn't do it without those guys.

Would you say you've figured out the balance between pro rider and shop owner?
Don't be so sure [laughs]. Like I said, those guys make it work. I enjoy having the shop--I love pulling up and seeing a heavy session on the grind box or a bunch of kids watching a video. I know I would have loved to have a home base like that growing up.

Van's trail style shines through--one handed flattie.

You were on Orchid since the inception of the brand and have been on the team the longest. I'm sure it was a hard decision to leave...
It was hard because Derek is such a good friend of mine. However, we both knew there were better opportunities for me elsewhere. There is no bad blood between us. In a sense, it was nice for both of us to be able to go back to just being friends and not feel as if we had obligations or expectations to up hold for one another--until Derek revives the Devil, at least.

I know you've only been on Ipath for a few months now, but how are things going so far?
I'm loving it. I'm really excited about the team. It's a good mix of veterans and young blood. They have the resources to do some cool shit and they are committed to the BMX program so there will be a lot of cool stuff to come in the next couple years from Ipath.

Downside whip over the hip at the Mapleshade park in Jersey.

You hit your head at X Games 16, had to spend some time in the hospital, and have been wearing a helmet whenever you ride since recovering from that injury. Overall, how has that experience changed your view on wearing helmets?
It's just a choice I made. I've been hurt and seen a lot of friends go through some rough times due to head injuries. I understand the choice not to wear one, I've just decided that I might as well rock a helmet. I'm used to it now. I don't even think twice about it.

Do you want to talk about any other big things you have you in the works?
Just traveling and riding. There are a couple of things with both Fit and Ipath, but they are both in the infancy stages so it's a little premature to talk about them. You will just have to wait and see.

What about some thanks?
Mom and Dad, Fit, Ipath, Duo, GSport, Square One, Dan and Jay and the Two by Four team, Moeller, Lepper, Lloyd, Ben Ward, and everyone at The Building, Brian Osborne, Steve Buddendeck, Cory Muth, Will Stroud, Jim Bauer, Nuno Oliveira, Kris Bennett, Cody, Gwen and all my friends for being there when I needed them. And everyone else who has helped me along the way.

Corner pocket downside grind.

It's kinda ironic that this building has fellow South Jersey shredder Chase Dehart's name on it. Who knows what crazy combos Chase would come up with at this spot, but Van came up with one of his own with a feeble-to-manual-to-whip.