Brad Blanchard, 1990

On the left is Brad Blanchard, as shot by Spike Jonze in the August, 1990 issue of Go: The Rider's Manual, and on the right is the crazy parking lot located in the middle of downtown Austin on a grey day in January. It still baffles me that Trend Bike Source managed to hold one of the biggest competitions of the year in a parking lot in downtown Austin, but it definitely happened 26 years ago. According to Go, "The Bully/Hammer crew of Vic Murphy, Pete Augustin and Brad Blanchard drew plenty of respectful onlookers. Vic caught a plane into town the night before and Augustin/Blanchard drove in together. The three of them assault the wall, the car and the stonehenge non-stop during practice, except for an occasional Big Gulp break."

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United/Rooftop and the bashguard frame

Yesterday, a unique United Bike Co. prototype frame popped up on Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla’s Instagram account, featuring a Haro Sport-style bashguard from the early ’90s. Me, wearing my love for early ’90s BMX proudly on my sleeve, hit like and moved on with my day as many of us goldfish-brainers do. But I kept coming back to this unpainted oddity, now regrammed by United, thinking to myself that I will probably read about it on a BMX website in the coming hours. I was wrong, no one picked up on it. I can’t say I blame anyone, I know our attention is being pulled in a thousand directions at once these days, and that it’s only a matter of seconds before you miss out on something, but I figured this deserved some attention. Continue reading United/Rooftop and the bashguard frame

RL Osborn, 1988

Dave Voelker, 1987

Woody Itson, 1987

Larry's Donuts, a donut shop located on Torrance Blvd. just east of Prospect Avenue became my 'white whale' while living in Redondo Beach. The spot, a bank with a dumpster box that eventually served as place to disaster for Dennis McCoy, had long since been demolished, but I had no knowledge of that and spent days looking, googling, searching for the damn place. Eventually, I wised up and asked Jason Pitschke @lotlifebmx (but I'm saving that story for the eventual book/magazine thing), so I won't go into detail here. It turns out, the spot is gone, but the adjacent buildings remain, and they were but a short bike ride away from my house on S. Helberta, basically right under my nose. I will detail out the day-long story I went through with Jason, but for now, I stumbled onto this photo of Woody Itson testing the 1987 Diamond Back Hot Streak at the banks, and was able to basically replace the 1987 version of the background Verizon building with the 2015 version of the building (look close in the bottom right corner). There are more trees now, and the original location of Larry's Donuts is now a parking lot for hospice care in the South Bay, but cancan nosepicks are still cool.

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Bob Haro, 1982

Even though we're less than a month from 2016, I can assure you that the photo on the right was taken in 2014. But it still feels like an eternity ago. My life has changed so much in such a short period of time that I'm left wondering why I was wandering around Torrance in the fall of 2014, looking for marked up curb cuts in office parks behind hospitals. The answer is this: more R.L. Osborn photos from the early '80s shot in front of the former Wizard Publications building at 3162 Kashiwa St. Also, I'm completely out of R.L. Osborn stories, so in this instance, I'll just talk about being sick the past few days and living a life punctuated by Benadryl. Or I'll just go take a nap instead. Seriously, I slept 10 and a half hours last night and it was glorious…

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RL Osborn, 1987

In 1986, Redline Bicycles dropped their top freestyle pro, R.L. Osborn. He went on to sign with a newish bike company from Rutherford, N.J. named General Bicycles, which reportedly paid him a salary of $100,000 a year. With connections to the magazines of the time (his dad was the publisher, his sister the photographer) and geographic proximity to the offices, R.L. did what he knew best and started promoting General Bicycles to the masses. But he never rested on his laurels or seemed to take advantage of his familial connections at the magazine — he rode, a lot, and progressed originally with the trends of the time, adjusting to rolling tricks, street riding and changing anti-uniform styles. In 1987, General unveiled their first run of complete bicycles, and of course, R.L. Osborn ensured that the lower end General R.L. Osborn Hustler Pro bike was featured in the March 1988 issue of Freestylin' Magazine. 'Bike test' is a loose term for the feature, because it's R.L., Chris Day and Craig Grasso all riding their personal bikes, with one unridden photo of the new complete bike taking up a page. Instead, it was three of the best riders of the time doing progressive moves on street and flatland with the likes of Spike Jonze and Windy Osborn behind the lens. Here, R.L. Osborn pulls a switch-footed handlebar grab backwards wheelie to fakie whiplash in the parking lot along Harbor Drive in Redondo Beach. I rode the same lot more times than I'd care to admit, and I always remembered that loose bike test whenever I passed that parking garage. General Bicycles didn't make it to 1989, and R.L. disappeared from BMX just a few years later. I still kinda miss them both.

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Jason Leder, 1988

So I had to cut NYC rider Jason Leder's head off — it's something I never wanted to do since I spotted the first photos of him in Freestylin' Magazine in 1987, but for the sake of Instagram squares, it was necessary. From what I can gather, he got enough photos in the magazine that Schwinn's Yo! program took notice, sent him a bike and started sending him to AFA contests around the country, including the AFA Masters in Austin, Texas in the spring of 1988. And then Windy Osborn took him to the most inopportune sidewalk in all of Austin to shoot a backwards decade photo. (Seriously, it's a sidewalk on a heavy trafficked bridge.) I went by there earlier today, and all I could think was that the skyline had broadly changed in less than 30 years. This town is a mess, I'm partly to blame, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up back in Redondo or Hermosa because of it. Also, it's cold and windy today, so ignore my whining.

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Dave Voelker, 1987

Between Freestylin' Magazine's coverage of the AFA Masters at the Austin City Coliseum in May of 1988 and the 2-Hip King of Vert in Austin in July of 1988, I became acquainted with the non-competition riding scene of Austin, Texas. There were ditches, wallrides, fountains to jump out of, parking lots to be ridden, and lots of locals that were good at all types of riding. Of course, back then, a teenage kid in New Jersey had to wait for his favorite editorial crew in California to travel to Texas, report on a scene, get back to Torrance, write, edit, develop, layout, proof, print, et al, before getting the actual magazine in the mail some five to six months after the magazine's initial trip to cover the competition in the first place. And of course, I was more interested in the non-competition photos shot while the Freestylin' crew were on their various excursions. Basically, they knew that the comps were just an excuse to explore a new place and show the true side of bike riding. Dave Voelker arrived in Austin to compete in 19 and over expert ramps. He got fourth place in the contest and then shot this no-footer out of the fountain on the University of Texas campus with Windy Osborn. It's been burned into my brain ever since. I think the wait for the magazine was worth it.

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