Scot Breithaupt, 1957 – 2015

Scot Breithaupt died over the weekend. He created organized BMX racing, designed the first BMX tracks, created SE Racing, co-founded BMX Plus! Magazine and even had a hand in creating a better stem (called a “gooseneck”) to clamp early BMX handlebars more securely before BMX bicycles were even a thing.

To be honest, by the time I came around to BMX, I had no idea who he really was. I was focused more on freestyle than racing, and Breithaupt had already retired from racing. Because I studied the magazines of the time, I eventually came to know and respect his huge contributions to BMX: He paved the way for freestyle pioneers such as Bob Haro, R.L. Osborn, Mat Hoffman and many more, and he pushed everything as far as possible both on and off a BMX bike. Continue reading

Erin Donato, 2015

Erin Fricke (Donato) 2015 Flatland Edit from Louis Orth on Vimeo.

It’s hard for me to believe that I even met Erin Donato as a young teenage kid sometime in 1989, when she had a co-sponsorship from General Bicycles and rode a Fred Blood pro model, but I’m old and it happened and all these years later, Erin is still riding. For years, when I lived in the New Brunswick, N.J. area and Erin lived not too far away in Bound Brook, we rode together almost religiously at the infamous Rutgers football stadium parking lot. We rode together so much that we barely talked, but we had an unspoken arrangement in which seeing each other riding at that parking lot motivated the other one to get off their ass and keep riding. It was a good time. I ended up moving away and finding riding spots that were closer to my house, and eventually our time together faded into the past. I think we last rode together in Jersey City sometime in 2011, and we haven’t really spoken since. A few days ago, Louis Orth connected with me and gave me a heads up that Erin was releasing a new video. It turns out, Erin ended up buying a house with a double wide garage, kept it empty for riding purposes, and is continuing to progress on her bike. Her style hasn’t changed, she’s pushing techniques she developed into new territories, and she’s probably embarrassed that Louis even compiled this footage, edited it down and released it. Erin is a true classic and this was a welcome surprise to watch this week.

Andy Jenkins, 1986

X Games is done and I'm finally getting my life back to a degree, so these things are going to start back up. Actually, I need to do 12 more before I reach 50, and then I plan on compiling them into some sort of book/magazine this summer tentatively called 'Off The Deep End.' It will be nerdy but I need a project to work on and this seemed like a good place to start. Anyway, this is longtime Freestylin' editor Andy Jenkins @bendpress throwing a boneless off a picnic table on the side of Wizard Publications in Torrance. I'm not sure how most other readers of Freestylin' felt about skate content in a BMX magazine, but it fostered a love of skateboarding in me that remains to this day. I even started wearing skull and crossbones Life's A Beach shorts over my pants after seeing this photo, but luckily that look did not remain to this day. Also, I couldn't help but notice that the Wizard Publications building has the exact same door when I visited in late 2014 as it did in 1986…

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Help Dave Voelker

It’s been pretty quiet from Dave Voelker over the past few years. Now 48, engaged to be married and with two kids, Voelker remains legendary in BMX circles for his early BMX contributions in vert, park and street, but after completely shattering his patella over two years ago, he’s been off the bike. As a full-time demo rider, that means Voelker can’t make money and support his family, and because his medical insurance reached a cap, he is now paying out of pocket for his medical bills.

Voelker arrived on the BMX scene in the mid ’80s. Emerging from Santee, Calif. with sponsorships from the GT/Dyno camp, Voelker’s riding was and continues to be a phenomenal brand of 120% on everything in his path. Voelker went higher, clicked further and saw lines that no other rider recognized. Voelker was moved to full factory status by Dyno in 1987, but remained an amateur, racking up vert wins in the American Freestyle Association Masters series and enjoying a wealth of coverage in the BMX media. Continue reading

Stolen expands upon Italian food theme

Following successful collaborations between the iconography of pizza imagery and BMX brands such as MacNeil, Subrosa, FBM and Deco, Southern California BMX brand Stolen Bike Co. has decided to expand beyond pizza-themes into more authentic Italian cuisine.

Beginning in 2016, Stolen will release a new complete bike in collaboration with the Olive Garden Italian Kitchen restaurant chain. The model, dubbed the Caprese, features Olive Garden ravioli grips (featuring ‘Ricotta’ rubber) and Pivotal style seat, along with a meatball-emblazoned 25-tooth sprocket. Continue reading

The moment my allegiance to GT died

As a young BMXer in the late ’80s, you pretty much went one of two ways in regards to bike choice, favorite team and clothing options: GT or Haro. (Redline and R.L. Osborn were a close third. No offense R.L., but the RL-20 ll had a five-inch head tube…)

If you went the Haro route, you most likely rocked Haro leathers, rode a Master or a Sport, and looked up to riders like Ron Wilkerson and Brian Blyther. And if you went the GT route, you rocked a Pro Freestyle Tour setup, wore Dyno shoes and emulated riders like Eddie Fiola, Josh White and Martin Aparijo.

I loved Haro, but out of necessity (my local shop was a GT dealer), my first legit BMX bike was a GT Pro Performer. So the walls of my bedroom became a growing catalog of GT ads, and the GT Demo Tape (also featuring the Dyno team) was pretty much on repeat for most of 1988. I bought everything I could GT-related, and sought autographs from riders like Dino Deluca, Brett Hernandez and Eddie Fiola (before he left in 1988…) Continue reading

Ron Wilkerson, 1984

Basically, before I moved, I cataloged as many Wizard Publications photos as I could, then rode my bike to Torrance (from Redondo) and stood all over the parking lot of the place that once housed Wizard Publications. This was from August 1984, featuring Ron Wilkerson (left) and Rich Avella (right). Together, they formed the core of the 2-Hip Trick team, and that name later morphed into the first vert series (2-Hip King of Vert), the first street series (2-Hip Meet the Street), a fan club (2-Hip Society), a video series that once featured a Beatles song made to include George Dossantos references and ultimately, a bike company that created a steerer tube system known as 'Groovetech.' While some may argue over the merits of the 2-Hip Pork frame or the Burning Bike Festivals, I can't really knock Ron Wilkerson's vision for rider-created competitions. He was among the first to push for loosely organized jams that emphasized BMX progression over perfect runs, and that's something that still happens to this day. On this random day in January, I was proud to shoot a spot where he once posed for a lawnmower in front of a Porsche.

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Me, 2006

I meant to post this on my birthday and didn't get around to it and now I just feel weirdly self indulgent posting this. On top is me sprocket stalling this really narrow pole atop a bank near Spider House Cafe in Austin in 2006, shot by @sandy_carson. I am far from a decent bike rider but I always liked this photo because it was pretty precarious to aim a bike and balance a sprocket and chain atop a two-inch wide steel pole. And on the bottom is the same spot from this year. What really jumped out at me is how much the background changed in less than a decade. While the BMX spots in the South Bay of Los Angeles have remained largely the same, Austin is constantly in motion and the empty spaces that used to exist are now apartments for transplants like me. And before anyone asks, I have no idea what the deal was with the white shoes.

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Scott Clark, 1987

Getting paid as an employee in the State of New York after moving to California ultimately led me to the corner of Sepulveda and Crenshaw in Torrance in 2012. Let's blame the I.R.S. since accountants that can do State of New York taxes in Southern California are not easy to come by. There was one in all of the South Bay area — she was in Torrance, at an H&R Block across the street from a non-epic curb cut that weirdly looked familiar at the time… I had no idea who Scott Clark was (or what magazine this is from) at the time, but he was in the right place at the right time and could blast a curb cut with style. And that talent was recognized by photographer Windy Osborn. She was/is an unstoppable force in regards to recognizing style and reflecting it as it should be seen. And she paved the way for Spike Jonze and Brad McDonald and everyone after them. Then the next generation kept it going till the page count fell off. I hate that photos aren't as appreciated or emulated as they once were in this disposable culture. I like that I remember a time before that.

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Vic Murphy, 1990

This is one of the first spots I found after moving to Austin two months ago. It's a wall ride setup downtown that was used for a Trend Bike Source street contest in the spring of 1990. And it was featured in the August 1990 issue of Go: The Rider's Manual. I pretty much drooled over the original photo (shot by Spike Jonze) for the remainder of the year. I wanted the bike (a Bully ll) even though I knew I would break it, and I tried unsuccessfully to do one-handed tailwhip foot plants for years afterward. (As soon as I took my hand off though, the bike spun out of control.) But for Vic Murphy, of course it was no problem. And of course he made it look stylish without forcing it. I shot the more recent photo on a recent Sunday afternoon ride through town. It was cold, grey and windy, but the parking lot location was bustling with people and cars. It made me wonder, how the hell did Trend manage to pull off a street contest in downtown Austin? But I already know the answer — it's that a lot has changed in 25 years.

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