I was getting good at updating this thing and then January happened. And I blew it. Now it’s February and I’m scratching my head wondering where the hell the first month of the year disappeared to already. Tonight, I am making a list of things I need to do each week and this website will hereby be added to it.
First things first, old BMX magazines. The kinds from my mid to late teens (before they almost died), the end of Freestylin’, the merging into Go: The Rider’s Manual. On my desktop, I have a folder and the icon is the first combined issue of Freestylin’ and BMX Action, with Tim ‘Fuzzy’ Hall on the cover.
From time to time I open it for screen shots in ESPN galleries or just to remind myself of how enraptured I was with the BMX scene as it was evolving from uniforms and corporate sponsors into something more organic created by the people actually riding.
Go: The Rider’s Manual was the vehicle in which that movement was documented. And even though they probably got shit from their advertisers, they were honest with their portrayal of the riding at the time. If Pete Brandt and Eric Emerson spent more time in the hardware store than the bike shop to modify their flatland bikes, Go documented it. And when Vic Murphy was innovating some of the first legit sprocket grinds on a Skyway TA frame covered with Dirt Brothers stickers and saying that “other companies suck,” Go gave him the last page in the magazine, next to a very tame GT ad that featured their team riders in uniforms.
Maybe that honesty led to the magazine’s undoing, but I could see, even as a 16-year-old, that the editors of the magazine were helping to steer BMX in the right direction. And that’s something I still appreciate now.
But that’s a tangent I didn’t plan on addressing tonight. The editors of Go and Freestylin’ held a close relationship with the greatest flatland rider of all time, Kevin Jones. They seemed to understand his aversion to the media and interviews in general, but they also understood his importance in riding and the BMX public’s need to know what on earth he was doing at all times. That meant we were offered the occasional photo or two of Kevin Jones on the pages of the magazine, and I studied each one for hours at a time.
The above photo is one of the very few examples Go shared of his time on Wilkerson Airlines (or actually riding the bike), and after drooling over it for a time, I think I went into the metal shop in high school and attempted to make my very first aluminum can style triple bolt seat post clamp.
The seat clamp ultimately failed, but I learned the trick within a matter of weeks of seeing the above photo and trying to replicate it. And I also bought the same Nike high tops. That was how heavy BMX magazines influenced me once upon a time in 1990.