July 2017: We’re in Minneapolis, driving to check out Paisley Park Studios before heading to the airport and talking about all of the insanely influential BMX riders that have emerged from my home state of New Jersey. On a whim, I think to myself, I could definitely create a list of 50 BMX riders from New Jersey that made an impact on riding in some way, and make plans to do so. Upon returning home though, I looked at that list and thought twice after reaching ten write-ups on riders from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s era that influenced me or the scene in some way. I have a full list done, but I can rattle on and on about my experiences with each of them and then I won’t have time to ride or work or do anything. So until my hips completely give out, here are the first ten write-ups, spanning the General Bicycles/central Jersey flatland era and beyond.
Roger Sullivan (see above)
By the time I started going to regional contests, Roger Sullivan had seemingly moved on from them, choosing instead to compete in national AFA and 2-Hip contests. That year was 1988, and the legend of Roger Sullivan as a balls-out vert rider from Westfield, N.J. had already spread via phone calls, video footage and magazine photos. The guy could air as high as the pros of the time, he stretched his variations far and to get more speed, he was riding sprockets with more teeth on them to be able to crank more speed in between airs. He got sponsored by General Bicycles quick, and then, by all accounts, 1989 arrived and Roger Sullivan was gone, along with the General team.
A few years later, I was in college at Rutgers, got freshman drunk at a frat party and started making out with this girl named Maite Quinn. I didn’t really believe her name could actually be that, but we kissed all over a frat house’s kitchen and we didn’t care. At some point, she noticed my Standard Byke Co. t-shirt and asked about BMX and said her ex-boyfriend was Roger Sullivan but that he had run from the police and was hiding out in Mexico. The night was all too surreal, but it added to the legend of Roger Sullivan and I went with it. Years later, I find out that Roger Sullivan is related to Kink BMX pro Chris Doyle, and that he still rides, and that him and Doyle bear striking resemblances to each other. Maite Quinn was her real name, and she ended up being my boss at the dining hall where I worked on campus. Awkwardness probably ensued but I was also probably too aloof to realize it.
Roger Sullivan now lives in Southern Florida and big wave surfs. He also learned flairs at the age of 40 on a bike with no brakes.
If there was ever one N.J. based flatland rider that I tried to emulate, that prestige/albatross would go to Jay Jones. Jay Jones originally hailed from Edison, N.J. and possessed a natural finesse to his riding that translated beautifully to rolling tricks on flatland. (If I sound like a fan now, imagine me as a starstruck 14-year-old.) Jay wore these crazy goggle-esque glasses that made him look like Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe, and he got picked up early to ride for Kuwahara, followed by General. Then, the national BMX media turned their eyes on him and Jones started appearing in the magazines, dropping new rolling tricks faster than the magazines could keep up with. He had the potential to move to Southern California and become one of the riders to really break through to the big time alongside R.L. Osborn and the rest of the General team. But General went bust and Jay ended up putting together a green Dyno from 1986, staying put in N.J.
Fast forward a handful of years, and Jay was still riding, but also going to college at Rutgers. He still rode, but a natural byproduct of college is that you maybe get one day a week versus five days a week to ride. Those days when he showed up to ride were still awe-inspiring. (By then, we all rode at the same garage in Menlo Park, N.J. at night.) On one particular night, I fell forward and landed on the keys in my pocket, breaking my car key in the process. Jay manned up, drove me back home (round trip of about 30 miles) and made sure I got home safe.
A year or two later, we lived together as college students and he fucking helped me with biology homework. And currently, Jay Jones lives in the town I grew up in, and teaches at a school I went to as a kid.
I still try to emulate his style, but remain in disbelief that he lives in the town where I spent my formative years. It’s just too coincidental and full-circle-ish and I don’t even smoke pot.
Safe to say, without Britt Middaugh, I would not be where I am in life. Britt was a resident of Dunellen, N.J. for years, the team manager for General Bicycles, and a virtual force of do-it-yourself BMX as brands entered the lean years of 1989 through the early 1990s. Britt had a trick team, Britt made his own zines, Britt could ride everything pretty damn good, and Britt was down to promote BMX as best he could.
Middaugh started running his own competition series in 1988-1989, through T.C. Cycles, and later helped to open the first ramp park for BMX in New Jersey: Rampateria. I spent days at that place, learning the ins and outs of riding mini ramps, dropping in on vert quaterpipes and riding flatland in the dilapidated parking lot.
As the AFA ceased to exist, Britt formed the New Jersey Freestyle League, and held a competition series that brought all runs of BMX misfits together in South Plainfield, N.J. for several years straight. There is no way he made money doing this, and no way that it was ever going to lead him into BMX superstardom. He did it because he cared about keeping the scene going, and he is one of the main reasons that BMX riders such as Joe Rich, Luc-E and Jeff Crawn were able to make names for themselves beyond the tri-state area before the Internet or modern BMX magazines (sans BMX Plus!) existed.
Britt continues to document BMX and lives in Brick, N.J. His site, BMXNJ.com, is still going.
There were rumors, starting in 1987. There was a rider, he was doing pro level tricks, and he lived in, of all places, Manalapan. His name was Ross Smith, a socially awkward teenage flatland rider that rode alone at a church in Manalapan. When not going to school, he worked at a local McDonalds, and would sometimes show up to ride at the church he practiced in straight after work, changing from his work uniform to jeans and usually, a Metallica t-shirt.
For about a year or so, I really can’t say because it’s all a blur at this point, myself and Ivan Adamiec and sometimes Leslie Freud would travel to Manalapan to ride alongside Ross, shoot the shit and marvel at his greatness. Ross was competing in the national 16-18 expert flatland class, and doing pretty well. He definitely could’ve went all the way if he wanted to, but BMX started its slow crumble into a recession and I think, but can’t say for sure, that Ross’ parents were fairly insistent on him putting the bike down and concentrating on school.
But for a time, Ross was unstoppable. (He still is.) I remember him going to a contest one weekend, coming back, and learning hitchhikers, backpackers and a new creation of his own, jump lashes (all in one weekend!) Seeing his progression from one weekend of riding made myself believe that I could do the same, and sure enough, I managed to learn hitchhikers and backpackers not long after (in the summer of 1989).
I don’t fucking know what happened to us, but Ivan went one way, I went another and we somehow stopped riding with Ross. Maybe it was that dumb teenage animosity that arises between people, I can’t really say because it wasn’t this huge culmination or anything — things just changed because when you’re 15 or 16 or 17, that happens, a lot. I then heard he quit and basically moved on. I didn’t take that news well at the time.
A few years later, in 1994, I remember hearing from someone, “Hey, Ross is riding again.” He might have been spotted in a bike shop near me. I couldn’t believe it, but I had no one at all to ride with and still knew Ross’ number, so I called him. Sure enough, he was riding again, and we met up in Old Bridge to see what was happening with each other.
Now on a GT, with fake Graveyard bars purchased from Dan’s Comp, Ross was killing it, again. From there, he moved to Piscataway and developed two of his best known tricks: the double rolaid and the double rolling walkover. We all drove to a Chicago-area Hoffman B.S. Comp in November ’94 and were certain that Ross would land those tricks, get sponsored and forget all about us and the little corner of New Jersey he occupied. But Ross was an intensely shy person, and although everyone recognized his talents, he never really broke through the barrier of the label “underground,” which is kinda awesome in retrospect because he seriously is one of the best flatland riders of all-time.
Later on, Ross moved to Northern California, got sponsored by 2-Hip and continued to ride, but I have no way of finding him. I know he smokes cigarettes and that Chase Gouin refers to him as one of his favorite riders, so maybe I can just leave it at that.
Wherever you are Ross, thanks for the push and the inspiration.
Edit: Pete Olsen says he lives in San Antonio now, and still rides.
In no practical way were me and Ivan Adamiec ever supposed to be friends, but two hugely mitigating factors when I was 14 and Ivan 16 changed all of that: We both rode BMX, and we lived close enough to each other that we could pedal to each other’s houses.
But that was the extent of anything we might have had in common with each other. Ivan liked Metallica, I liked Fugazi. Ivan could fix anything, I was once caught trying to get Bendix internals to work on a Suntour freecoaster.
On the outside, our family lives seemed normal enough. But that one word “outside” can make things sound a lot better than they actually are. My parents were ending things and leaving us kids with one or the other, while Ivan’s parents were, to put it lightly, not very supportive of anything he wanted to do with his life.
So we both did what teenage boys at the time did: We escaped outside of our houses and rode together, often enough that we eventually started pushing each other to get decently good at riding. It was an odd relationship though in that we went to different schools and our relationship never really surpassed riding together. We definitely got to know each other pretty well, but once the riding was done for the day, that was about it.
I have countless stories about the two or so years we spent solidly riding, but I could write all of those down into its own entire book, so for now, a few summarized experiences.
1. My father drove myself and Ivan to our first real BMX contest. When we arrived at Ivan’s house to pick him up, he had an entire box of extra parts ready to load up in case anything broke on his bike, including mag wheels and forks.
2. Ivan once bought a used RL-20 ll and broke the dropouts off the forks in the first week trying to 180 up the bank in front of Ken’s Deli. He started walking home, thinking he could easily replace the forks with a spare pair, until he discovered that Redlines had 5-inch long head tubes. So instead of buying new forks, he made his own dropouts out of steel he had at home, and welded them back onto the forks themselves. He probably rode those for a good year afterwards.
3. We both worked as dishwashers at the local kosher deli, Ken’s Deli, in order to buy bike parts and pay for contest entries. The line cook, Buddy Frazier, was quick to pick up on Ivan’s anxiety. And the deli was located next to a one-hour photo place. In between lunch and dinner, Buddy would rummage through the garbage of the one-hour photo searching for naked photos of women, but instead, he found what he thought was a picture of Ivan caught with his pants down. It really looked a lot like him, but Ivan said it wasn’t and threatened to quit if he showed anyone. I still laugh about that when I need to lighten up the day.
4. Ivan claimed that his first car’s stereo broke because it played a Fugazi tape instead of Metallica.
5. Ivan used to ride in front of my house from 7-8 in the morning, waiting for me to wake up and come ride. I am pretty sure it irritated my mother at the time.
6. Ivan’s dad had an outdoor workshop with a vice he painted the word “Miami” on.
By 1989, I had moved away for a couple of months due to the parental back-and-forth model, and Ivan’s parents moved to Florida, taking him with them. We quickly lost touch for about five years, until he popped up at a York Jam riding a Hoffman Bikes Condor frame. It turned out, Ivan and his sister had moved to York, and he was riding again, in proximity to the best flatland riders in the world. He quickly went from amazing rider to next level, on a bike not meant for flatland, as Leif Valin teased him about his never-ending hair growth. The York scene was always one of misfits, and Ivan fit in beautifully, and I mean that in the best sense of the word.
I haven’t seen or heard from Ivan in a few years, but we’re Facebook friends and it appears that he races cars and recently checked into an L.A. Fitness in Lancaster to say that the parking lot was good.
Whereas my friendship with Ivan never really surpassed riding bikes together, my friendship with Brendan Kennedy went from, oh hey, we live near enough to each other to ride, to we also get along great outside of riding, to let’s go see Primus together in Trenton. I first met Brendan sometime in 1989 at a contest in Spring Lake, N.J., and he was not a hardcore flatland rider. But back in those times, you basically rode everything and if you knew someone else that rode BMX, it didn’t matter what they did as long as it meant that you weren’t as much of a misfit as you originally thought.
Brendan lived in Red Bank and I was about 12 miles away in Matawan. Brendan could ride everything and was/is one of the funniest people I got to know at the time. He was also my first real friend outside of my own town, which meant that his friend circle opened up to me, expanding my friendships into towns vastly far away from me at the time (over five miles away). It doesn’t sound like much now, but at the time, it was eye opening. “Wait, there are people that like ride bikes and skateboards and listen to punk music in other towns?”
I had no idea.
Brendan was also a year older than me. He got his license a year ahead of me and probably liked old Camaros more than bikes by the time he started driving, but I kept insisting on throwing the bikes in the trunk and riding in between imagined car races on the back streets of Monmouth County. Brendan was also a naturally talented bike rider, which means to this day, he can probably jump on his bike and fire out a huge cancan over a box jump or 540 a quarterpipe.
Brendan also holds a very distinguished position in the pantheon of New Jersey BMX lore. On a random trip to New Brunswick with Brendan, we happened upon a mellow handrail that Brendan thought he could grind. He felt it out a few times and then fired down it. It was not only the first handrail I witnessed in person; it was the black rail at Rutgers, the same one that has now been ridden thousands of times since Brendan first threw himself down it around 1990.
I am 99% certain that Brendan was the first person to do that rail, or do a legit handrail on a BMX bike in New Jersey.
Because of the year difference, Brendan went to School of Visual Arts in NYC and I stayed behind to finish high school in New Jersey. We did our best to keep in touch, but our circle of friends was again expanding beyond our reach and a natural distancing happened. I did circle back with him to return the favor and drive him to a contest in Eastern Pennsylvania in 1994, but that was probably the last time we really hung out on a one-on-one level.
Brendan is the one rider that helped me see that I didn’t need to be dedicated to one discipline or another — I could ride whatever was in front of me and have fun doing it. I still miss our sessions.
As an aspiring flatland rider about to head into the wildly combative 16-18 expert flatland class, I really thought Craig Lepage hated me. Hailing from Paramus, N.J., standing what felt like two-feet taller than me and commanding his bike into impossible positions, Craig Lepage was THE N.J. flatland rider to get the most recognition outside of the state and on the national level.
Craig Lepage rode for Peregrine, designed parts for Peregrine and drove a Mustang that put my 1980 Datsun to shame. He was full of original tricks and could perform a flawless 4-minute flatland routine in his sleep.
Because we never really spoke, I let the myth of Craig Lepage grow to massive proportions. I was afraid to complain about breaking Peregrine handlebars and I was terrified to ride against him in competitions. Until one day, I can’t remember where or how, but I somehow placed ahead of Lepage in a competition. He was beginning to lose interest, and I was hellbent on practicing. I remember after the contest, he came up and shook my hand, and all of the anxiety I had built up about this gigantic person who was awesome at flatland faded away in a second. He was a real person just like me, except that he could barhop his way out of rope-a-ronis.
Craig Lepage eventually stopped riding and by default, I think I won a few more regional flatland contests in 1990 in New Jersey, which meant I stayed on my bike for two whole minutes better than one or two other people.
Many years later, I got a friend request from Craig Lepage on Facebook. He’s now a realtor in North Carolina and 15-year-old me thinks it’s truly funny to see normal human status updates from a person I once thought mythical. I also just followed him on Instagram.
Through the 1989 grapevine, which was basically called a telephone and allowed people to speak to one another in two different places, a 15-year-old me learned that the former halfpipe used on the traveling 2-Hip King of Vert competition tour, had come to rest permanently at Jeff Mayer’s house in Oldwick, N.J. I had no car, no vert skills and no idea where in the fuck Oldwick was, but I found it on my dad’s map of New Jersey and made loose plans to try to get to the town and then ask where the halfpipe was, because that actually would’ve worked at the time despite how crazy it sounds. Thankfully, that never happened and I never made it to the 2-Hip ramp. But through friends of friends and the New Jersey Freestyle League competitions happening in South Plainfield, N.J., I did eventually get to see Jeff Mayer ride in person. Mayer was sponsored by General and had a Brian Blyther-esque approach to riding vert, which meant height and style surpassed all else. If memory serves me right, Jeff’s attendance at comps kinda dwindled, but his brother Brian picked up the slack and continued to ride at the NJFL comps.
Two years ago, my brother texted me some Polaroid photos of an ancient General Bicycles demo from inside the wall of tractor-trailer exhibit in Bridgehampton, N.Y. The photos were of Jeff Mayer, and the truck belonged to him. The trailer has been converted into a workspace for children, and is based at a summer camp in the Hamptons throughout the summer. Mayer also offers BMX and DJ instructions to children out of the truck and trailer, which reads “Keep on Truckin’” on the side.
There are so many random stories about Ice Money that I don’t really know where to begin. I don’t even know the exact town Ice Money is from, but I believe it’s in South Jersey, and if memory serves me right, Mark Eaton once stayed with him and noticed that there were a lot of photos hung up of himself in Ice Money’s bedroom and got weirded out (correct me if I’m wrong Eaton…)
My first official memory of Greg Hunt, later known as Ice Money was at the 1988 AFA Wayne Masters Competition in Wayne, N.J. There was a huge curtain separating the gym into two sides: one for the competition and one for practice. If you were in the stands watching the competition, you could barely see practice, but there was one bike hovering above eye line, inverted moving from side to side of the gymnasium.
Upon closer inspection, I realized what was happening. Ice Money had his bike up in air, with the seat in his mouth, balancing the bike no-handed above his head. This was probably a 30lb. bike. I challenge all two people reading this to take anything that weighs 30 pounds and try to hold it up with your mouth.
Not good for your teeth.
My mom slapped me when she saw what Ice Money was doing. “Don’t ever let me catch you doing that, you have such wonderful teeth,” she said.
I never did, not for lack of curiosity either.
Years later, two to be exact, Ice Money had the run of the century at a Hampton, Virginia competition, balancing a gut lever almost perfectly buy slow-mo flipping over the bars and crashing to the ground. And then there was the 2-Hip Toms River competition, which Ice Money showed up to in a limo, wearing a huge iguana on his shoulder.
It was all the glitz and glam of pro wrestling, but at an indoor skatepark competition at a warehouse in Toms River. I can’t imagine the preparation that went into his theatrics, but I can definitely say that Ice Money made a name all over the U.S. because of his antics. He even made it into a Mongoose ad featuring Dennis McCoy.
Currently, I have searched long and hard on the Internet for Ice, but can’t find him. I think he has/had an abandoned soundcloud but that could potentially be another Ice Money at this point. I do know he’s the stuff of legend and that he’s from New Jersey.
I never knew Keith Treanor as a New Jersey resident. By the time I had any knowledge of Keith, he was already a California transplant, getting write-ups in Go: The Rider’s Manual, stating that he was a former resident of Union City, N.J. At that time, I didn’t know what Union City was or how far it actually was away from me, I only saw the words “New Jersey” attached to a rider in a magazine and thought that was enough to go on and that riders from New Jersey could make it to the pro ranks.
That was 1991, and as the years progressed, Keith Treanor went from unknown to legend in Southern California, eventually earning a spot on the S&M Bikes team and almost/kinda starting his own wing of S&M, Menstrual Cycles. He had seemingly made it, as much as it seemed like making it meant he had free bikes to a 20-something like me, and I was genuinely awestruck when I first met him upon traveling to California early in 1997.
But there was BMX Keith, and there was party Keith. And party Keith was the version I met. I let it go when he took a six-pack of beer from me and stated that he would pay me back. It was Keith Treanor. To be honest, I was still kinda awestruck that he even acknowledged me based solely on the fact that we were both from New Jersey.
I never really got to see him ride during his California heyday, but I thought he was really cool and always kinda gave him the nudge about that six-pack whenever I saw him. But then Treanor kinda faded from the limelight over time until he was one of those legendary S&M riders that made you wonder, what if?
As it happened, Keith Treanor eventually ended up back in New Jersey, many years later, when I lived in Jersey City. He was living in a halfway house and in recovery, and it still irks me that we were half a mile apart and had no idea about our proximity to each other. Eventually, Keith got into driving trucks, then stopped off in Oklahoma City to see Mat Hoffman and didn’t leave for a few years. He then headed back to Southern California to run the U.S. distro for Colony BMX, and now works at Volume/Demolition and has reclaimed all of his childhood BMX magazines via eBay.
Sometimes, BMX can chew people up and throw them away regardless of their influence or contributions, but Keith Treanor came back and essentially remade a name for himself way past his days as a pro rider. We all finally got to see the BMX Keith that we wanted to see in 1994, and it was worth the wait.
Keith has now been sober for close to 14 years. He still owes me that six-pack, but I don’t want it.