Santa Suits, Classic Bikes and BMX Heroes at The House Of Vans
Words and photos by – Robin Pearson
Saturday 13th December was pretty crazy. Not only did hundreds of dudes in Santa costumes ride around London on oldschool BMXs for the ‘Santa Cruise’, there was also a party at House Of Vans in aid of the launch of the second Haro Bikes Book: The Rise Of BMX Freestyle – Volume 2.
I went along to check out the scene, meet some legends and celebrate the launch of the new book. It was pretty full on! The place was rammed and the atmosphere was thick with magical nostalgia. Between all the different things going on that night, I found time to speak to Dennis McCoy and author Dom Phipps about Volume 2.
“This is Haro’s second book, which picks up where the other one left off – around 1986 – and continues to give a fairly comprehensive history of the brand and the riders that were part of it. I was featured in the first book along with guys like Ron Wilkerson, Brian Blyther, Mike Dominguez, Bob Haro himself… Now this one has Joe Johnson on the cover, who started riding for Haro back towards the end of ’85. It catches up with amazing riders who were part of the Haro brand in chronological order, like Rick Moliterno, Mat Hoffman… Plus it covers some smaller guys who contributed in ways that people won’t know much about. And it delves into a lot more too, like Haro doing projects in skateboarding, little bits and pieces that people may not know about and trust me, there’s still so much more to be told! Dom Phipps was very interested in writing the book but wasn’t on trips with us back then, so he has been interviewing us all, taking information from each of us and has put it all together as a book with great photos and everything.”
“Haro is the first freestyle brand. Vans was the first shoe sponsor in BMX. That’s why it’s so fitting that this location was chosen for the book launch! London’s such an awesome city, there’s so much culture and so much reason to come here. It was my first place I visited overseas back in ’86. Weirdly it was almost this exact date 28 years ago! On my Instagram – @bmxdmc – I was looking at the date and it was 14th December 1986. That’s brought it full circle for me, back riding for the two companies I was riding for then, my first two sponsors. And now I’m here in London 28 years later promoting those two brands again. They are now both in a phase of celebrating their brand history as they were both part of early BMX history back then, so it’s a cool feeling. Had you told the teenage version of me that I’d be back here in my late 40s doing a hang five down Whitehall in a Santa outfit… I’d have said, “What the hell’s a hang five?!” But really, I couldn’t have imagined it. Though I wouldn’t have ruled it out! That’s what’s so crazy about BMX – it’s a lifestyle sport, anything can happen, so to be around for that long you have to have your finger on the pulse and these brands have proven that. This event has been great.”
“I had knowledge of the Haro brand from being a collector of the bikes years ago. I got to know Bob Haro quite well and he, at some point along the way, connected me to the brand. He said they wanted to do some work on Haro’s history and had originally asked him, then he introduced me. I got involved doing a project when they remade the Haro Freestyler and within that project there was an idea to do a small booklet, which would show the design of the frame and how the Freestyler bike came to be. I spoke to the guys at Haro and we realised we could try and do a book that was a bit bigger, to take more of the history in. I was doing all this research and Joe Hawk at Haro said we should really record the early days of the company in a more detailed way, which is when I pitched the idea of writing a book. That became the first book and it was quickly decided that we should do more than one and make the brand’s history into a series of books. The first book was done very much about the formative years of the company, a lot about Bob and his early inventions, then the guys he chose to make the team like Ron Wilkerson, Brian Blyther etc.”
“After the first book I leant on them and said we should get to work on the second book. It would naturally be a bigger book because the freestyle scene blew up after a few years. I started writing this book about a year ago and found this to be an enormously lengthy process, due to the fact that freestyle BMX was that much bigger in the years this book covers. Stacks of old imagery was coming in, I had a load of new people to cover that I wasn’t aware of previously, and everywhere I looked I found more to include. It’s a bigger book, spanning other avenues of the brand such as skateboarding, mountain biking and the early European team. It’s a tale about Haro but it’s obviously reflective of what was going on in the sport in general.”
“This book stops at around 1991. The next segment after this book would be the beginning of the XGames era, with Mirra and Nyquist coming into the picture. That would be a very interesting era for many people I’m sure. We haven’t got that on the slate yet but I’m sure we will at some point to try and complete the story.”
Check out the Photo Gallery below featuring shots from the event:
Open Gallery10 Images
See the books on the Haro website HERE