Ride Classics - The Brian Foster Interview: Part 3

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Ride Classics: The Brian Foster Interview: Part 3


Do you think that applied to all forms of BMX?
It definitely did. I’m not going to talk shit on dudes, but back then if you lived in California and were decent, you could get a picture in a magazine no problem. The same decent dude on the East Coast wouldn’t even get free shoes. No one would know him. I think it was before videos. Two magazines had two photographers, and if you weren’t down with any of those dudes, then you weren’t in them. If Bob Osborne didn’t want to leave California, it was only dudes from California in the magazines… As soon as I started ‘making it’ and being relevant, I moved to California. If you wanted to make it in BMX, that was the promised land. I was living back east; it was like, you move to California, next thing you know you’re testing bikes for BMX Plus! [Laughter] That was like moving up the ranks. [Laughter] People would move to California and would instantly get in the magazines. It’s funny, there were some pretty average guys that lived in California that were pretty well known. It’s not like that at all these days. You could be from Siberia, have your own warehouse, film it, send it to a website, and be like, “Put this up, I’m the dude.” Someone will see it, they’ll get your email, and next thing you know you’re getting free handlebars. It seems easier nowadays to get ‘hooked up’. I could be completely off, but it’s easier to get flow, but getting rich is like pulling teeth.

How do you see the amount of money in bike riding now, as opposed to say 20 years ago?
There’s a lot less of it, but it’s good money. It’s money that people work for. If Chris Moeller is writing the cheque, then it’s down-home money. It doesn’t matter what it is, that money comes from the ground. If you’re getting money from like Slim Jim, that’s a different kind of money. That money doesn’t matter; rape them, pillage them. [Laughter] It seems like all the money in BMX right now is money that’s looking out for the sport. So although there’s not a lot of it around, at least it’s there.

Do you see it stabilizing at all?
No, it goes in cycles. The BMX companies are always going to be there supporting the sport, but let’s face it, BMX companies don’t make enough money to make riders rich. Outside money only comes around when kooky companies see an opportunity to get their logo out there. So, the X Games and Dew Tours are where the kooky money goes.

How do you see BMX today compared to 20 years ago?
Different. It just goes through phases. It’s just based on different things. It was all racing and the racers made good money. Then it was all the X-Games, and the X-Games dudes made good money. Now it’s all street, and the street dudes really aren’t making good money. The only guys who are making legitimate money are the 1080, triple-whip dudes. That’s how it is. The contest guys are making loot, and I don’t think anyone gives a shit. The only bike riders that care are the ones that want to be that dude in five years. In my world, there are guys who like to ride flowy things like trails and concrete, and then the full street dudes – we are the BMXers. All the bike riders appreciate it. I don’t know if all the bike riders appreciate the contest stuff. I watch the contests and I’m just like, “Huh… I guess.” If you’re trying to get the highest score, you did the most tricks, but I would rather see both hands on the grips, both feet on the pedals… show me something neat. I don’t want to see some gymnast stuff.

Do you think that end is progressing bike riding?
As far as progression goes, two tailwhips is better than one, three tailwhips is better than two; progression-wise, that’s how it is. But I don’t like the fact that the next cool tailwhip is going to be four, or what, triple-whip-flip must be next. It’snot far away, people are doing triple whip threes. I don’t like the packing on of “Well, I did this and I did a barspin, okay, I’m going to do this and two barspins. Okay, I’ll do this and three…” All right, let’s move on. Chris Duncan has demonstrated the results of that. [Laughter] The quadruple truck has been done. Catch, catch, catch, catch. [Laughter] Progression to me is going higher, and going faster; “I used to air at six feet, now I air at seven feet.” I like when progression takes logical steps. First there was the Auburn kick-out. Robbo and Todd Corbitt had this one down. Years later, Chris Stauffer added some style to the kick-out. Chase Hawk and Mike Aitken took the Stauffer kick-out and added some whip to it. Now I’m trying to take that, throw in some James Stewart, add some nosedive and bring the kick-out to a whole new level. No need for a circus, let’s keep it simple. Sometimes, the more you do, the worse it gets. Taj doing a can-can is priceless. Taj doing a no foot can-can onehander, I could do without. Progression isn’t always better. Put too much gravy on the biscuit and it ends up being a pile of mush.

Is how you do it as big a factor as what you do?

In my eyes. [Laughter] It doesn’t matter though. The truth is, if you’re trying to get paid, go to it. Do a triple flair. I feel like some people grow up wanting to be the X-Games dude, and that’s the direction that they head. And then they’re riding that wave, “Oh, we’re doing double whips now.” “We’re doing front flip whatever.” Then  here’s other people riding a different wave, and they’re jumping down five stairs, ten stairs, fifteen stairs… next thing you know, you have people jumping down 30 stairs and doing tricks. At some point, progression leads you to a place were you’re just hucking it. There are different sections of riding and different kinds of progression. You gotta respect it, though, shit’s gnarly. Dudes are getting hurt real bad.

What do you think of all the crazy injuries that have happened recently?

This year f—ked me up. In the last eight years, I don’t think I visited a hospital. Maybe you went to the emergency room, a dude would get stitched up, and you left. There was a six month span this year where I visited people two times, and had the opportunity to do four or five. When Sergio crashed at Posh, he was in the hospital for a couple of days, but that was just random trail riding. I guess the Jimmy [Levan] shit was random too. He’s just skateboarding, chilling, whatever. All that f—ks with me a lot. The Stephen [Murray] shit f—ked with me more than probably anything has, as far as bike riding goes. When it happens, it’s like, “Why? What are we doing? Let’s just go do figure eights in a bowl.” No need to get crazy, let’s just chill out and have fun. It’s funny, when growing up my parents would always freak out, “Be careful, don’t get hurt.” I used to hate it when my mom would say that. Don’t even bring it up. And now I’m getting that way. Now when I watch kids trying stunts, I just want to look away. I don’t want to see anyone get f—ked up. I’ve seen a couple ones this year, and I’m not that into it. But there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s how it is. I’m sure people who play video games don’t get hurt. My wife’s a school psychologist, so all the people that I meet from her field find out what I do and are like “Ohh, a thrill seeker.” I’m like, “Really, a thrill seeker?” I’m down with cruising down a hill fast on a snowboard, is that thrill seeking? It feels like living to me. [Laughter]

Is that a lot different than the average person lives?
I thought that’s how everybody was. [Laughter] I thought everyone had a good time, doing doughnuts in the snow, jumping off stuff. Maybe it’s how you grow up. When they called me a thrill seeker, I’m like “What do you guys do?” [Laughter] What does it for them? What gets their heart pumping?

I know it’s a racing story, but do you want to tell the story of how you almost won ABA Number One Pro?
It took me ten years to get over that. So the deal was, in the main I had to get sixth or better overall out of eight dudes. You race three times at the end of the day, and it all gets averaged out. I crashed the first one, I got balled up in the second, and in the third one I was up there and doing decent, and everything was set up for how it was supposed to be [for me to win], but I didn’t know who was in last, who was in seventh; I was going for it and slid out in a flat dirt berm. I lost, probably, well the ABA would have given me ten grand, I’m pretty sure Schwinn would have doubled it, and a Jeep. [Laughter] I pretty much just slipped up and lost like forty grand. And that was when like two grand was a huge, huge deal, so forty grand was astronomical. I was pretty bummed about it for a long, long time.

What year was that?
I don’t even know. [Laughter] It’s in the neighbourhood of ’95– ’96. All that shit blends together. I can tell you what uniform I was wearing, that’s about it. [Laughter] But the whole point is, Christophe Leveque had the most points. But he was from France, and the rednecks in the racing community had a rule where you can’t be foreign and win the number one plate. So even if I would have won, I wouldn’t have had the most points, and I would have kind of felt stupid because this French dude did better than me, but the rednecks from the ABA didn’t want to give him the title. They did change the rule like a year later. At this point I’m like, it’s better, whatever happened I’m glad happened, because it led me in the direction I got pushed. Back then, you were finished at 28. Whatever happened back then to point me towards dirt jumping, or towards trying to ride some skatepark contests, or to trying to film a video part. Whatever happened I’m glad, because I don’t think I could pull this off again. Maybe I could have been rich and had a Slim Jim logo on my face [Laughter], but I did all right. I’m riding bikes, you can’t expect too much. I kind of had a good crew looking out for me.

Like who?
John Paul [Rogers], Kim Boyle, my brother, Steve Swope always had my back doing the X-Games stuff, [Keith] Mulligan, Moeller had my back since day one, Robbie [Morales]. The list goes on.


Was S&M your first sponsor?

It was my first free frame when I was sixteen.

What was the catalyst for you to shut down racing?
I wasn’t having fun. This happened a couple of times. First with racing. I used to go to races, be super laid back, everything’s fun. Then I started going and ghost riding my bike at the finish line, pissed off.

I’ve never seen you get pissed off on your bike.
It definitely happens… you just see me riding the things I like. I caught myself being a dick to a kid. At races back in the day [pros] gave out their number plate, their gloves and their [bike] pads, you give out all this shit at the end of the day. A kid was like, “Do you have a souvenir for me?” I was like, “Do you want a bloody nose?” [Laughter] that’s when the light clicked and I was like “Holy shit, you’re that dick.” When I was growing up some pros were dicks to me, and for the rest of my life, I’m like, “F—k that prick.” If you’re pissed off doing something that’s supposed to be fun, then it’s time to move on. The next time I started getting pissed was at the Dew Tours. I started bitching that I didn’t like the street course, or bitching about the jumps, or complaining to the lady that runs the event. Just stupid shit where I wasn’t having any fun, and kind of pissed.

So you’re done with them?
I’ve been done with them twice in my life. [Laughter] Not that it’s easy, but at this point I’m still capable of getting 25th in dirt. So you just go, get 25th and get a thousand bucks. For a thousand bucks, it’s honestly four hours of work. If you can find me a job hanging drywall for a thousand bucks for four hours, I’ll do that. [Laughter] Those Dew Tours suck, and I hate them.

I’ve never been to one; any time I ever ask anyone about the Dew Tours, nobody has anything good to say about them, except the amount of money given out. Do you think that will ever change?
No, it’s the same as racing. I would show up at a race and just be bitter and pissed off, and I would leave with two grand. I’d be like, “Ah, this wasn’t so bad; this was pretty cool.” [Laughter] If I went to the Dew Tour, and they wrote me a fifteen thousand dollar cheque, I don’t care if we were jumping on cow shit. I would be like, “No these are cool, I don’t care what everyone says.” To me they’re not cool, because they’re degrading to my spirit. I’ll go to a Dew Tour and I’ll do a run that I’m just proud of, and inside I’m like, “Wow, that was a good run; I’m pretty psyched about that one.” This is nothing about the judges; this is about the tricks going on. The last one I did I got 25th out of 30, and five dudes crashed. And my run was dialled; I did everything I wanted to do – I don’t belong; the tabletop three does not belong. A week later at Elevation, tabletop three, third place and five grand or something. [Laughter] I’m like, “Wait a second, I did the same tricks, how did I beat that dude?” If you’re having a contest, frontflip beats tabletop, I can tell you that.

So I take it you’re a big fan of contests like the Elevation comp?
I wish there were more. I feel like there is dirt jumping and trail riding. Dirt jumping is more of a gymnastics type thing and I can’t really hang. Elevation is more like trail riding with a giant dirt jump at the end. I can cruise down the hill jumping back and forth and hang with the trick ferrets. The reason I did good this year at Elevation is the last jump was so big and scary that people couldn’t do their show-time booter tricks. I would go down and do the old standby [360 table] and ended up on the podium. You know what it is? I don’t care how cool a contest is, if you did well, it’s a cool contest. [Laughter] You can ride some pallets set up on a wall, and have a wallride contest. If they’re paying ten grand for first and you win, it was the coolest wallride EVER. [Laughter]

Final thoughts.
Because I’m the old dude and I usually got a decent story about the past, I hardly ever talk about the people who are taking care of me now. So now it’s my chance to hype up the Fit completes and all the stuff they got going on in that building. Fox has got – this is a shameless plug – but their clothes are better than they ever have been. I used to go to those [Schwinn] PR meetings where they told you don’t even answer questions and just hype up your sponsors. I always had a bad time with that, I’d rather just tell some stories. But Fit, Fox, and Primo; they’re the ones carrying me to the finish line. Big thanks to them.

When do you think the finish line is going to come up?
I feel like I’m riding good; I’m not pushing forty, but I will be eventually. [Laughter] If I were a company owner, I’d want to sponsor the eighteen-year-old ripper that I can get a good eight to ten years out of. I feel like I rode good this year, and I feel like I’m still doing it, but I feel like my days are numbered. It depends on the industry and it depends on money. If it comes down to it, I’ll go get a job; I don’t want to. [Laughter] All the dudes I grew up riding with are team managers, working in the warehouse, working construction, they got two kids, they’re moving on. I go on a trip with one guy who’s 18 and on his first trip, one guy who’s 23, it’s hard to relate sometimes. I think it’s cool that there are quite a few guys who still rip and have moved on from the paid rider to the guy who’s ordering tubing for the company or the brand manager, or stuff like that. I feel like back in the day all those jobs weren’t filled with knowledgeable bike riders, just random people. Now it seems better; like all the complete bikes and stuff are pretty legit theses days, because all the people that are ordering the parts for the completes still ride or have been riding in the past couple of years, so they are still in touch with what is cool. Speaking again about the finish line; in sports like baseball, or basketball there are guys still doing it on
a pro level in their forties.

What do you think about it in relation to bike riding?
When I talk about the finish line, to me that is not having a job. And as long as someone gives a shit, I think – I don’t want to come across cocky, but if I’m able to ride on a daily basis, I’ll be able to do cool shit – I don’t know what a 45 year old body feels like. But from 25 to 35 I don’t feel that much worse. I think the key is riding all the time. The people that rip, rip because they didn’t stop. If I started working five days a week nine to five, and could only ride once a week or every once in a while, I think in a year, I wouldn’t be very impressive. I’ve watched really good people who ride less and less and less, it affects their riding. I think if I’m able to ride four days a week for the next ten years, I shouldn’t be any different than I am right now. I think the bottom line is support. If I can still get support from the people I ride for, I don’t see an end. But I also see, once that is all done, [myself] being the dude at the concrete park doing figure eights, just carving around. I see that guy now; I see the forty-five year old skater dude with his twenty year old son at the park. He’s not killing it, but it’s a lot cooler than sitting at home drinking. [Laughter] I’ve never been into just burning money on fancy cars and shit like that. As long as I make enough to not have to go into the real world, I’d like to stick around for a little bit.


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