It’s been 12 years since the last Madera full-length, and they delivered with a whole new generation of riders—along with a few OG mainstays—in this 51 minute street onslaught. Read up on what the team has to say about working on ABD...

“Kick the gimmicks, kick the bullshit…” I can’t help but borrow Madera TM Mike Hinkens’ own words because that sums up the straight forward, put the riding first approach to the ABD video pretty damn well. However, what Mike neglected to mention was that the Madera team is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to spot searchin’, peg slingin’, hard-way spinning, and handrail shredding. It’s been 12 years since the last Madera full-length, and they delivered with a whole new generation of riders—along with a few OG mainstays—in this 51 minute street onslaught. Read up on what the team has to say about working on ABD, and then get yourself a copy if you haven’t already. —Jeff Z.

What’s in a name…

Originally, we had a different name for the video. Dylan McCauley is always confused and he plays into it now because he knows we think it’s funny, but he always would be like, “Wait, what?” Like when you’d say something and he would kinda half hear it. So we were always dying making fun of him about it and he said it on a trip a bunch. And I suggested we call the video that, because we didn’t have a name yet and I thought it would be funny inside joke. But then we found out that Fit had a video to England or something already called that. And then I was like, “Even the name’s been done. Why don’t we just call it ABD, like everything else?” I was just mad out of frustration. This is stupid, even the name’s been done before. I was super irritated, and then we thought about it and we were like, “Oh it’s cool, it’s just letters, like it could be anything—it doesn’t need to be “already been done”, but that’s what everyone’s going to think it is. As we were going through the video I knew we had to be pretty careful about not having that many [ABDs], so we lost a ton of clips. There were clips that people were super hyped on that are just gone now. But that’s part of the process, but it’s even worse when you have that as the name of the video. If there’s one we’re going to get called out for instantly. —Grant C.

Intros by Grant Castelluzzo
Interviews: Mike Hinkens / Jeff Zielinski

Mike Stahl

The first couple of clips in Mike Stahl’s section are the few things of his weird Stahl-ism personality that I’ve been able to film. It’s the perfect way to start his part because it’s kind of goofy, funny and just very Mike. Mostly him not doing things and trying to convince himself to do stuff. And it’s funny because obviously, when you know this guy, he’s not very aggressive or the kind of dude to be like screaming at himself when you’re just hanging out with him. He seems silly, like probably wouldn’t care that much, but he just has to convince himself because some of the stuff he wants to do is just outside of what I think he thinks he’s capable of doing. Trying to get his brain to be convinced that if he actually tries it, he’ll probably do it, but you need to actually try and you can’t half-attempt it. Like all the single hit rail stuff… If you don’t give it all you got, that’s when you get smoked. And mentally getting yourself ready to do it all at once is where he’s trying to get himself to be.

Mike Stahl, on the fence, as always. (Photo: Zielinski)

Rumor has it, after Madera TM Mike Hinkens saw this section, he offered you a spot on the pro team. That true? Did that catch you by surprise or was it something that was already kind of loosely talked about?
Hinkens completely caught me off guard. I was in the hospital with basically a broken face from a fall riding down some stairs. So, I was at a pretty low point when I got the news, but it got me motivated to just get back out riding at my usual level a lot faster.

This is your first video part in a full-length DVD. Of all the video projects you’ve worked on, where do you rate this one?
This project is, in my opinion, my best riding so far. It’s going to be hard to top this one. I think that every time, though.

As far as motivation and encouragement while riding and filming, what’s the vibe like with the Madera team?
All the guys are super encouraging and motivating to be around. Seeing the way each one of them ride spots completely different from one another is motivating for me to learn new tricks and see things differently. 

Mike’s not really one for stalling tooths, but he loves to grind ’em. (Photo: Zielinski)

You’ve been known to say and do some wacky stuff while trying to get your mind right before sending it. Please explain this ritual of yours…
Here we go! I don’t know why I do this. I’m not proud of it, but it has results. When I’m scared of something and I’ve started the run ups after so many of not trying it—and knowing all I need to do is just jump at the spot—I start to get extremely frustrated with myself. I start talking shit about myself out loud or say whatever else comes into my brain that could range from cursing myself out to things straight out of motivational speeches. I’m just trying to turn my brain off so I can try the trick. Eventually I either say something to myself or take a nice deep breath moments before where I normally take my feet off and I try the trick instead. 

You put a hurtin’ on the rails in this section. Which clip was the biggest battle? Which are you most hyped on?
The clip I’m most hyped on would be the triple kink crankarm. I’ve been thinking about that one for a while. Not really sure what my biggest battle was. Maybe the pegs-to-crankarm grind crankflip out. It was so hot that day and it felt like it took hours. Sorry Grant—he had to sit in the 90° sun the whole time! 

Your ender looked insane—super high risk. Can you walk us through it a bit?
It’s a steep 16-stair rail, no kink, with a long mellow four-stair rail that starts about a foot from the bottom of the first rail. I got in the van that morning and asked Grant where we were going that day and he said we were going to the spot that I had been wanting to do for quite some time now. I was caught off guard, but I was excited to finally get this one under my belt. I got there, did the “ritual” and jumped on and off over the first rail at the last minute like 40 times. As usual, Grant was sitting in the danger zone. If I would have come off the first rail early and tried to ride down the stairs I would’ve taken the dude out. The one try I went face first into the ivy on the side of it and lost my glasses. We had to watch the footage to find them [laughs]. Eventually, I was balanced perfectly to hop onto the next rail, I went for it, and shot off the second rail and rolled away laughing, while not being able to believe it actually worked. 

Jake Seeley

Jake rips and he’s a super important part of Madera and him having a solid section was very integral to the video. Distance-wise, he is the most removed from the rest of the team. He literally lives entirely across the country from me. And he is busy with obligations from Sunday and stuff, so I didn’t get to film with him nearly as much as everyone else. He’d come on trips, but with normal life stuff, he’d only be able to make it for part of one, or leave early on another, and so on… Luckily, Walter Pieringer donated some footage to the video and ended up making it a complete part. I’ve known Walter forever, he’s easy for me to work with, and the footage ended up pairing really well.

Jake, with a non-Pittsfield clip for ABD. (Photo: Zielinski)

You have been a busy guy this year filming for various projects. How did that affect your filming with Madera for the DVD?
It was definitely a busy year and it left me in a crunch for time. It only allowed me to be able to film on Madera trips–which left me a bit stressed because as the deadline approached, I realized I still had a lot of time to fill. Thankfully, I was able to blend a nice mix of clips in from a Sunday project I had in the works to complete my ABD part. I couldn’t be more-happy with how it came out.

The team came up by you to film and it sounded like they really liked it. What was it like seeing the dudes ride your hometown spots? Did it give any motivation or inspire any new ideas for you?
Honestly, I didn’t ride much when they were in town. I tried to get that out of the way the week before with Mike and Grant. I really just wanted to be the tour guide and make sure everyone was having a good time and the spots were good ones that everyone could enjoy riding. It’s a great feeling when you can bring a crew of dudes to a small town area with limited cutty spots to ride and everyone can enjoy them and stack for a DVD just as if they were in a massive city with perfect spots everywhere.

Western Massachusetts spot…

Speaking of hometown spots, how much of your part was filmed locally? And what is your opinion on filming around home vs traveling?
I love traveling, but home is home. Western Mass and Austin and their surrounding “cities” have a very unique assortment of spots and features that I can really relate to making it easy to come up with clips that complement my riding style. It’s easy to stack when filming at home because if you do your spot research beforehand, you’ll already have an advantage. Filming on a trip is sometimes hard because you need to blindly search areas you’re not familiar with and that’s always a gamble.

You and Grant C. share similar tech grind styles, what’s it like filming with someone who really understands what it is you’re doing? Possibly giving pointers, advice, ideas, etc…
It’s like putting your car on cruise control, opening up the window, and coasting down the open road. But for real, it’s so comforting not having to worry about the filmer when you’re trying something challenging or out of your comfort zone when filming for a video part. Grant made it super easy to focus in even the most hectic situations.  

Sometimes it seems your trick may evolve while filming and at the end, it may be different than what you called out. Why is that?
Through trial and error, I just end up figuring out a better way to fill the space of a spot. It’s always annoying when you go into a trick thinking it’s gonna be really hard and then it just works out first try and you need to one up your idea to leave satisfied.

How much time goes into pulling some of those technical clips—at the Seeley level of satisfaction?
The typical move is nearly landing the trick first try then taking forever to pull it sketchy and then taking another long while to pull it to my liking. I usually have an idea of how a trick will look in my head and if it doesn’t come out exactly as I envisioned, I’ll do it until it does.

When there’s a tree in the middle of the ledge, add it to the equation. (Photo: Zielinski)

Any tricks in ABD you had been wanting for a while or spots that you had been itching to film at?
The one that comes to mind is my ender. The setup has been there for years and I’ve always been a little intimidated by the thought of the move I wanted to get on it, but I was with a great crew that made it very relaxing for me. And I knew If I committed, it would happen without a doubt. I was even able to add another aspect to the trick that really completed it for me.

As time goes on and you get more video parts under your belt and your riding style evolves, do you find it more challenging to film for a part?
Most definitely. The hardest part is coming up with fresh content that’s not repetitive; which means I’m always needing to learn new things or find cooler spots that showcase some sort of progression—or I won’t be satisfied with the final project.

Mike Hinkens

Mike Hinkens is someone I’ve been filming with for like probably 15 years or something. So we work well together. I’m very comfortable filming him, he’s very comfortable with me. I know what kind of spots he’s into, so it’s pretty easy when he would come to California. It’s hard for people to film here, but I would usually kind of know what kind of stuff he’d want to ride. And a lot of his section was filmed on trips. Of course, being the team manager, he was on every trip. He wasn’t necessarily riding on all of them, but he was present on every trip, so he got to see all the spots. So his section probably has spots from the most places in the video, including the Dominican Republic—from when I visited him while he was living out there. This was the first DVD I ever made, and the first one we ever worked on together. So, it was a little different in the sense that everyone, not just Mike, was way pickier. And Mike is the kind of guy who’s adamant about his part having a lot of different stuff in it. He respects parts that feature different aspects of street riding in his part. So, he’s gonna be bummed if his section doesn’t have enough wallrides in it or if he has too many grind clips. He wants a little bit of everything and some spot diversity, as well.

Someone get this guy a candy bar.

When was the last time you filmed a full video part?
I noticed you didn’t say “DVD” part. If that were the case, its been quite some time. The last DVD I was in was Chick’n Fuck’n Nugg’t back in 2013, but it was a split part with Grant C., and Jeff K. never actually asked us to be in it; he was just filming a lot and then there was a DVD. Prior to that, as far as actual DVD, the first Madera DVD in 2008. But, since you didn’t say DVD, I just finished filming a full part with a local guy down in the DR a few months ago. Up until about 2015, I was filming 2-3 full sections a year for almost 10 years straight. That’s just how the Midwest, specifically Milwaukee, always was. We rode a lot and we filmed a lot. In the early 2000s a lot of people in our scene were a bit bothered by the sudden camera heavy sessions, but as MidwestBMX.net began to show what a web edit could be and the motivation that a camera could bring, we all pretty much embraced it. Be it Joey Hastreiter, Jeff Klugiewicz, or Grant Castelluzzo, there was ALWAYS a camera at every session. So, to answer your question, I have never not been filming for a full length part since about 1999.

With your roots in the mid-school generation, filming full-length video parts is an apex experience. How did you approach filming for ABD?
The reality is, I set super high expectations for myself knowing that this project was one; going to be a DVD and that is a rarity nowadays and two; going to be full of other dudes pushing BMX and therefore I would need to step up in order to keep up. For the first time in a long time, I actually wrote down a trick list (actually, mostly set-ups I was looking for). Typically, I film very organically, in that I just pedal around exploring all the time and when something speaks to me, I film it. And since there is always a camera around, it works out. But this time, I wanted a “well-rounded” section, so I made a list and tried to hunt things down, or more often than not, wait for them to be found as we explored on trips. In the end, it was a disaster. At first, I refused to film anything I wasn’t 100% super hyped on in order to “save myself” and avoid injury. Progress was slow as such, but the clips I did get, I was damn hyped on. Looking back, those first clips were some of my best. 

But, then, I got hurt… feeble grinding a skatepark ledge while warming up one day. After months off my bike, I jumped right back into heavy trips with my heavy dudes, but my confidence was shot. I lost a few major mental battles (not even jumping on or off things I was stressed about) and pretty much had a mental breakdown when we were up in the northeast filming near Jake’s hometown. The last few trips were hell for me and all because of my own unrealistically high expectations. Looking back, I realize I was trying to film in a way I hadn’t done in years and combining that with injuries and the resulting time off of my bike was a recipe for disaster. Yet, looking at what I filmed in my complete section (and knowing what extra I have as well), I realize I was being stupid. I am proud of the section that came out and it doesn’t feel compromised or unbalanced at all. It just sucks I was a stress case for the last year as it turns out I was worried about nothing. In the end, I am stoked about my section and to me… it feels like me. 

Your song choice was kind of surprising. Just kinda had you pegged as hardcore / emo kind of guy…
Well, I am [laughs]. And our first choice was something along those lines. A modern version of what many of my video parts had been in the past. Grant sent me the draft and my heart sank–it was terrible! The song was way too slow. And now, I had to tell Grant, who was working for peanuts and already stressed on the whole thing, that I hated it. I worked on a diplomatic response for hours and when I finally sent it, he replied super quickly, “Ok, good, I hated it too!” So we decided to go back to the drawing board and I started thinking about paying homage to the 90’s roots that even pre-dated my hardcore/emo days. I scoured the internet for hip hop with an old flavor that was new/unused. I was lucky enough to be turned onto a few Bandcamp accounts by Galosi of ALYK and followed some link trails and ended up with something featuring many of the same artists I grew up listening to in the 90’s. It felt good to have that connection to where it all began for me.

How has the role of TM affected your riding on trips?
For the most part, being the Madera TM is not that bad when it comes to trips. Most of us had been traveling together for years before Madera was a thing, so we have a pretty good rapport. No one is really high maintenance, everyone is chill and respectful, and we are all super supportive and understanding of how hard filming can be. People like Tom don’t need time, but he is patient and supportive nonetheless. The rest of us sometimes take hours, so my job ends up being driving to the 7/11 or picking up pizza and bringing it back for the camped out team. We rarely leave a rider alone with Grant to finish up, so we post up, support, and wait it out for the hugs. And yes, the hugs are real. There is a lot of love on the team as Madera is simply a group of some of my best friends who also happen to be really good at bike riding. And when I get in a battle in front of the camera, the dudes are great about giving me my shot just like anyone else on the team. Maybe I am a selfish TM, but I ride almost as much as everyone else on the trips (I just do a lot more running around when I am off my bike and thus have very little down time).

The #MaderABD on Instagram with photos of setups and the riders name is a clever teaser (and some serious spot porn, too). Was the goal of those photos to inform people that those spots had been ridden—in hopes of someone else not committing an ABD on you guys?
You know, that whole hashtag was a half-baked idea I came up with, then stuck with it because I had started it, and then, honestly, never really did anything with it. I just started to like doing it. It felt cool to “stack ’em up.” I think it got the team stoked to have them go up and they could share them and feel like, “another one down, only a few more to go.” The thing is, we went into this DVD with the highest of expectations of the ease with which we would pull this off. After our MaderaSota trip and Mixtape, where we clocked over 20 minutes of pretty good footage in like nine days, we all thought, “we should do a DVD… if we can nail down so much footage in so little time and have fun doing it, a DVD won’t be shit.” But then came the ball-ups. The first trip to DC was kind of a wash—unseasonably cold, lots of rain, a nightmare where we had to move AirBNBs three times with no car and all of our luggage, and a general low morale resulting in low clip counts. And after that, the trips just never seemed easy. We all (as I mentioned above) got extremely picky. Riders had to cancel on trips due to life stuff. And suddenly, we were multiple trips in and worried: can we pull this off? At the same time, I had started doing the #MaderABD posts on the Instagram account. And the riders seemed to like sending a pic to the group chat and saying “got one here today.” So, I kept it up and pushed for more and more in order to keep us feeling like we were making progress (which we actually were). And of course, we did think, “Maybe someone will see a sticker on a spot or an image on the Gram and actually reach out to us before possibly ABD’ing us.” And it happened occasionally. People messaged Grant to ask what had been done and maybe that saved some of our clips (but not all of them!). In the end, it’s not every spot, but it’s a cool visual reminder of the journey we took to get to here.

Look for all of these fine handrail specimens in ABD!

You’ve been living in the Dominican Republic for the main duration of filming ABD, right? What is the riding scene like there? Do you predominantly ride by yourself? Is it hard to find motivation to push yourself at home in DR? Or do you just bottle it up and wait to unleash on team trips?
I have been down here for about two-thirds of the project, but the DR being less than two hours by plane to Miami made it quite convenient for me to just fly up all the time. And that is what I did. We went on quite a few trips for this video and I was on almost all of them simply because Grant is a workhorse behind the lens and as such, he should not have to worry about driving the van, renting the hotels, organizing the meals, etc. As for back on the island, I ride a lot by myself. There is a scene here of really talented guys, but many of them only ride the DIY parks so I end up riding there with them occasionally, but spending most of my time just pedaling around and self-filming when I find something I can’t not document. I am lucky, though, that two guys here are super cool and down to go on the occasional street mission with me and they help motivate me every few weeks when I get burnt out on riding alone. They have other life obligations and—like most of the riders here—just look at BMX a bit different than I do. For them it is a passion, but mostly a hobby, but for me, like most of the people I ride with when in the US—it’s my life. That distinction has been one of the hardest parts of living abroad off and on for these last ten years. As such, my motivation goes in waves. The rare group street session down here will get me fired up. As will visitors. But, when I do go on trips, I try to ride every single minute with my dudes.  

Madera turned Mike Stahl pro towards the tail end of filming for ABD. Did his effort toward filming for the video earn him the bump?
100%. That dude has always impressed me with his pure energy and drive. The first time I met him, Grant C. and I had driven way out to some random flat-rail spot in Austin and suddenly, this goony looking dude rolls up with yellow cranks and bent-ass glasses and asks if he can ride with us. We said yes, of course, shocked though by him appearing in the middle of nowhere to find us. Turns out, he was also in town for Texas Toast and the cheapest hotel was way the fuck out where we ran into him. Later that day, he G-turned down the brick Mike Tag ledge and Grant and I knew—this dude was serious. Over the next few years, he kept appearing everywhere until he finally moved to Long Beach and became a staple in Grant’s riding crew. Grant suggested Madera help him out as he was proving to be as awesome as we had thought. He became one of our first official AMs and continued to throw down and be awesome. Halfway through filming the DVD, Grant said to me, “Dude, Mike is killing himself for this video. He is gonna have one of the best sections in the DVD. We need to think about what that means.” And now, here we are, Mike has an epically long and badass beginning section in the DVD and firmly proved that he has earned the bump to Pro that has come with it. I am sure we will have no problem conjuring up some more footage of him for a welcome edit eventually. 

There was a limited run of “zines” that came out with the video, can you tell us a little about that?
While filming the DVD, we planned on doing what we always do on trips: wake up early, eat fast, and then ride street until dark. Our trips are fun, but they are non-stop street sessions. The problem was, usually after each trip we put out a video. In this case though, we were saving all of our footage for up to a few years. I realized I needed to do something else to keep Madera on the radar while we worked our asses off. The “Madera Memo” was born. These short little videos were reminiscent of MidwestBMX.net videos in that they were short, featured real riding, and were usually themed. We would try our best to squeeze one or two out while on DVD trips. And with the memo came me needing to have a separate camera to leave Grant free to do DVD stuff. So, after filming a Memo and while someone else filmed a clip with Grant for the DVD, I got bored and started pulling out my GH3 and snapping pics. A few hundred photos later, I realized we had captured a lot of cool stuff and that we should share it with the world alongside the DVD that spawned the photos. Along the way some other awesome and real photographers were around and shared their photos with me as well so that in the end, we had to make all sorts of cuts to keep the limited edition zine/photo book to under 60 pages. Shout out to Sean Morr, Blake Yard, Erik Elstran, and Grant Castelluzzo for pushing the button on some sweet snaps. The photos that accompany this online story are some leftovers and though I feel sorry to say this to OurBMX—these are the crappy ones! If you would like to see the best ones—nearly 100 of them—make sure you pick up the DVD/Zine combo when you snag Madera ABD. We only made a few, so grab one while you can. A bonus is that it also includes full-color hi-res images of all the artwork the riders each made for their section intro cards in the DVD. Some of us spent hours doing it and you can see the work as well as pics of a few clips that never made it into the DVD in the zine. 

Dylan McCauley

Dylan is very adamant about doing lots of opposite stuff, a significant portion of the clips that he has in this video were done on the opposite side. When he started getting really good at opposite stuff I would make jokes about how he was goofy-footed and I would tell people that who didn’t know him. I was like, “He used to be goofy-footed, but he’s not anymore,” and then they would believe me and they’d say something to him about it and he would get super pissed off. But he was not goofy-footed because when I met him, he had two pegs and they were on the correct side. But it’s just funny to tell people that because he is so comfortable on that side.

Dylan, guilty, first degree rail separation.

You have been going through some life changes as of late and moved from Houston to Austin while changing jobs and more… How did that affect your filming and traveling for this video?
The last year of my life has been insane. Honestly at the end of the day, the bike is one of the only things you can trust. It was extremely difficult to get motivated when I didn’t have a job or a house to live in, but eventually it all worked out and we got it done!

Your style is pretty diverse in that you can ride the tech-est of sessions on a bump on the ground, but also send huge rails. Do you prefer one or the other? How do you make the switch from one to the other, does it just depend on the spot or does it depend on how you feel each day?
Thanks. I think that I like to push my own boundaries whether it be a weird grind or a scary big rail set up. It depends on how I’m feeling and how everything looks visually in my head. If I see it in my head, I know somehow it will work.

Everyone might not pick up on it, but there are a few switch-footed tricks in your section. What draws you to such a technical nuance of riding?
I think nowadays, I ride technical and switch-footed because I enjoy pushing what I can do/what I think is actually possible. I love to challenge myself. 

How many trips did you go on for your section and which was your favorite?
I don’t even remember how many. But each one was amazing and I absolutely love traveling with these dudes. I think my favorite trip would have to be D.C. because of how wild it is there and also because there are so many good spots and some cool ass people. 

Isaiah Johnson

Isaiah is like the young kid from the hometown, so it’s nice to be able to get him involved. I’ve known him a long time, but I didn’t really know him that well until he started coming to visit us in California. He was a late addition to the video. We didn’t know he was going be on the brand, or a part of anything we were working on, but I was like, “You’re here at the spot. Let’s just get the camera out and start filming.” Some of those clips ended up in the video, and towards the end of the filming we invited him on the Texas trip because he had been doing a lot on his own and he came up to Minneapolis with Taylor when were in the Midwest. As you can see by the footage, he killed it. And he’s a very calm and mild-mannered guy, so it’s nice to give him some exposure.

Isaiah, post flair battle.

You weren’t even a part of Madera when Grant started filming the video. How did you end up in the mix?
I have known a good chunk of the crew for a while now from growing up riding in the Milwaukee scene. I used to ride with a good amount of them at the 4 Seasons skatepark when they still were living here back when I was in high school. I got to know them a little more through the sessions there, mostly. Early 2019 winter, Mike had flown into town for a surgery and stopped by at Seasons to hang out and say what’s up. We were talking and just catching up because it had been awhile since I had seen or talked to him. It’s funny because I remember pretty vividly sitting on top of one of the quarters in the street section at the park with Mike and Jeff Dowhen. Dowhen looked at Mike and said, “You know that bike would be pretty sick with some Madera parts on it. Surprised there isn’t any on there yet.” Then Mike said, “You know, me too.” And then he asked me if that was something I’d be interested in. We talked some more after that via text/email and ended up hooking me up with cranks and a sprocket, then we just went from there really.

Considering you came into this project halfway through, you still have a lot of impressive clips. Did you get a chance to travel much or did you generally film at home? How did your part come together?
I’d say it was a mix of both really. I got to travel a bit more than film just at home—which was pretty awesome. Got to travel to places I had never really gotten to experience like Dallas/Fort Worth. There are some clips in there from home, but most of them were in different states. My part started to come together before I was even actually on Madera, I’d like to say. I was in California staying with Dan for a couple weeks visiting him, Grant, and the Cult guys, as well. If Veesh wasn’t going out to film with the crew I went out riding with Grant, Dan, Jesse, and Mike Stahl most of the time while I was there. If I had something in mind I’d ask to see if Grant wouldn’t mind filming it and he was always down. After that and once I got put on, I started getting thrown more in the mix and coming on more trips.

You only have a half section, but the clips are bangers. What is your favorite clip in your section?
My favorite clip in the section would probably have to be the flair off the small Quick Crete kicker on the bank in Milwaukee. It was one of those that I had been eyeing up for a while—about two years before I finally pulled the trigger on it. I had been there before to try it, but just couldn’t get myself to do it. I wasn’t filming for anything the first time I went there for it and it wasn’t something I just wanted to do for the Gram or an iPhone video. After our MN trip, Mike, Grant, and Erik were in town filming for the DVD and that was the first spot of the day that we went to. I knew I wanted to do it right away because I had been thinking about it for so long and there wasn’t going to be a better time to do it. It took me awhile to get myself to attempt it because I had never done one that small before. I couldn’t figure out my speed and it just became a mental battle for me. I broke about five spokes in my back wheel on one of the attempts, slammed on my tailbone pretty good, and got a flat, as well. It was getting to the point where I almost wanted to give up. After trying it for a while, I started to get in my head again and it took me a bit to continue trying it. Thankfully everyone there was hyping me up and giving me motivation to keep going. Once I got myself to try it again, I went a little slower at it than I had been before and I felt the snap in the rotation off the pull and almost rolled away from it. That’s when it clicked in my head and I could fully visualize myself pulling it. A few tries later I finally got it and that satisfaction of powering through and overcoming that battle I think is what makes that clip my personal favorite.

You’re pretty young, 21, but you have a super well-rounded style and I have seen you shred ramps as well as tech street. Who or what influenced your style and how are you so darn good at such a young age?
Thank you! I appreciate that a lot. My riding style influence kind of stems from all over, really. I started riding at a young age. I was six or seven when I got my first 16” bike and started learning how to ride right away. I used to watch my older brother Deshawn ride either in my driveway, my local outdoor, the Racine outdoor and at 4 Seasons at contests like Ratty Fest back then or he’d bring me to sessions with him and his friends, as well. I’d definitely say a lot of the inspiration comes from him since he was someone I was always around growing up and little bro always wanted to do the cool things big bro was doing [laughs]! But you know aside from that, it also comes from watching mid-school riders when I was younger to new-school riders now. I loved watching riders like Chris Doyle, Morgan Wade and Sergio Layos growing up, as well as Edwin, Chase Dehart or anyone that came from Animal back then. Some new age influences now for me would be like Courage Adams, Sean Ricany, Broc Raiford and Demarcus Paul. My friends I ride with almost daily back home most definitely have an impact along with a good chunk of the Madera crew that comes from out here, too. The list goes on, but like I said it really comes from all over. I just enjoy being able to ride whatever is in front of me. I love the challenge that comes with pushing myself in different areas of BMX. Learning to fuse those different styles together, taking what I know from each one and incorporating them elsewhere has always been fun. 

Jesse Romano

When you’re filming with Jessie he will constantly say sorry over and over again every time he doesn’t pull something. I was like, “Dude… one, you’re gonna drive me insane, and two, this is part of it. I don’t expect you to just get on the bike and pull everything—no one does.” He is always apologizing for everything. He also has all these terms and things that he says that end up getting caught on with the crew. I don’t know where he comes up with half the shit that he says, for a while it was “dust,” and then “dust particles”, and when you’re just done, you’re “busted.” And there is also “shot,” which he uses all the time. He’s just constantly coming up with these random terms to just throw in the mix.

Although you didn’t get the opportunity to go on as many trips as the Pro squad, which ones did you go on and what were they like being with the entire team?
I went on the Detroit trip with everyone and it was amazing! I always have a blast hanging out with all the dudes, talking shit, and picking on each other. I wish I could spend more time and get to know more of the dudes on a closer level, but that all comes with time. Stoked to be able to spend more time with them in the future, though!

You had some serious bangers in your section. How hard was it to film in Cali where many things have Already Been Done?
Thank you, and of course, it is very hard. There are so many bikers—and so many good ones at that—who are always being so productive. I have lost countless clips of people putting footage out before me, but it’s part of the game. Regardless, I enjoyed it and had fun doing them, even if they weren’t usable any longer.

You seemed kinda shook after that last clip. Those flimsy metal edges are always sketchy to grind…
Yes, I definitely was scared! I had no idea how that thing was gonna slide or if my pegs were gonna get stuck on it. I was looking at it for a very long time. Also, that 360 off the roof was a mental battle because I had no speed or pedal room, so it was all impact and hard to hold onto.

Jeff Dowhen

So Jeff, Mike, and Tom are definitely the OGs, no question. And Jeff came once on his own dime to California—maybe twice—just to escape winter, and we ended up filming, and then that footage ended up in the video. Jeff was also on a Midwest trip and the footage from that is some of my favorite of his because it just kinda fits. To me, I usually film with Jeff in the Midwest, so it was nice to get him where he’s comfortable. He’s very good at riding interesting and weird stuff and he just looks at stuff quite a bit differently.

Dowhen, landing his first clip into the bag for ABD.

As a member of the “fam” (legends) team, you had part of a split section with two other Madera OGs. Was it hard to make things happen for the DVD with limited access to trips?
Man, first let me say it’s so cool to share a section with the smoothest and burliest dudes on the team. Can’t say enough about Tom and Taylor’s clips—or them—in general. Filming out of reach from Grant was really difficult. Lost clips, injuries, and distance were relentless on my motivation. In the end, I’m proud of the clips we got and Grant’s final product is dope! 

How was filming for this DVD different from the first Madera DVD back in 2008?
It was a bit of the same actually! I was on AM back then and wasn’t the main focus of filming—the Pros were—so I self-filmed some, bugged Grant around Milwaukee, and came out with a solid couple clips. During filming for ABD, Madera has had insanely talented Pro riders who are focusing a lot of attention on progressing. So, when I’m on trips, I take that in. I want to give them the opportunity to shine like I was. Having been the young kid on the team and now being one of the older guys, I think it’s important to maintain your sense of worth and what you can add to the vibe. If I can get a few tasty clips a trip, I’m happy—and I’m happy that other guys can get ten clips at one spot. I love going on trips because it’s a vacation with my best friends and that’s what BMX has always been to me. 

Wallie over a North Long Beach barrier.

You ride with Erik and Isaiah quite a bit. How is it seeing Erik, well, be Erik, as well as seeing Isaiah come to his own as an up-coming rider?
Just seeing how Isaiah has really developed into a team rider is so cool. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s motivated to make BMX a priority. He’s always been a guy to let his riding do the talking and I’m glad people are taking notice to how dialed of a rider and dialed of a kid he is. Erik is a simulation. He has such a connection with his body and his mind, if he wasn’t riding bikes he would be making an impact somewhere else. So stoked to call him a friend and watch him progress in life just the same way he’s progressed on a bike. 

The rail hop to mailbox ice was such a rad clip. It seems like the combination of high speed and the peg precision would’ve made it scary…
Thank you! I was so hyped to launch myself into that full speed, take slams, and keep going because that setup was just screaming my name and asking to get done. 

Any tricks or moments in your section that stand out as needing to be talked about?
The bunnyhop to threader kicked off the best summer ever. My Milwaukee dudes were going high school hard and we had friends come in from across the globe to ride our spots. Best Summer Ever is a mentality and I’m feeling like it’s here to stay. Hope y’all enjoy the video and we get to bonk some pegs together!

Tom Villarreal

Tom’s part is very classic Tom—just fast as hell and he does a lot of 360s. Tom isn’t riding as much as he used to because he’s a busy guy, but he wanted to be in the video—which was sick! And when he would come out, he would always get something every single time. And it’s not like he had these spots lined up, he would just come out and find something he was capable of doing and make it happen. I think that’s the best, and the craziest thing to me, because if I’m not riding, I’m not comfortable. But Tom has that racer background built into him and he’s so comfortable on his bike that it doesn’t matter if he hasn’t been riding. If it has to do with speed and distance and timing—he just knows exactly what he needs to do.

Not a clip from ABD, but a sweet Tom V. photo just the same. (Photo: Zielinski)

As a member of the “fam” (legends) team, you had part of a split section with two other Madera OG’s. Was it hard to make things happen for the DVD with limited access to trips?
Yeah definitely a little harder than I expected. I thought, “It’s cool, I live next to Grant. We will still have plenty of opportunities to get some clips.” But that didn’t always happen. Of course, I wish I rode more, but I’ve been riding my whole life, and honestly, it’s nice not having that on the forefront of my everyday life like it has been for the last 15 years. 

Grant C. said that often times he would hit you up and you would take a short break from life and just go fire out a banger in short order and then head back home. How do you get in a headspace to make that happen?
Most of the time I rode with Grant and filmed clips and beforehand I hadn’t ridden for weeks, if not months. I kind of like it that way… Keeps things refreshing and satisfying. 

How was filming for this DVD different from the first Madera DVD back in 2008?
Two completely different stages of my life! It’s cool to see the progression of BMX throughout the years where you would send it on anything and landing on grass was cool, to now how you have to be able to pick and choose what you think fits your style. Back in the day, I would film anything and everything.

You fell victim to the curse of the ABD with a few clips you had already filmed, right?
Yeah, the infamous ABD in BMX is inevitable nowadays with all the talent out there. With platforms like Instagram, people are doing the craziest shit and posting it right away. Filming a video for three years and sitting on footage, you definitely have the chance of someone putting out a clip doing the same trick you did years ago. That’s the scary part about videos now. 

Taylor Thompson

Taylor and I are good friends, so when we would meet up, sometimes it would be just the two of us and he’d have spots so we would just film. There wasn’t even a reason at the time, like we had no goal. We just figured sooner or later we would put something out—and then when ABD came up he already had some clips. Before the end of the video, Taylor squeezed in a bunch of stuff with Erik, which is great. And Taylor doesn’t have an off switch, so it doesn’t matter if he’s filming with me or someone else, he’ll do the same crazy shit regardless who is filming. He just wants to ride that way—which is sick. Nothing but respect for the fact that Taylor just has one speed. Also, he’s a proud dad, hyped on being a dad, and he does tons of stuff with his son. When he’s into something, I think Taylor’s just like the kind of dude that’s all-in. And the older I get, the more I respect that, because you find it’s hard to find people who are all-in on anything. Whether it’s him being a dad, riding BMX, his job, or whatever it is at the time, he’s always fully on. Taylor loves to ride at night, too, it’s always a thing on trips, “Let’s go out,” and everyone’s already tired from riding all day. And he’s super motivated… “No, I’m here for only whatever time, I wanna do it.” At the end of a nine, ten-hour day, I just want to eat and just sit, I don’t want to do anything. And I feel bad because Taylor kind of thrives in that time and a lot of spots he wants to ride are only really ridable at night.

Taylor with a no-joke feeble.

As a member of the “fam” (legends) team, you had part of a split section with two other Madera OG’s. Was it hard to make things happen for the DVD with limited access to trips?
I’m really hyped I was able to ride in a split section with Tom and Jeff. Those guys are Madera OG’s and I have mad respect for them and love their riding. I always had the idea that I could produce a full section from the moment we were told a DVD was going to happen, but time would tell that it was more difficult than I expected. I’ve always had limited time to attend Madera trips due to work and family responsibilities. Moving back to Wisconsin in May of 2018 also put a wrench in the gears. I tried to take advantage of the time I got to spend with the team and enjoyed every moment of it.

As we have discussed before, you work full time and have a family to take care of. Do you ever think twice about the wild ledges and rails you ride with that reality check being in mind?
I always have my family on my mind when I am riding. I use my loved ones as pure motivation to attempt things on my bike. I don’t look at it from a health and safety perspective at all. I don’t want to cloud my judgement while trying something with negative thoughts that could potentially lead to me actually getting hurt. It’s definitely happened many times before and it’s a learning process to be able to clear your mind properly when riding. Injuries from BMX have long affected my job(s) and I think that’s going to continue as long as I am riding. Letting your workplace be aware of your riding is a good thing to do. Also having some sick time or vacation available to cover it is good. Most places are hyped on BMX if they actually get a chance to see what you do on a bike. 

You’ve been known to burn the midnight oil and brave some freezing cold weather for the sake of riding. Did you have to go to such extremes while filming for ABD?
I love late night BMX riding and the Winter Bikers Anonymous (WBA) boys are always down for sub-arctic street adventures. There were some night sessions while filming for ABD, but none were involved with extreme times or temps [laughs]. I like to think that riding in different times and temps makes it interesting and I see a lot of riders doing it more and more—which gets me so hyped. Shout-out to the Late Night Boys. LNC!!

You’re clip on that massive purple hubba was insane. What would you even call that?
First off, shout-out to the Michigan homies for showing us around! To me that trick is a front pedal grind. Garret Byrnes was the first person I saw just destroy the trick on all obstacles including hubbas and he has been my inspiration for trying that trick on different things. 

Any tricks or moments in your section that stand out as needing to be talked about?
Nothing specific comes to mind, but I can say that every moment spent with the Madera guys was an amazing experience. Working with Grant is always awesome and he has good ideas and a fresh eye when it comes to filming and riding. There were a few good security situations where I landed the trick at the buzzer, and a few where I may have gotten a bit mouthy [laughs]. I can’t wait for more adventures with the crew.

Erik Elstran

Oh man. Erik’s part is crazy. When we went to film Erik in Minneapolis, he only had a minute of footage—and this was near the end of the video. He had been busy traveling the country with his wife, who is a touring musician. So he went to help his wife, toured the country with her, and it’s great, but he missed a couple of trips and was behind on footage. And Erik is the kind of dude who can film half a video part on a trip. He’s very good at filming, he’s just comfortable with it, and he knows what he can do and he gets it done. So, we were like, “We gotta go to Minneapolis.” We had been there before and he showed us a folder of hundreds of spots, and I’ve never seen him ride most of them. So, I know he was kinda just waiting around for someone to be able to film and he doesn’t really have that up there. So Mike and I go up there with him for maybe a week alone, and then the rest of the dudes came for the weekend and then we went to Milwaukee. And in that maybe 11 or 12 days I was there, he filmed four minutes of footage and the majority of his part was filmed in that little bit of time—and it’s the longest part of the video. So, if that doesn’t say something about how good he actually is, raw talent-wise, I really don’t know what else does.

Erik at one of those one-of-a-kind setups that you wait until a filmer comes to town before you step to it.

I heard you filmed a large portion of your section in less than a week with just Grant and Mike before the team showed up to Minneapolis. Did you have a bunch of spots/ideas that you were waiting on until you had Grant in town to film them, did you get everything you wanted? 
Yes! We sort of talked about having Grant come to Minneapolis right at the beginning of filming for this project so I had ample time to get some preparatory research done in the field. I don’t film real clips with anyone regularly here and I’m constantly riding and finding new spots, keeping a list of ideas and tricks in mind. Two weeks after Grant and Mike were there I had Walter come to film for my X Games [Real BMX] part so I sort of had to save the best things for that. Overall, we got done most of what I had in mind, but there is still a list that keeps growing!

How’d it feel to check that stuff off the list? 
Very satisfying [laughs]. The week they were here also happened to be the hottest week of the year in Minnesota—which was not the most ideal. A lot of sweating, trying things over and over, and scaring myself a few times. Totally worth it.

It must have been refreshing to film stuff locally as opposed to out of town on trips—where you stumble upon things suddenly and have to choose your battles on the spot?
I dig it! It’s nice being in control and knowing where everything is. Every day I had a plan of multiple spots to go that I wanted film things at. It was sometimes daunting to be trying something a while at the first spot while thinking about the three other things I wanted to film later that day. All in all, it made for a more productive week or five days than traveling to anywhere else would have been.

Everytime Erik comes to California a few more spots get decimated. (Photo: Zielinski)

What was it like having the team in Minneapolis, showing them around and seeing them ride your local spots? 
I enjoy showing people around Minneapolis whether it be riding spots, cool free things to do, good places to eat, or just talking about the history behind things. Not a ton of people come up here to visit and ride since it’s not really on the way to anything and half the year it’s covered in ice. Also, it’s always super refreshing to see someone ride something you ride all the time in a different way.

Do you ever hit a wall or a creative rut while filming for videos?
Yeah, but most of the time I feel like that I just force myself to ride whatever spot we’re at. Usually, the process of trying one thing leads to another, or another idea for something else completely. I’m convinced that there are infinite variations of maneuvers to be maneuvered on a bicycle.

Dan Kruk

Dan is definitely dedicated. No one can say anything other than that about his drive. He’s definitely one of those dudes that will put in that extra time to make sure he’s gonna get what he wants. A good example of a Dan determination kind of a clip… is a spot that is like an hour and a half from my house that we went to three times. First time, he started to figure out what he wanted to do, couldn’t do it that day. And the next time we went there, he got heat stroke trying it—literally heat stroke. Jesse and I had to hoist him over a fence to get out of the school. Then we laid him in the van and he made it almost all the way back to Long Beach and then vomited everywhere. Luckily Jesse saw like a plastic bag in the car and gave it to him, otherwise he would have thrown up everywhere in the van. After all that, we had a slightly less good version of what he wanted, and I’m like, “He’s not gonna go back. It’s too much work. Why would he want to do that?” Then one day he suggests going there, and he went back and we got the clip and it’s like no one sees the effort that went into that single clip when they watch the video. But he probably spent like six, seven hours trying this exact same thing over all those days. He got put through the ringer for it—as he often does. But it’s so sick because Dan is about doing the cool trick at the cool spot. I would say, that’s what Dan wants to do, he’s not just okay with just riding the cool spot, he wants to do the hardest thing he could do at it.

All that time in SoCal made Dan’s blood thin. Literally chillin’ while a homie is no doubt trying to get a clip.

Your opening clip is outrageous. Assuming you didn’t touch the rail beforehand?
I had gapped to the rail twice before, first time missing my pegs and then on the second go I accidentally landed in crook and fell off. I thought that last time was the one until the rail turned into a wall ride. I just held on for the ride!

In terms of chasing dream tricks and what not, safe to say you’ve gone the hard way out of pretty much every grind position imaginable. Were you able to wipe your list clean with ABD?
I haven’t even scratched the surface of my dream tricks yet. I have so many ideas that just need the correct setup to work. I’ll get through the list someday though!

You have filmed a significant amount of full length and serious sections in the last few years. Did that help or affect you in any way when you approached filming this section?
I would say the experience kind of helped me in some ways. I know not to film everything I come across because I’d rather save my time and energy for the right clip. I could try a trick I’m not stoked on for two hours then go down the street only to find something way sicker and by that time I’m already dust particles. I just trust my judgement and it works out when it does.

Of all the video parts you’ve filmed, where would you rate this one?
I don’t really have a scale of video parts for myself, they all just represent a period in my life to reflect back on in the future. I love watching my old sections and just seeing the progress from where I started until the present. They are all just mini time capsules to me.

What is your process when you set out to film a section… Is it organic or do you have tricks in mind?
I have ideas for tricks that will work for certain setups, so I try to look for those types of spots. Along the way I always run into some type of spot that makes me have ideas I’ve never thought of. Those days usually end with my favorite type of clips for me—which are the unexpected ones.

This orange Starburst toothpick is not in the video, but Madera clips were logged by teammates during this same session, so it’s close enough, right?. (Photo: Zielinski)

I heard a rumor that you had another banger filmed, but it was just not quite clean enough for you to use. Care to share anything about that?
I pulled a clip but I didn’t rotate enough to use it. If I put it in my section I know I would look back and not be stoked on it. I’d rather pull the trick clean and be hyped on it.

There are a few clips that you seem to be surprised/stoked after pulling. Do you sometimes not know if something will work until it does? Or is that just you being stoked on pulling something quickly?
I get hyped when the tricks are a little out of my comfort zone and they end up working easier than I thought. Your mind is a powerful tool and it can surprise you sometimes when you trust it.

Were you aiming to have last part or did that just happen?
I just film stuff that gets me stoked or I think looks cool. Whatever comes of it at the end of the project is cool with me. Whether it’s first, middle, or last, I’m just stoked to be having fun on my bike.

For traveling a lot with the team, quite a few of your clips were filmed in or near where you live California. Is there a reason for that?
Luckily for me Grant lives right down the street and we’ve been filming like this since I was a kid. Just going out every weekend with the homies and exploring. That’s when you come across the best clips. I love the process. Some days you get nothing and some days you strike gold. 

Madera’s ABD DVD and Zine are available now! Click here or the image below…

1 thought on “Madera – ABD Interviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *