I’ve been at this BMX photo gig for over 20 years now, and in that time I’ve worked with hundreds of riders and seen plenty of wild shit go down. There are a lot of amazing riders out there who are far braver than your average man—sending crazy tricks with little hesitation. Then there’s Dennis Enarson, who is on some whole other plain of BMX existence—shared with only the most elite riders on the planet, who can ride anything with a fearless, yet super calculated approach, and they manage to make everything they do look so damn good, too. Dennis went into his Right Here video for Vans along with Rich Forne at his side, with the plan to basically only film bangers. Enders, really—for pretty much any other skilled rider. Think about that for a sec, Right Here is like a greatest hits compilation, but an entirely new album of material. So crazy.
Text / Photos: Jeff Zielinski (unless noted)
Prior to this project I didn’t have a whole lot of experience shooting with Dennis outside of events—other than during the filming of the Range Of Motion video back in 2009. Going into this project with Dennis was kind of an awakening for me. Obviously, I knew what he was capable of, but seeing him in action, how he approached the spots and handled the entire process up until that second when both wheels leave the ground was a real eye-opener for me. I mean, we both ride bikes, but it’s a classic case of separating the men from the boys between he and I, and well, in short, seeing his level of confidence doing things I would never even dream of trying was awe-inspiring, to say the least.
“Every day I had with Rich—unless I was beat and I couldn’t ride—I was trying to get something I was really proud of for the video.“
I tagged along with Dennis and Rich to Seattle, Arizona, and we had a few days in LA and San Diego, as well. It didn’t take long for me to see a trend with the morning rituals. When you roll out of bed in the morning with plans to send something crazy on your bike, apparently, it’s best not to rush it. And Dennis takes that to heart, sleep-in, protein smoothie, stretch, work-out, eat again, then go ride. That was the norm. If we came back at the end of the day with one death-defying stunt, it was a great day, anything more, and it was amazing, anything less, still a great day because Dennis was alive still. Dennis elaborates on his methodology, “Yeah, if it’s not there, you can’t get it. But that’s how I am every day when I’m riding. I try to do that same ritual. If I’m planning to go film, I want to feel 100% like I do when I’m going to ride a contest, or ride my ramps, or whatever. I used to just pull myself out of bed and just go film clips. That’s how the Demolition Last Chance video was filmed. I was hung over for half of it. But I was also in high school and that’s just how I worked. Nowadays stuff is even bigger. I need to be stretched out and get my muscles warmed up, because you don’t know when you’re going to run up on the spot and you only have 30 minutes to get the clip. All the days filming for this were important to me. It sounds like we’ve filmed a lot because it was like a year and a half, or maybe a year of filming. But me and Rich only really worked together for however many days out of that year. Every day I had with him—unless I was beat and I couldn’t ride—I was trying to get something I was really proud of for the video. And I’m glad I took that approach and didn’t fuck off because literally when COVID happened, Rich and I didn’t get a chance to wrap things up. I’m so thankful that I had that approach throughout the project, because it took Christian [Rigal] saving my life and getting those last eight clips for the video. It was right up until the deadline, basically.”
Back pedaling to pre-COVID times… With a highly productive trip to Berlin already on the drives as well as a one-off banger in NYC at an iconic spot, the dudes were off to a solid start, yet still in the early stages of the project when I came on board for a trip to Seattle for a week. Dennis and I flew straight there from Minneapolis after a draining week at X Games and Pat Casey joined us a few days later. Seattle in the summer with a great crew was a welcomed contrast to the indoor conditioned air shuffle from hotel to Uber to stadium and back again for multiple days that is the X Games experience for media types like myself. We were in great company with fellow massive setup aficionado, and Seattle local, Mike Hoder, who was on deck to show Dennis some spots. Seriously, who better than Hoder to cherry pick some spots to show Dennis. Unfortunately, within a day or two into our stay, Hoder’s leg swelled up and turned red from the knee down from an infection that he may have gotten from swimming in a lake with an open wound. Whatever the cause, the effect was pretty serious, as he was overwhelmed with lethargy and ended up going to the hospital. Mike was forced to lay low for most of our stay and we ended up fending up for ourselves a couple of days, but exploring is one of the most exciting parts of street riding anyway, so it was all good.
As far as spots go, Garfield High School was at the top of our list. The iconic spot has an abundance of shred-ability—including ledges, rails, wallrides, banks and more. And has seen a lot of wild moves over the years, like Jay Miron’s wallride to pocket rail in the MacNeil video and Hoder hoping the wall into the massive bank for his ender in the Facad video, As One. Garfield had all the ingredients for an Enarson clip and sure enough, between our three visits to the spot, Dennis filmed a few bangs for the ’Gram, scored two clips for Right Here, and Pat got his homie clip in the bag as well. The bank to wall is probably the main attraction at Garfield, and rightfully so, because it’s a one-of-a-kind setup. Nestled between a rail and another large slanted wall, the wallride is narrow, with an abrupt bank up to a weathered wall that is slightly slanted and super gritty. Dennis’ warm up session on the spot would’ve been an average rider’s best day ever. He blasted a table out of it, smashed off the corner and flung a barspin flyout over the rail, and I think he dropped into it as well, then he capped it off with a disaster-to-barspin. When the dust settled, there were three fire clips for the ’Gram and one for the timeline.
The following day Pat Casey arrived—he would’ve come straight from X Games with us, but he had another video obligation back at home for a day, so he did some extra jet-setting. Having Pat in Seattle was awesome. Despite countless ramp sessions, neither Dennis nor I had ever been on a “street trip” with Pat, so it was a new experience for all of us. When we brought Pat to Garfield, he zoned right in on the wallride. Downside whips off the wall with ease, hop whip off the roof into the bank, and then he went to battle for a wallride-to-double whip, as Dennis recalls, “Pat did a wallride-to-double whip on the street spot with such a small, thread the needle, landing run out. It was not easy. He had to air out of the top of the wall. He slammed in the ground like three times. True Pat, he just kept getting up until he landed it.”
The main event at Garfield came down to Dennis’ wallride to gap over the ledge into the bank below. According to Dennis, it was a gnarly, yet a pretty straight forward setup. Dennis recalls his initial thoughts when Hoder first showed it to him, “It’s perfect. It’s scary, but fuck… On anybody’s good day at a crazy spot, that’s when that shit happens. Everyone’s been here, how come no one’s done it? Honestly, I think I would have been a little bit less scared of it if I didn’t know how many people have been to that school and haven’t done it. That’s why I think I took my sweet ass time with it, because I was like, “Dude, how’s everyone looked at this and not done it?” Because it’s pretty perfect, it’s just a little bit on the gnarly side.” Yeah, just a “little” on the gnarly side.
“I would have been a little bit less scared of it if I didn’t know how many people have been to that school and haven’t done it.“
The biggest hurdle with the wallride was the traffic on the busy road down below. It was so difficult to get a big enough gap in traffic for Dennis to go for it. Every time there was a break in traffic, Dennis had to do one feeler wallride before he went for it. But by the time he turned back around to actually go for it there would be cars approaching. He eventually got his window and sent it, only to decide later that night when watching the footage that he didn’t like the way he did it, so he decided to go back and do it again. “Yeah, I did it twice. Because I did it so goofy the first time. Because it was so scary. I just did it the one time, I was like, ‘Fuck it, let’s take it,’ and then we went back and watched the footage, and I knew I had to do that again. The traffic was insane too, that’s why I only did it once on the first day. I remember I wore the same clothes when we went back. The second one was sketchy, but the first one was really sketchy.”
Another interesting backstory for a clip from Seattle was the gap to over grind on the green rail. Which almost didn’t even make the cut for the video… “That was one of the three clips in the part that I didn’t want to use. But Rich was obsessed with it because he liked what it looked like and how he filmed it. I was pretty stoked on that clip, but when you see it in the footage, it was just one of those that I was like, ‘that doesn’t really look that cool.’ But the story behind that is funny…” Yes, the gap over grind is one of those clips were you’d never know the amount of work that went into it when just seeing the clip fly by. The rail was located next to some sort of fancy rowing center. At first glance the rail was amazing, but the runway was too short and there were a bunch of boats in the way, so we wrote it off. At some point later, after not having much luck with other spots, we revisited the rail and decided to make it work. Dennis and Rich borrowed some wood from a nearby construction site to make a roll-in down the steps. And then we moved a bunch of the single scull row boats, which are very long and skinny, and weigh less than a BMX bike—but cost as much as three or four. We very carefully removed each one from its bungee cord and carried them off to the side and placed them under some nearby trees. They were so long we had to be really mindful to not bump them into each other or the trees. I can’t imagine how the people from the facility would’ve acted if they had seen what we were doing. Fortunately, the place was pretty much deserted and once we got the spot dialed Dennis handled the rail with his normal quickness and then we put everything back as we found it and left without a trace.
“I can’t imagine how the people from the facility would’ve acted if they had seen what we were doing.”
Onward to Arizona… AZ never disappoints for filming trips—the weather is predictable, the spots are abundant, and the locals are awesome. Dennis had a few specific things he was hoping to check off the list out there and we planned for a few days in Phoenix and a quick stop up in Flagstaff as well. Of course, as luck would have it, Dennis and Rich had their bikes stolen a few days before we were set to leave. After waiting around for a day for his new parts to arrive, we headed out to Tempe that evening along with Jason Watts and Corey Walsh following us in Corey’s conversion van. The following day we met up with Kris Fox, Matt Cordova, and Eddie Peraza at the Goodyear park, where Dennis got to work building up his fresh bike while the Fast and Loose crew put on an unscheduled demo on how to ride a bowl. Dennis hit some snags with the parking lot bike assembly and headed out to a shop while we took advantage of unique opportunity to ride a private backyard skatepark/bowl. This was no ordinary DIY spot either, it was a professionally built, full-blown park behind a mansion that a very financially stable dad had built for his daughter who skates. This place was nuts—an entire concrete park and bowl hidden behind some landscaping in a separate lot behind a gorgeous house. There was also another parcel of land with a giant garage showroom for the dad’s car collection. Personally, I’ve never been exposed to wealth like that before, it was hard for me wrap my head around it. But they were super nice people and great hosts, which is all that matters.
“A professionally built, full-blown park behind a mansion that a very financially stable dad had built for his daughter who skates.”
Despite building up the exact same bike he just had—comprised primarily of signature parts, Dennis still needed to get used to it. When you’re about to send some top-level street stunts, the difference between a fresh and a broken-in bike is a legit variable. Namely all the contact points—tires, pedals, and grips—can make a bike feel vastly different. After the crew basically filmed a web-edit at the Tempe park in like 30 minutes, we headed out to the massive tabletop between two ditches that Dennis three-whipped and officially christened his new ride.
The following day was one for the homies, with Walsh and Watts both stepping up. Corey spotted the infamous curve wallride to wallride that Gary Young nearly pulled in the Odyssey Electronical video from 2008. Gary got super close to a clean pull, but after countless attempts, he came off the second wall too leaned over and washed out. Corey was determined to give it a go, but first he had to remove a tree that was planted post Gary’s battle. Corey gave it a lot of attempts and it seemed like he was figuring out the strategy to pull it and then he clipped his pedal on the edge of the second wall, sending him head first into the bricks. Thankfully his helmet lessoned the blow, but he still got a concussion and a cut above his eyebrow. Dennis recalls Corey’s wallride… “He tried to get the fucking Hail Mary of homie clips. He was going to do the curved wallride to curved wallride and got knocked out. So he put his life on the line for a homie clip for this video, which I was so, I don’t even know what the word is… but I couldn’t believe he was doing that. I was so amazed and couldn’t even believe it.” If you’re going to get one clip in the video, you might as well make it count, right? After we attended to Corey’s wounds in a Walgreen’s parking lot, Jason was up next. We headed back into the trenches to the step-down ditch, where Jason cranked a massive 360 look-back and then Dennis backed him up with a 360 cancan tire grab.
“He tried to get the fucking Hail Mary of homie clips. He was going to do the curved wallride to curved wallride and got knocked out.”
With two clips and a concussion in the books for the day, it was time to head North to Flagstaff. We rolled into town with just enough light to check out the Basin Bike park, where Dennis had plans for a massive flipwhip—which he eventually logged as the only park clip in the video on a different trip. Flagstaff was cold and windy—it felt especially nippy after we just came up from the desert floor of Phoenix. When we woke up the next morning it was so cold that I didn’t even want to go outside. The conditions were far from ideal to be flipping and flailing a bike through the air. Fortunately, while on an early morning bike ride, Rich found an alternative option—and one that single handedly made the Flagstaff leg of the trip worth it when he spotted what Dennis later described as “the best roof to rail I’ve ever hit.” This ended up being the only incidence where I actually witnessed Dennis take a while before trying something. Like I said before, it was cold in Flagstaff—even Watts, who always wears shorts, finally broke and put on pants. And we drove straight to the spot without any warm up. Honestly, I can’t imagine there being many riders in the world who would try that on their best day ever—let alone in the cold straight out of the van. With both Dennis and Rich on the roof, and the rest of us in the small courtyard down below, it didn’t take long for some tenants to notice us. Fortunately, one person just closed their curtains and never said a word, and then two college girls came out and before long climbed onto an adjacent roof to watch complete with beers in hand. You gotta love college towns. A cop also drove by, making us all freeze, assuming he’d be turning around any second, but we never saw him again. On Dennis’ first go he ended up coming off the rail to the side and crashing into a beach cruiser and twisting the back end. The unfazed, but slightly faded, girls said, “Don’t worry. That thing’s been there for years.” Fortunately, it only took Dennis climbing back onto the roof one last time to put another clip the bag and we then we were off to celebrate with some hot coffee and then back to San Diego.
“I can’t imagine there being many riders in the world who would try that on their best day ever—let alone in the cold straight out of the van.”
Besides our travels out of state, Rich stuck around San Diego for two months, going out on missions with Dennis around SD and they made a few trips up to LA as well. Calling Long Beach home, and LA my local, I was excited to see Dennis unleash on some spots up my way. I had a couple of setups in mind for him and he already had his eye on a few things of his own, as well. The first thing being the Staples ledge. I’ve documented the vast majority of moves that have gone down on that behemoth so I was excited to see what he had lined up for the status spot. I didn’t bother asking what he wanted to do ahead of time because sometimes it’s fun to be surprised, but I was definitely not expecting a smith-to-feeble. It’s one of those combos typically reserved for the technical flat ledge crowd. Dennis spent the day before driving a Porsche around Malibu and the fun went into the night, so it took him a bit to get into the zone for this one. Low double digits worth of double pegs later and the biggest smith-to-feeble ever done had Dennis’ name on it.
Later that evening, while Dennis and Rich were cruising around LA waiting for traffic to die down before heading home, they stumbled upon a spot that I actually had in mind for Dennis as well. The setup I’m referring to is the slanted wall carve-to-pull out over the “L” to rail. It’s a setup that I’ve been showing people for years and while that spot has seen some action, the main attraction laid dormant up until now. It’s one of those setups that lines up and makes sense, but still so scary to actually commit to. And the rail has some pointy uprights, so if you don’t land on the rail just right, there could be consequences. So, a little over a month after the Staples ledge win (and our Arizona trip) they came up to LA and we met at the “David Gonzalez spot” (kickflip over a fence off a small concrete building into a massive steep bank). The spot was on an insanely busy road, but it was manageable if you timed the lights. And just riding the setup without doing a trick is mental, but Dennis had bigger plans. Unfortunately, his front wheel slid as he was going up the bank on what was very likely the one, and he basically punched the concrete bank going full speed—you can see his bloody hand in the intro. Down, but not out, Dennis decided to head to the wall to pegs. Upon first seeing the spot, Dennis had similar thoughts to the Garfield wallride, “It’s another one of those things that, ‘How has nobody done this? Do I have the skills to do this?’ Just like the Seattle one, ‘How the fuck is it still sitting here ready to go?’ And then, it wasn’t really even scary after doing it the first time. I tried to hard 180 out of it before I landed it. The uprights popped my tire, and then the sun was going down. Then I just had to put on Jason’s cassette and get it.” Another wild move at a fabled LA spot in the bag.
When filming a video part—not just a short promo or something, but a real deal full-length video part, trying to raise the bar and show some progression from previous efforts is always the goal. In the case of Right Here, Dennis not only raised the bar for himself, but for all of BMX. Towards the end of our conversation I asked him how he viewed this video part, compared to what else he has done. “I have a lot [of video parts] that I’m really happy with. This is just the one that I’m the most-proud of, for sure. I like my other video parts, they’re good and I’m happy with them, but I feel like there’s a couple incomplete ones. One that I do feel like I actually finished was my younger version of my video part—the first Demolition video I filmed for [Last Chance]. That’s the one that I felt like, ‘All right, that’s my part.’ But that was like, my part when I was coming up. This one is definitely my favorite part showcasing the way I ride and film right now. But that Demolition part… I might’ve done equally as crazy of stuff for the way I was riding at the time. But it’s also very immature—I’m just randomly 540-ing off of small stair sets and stuff. So yeah, I’d say Right Here is my favorite part of my life. Like if everything disappeared tomorrow and I got to grab one, it would be this one for sure.”
A cool bonus to Right Here was Dennis’ idea to invite one of his favorite riders on each trip with the simple request to film a banger.
“I’m so thankful for these homie clips that are just randomly sprinkled into the part. It gives it a nice fresh feel—instead of just me for six and a half minutes. All of a sudden you just see Corey Walsh flying off a wall, and Jason Watts jumping into a ditch, and then two of the steeziest Lacey clips ever. It’s really cool. Everybody’s clips in the video, aside from Corey, were filmed on trips. Corey’s is kind of tied into the whole thing too, because we were all out filming together and it was around the same time. Rich just didn’t happen to be there that time. But every homie clip was all about pushing each other in the video. It’s going to give those guys love and I’m really stoked that it worked out that way.” —Dennis
“Lacey came in with the approach of basically having fun on the whole trip, and didn’t really search or anything. He had a really nice ice on a kinked rail that no one’s ever ridden in Berlin, Germany. Then he did gap up-to-over smith-to 180, on that famous Berlin up rail. The days those clips/spots came to him, it was super natural. That’s why I really like his clips because they’re just so authentic and so dope looking. You can tell he was hyped on both those clips and they’re so steezy.”
Corey Walsh – San Diego
“We’ve been becoming better and better friends, and riding together more and more, and going on trips together. I was like, “Shit, dude, I wish Rich was here to get you a homie clip.” He’s like, “Dude, if you want, I have a clip I’m hyped on and I was going to use it for my next video part. You’re in the clip and Colin was there and everything.” I was like, ‘Dude, that’d be amazing.’ Rich knew the spot, and we sent him the clip and Rich loved it. Thankfully we got to slide that in there, too, because Corey was around for a huge portion of this video. It was sick to get him in there with something that he’s actually hyped on, and I was there and Jason filmed it so it’s really organic.”
Lewis Mills – Columbia
“Lewis came to Columbia and he battled a clip at that double set with the giant Euro gap on the side. He originally told me he wanted to bar-to-smith it for the homie clip and I had to tell him that I came there to whip to smith it and that he had to think of something else. And he was like, “All right. All right.” Which was super sick because, literally, ever since I first saw that spot, I was like, that is the whip to smith. I want to do that so bad, so I had that be that guy. Normally I’d be like, ‘Whatever, get it.’ But I was like, ‘Dude, that was the one trick I had in mind for Columbia. I got to let you know I’m going to go for that here pretty soon.’ Then when I got that, he changed his mind and he one-upped my clip with the 180 backward smith cab out. Rich was like, “What clip goes where?” I was like, ‘Louis’ clip goes after mine because that’s way harder than what I did.”
Jason Watts – Arizona
“Jason was there for a bunch of it and he ended up getting a bad-ass clip too. Because he’s more known for big skatepark stuff, and it’s cool to see him jump down this 20-foot step down ditch and crank a three look back. We actually sessioned the ditch together, so it’s nice that we both have back-to-back clips.”
Pat Casey – Seattle
Why not give the video another watch right here…