How old are you? 43 years young.
How long have you been riding? About 25 years give or take a couple?
What got you into riding? When I was in about 7th grade…1987-ish, a friend invited me to go see the CW Bicycle Trick Team at a local bike shop. There was a rider named Dizz Hicks that blew my mind with his rock and roll riding style and I’ve been a fan of the art ever since.
What inspires you to ride? A ton of people for a ton of completely different reasons. Mostly people helping other people through the positive synergy of BMX. Carl Hinkley at the Nowear BMX compound for example. The guy turned his entire family farm and life into a dream BMX facility to give kids a free place to ride. The fighting spirit of Scotty Cranmer. That kid is an incredible role model that every parent should encourage their child to follow for all of the right reasons. Joe Doherty at the Trumbull Racetrack doing/holding fundraiser events for riders going through unfortunate circumstances. K-Rob and Alyssa’s Journey 4 Wellness group giving free life coach advice to any and everyone wanting to participate. The Chicago Local John U who is CONSTANTLY doing whatever he can to help out riders with parts or advice. Scotty Z for using his bmx networking to raise money for children’s cancer research. Steve Kolb who is the future of bmx and as friendly as can possibly be. Earl Dickens who is raising autism awareness through BMX with his Special Needs Special Children charity. Lets Roast Cycles and Chicago Action Sports for all that they do in keeping the sport thriving in Chicago. Trainer troy because he’s TRAINER F’N TROY! Dustin Reese who is KILLING it at 48 years of age. I could seriously go on and on. And last but most importantly, all of the OFG homies that watch the videos, buy the merch and send an ongoing stream of positive energy to me by way of messages and comments to myself and each other. I see BMX as the roots and we are all the branches of a positive energy brotherhood of prosperity. Having the honor to be a part of that will keep me on wheels until my body finally says no more.
Who is your favorite rider? Why? Mat Hoffman. Hands down. He’s the Evil Knevil of my generation. Bob Haro may be the grandfather, but Mat was the game changer.
What is your favorite place to ride? Believe it or not, it isn’t some multi million dollar skatepark. It’s a giant parking lot on the south side of Chicago hanging out, talking about life and doing flatland with John U. Just us, bikes and imagination.
What is the dream place to ride? Pastranaland. I don’t have the skills to fully utilize it, and I may never, but it’s on my bucket list.
What is one thing you love about BMX? The euphoric sensation of when your wheels are rolling. Work, Bills, worries or my personal demons..none of those exist when I’m doing the math in my brain to execute a jump or whatever. There’s nothing like it.
Where is your favorite place you have traveled to in BMX? The Nowear BMX Compound in Nebraska is something that has to be seen to fully comprehend. The attraction is so much more than just the ramps, it’s the energy of the property. You drive drive drive literally in the middle of nowhere to get there, when you finally do it’s a BMX-Utopia. Everyone there is so encouraging and friendly. You can literally walk or ride up to just about everyone there and the interaction is like you’ve known them your whole life. I can’t say enough good things about Karl Hinkley and his family. His passion to keep BMX positive, all that he does for the art and the sacrifice after sacrifice that he makes to keep people motivated and on wheels. I honestly don’t know anyone else that could do what he does and be so darn positive in the process. I couldn’t.
What is a problem that you see with BMX today? I don’t know if it’s a problem or that I’m just old, but it drives me a little nuts when people ride without protective gear. When I was younger I did it too. Some people see it as a badge of honor, and I don’t understand or agree with it, but I respect it. To each their own. Now that I’m no longer a spring chicken, I see it different. If I get hurt I can’t work. If I can’t work I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid I go hungry. You don’t have to look at me very long to realize that I don’t like being hungry. Plus the medical system is such a mess, why take an unnecessary chance if a set of knee pads or helmet could prevent it? Again, that’s the old in me talking. lol
What is a memorable BMX moment that you remember? Any stories? I was doing an interview with Scotty Cranmer that literally changed the way that I see the world. The Kitchen Skatepark was holding a #STANDWITHSCOTTY event. I knew Scotty from hanging out with him and the guys the previous summer before his accident. When I do interviews I always have some prepared talking points and questions going in and this one was no different at first. Right when the interview started all of my talking points somehow went right out the window and the interview conducted itself if that makes any sense. It became this empowering emotional conversation that I couldn’t have planned if I tried. Here he was, partially paralyzed with a mountain of challenges at his feet and he was the most thankful humble individual. From that point and to this day, whenever I’m discouraged by something I hear his voice in my head from the interview saying “You have 2 voices, one wants to fight and one wants to fail. Which one are you going to listen to?” Not only was I fortunate enough to have one of my most respected hero’s giving me life philosophy advice, I was blessed to have it on video to help others. I share that interview with friends who are going through a challenge quite often and it hits almost everyone the same way impressionable that it hit me.
What are some ways that you deal with injury? After I’m done beating myself up about how stupid the injury was and shouldn’t have happened, I film others doing what they do and live vicariously through them. It isn’t the same but it helps.
What inspired you to create the YouTube Old Fat Guy? After my father passed away in 2015 I was struggling to cope and was headed down a path that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. As luck, or fate would have it, Haro was coming out with their Retro Master. For years I had been day dreaming about getting back on wheels and this was just as good of an excuse as any to preserve my sanity. I’ve always been a camera dork so I had all of the equipment so I went with it. It started out as I’m going to make a bmx video just for the sake of. So I made one, a REALLY bad one, and put it on youtube just for the sake of. The next thing I knew my phone was on blast from shares, likes and comments from other old fat guys who want to or had just gotten back into BMX. I made another one just to see if it would happen again and sure enough it did. Ok, I’m onto something here, let’s see what I can do with it. That turned into driving and flying all over the country with a bike and a camera and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is your involvement with Chicago Action Sports? (@CAS) Steve Kolb invited me to their Halloween event in 2015. As sick as someone could be, I was and it was like 40 degrees outside. At the time I was already committed to the idea of I want to show everyone my age what’s out there waiting for them if they want it, so I went. I painted my face like Gene Simmons of Kiss as a costume and headed to the Grant Park skatepark in downtown Chicago. Once I was there I met Joan and Bob, they took me in as one of their own and I was hooked. They do so much for the kids and the sport in Chicago, and more often than not at their own expense. It’s an honor to proudly wear my CAS shirt and attend events.
How had riding affected your life? Positively? My life was literally in a downward spiral for countless reasons up to and including depression and a gambling problem that was getting worse by the minute. Not as bad as some but a situation that I certainly wouldn’t wish on anyone else. Then seemingly out of nowhere, BMX reached out to grab my hand and show me that I could put the same amount of effort and energy into helping others re-find what they were passionate about as a kid and somehow grew out of. This BMX adventure and all of the wonderful inspirational people along the way has blessed me beyond words. I traded in a can of garbage for living in a dream come true and if I can do it, anyone can. Energy is energy. What we choose to do with it is up to us.
Are there any extra words you would like to have in the article? Yes actually. 3 things. Thank you Backyard BMX Co inviting me to do this interview.
Second, if you know someone that might benefit from the things that I say and do in my videos, or are older and wanting to get back into BMX they can find me by searching OLDFATGUYBMX on youtube, facebook and instagram.
Second, and most importantly, as I’m typing this, my friend and life coach Kevin “K-Rob” Robinson was buried and taken from this world far sooner than he should have been. Please keep his wife and children in your thoughts and prayers. He was only 46 and was probably the healthiest person on the planet. He ate right and exercised his butt off. If it can happen to him it can happen to any of us at any time. Appreciate now, what you have and what you can do for everyone else to be on the right side of history. It’s all a gift. Never forget that it’s all a gift.