Interview date: June 2016
Boyd is a name synonymous with BMX trails. There aren’t many spots around the world he hasn’t ridden and trails guys he hasn’t met. He even came up in conversion at Eastside, Austin: ‘Oh yeah that guy who’s travelling around the world riding other peoples’ spots. Naturally, and in good humour, they implied he was spade-shy but really we were just throwing banter to make ourselves feel better. I think we all just kinda wished we were on that trip.
Originally from the West Country he’s been riding and digging trails since he was a kid and contributed photos to trails websites digfourvictory and Digmore.
I met him at Posh trails in Pennsylvania during the PA Woods Halloween jams in 2015 and he came across as a real outgoing dude, talking about a tour he’d just done cycling hundreds of miles dragging a trailer from Canada with, of course, his BMX. He told some great stories and I knew he would have a tonne more by the end of his year long vacation around North America, Asia and New Zealand, and he didn’t disappoint.
Top: My view for eight hours a day. Sometimes I never wanted it to be over. Other days I would rather have been in my car. (I hadn’t owned a car for three years at this point!)
Above/left: Will Lueth’s backyard paradise. Will’s been building the jumps solo since he was a wee boy. It started out as a single fly out jump and has grown to a cement/clay paradise in NY.
“I would read Ride UK and see all these crazy trails and it was all I could think about. The issue with the Kris Bennett interview had this one lip in it... I tried to emulate that lip for months!”
Before we go into your travels lets get to the basics. How did you into BMX, and specifically trails?
I actually started out on an old Gt performer with 78 spoke rims and screw on pegs. At the time I didn't know what BMX was, it was just a bike for me to rag down hill in the local woods. We would ride all the way to the top then rip down this big grassy field. It had a little bomb hole near the bottom and we would try and see how far we could get. All my friends were on fancy expensive big rigs, and it made sense to a 12-13 year old me that a big rig would enhance my field jumping skillz’ and be better suited for the job.
So my mum and grandma scraped up enough money to buy a bright green Apollo from this dodgy Brummie bloke who sold 2nd hand bikes. I should've been stoked but my friends all gave me shit about my new ride, as it was cheap crap compared to their GT's. I lived in a "nice" (emphasis on the quotation marks) area and my family didn't have a great deal of money. But it meant I got to go to a decent school. Anyways I digress...
A few months later I got a paper round and started dog walking for this crazy kooky old woman who smoked 100 a day. I’m not even sure how I landed that gig. Eventually I bought my first hardtail, a Nirve Freek and fuck I was stoked. I got some cheap Bombers for it and all sorts of other stuff off Ebay. Man, Ebay is so good! I wouldn't be riding BMX if it wasn't for Ebay! We soon moved away from that shit hole "nice" place (hi Wedmore!) and moved to a small seaside village called Berrow in Somerset. This is where I built my first set of trails and got back into BMX. I would build everyday in these sandy woods and the jumps would get trashed every week. I just kept building, I didn't care. I started visiting the BMX track where I met famous local pro Ben Wookey. I watched Ben jump these huge sets with ease and I thought "damn I want to do that!"
“The people I’ve met and the kindness and open arms I am greeted with continues to blow my mind today. Really, what other craft can you just message another guy saying "hey I’m in your area" and they reply "come and stay, I'll show you around and put you up."”
A few weeks later I saw some other BMX guys at the track doing tricks over the ‘tabletop’, which was a tarmac table after a big berm. Little did I know that on that day I met some guys that would turn out to be my friends for over 11 years! I switched over to the BMX shortly after and haven't looked back since. Westlake and Wookey would drive me places and it would blow my mind to see all these parks with other BMXers in. I'm really thankful for that, so thanks guys!
I stuck with trails initially cause I enjoyed making them, and I loved being in the woods. They were the shittiest woods but it didn't matter. I would read Ride UK and see all these crazy trails and that's all I could think about. The issue with the Kris Bennett interview had this one lip in it... I tried to emulate that lip for months!
Nowadays, I feel the community aspect of trails plays a larger part for me than digging (Paul will love that). Having lost more than six odd spots and never having one last more than a year it's not been an easy ride, but the people I’ve met and the kindness and open arms I am greeted with continues to blow my mind today. Really, what other craft can you just message another guy saying "hey I’m in your area" and they reply "come and stay, I'll show you around and put you up" it's really awesome.
Trails family forever!
My first "big" hill. It pretty much wrote me off! Ontario is pretty flat so coming through north PA was a shock after following the lake for so long. I took a chill stop and ended up playing with a cat for an hour haha.
“It’s been strange adjusting from living in a tent and cycling 50+km a day with a purpose, to being back at home.”
So, you’ve recently come back to England. How have you found being back and what have you been up to?
It’s great. My family is the most important thing in the world to me so spending time with them every day is awesome; not to forget all my amazing friends, the seemingly endless amount of things to do in the UK, and the joys of British weather… (Secretly I’m glad to not be in a -16c April!) I’ve mostly been hanging out with family, attended my best mates wedding, I went on a few rides of the big wheeled variety, towed my BMX to Bristol to spend time with my buds there. The Bristol trail scene is the best it’s ever been with two really rad spots that both have great crews. I’ve hardly ridden my BMX to be honest! I’m setting up my own stonemasonry business, so that’s been my main priority. Two weeks ago I put a nice big hole in my knee getting my foam pit flip game strong for NASS street this year, so it’s been heavy sessions on the PS4 and guitar. It’s been strange adjusting from living in a tent and cycling 50+km a day with a purpose, to being back at home. I’m also used to having a car so I’m feeling a bit stuck without one.
Fields in southern South Island, NZ
“Applying for a Canadian working holiday visa at the time was a shit show. Ever bought Glastonbury tickets? It was a lot like that. (...) I wanted it so bad and had read so many horror stories of people missing out by minutes.”
You’re originally from the West Country right? How did the move to Canada come about, and is that your permanent home now?
Yep! Best part of the country I’ve heard… it is pretty damn great here. People always say “you say you love it so much, so why don’t you move back?” Well Canada is an incredible place. Back in 2013 I called a good friend of mine, Tom. We’d worked, competed and trained together at various stonemasonry competitions all over the country throughout the latter years of my apprenticeship. We stayed in touch after the grand finale had finished (world skills), it was just after Christmas, and Tom told me he was moving to Canada. Immediately I asked him to email me some details. I was kind of looking for something new, something exciting, to broaden my horizons. I’d been at the same company for seven years since my apprenticeship driving down the same old roads and seeing people come and go. The wages were piss poor, it wasn't sustainable. “How would I afford a house?” I would ask myself. I could never afford to spend more than 500 quid on a car.
The following week I received a phone call from the foreman in Canada and plans were underfoot. I spruced up my CV, sifted through the hundreds of pictures of my finished stone work to find the gems (trying to make sure they were ones with no male nudity (stonemasons…)), and sent it off. The next day I got an email saying that if I could get a work visa the job was mine. I was ecstatic! ...little did I know the nightmare I would be up against over the next few months.
Applying for a Canadian working holiday visa at the time was a shit show. Ever bought Glastonbury tickets? It was a lot like that. The initial application process involved a few forms that had to be filled in online, where I had to make sure there were absolutely no spelling mistakes otherwise my application would be discarded. Hey, I got a B in GCSE English, I’ve got this. I got my form back the next day, which says I’m eligible. Nice! (Anyone under 30 was eligible at the time, whoop de doo basil). Next up was the second hurdle. The visas were released in batches of 1500 with a total of 5000 available. There is, however, a catch. Back then they wouldn’t tell you the time they would be released, only the date. You had to have your next set of forms filled out (around 20 odd) and ready to submit on the day as soon as the clock struck. I remember waiting in front of my computer, just clicking refresh every minute. I wanted it so bad and had read so many horror stories of people missing out by minutes. I would check several sources for leaks of what time it would be at in the hope of sniping the spot.
Eventually the time came round and I submitted that motherfucker quicker than you can say “ice hockey”. The results came in. over 40,000 people applied. There were only 5000 spaces and I got in! Fuck yeah! It’s been an amazing three years and I can see myself living there happily for a long while yet. It has space, amazing weather, kind, genuine, open people and a great standard of living. I’ve only seen 5% of the country and I’m so eager to see more!
Posh, Pennsylvania, October 2015
“I love riding a big bouncer down a hill and I love ripping a road bike down a country lane.”
Describe a typical day-in-the-life; what do you do for a living and for fun?
Mon-Fri/Sat I’m a stonemason. I cut and carve stone into various shapes for cathedrals, churches, manor houses, mansions, old cottages etc. this year marks a decade since I started the trade as a slightly podgy 16 year old. My old foreman said “you came here as a boy and you’re leaving as a man”. It’s definitely been good character building and makes me look at the world with a pretty unique perspective. I enjoy some aspects and hate others. That’s why I’m interested in doing my own thing now. I’ve met some awesome people and I’m proud to say masons are a special bunch: completely nuts. I think to repeatedly bash stone all day for nine hours you have to be slightly weird, hence why I waffle on so much eh?!
One thing I’d like to point out is this “common knowledge” that stonemasons are one of the highest paid trades couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the lads I went to college with told the same tales of low wages and hard work. Thankfully in Canada masons are more respected. In my apprenticeship I started on two pounds and hour and it didn’t climb much after that.
For fun I do a bunch of things. I used to ride BMX (haha) and I now have a big love for bicycle touring. I’m into all forms of bikes. I love riding a big bouncer down a hill and I love ripping a road bike down a country lane. I got into disc golf pretty hard in New Zealand. it’s a rad sport with a similar community feel to BMX I found. I play guitar, sing now and again, love cooking especially trying out new dishes. I also love throwing frisbees around (more on that later), mini golf and taking photos. I’ve been playing the PS4 a bunch cause of the knee; it’s pretty addictive! More recently being shit scared as a passenger in Ben Panting’s car has been a hobby too; most aggressive driver in the UK. I’ve been up the woods a few times and sorted some stuff out. I still love to dig; it’s just harder without a car having to ride for an hour to get to the trails.
Laos. I was super impressed with the architecture of the temples, and this was one of the things I was most excited to see. However it turns out that they are made 80% from concrete and cement. Dammit!
“I had planned to cycle from Ottawa to Pittsburgh towing my BMX as a warm up for New Zealand. It was pretty hellish and pretty quickly I realised I wasn’t ready for it. I had all the gear but had bit off more than I could chew.”
From what I understand you’ve spent the past year travelling around North America, Asia and New Zealand. Can you fill me in on your trip, like where you went, what you did and what led you to each place?
Every couple of years all the guys I grew up riding with would rent an RV and do a big trip around a section (or half) of the states. (Team trundle represent!) This year was the Pacific North West of America and it did not disappoint. Bowls for days! After that I flew back to the UK for a few days to see family, then not long after hopped on a plane the same colour as my beard to France with a few of my best trail buds (Pompom, PJ, Scott Green). We had the time of our lives in a camper van in the south of France. We met up with the hunkiest man in French BMX; Jems (Muller). Stephane, Will and Oui-oui came along for parts too. Will (Kerr) and his lass Helen joined up with us, and we ended up meeting Trav and Kim from west Oz on the road, bumped into Vince (Primel) and he tagged along too. Then we get to Banos and team Belgium were there. Damn it was awesome. This was all prior to the La Source jam. The day before we met Bentley, Inch, Dan (Broadfield) and John Spurr. It was an incredible few days with lots of looseness, even more people I hadn’t seen in an age and many new faces from trails all around the world. Even Will Herrmann appeared out of the Belgian van! I don’t want to miss a La Source jam ever again.
“The following 80km was just fields and quarries. It was brutal. I carried on riding into the sunset over bridges and past lakes. This all sounds very romantic but the light was fading and I still had 30km to go with 50km already under my belt. The trailer wobbled frantically throwing my bike around; it felt like I was wrestling a Rhino.”
After France I came back to the motherland to explore new places. My friend Panting was up in Aberdeen uni and I had never been to Scotland before so I asked my sister if she wanted to do a big road trip across to Wales, then to the lakes, then up to the Highlands to see Ben. Two days later we were off. We visited an Italian seaside town on a Welsh coast, jumped on suspended trampolines 200ft under the ground in an abandoned mine, camped under small mountains in the Lake District after climbing them, and hiked through gorges and past waterfalls in the Scottish Highlands. Shortly afterwards it was time to say goodbye to the family and go back to Canada.
I had planned to cycle from Ottawa to Pittsburgh towing my BMX as a warm up for New Zealand. It was pretty hellish and pretty quickly I realised I wasn’t ready for it. I had all the gear but had bit off more than I could chew. I had planned to ride 90-100km every day but the reality of towing nearly 100lbs worth of gear and bike meant I only managed 50km. On the days I set deadlines to meet people or be somewhere I had to cycle through the night with just my shitty bike lights and a head torch. There aren’t street lights on most Canadian back roads either.
My most memorable ride was along the rail trail from Ottawa to Kingston. The website said it had a smooth surface following recent renovations, which sounded perfect. However it failed to mention it was only the first 10km that had been renovated and the following 80km was just fields and quarries. It was brutal. I carried on riding into the sunset over bridges and past lakes. This all sounds very romantic but the light was fading and I still had 30km to go with 50km already under my belt. The trailer wobbled frantically throwing my bike around; it felt like I was wrestling a Rhino. As the day faded into darkness I whipped out my head torch and lights and continued my battle. The trail was barely a tyre width wide with the occasional huge rock thrown in for good measure. Tall wet grass brushed against my shins on every pedal stroke and the cold autumnal mist drew in, shrouding me with 2ft of vision. I kept checking my maps to see how much further I had to go. “I swear it’s the next road” I would keep telling myself, pulling up to the next road crossing only to be met with the wrong road. This carried on another six times. It was soul crushing. I pulled my phone out and saw a text from my mate Matt’s dad, offering to pick me up. I was 15km away from Kingston, which would’ve taken me another few hours with numb legs and I was soaked to the bone. Without hesitation I took up the offer and had an amazing home cooked lasagne and the warmest, comfiest, best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.
Your typical day in Asia by a waterfall.
“I found Asia interesting. It was a culture shock to see that scale of poverty. I’m glad I experienced it but I don’t think I’ll go back. I tired of the constant shouting and hustling of people trying to sell you stuff and get you in their tuk tuk or whatever.”
I spent the next few weeks with Will Lueth’s and his family. These guys made me feel like part of the family and I was sad to leave; I have so much love for them. We rode jumps everyday and shredded pit bikes in the huge quarry down the road. Will has worked super hard on his backyard paradise and I love spending time there. Let’s go to cedar point next time! Haha!
My next stop was the man the myth the legend; Justin Desko. I had met Justin at a welcome jam three years ago and we had a blast. I’m so stoked that Justin, Roth and Kris are at the reigns of Deluxe now. I couldn’t think of dudes more suitable for the job! We hit up Desko’s trails “the beach”, ate crazy fairvegas hotdogs by the fire and watched some funny as TV series. (What was that show called man!?) We hit up Rays indoor bike park for a classic seven hour power session and went for a ride out on this peninsula which had the nicest beaches. I didn’t even know stuff like that existed in PA! A huge thanks to Justin and Gretchen for putting me up and an endless supply of treats haha.
I ended up making it to the Burgh where Potozcny met me just outside and man it was great to see him! I spent the next few weeks riding every day, doing trains with the boys, seeing live music, banjo shows and going on a crazy city-wide group fancy dress ride which was unreal. I did laps with Doyle, Arks, Protoz and Zach at Hazel which was rad. Even Yeagle came rustling through the bushes. We decked out Mark and Mikes front room with a hand built maze and threw a killer halloween party. We had Bobby and Jolie playing in the basement, more people in a blow up hot tub than should be possible and a passed out nun on the kitchen couch. I want to say a huge thank you and send all my love to everyone in the Burgh, you guys are awesome and I can’t wait to come back again and get up to more shenanigans.
Another windy day. It actually felt like a hurricane on this day. Alongside the hydro canal cycle route we were plagued with insane gusts the whole day. At one point we hit a junction advising to take the low route in high winds. The low route was a near vertical gravel road that avoided the narrow thick gravel perimeter high road. There was no way we would make it down the low route let alone walk down it, so we ended up pushing over the gravel, falling over every 10 feet barely able to stand up. I’d never experienced wind like it. This photo was taken just after, thankfully where the winds had died down. I’ll never forget it.
“Cycling around a country is the best way to see it and take it all in, without a doubt. You get to see it, smell it, hear it and feel it. You get to have conversations with locals at the side of the road, meet likeminded people who are also cycling and bring life back down to the essentials; what am I going to eat today and where am I going to sleep?”
I left the Burgh high on life. The cold was setting in and I was jetting off to get burnt as a tomato. I found Asia interesting. It was a culture shock to see that scale of poverty. I’m glad I experienced it but I don’t think I’ll go back. I tired of the constant shouting and hustling of people trying to sell you stuff and get you in their tuk tuk or whatever. I understand it’s their livelihood but it got a little much for me. It’s also got a huuuuuge tourist culture which is just not up my street, but I did lots of rad swimming, saw some cool temples and drank a bunch of cheap cocktails.
After Asia was the final adventure: a cycle round New Zealand. Everyone’s seen the pictures, heard the stories, and it didn’t disappoint. I think it would’ve been more savage a few years ago with less camper vans and crazy drivers everywhere but after a few weeks with Jimmy I learned that kiwis *just drive fast*. My two great friends’ Butterworth and Ross both cycled around NZ with their BMXs in trailers a few years ago and they were my main inspiration for doing it. I hate travelling without my BMX, so hell I thought I’ll bring it with me! Cycling in shorts and a tee in 25c weather on open sealed roads was much nicer than my previous experience. I won’t write too much about NZ as it’s all been said before: amazing people, surreal scenery, lots of camper vans haha.
Cycling around a country is the best way to see it and take it all in, without a doubt. You get to see it, smell it, hear it and feel it. You get to have conversations with locals at the side of the road, meet likeminded people who are also cycling and bring life back down to the essentials; what am I going to eat today and where am I going to sleep?
Boyd riding Posh during the 2015 Halloween Jam. This is possibly my best photo of the trip and it just so happens to be Boyd! Yeah he roasted all day like it was his local.
“Having no rent meant I could just save all my money. On top of this we were working 60 hour weeks six days a week. You’re thinking, great! Rolling in it! But I quickly wondered if the money was worth it.”
Was the trip planned for sometime or was it a last-minute pack up and go scenario? Was it easy for you to leave? How did you finance and prepare for it?
I had it in the works for a while. After moving to Canada I actually managed to save money for once in my life which was an amazing feeling. Having worked full time since I was 16 and hearing my mates amazing stories of travel and adventure, I decided I should do my own before semi-settling down. One of my biggest inspirations is my friend Ross Dummet. You name it Ross has cycled it and has a story or two to tell you wouldn’t believe. His adventures fuelled my enthusiasm for saving money and experiencing it. Overall I had planned what countries and cities to visit and routes to take, with the exception of NZ where we pretty much just bought a map and and winged it.
To fund the trip I left Ottawa and took a job out in Saskatchewan. I gave up my apartment in Ottawa and moved into my best bud Matt’s house, but a week later we got the news we’d be moving out to Sask for the job. For those who don’t know Saskatchewan, it’s THE flattest place in Canada, also known as the Canadian prairies. It’s essentially all agriculture out there. Hundreds, thousands, millions of acres, with wooden and steel grain Silos dotted all over the vast bleak fields and plains. I worked on a really cool project with a great team of guys and girls. We lived in a working house with six of us in one big old Victorian house. Having no rent meant I could just save all my money. On top of this we were working 60 hour weeks six days a week. You’re thinking, great! Rolling in it! But I quickly wondered if the money was worth it.
A few months into the project I broke up with my girlfriend as the distance was making us miserable. Mid winter it was -30 most days but very dry and I was going through body lotion like you wouldn’t believe. (There’s a joke in there somewhere). All I wanted to do was sleep. That’s when my PS4 addiction started. Me and my mate went halves and it was all downhill from there haha, but it got me through the boredom of winter. I also cooked a lot, played guitar and sang. When spring finally came around I needed an outdoor activity. I couldn’t just drink $10 pitchers of sangria all weekend on the deck like some of the lads, so Matt got a frisbee and said let’s go! I was hooked instantly and played everyday. I also brought my bike out with me and started going on road rides everywhere. I ended up meeting Allison and we decided to travel together. A year went by and my final day had come. I walked out of the office and down the 15 flights of scaffold for the last time. When I working there it seemed like the worst but looking back it wasn’t all bad, and it set me up for an adventure of a lifetime!
“The nine months I spent in Saskatchewan saving up for the trip sucked. No BMX, no scenery, no fun. Looking back it killed BMX for me. Even on the trip I wasn’t that pumped to ride.”
What was your main motivation for travelling?
To broaden my horizons, experience new things, open my mind, try crazy food, interact with people, take photos of things, achieve things, look back in 50 years and say; “oh hell yeah!” *see above*.
I’m sure this won’t be easy to narrow down, but can you pick out a few highlights and most memorable moments from the trip?
Man. Tough.. Uhhhhhhrrr, seeing friends I hadn’t seen in years... Orcas island skatepark, go there! Crack shack tree house place on orcas. Walmart PBR Canada, Colorado, natural hot pools at Mt Hood, the Scottish Highlands, La Source jam, swimming in the warm French sea, jumping Banos “hip de la mort” for the first time, Paul, Pompom and Scott’s farts in the camper, any time of day. Fuck, the cycle from Ottawa to Kingston, that night’s sleep, crossing the Canada/US border at Niagara, seeing Will and his dad Andy in Niagara, pulling up to the beach trails and riding in the rain, my night ride to meet Protoz from Fairvegas to the burgh. Halloween at the Potozcnys, “the tub” every day, spending the day with Lydia, jumping the last three in Menage for the first time - holy shit! Trains with Doyle, going to a locals only market in Cambodia - wild. Seeing my first Scarab beetle/Horned beetle/massive spider in front of my face. Eating snake/crickets, learning to scuba dive, cycling the back roads of NZ in the sunshine, the feeling of absolute freedom, Farm jam, evening laps with Will, Dan showing me what a special press up looks like, actually anytime Dan says something it makes me laugh, same for John! The ferry ride to Orcas, “that night out” in Colorado that started with mid day rum and cokes. “RUM? RUM?” All the amazing new friends I made along the way... I’ll have to stop here as I could go on forever. I feel very lucky and humbled to have had such an amazing journey.
That hotel in Cambodia worked out at like 50 quid a night. You’d be pushed to get a Travelodge for that!
“I’ll never sacrifice my friends and doing the thing I love ever again for a “big holiday”. My days at work were filled with nothing but daydreams of a better life consisting of no work and freedom, but when you’re in that freedom 24/7 you get numb to it.”
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt from the past year?
Not to sacrifice happiness and love for monetary gain, even if it’s for almost a year of no work living this stupid amazing lifestyle. The nine months I spent in Saskatchewan saving up for the trip, aside from the work and a few parties, sucked. No BMX, no scenery, no fun. Looking back it killed BMX for me. Even on the trip I wasn’t that pumped to ride. The love had died and it was a strange and un-enjoyable feeling. Hanging out with everyone in Wanaka (NZ) ignited the fire for a short while but I kept questioning “is this it for BMX for me?” It turned out I had just missed being part of a community: the Brose Farm and my buds in Canada and the SW trail scene in the UK, well the whole UK scene in general is a great community.
I’ll never sacrifice my friends and doing the thing I love ever again for a “big holiday”. My days at work were filled with nothing but daydreams of a better life consisting of no work and freedom, but when you’re in that freedom 24/7 you get numb to it. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, like ‘oh this guy is living the dream and he’s not happy’, and it’s not that I wasn’t happy near the end, it was just sensory overload. You see mountain after mountain, post card after post card. I would say to myself, “wow this is beautiful,” “man my friends would love this”... It was then that I realised that sharing experiences with friends and being part of a community and family are the most important things in life for me now.
“I turned on my 10 dollar MEC lights and my swanky head torch and pedalled on into the thick, wet fog. Every so often the trail would break and lead to a road, giving me false hope that I had come to the end. I was in the middle of nowhere in Ontario with no feeling in my legs.”
Did you get into any tricky situations along the way? Do you have any gnarly experiences? How did you overcome them?
The most memorable for me was my first bicycle tour from Canada to the states where the ‘newly renovated’ trail to Kingston ceased after 10km with 80km to go. The further I went the more unruly it became: Boulders, rocks, puddles, and one section even had a marsh. I somehow trucked on through in the dark. It was a damp, cold, fall night in October. I turned on my 10 dollar MEC lights and my swanky head torch and pedalled on into the thick, wet fog. Every so often the trail would break and lead to a road, giving me false hope that I had come to the end. I was in the middle of nowhere in Ontario with no feeling in my legs. I was so relieved when I turned on my phone and saw a message from my friend telling me his dad was picking me up.
That night I had the greatest sleep of my life and was eternally grateful for Matt’s family for helping me out. But I knew that I wouldn’t always be so lucky.
I saw that you did most of your travelling on a touring bike, taking your stuff including your BMX with you a lot of the time. What made you decide to take this approach? Was this the first time you’ve toured to this extent?
Yeah that’s right. I got the inspiration from two of my good friends Ross and Adam. They cycled NZ with their BMXs on a way more bare bones set up than me. I remember being blown away and thinking holy shit I want to do that one day! I did a practice tour from Ottawa to Pittsburgh last year which was just under 1000km. it was hectic but at least I knew what I was letting myself in for. The days were long and tiring but, man, seeing that you’ve cycled even a few hundred km is a great feeling, and the people you meet are rad. There is no better way to see a country, inside and out. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Catty Woods Halloween jam, 2015
“There were a few days (in Canada) when I saw maybe one or two people out in the sticks, whereas in NZ I’d see 100,000 camper vans, tourists and a lot more cycle tourers.”
Were there times you worried about running out of essential supplies like food and water?
Not really, we were always stocked up on stuff and I had a water filter pump. I love camp gear haha. We did smash through a loaf of bread every two days with peanut butter and jelly sarnies though!
What were the best places for pedalling on the road? How did cycling in N.America for example compare with New Zealand? Did you have any issues with motorists and dangerous roads?
North America was great for cycling really. Canada is so vast and under populated that as soon as you are out of the city it’s quiet. There were a few days I saw maybe one or two people out in the sticks, whereas in NZ there were 100,000 camper vans, tourists and a lot more cycle tourers. North American drivers were great and NZ drivers were pretty wild; often the ones with bikes on the roof rack were the worst as well as shit bus drivers. In NZ the highways are just two lanes with no hard shoulder so it got a bit savage at times.
You also rode a lot of trails on the trip. What were the trails and general BMX highlights?
I guess I rode a few! Even though it doesn’t really feel like it. So off the top of my head; Denver, Colorado public ones (I forget the name dammit), La Source, Urkatu, Hoppy, Banos, Pumpy, Posh, Catty, Hazel, HVT, Brad land, Phil’s place, Wanaka, Gorge rd, Frew Farm, Troys (NZ Vinewood) , PMP.
BMX highlights: Farm jam was unreal, Posh and Catty jams are always amazing, hanging in the woods with Protoz, Jimi, Cottle and the boys is rad and seeing Foerske go 50ft high to flat at PMP was probably one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen. I always felt so welcome visiting everyone. The trails scene is the ultimate family. Hanging with Jimmy, Quinn and Gina in the woods on an evening or bowl sessions by the lake is unforgettable.
“It’s amazing being back with my family every day, I get to hear about their days and laugh about the stupid way we look at life as a completely nuts family. I’m riding my bike 3-4 times a week, I’ve got a shovel in my hand more days than not and I’m part of something again, helping out at Pumpy in Bristol.”
What tips do you have for others about to travel with lots of gear and a bike(s)?
Pack light, don’t bite of more than you can chew, go with someone on the same wavelength and fitness level as you. Be prepared to eat insane amounts. Get out there!
What none-riding things did you do on the trip and where did you find most culturally interesting?
People watching all the cunts in Queenstown... ahaha joking (am I?!). All the religious stuff in SE Asia is pretty nuts. The temples there are rad although the stone work is a bit sketchy which sucks (considering some of it has UNESCO status).
Five items you found most useful wherever you went?
Bog roll spf 50+, solar panel for constant music, camera, MSR stove.
If you could go back to the start of the trip, would you do anything differently?
Yeah not blow a lot of money on cocktails in SE Asia and not go there for as along. I didn’t know what to expect. I shouldn’t really look at it like that but two months was too long. Take less shit, but I’m not sure how that’s possible as I tried to travel really light; it’s amazing how it all adds up.
What places are you planning to go back to?
NZ to see all the Wanaka and Christchurch crew and PA this fall all being well.
“Thanks to all my friends all over the world for the great times. You’ve shaped my life and who I am more than you could imagine. I really don’t know what I’d do without BMX and trails in my life.”
What does the future hold?
Right now I’m really happy being back in the UK. So much so that I’ve already booked flights to France this September for the La Source jam. I’ve spent the past two years always looking for what’s next, always asking myself where should I go and where I should work. I’ve landed on my feet here and am now I’m self employed and started an online shop (shameless plug) and am doing a lot of work for a friends company. It’s amazing being back with my family every day, I get to hear about their days and laugh about the stupid way we look at life as a completely nuts family. I’m riding my bike 3-4 times a week, I’ve got a shovel in my hand more days than not and I’m part of something again, helping out at Pumpy in Bristol. I have to thank those guys for having me turn up and salt all their jumps, change stuff and still be my mate… hahah. I’m getting a car next week, so expect some heavy back wheel action coming your way soon! I can’t wait to see all my trail brothers all over this little rock. My Canadian adventure isn’t over yet though, I’ll be returning in September, moving out west for a new start in a strange new land.
Any final words?
I’d like to say a huge thank you to all that we met and spent time with in NZ, especially Pete, Alex, Mark, Brad, Joe, Possum, Rich and Phil from Christchurch. (Thanks for letting us live in your humble abode whilst we got our shit together!) Jimmy, Quinn, Gina, Pete, Jack, and the “good farmer cunts” that gave me a job. Love ya all to the moon and back. I literally felt like Wanaka was my home. Thanks to jimmy for pretty much giving us his house for such a long time. (Theme of the trip?) Haha. Thanks to the Cable family for also housing us in our time of need, a thousand thank yous! The Frew family, Brett, thanks for being so kind and welcoming. When I met you it was like we’d known each other for years. All the French crew, especially Jems, for the amazing hospitality. But to all the dudes out there it’s a hell of a job for the La Source jam to be pulled off every year. Fromage de bite forever! All my grundle amigos, always unforgettable trips, kooky as hell... My Pittsburgh brothers and sisters! They always make me feel like one of the team out there and I can’t wait to see what the next trip has in store. And a special thanks to the Potozcnys for letting me live in the basement. Thanks to Mark Noble, Justin Desko, Roth Desko and Kris Bennett for the opportunity to ride for Deluxe; an amazing bunch of individuals doing great things. I couldn’t be happier to represent a brand that is all about the lifestyle I love so much. Thanks for the help over the years. Thanks to Allison for coming on the trip in the first place. It was a bit of a roller coaster but we made it and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thanks to my amazing family for looking after me when I fuck up. Thanks to mum for all the lifts to the trails, for taking hits on the air in the hospital with me instead of being mad when I tore my ACL. To my sister for making me laugh on the worst days. I love you all.
And finally, thanks to all my friends all over the world for the great times. You’ve shaped my life and who I am more than you could imagine. I really don’t know what I’d do without BMX and trails in my life. It’s so cliché but what other sport lets you travel the world to become instantly best friends with complete strangers, share food, drinks, and all work toward a common goal?! See you on the flat bottom! yooooo!