photo manipulation by nacrowe
i think everyone can appreciate a disruptor. someone that comes out of left fied and innovates to such an extent that an industry has to react in their wake.
in terms of sports i have written in the past about RODNEY MULLEN (blog entry linked HERE), a legendary skateboarder who found a way to incorporate (then-tragically unhip) freestyle elements into street skateboarding and basic birthed modern flat ground trick. what once was deemed outsider then became the very lexicon upon which the modern sport defines itself.
i don't think its hyperbole to put AUSTRALIAN 3X BMX BIG AIR X GAMES champion RYAN WILLIAMS on that same level. in terms of action sports, SCOOTERS are looked at as a joke. a kid's toy. probably ironically the same way people used to view skateboarding and bicylce riding. currently FREESTYLE SCOOTER is still not an X GAMES event. but FREESTYLE BMX is.
what's interesting about WILLIAMS is that being a FREESTYLE SCOOTER pro, he was able to incorporate various tricks into BMX that had never been attempted or considered before, things like BRI FLIPS, INWARD BRI FLIPS and my favorite, the FREE WILLY (SCOOTER-only).
again, a new lexicon of tricks get incorporate into the sport from an overlooked and undervalued related sport.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
life's funny sometimes.
the summer before 6th grade i got in a BMX bicycle accident. a very serious one that landed me in the ICU for several days and came perilously close to paralyzing me or worse. i was very lucky. literally my head missed a curb by inches and no, i was not wearing a helmet.
that was back in '96 and since then i have had a fascination with bikes in general and i'm almost certain it comes from that experience. i've ridden BMX bikes since but for whatever reason i've never owned once since the accident.
this is not to say that i haven't conquered other fears. i've long hated/feared flying but have been in innumerable flights my entire life, including twice on a helicopter (BRAZIL and ZAMBIA). i've had a strong fear of being trapped since childhood, but have learned to really enjoy SCUBA DIVING (LOS ROQUES and ISLA MARGARITA in VENEZUELA).
but for me there is something about bicycles that equates to a sense of freedom. in JAPAN my exploration of my neighborhood only really got underway after getting a multi-speed cruiser that i rode to work in (sighhh, that thing was awesome) and later in MYANMAR where i was teaching the only real mode of transportation was via scooter (taxis were inefficient).
i ended up getting a HONDA CLICK which had a 125cc engine and really flew. for me it was almost too fast. driving in MANDALAY was insane because literally nobody followed any rules of the road out there. at any moment cars, trucks, scooters, street dogs, chickens, whatever might come at you or cross the road from either side. it was dangerous. but i have to say that the idea of getting out of work and driving through flooded rice fields with water buffalo gently lifting their heads out of the paddies while in distance you could see the golden spires of buddhist monasteries is something i will always take with me. i loved that scooter and how it gave me the ability to really explore northern MYANMAR.
i believe my fear of accidents died with that scooter since twice i had to jump off it to avoid other riders making careless decisions. both times i got scraped up but luckily broke nothing. driving a scooter in southeast ASIA can be pretty gnarly and i credit it with getting me over my slight phobia of BMX bikes.
gopro footage from my scooter in MYANMAR
so since coming back to the states almost two years ago i was long considering obtaining a BMX bike. what is funny is that i went to a bike shop in central NEW JERSEY multiple times, initially to educate myself from the staff and later to purchase something. i learned later after buying my bike that this shop is owned by SCOTTY CRANMER, a local NEW JERSEY BMX legend roughly my age who is tied with DAVE MIRRA with 11 X-GAMES PARK MEDALS. what is interesting about this is not his numerous medals, but his story of recovery.
in 2016 he got in a terrible bike accident that initially left him paralyzed with restricted motor skills. by sheer will the dude got himself to eventually be able to walk again and eventually maintain his balance well enough to stay on his bike for short periods.
the idea that i bought my bike from a store where there is a shared experience with the owner is not lost on me and it seems rather funny and poetic. only gives me further motivation to keep riding!
if you get a chance i recommend his YouTube channel as it is inspiring to see someone continue to support other riders in spite of his setbacks. it shows a true love of his sport and the community around it. dude is, no joke, an inspiration.