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Blog Interviews

Scene Builders: Denny Ward

J Bone hit me up a while back about an idea he had for a interview series revolving around trail builders who have heavily impacted the scene around them. It should go without saying that I was immediately onboard with the idea, especially when he told me that the first person he had in mind to interview was the Beltway Trails’ Denny Ward. Denny may not have started Beltway, but since he took over the reins a few years ago, he’s built both the trails and the scene around them up to a level that I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined. It’s nothing to go out there on an ordinary Sunday and there be a couple dozen people in the woods, digging, riding, grilling, and just enjoying the camaraderie of being part of the reemerging Baltimore, Maryland trails scene. Sure, a lot of people have contributed to it, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone of them who would disagree that Denny is the person who not only rekindled the trails flame in Baltimore, but is the one who keeps it stoked and growing!

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Interview by Jason Lonergan | Photos by Rob Dolecki and Steven Johnson

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Name: Denny Ward
Age: 32
Hometown: Dundalk/Baltimore, MD
Years riding trails: 18 years. Started with trails, then mixed in some park, and have been hitting it hard for the past six years.
Local spot your involved with: Beltway
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How did you first discover BMX trails?

There was always some kind of ditch jump in the neighborhood, then me and my friends stumbled upon this set of jumps behind a 7-Eleven that we would ride. It wasn’t until the guys at the local bike shop told us about a set of trails nearby called The Ditch. At this point I’ve only seen a few jumps in videos but what we were about to experience would change our lives forever. I remember walking into the woods and seeing jump after jump in a rhythm section with transfers, speeds sets, and berms. The only person in the woods was this guy with no shirt, big sideburns, listening to a walkman, and slapping a lip like it owed him money. This ended up being the trailboss named Wally and later that day he was folding over one of the best tables I’ve ever seen over that same jump. The very next day we went straight to the 7-Eleven spot and started building our first rhythm section.
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With BMX divided up into different types of riding , what is it about trails that captures your interest?

What grabs my interest most is the flow, speed and roast! You can’t get the feeling of ripping a berm and then roasting a big jump at the skatepark. Also, I really enjoy the creative side of building and designing trails. When I was younger I used to draw up skate park designs but they would never get put into motion. With trails all I need is a shovel, some cold beer, and wet clay.
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What does it take to build a trails scene?

People. It’s really hard and discouraging to do it by yourself. I know there are a lot of people out there digging alone, and I give them a ton of credit, but if you can get at least one or two others guys it makes the world of difference. Once you have a few guys in the crew it’s best to set certain days of the week that you plan to dig that way everyone can coordinate their responsibilities around that. Food and beer help too!
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Trail riders are a breed of there own, what do you feel are some common threads between them?

Passion, creativeness, and energy.
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Besides the satisfaction from digging and riding, what other benefits come from being involved with a trails scene?

Enjoying nature and being in the woods with a bunch of friends. I could easily hang out at a friend’s house or go to a bar, but being in the woods you get all of that plus the fact that you’re riding and building at the same time. Exercise is another benefit, trails keep me somewhat in shape and healthy. #trailsfit
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What can we do to keep trails alive and assure there will be trails for future generations to ride and enjoy?

With so many different riding options these days we need to make trails a fun and positive environment. There is only a select few of us who enjoy digging so it’s really important to get people stoked about riding first and over time they will be hooked. It’s easy to spray salt on the dry guys but if you approach it with patience and appreciate the small things people contribute you’ll have less stress and a better scene. Now I’m not saying let people ride without contributing, let people prove who is willing to do work and who isn’t before jumping to conclusions. The way I look at it is I’m happy building new stuff and appreciate it when people pick up trash, tarp, dry pits, and do maintenance. Let me and the crew build new stuff and let the non-locals get everything ready for the shred sesh.
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Last words?

Just want to give a shout out to the crew that keeps Beltway alive and thriving: Dorsey, Chris, Zane, Sean, Forney, Russell and Jesse!! Would like to thank my sponsors Home Depot, HDX Plastics, and Razorback for always keeping my gear fresh!
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Categories
Interviews

Interview: Ashley Charles & Relic BMX

Call me jaded, but having lived through the mid to late 2000s era of every schmo who had ever swung a leg over a twenty inch starting a BMX company, I generally don’t get too excited when I hear about a new brand being launched. There have been a few exceptions though, and hearing that UK legend Ashley Charles was starting his own brand was one of them. It’s been a little over a year and a half since Ash launched Relic BMX, and in that time their line has slowly and thoughtfully grown to include two stems, a sprocket, bars, a railed (yes railed!) seat and post, and a collection of softgoods. Their products have a classic aesthetic to them that I personally find to be quite appealing. When it was announced earlier this summer that Clint Reynolds would be riding for Relic, I knew I had to shoot some questions over to Ash to find out more about how the brand came to be and where it was heading…

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Blog Interviews

Interview: Derrick Girard and the Quad Saw Sprocket

Derrick Girard…. Man, myth, legend…. Those of you who know the name will be excited to read where he’s been and what he’s been up to, and those of you that don’t have probably drooled over his custom machined/engraved sprockets that adorn the steads of some the biggest names in BMX without even knowing the name or the history of the man behind them. He exploded onto the scene and inspired many (myself included) with his skillfully loose and wild beast man style, rode for FBM with the wildest bunch of dudes, had a signature frame called the Deployer and had the best suicide no handers in the game. Without taking anything away from Trey Jones who rode shoeless and sockless at the Vans BMX bowl contest, but when Girard did it in the early 2000’s he didn’t wrap padding around his pedals…

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Blog Interviews

Interview: Kye Forte on 22″ Bikes and His New Signature United KF22 Complete

The 22″ wheel, a lot of us had passed judgment before even seeing one, let alone riding one! I myself know that as soon as I heard of this new stead making a name for itself in our little sport, I had visions of 40 year old men having a midlife crisis riding around the woods on cruiser like machines doing hip hangers and turn bars, but after actually seeing one and riding one, I can personally vouch for their awesomeness. Below is a little Q&A I did with Kye Forte, the man behind United’s new 22″ K22 complete which is due to hit the shops mid August at a retail of around £650 (Approximately $840), which in my eyes is going to make it a regular sight at the trails.

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Interviews

The Twelve Pack: Anthony Napolitan

Name: Anthony Napolitan

Age: 28, going on 29 in a month.

Local Trails: Wetlands

Hook Ups: I’m riding for Torque Apparel, Maxxis Tires, SOL Republic, POC Helmets, Ethika, and Profile Racing. My Maxxis and POC relationship is going on 10 years, and Profile is 10+.

Just getting right into it, what happened with Red Bull?

To be honest I can’t even give you guys a good answer because Red Bull still hasn’t been clear with me about why our agreement ended. Back in September I arranged a meeting with them because my 3 year deal was up in 2015. So I just wanted to get the ball rolling with all of that knowing that it takes time to get a new deal lined up and ready to sign before the calendar year starts. So it was their decision.

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Interviews

Interview: Merritt’s Mike Brennan & Sean Curran

In the almost ten years that I’ve known Mike Brennan I’ve seen him go from a relatively unknown rider from New Jersey who landed tailwhips with one foot on the top tube (sorry Mike I had to!) to being a full on BMX pro. Sponsors, traveling, video parts, the whole nine yards. Over that time Mike has continued to grow as both a rider and a person and has added a wife and kids into that mix as well. He’s also put in some considerable work on the business side of the BMX industry, first with Animal Bikes and now with his latest venture Merritt. I heard the first rumblings about Merritt right before 2012’s Interbike. I usually don’t get too excited when a new company pops up but something told me that this company was going to be different. Over the past year and a half, Mike along with partner and highly respected product designer Sean Curran have been steadily growing Merritt into their vision of what a BMX company should be. With a stacked team that includes Brian Foster and some very well thought out and aesthetically pleasing products, Merritt has gone from the new company on the block to one that is well on its way to being one of the industry leaders.

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Interviews

Trails Certified: Kink’s Mudrunner Frame

Kink is a company that commands a lot of respect. Over the course of almost two decades it has grown from a small company producing axles and pegs into one of the biggest companies in bmx. Over the years they have put out a slew of legendary products such as the El Guapo pegs, the Freebird frame, the Jim Cielencki signature frame, and the list goes on and on. These days they produce a full line of bikes, frames, parts, and even clothing, and every year the line gets more and more dialed. A lot of thought goes into the design of each and everything Kink makes, which is why my attention was instantly piqued when I heard that they were going to be releasing a trails frame. Pictures of the frame first started surfacing just over a year ago and they had a lot of people talking. Fast forward to now and Kink’s Mudrunner frame has gone through the same rigorous team testing that all of their products do and is now available at shops and mail orders worldwide. I shot a few questions over to Kink’s product designer/brand manager Matt Antes to find out a little bit more about the recent addition to their frame line. Check out what he had to say and have a closer look at Kink’s newest entry into the trails frame market.

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Interviews

Interview: Prettyshady Joe

I’m not sure when or even how I first came across Prettyshady. What I do know is that once I did it became the site that I religiously checked every time I got on the computer. At the time it seemed like every other BMX site was solely concerned with videos of the latest grind or ones showing that someone had been able to kick their bike around another time. Prettyshady was different and posted videos that I wanted to see. While trails had all but fallen off of the radar of other sites, Prettyshady was often updated with videos of trails that I had never seen or heard of. There was a lot of talk at the time that trails were dead and that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Prettyshady proved that almost everyday! One of the cool things about site was the randomness of it all. Not only were there trails videos but also all of sorts of random things like Formula 1,  Tour De France, crash videos, vintage bikes, etc. Prettyshady not only was a place to find trails videos but it also offered a window into the world of Joe Alderson, or Prettyshady Joe as he came to be known. As time went on Prettyshady seemed to slow down a bit. What was interesting was that you could see Joe’s changing interest by what he posted on the site. Prettyshady had a huge influence on me starting CYDI. It showed me that not only were there trails videos out there that were mostly going unseen but more importantly that trails were very far from dead! Even though I was a huge fan of the site, up until recently I really didn’t know much about the man behind it. Just by chance a few months ago I ended up getting Joe’s email from a mutual friend and we’ve been chatting back and forth ever since. Prettyshady has recently evolved into Veloup and I wanted to interview Joe about that change and about some of the history behind Prettyshady. He has stories for days so kick back and enjoy this one!

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Interviews

Interview: Scott Draper

Scott is a G when it comes to trails, if you have been around for the last 10 years then i’m sure you have crossed paths with Scott at some point. I haven’t had the chance to ride with him in the last few years, so we decided to do a little bit of catching up. Draper is currently hurt posted up in Austin, have a read what he’s been doing.

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Interviews

The Twelve Pack: Blaine Mazzetti

Name: Blaine Mazzetti

Age: 25

Local Trails: My backyard setup and Shawn Shimkets yard (North County San Diego)

Hook Ups: None, other than my wife’s family for letting us use their land for the trails and run up their water bill outrageously high every month.

1. Who would you want to have digging with you if you had to start a new set of trails?

Obviously my local crew: Shawn Shimkets, Braden Banfer, and Adam Watkins, these guys all bust ass and move some dirt! If I had to start fresh with a new spot and crew, well I’d have to go with the Hazelwood crew or the Eastside guys, if you’ve been to either spot you’ll know why. These guys move some serious dirt and build some rad jumps.