Interview: Prettyshady Joe

bmx trails dirt jumping dirtjumping

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!

Let’s go ahead and get all the obligatory intro stuff out of the way first. Name, age, and where you’re from.

My name is Joe, 30, and I was born and raised in Oxfordshire.

Where do you live these days?

In the south of France, in the countryside around 30 minutes from Peynier.


Onboard with Joe through Peynier

How’d you end up there?

I was the only person in my year at school to get a D in French at GCSE so its a surprise. I never wanted to go to France but my parents had a holiday flat in a city here. I came here for a week or two, then for longer trips and ended up staying as It was interesting to live somewhere new. As for why the countryside, we could not afford to live anywhere ok in the city so moved a little further out.

What do you do for a living? You’re always posting pictures of old bikes that your buying and selling so I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks you’re some kind of professional bike hustler!

5 years ago it was possible to buy old road bikes for next to nothing here. I learned the value of every road bike part made from 1950 to 1988 so I could tell which bikes were worth good money and then I could sell those certain parts on ebay to people in Japan.

Unfortunately for me, its very hard to buy a good old bike now and I got tired of selling on ebay. I believe the value of vintage bikes is increasing steadily so I have kept a large number in a private collection and I am waiting. This will either be a private museum or if I have to I will sell one or two if i need some money in the future.

Other than professional bike hustler I work sporadically for english speaking old ladies doing odd jobs like painting and pulling up weeds. One time for example I was asked to go round to maximise a safari window on an apple macbook. So anything between slave labour and high class butler.

I don’t work often but I live on a very very low budget. I can remember the last time I purchased something at a petrol station other than fuel, it was a summer deluxe trip in 2009. Normally I would never resort to buying food at a convenience store as it is overpriced and its more efficient to be prepared and bring a sandwich but I was so desperate for food. I try my best not to spend any money, no buying alcohol, no car, no evenings outs. Some days its hard, some days its easy.

How and when did Prettyshady start?

I had to make a magazine for a college assignment, and printing it was too expensive so I put it on the internet which we had at college. This was just about when 56k internet stared being available at home, this turned into a website and got named knowlhill.com but after a few years the name disactivated.

Prettyshady.com started in February 2004, there were so many small scene blogs that we wanted to one mega site where people would upload photos to the photobooks. I chose not to put “bmx” in the name and when we made stickers I ditched the fancy bookman old style script for boring times new roman. I wanted prettyshady to be different to the average bmx site, putting effort into the content rather than fancy designs

Prettyshady has always had a very DIY low budget vibe to it. Was that intentional or was it just out of necessity?

The first dvd was filmed on borrowed videos cameras. After the first dvd I had enough money to buy a very cheap sony handycam. I didn’t have a job but that gave me more time to go out and ride and film more. I found when I tried investing in prettyshady it made no difference, people were buying the dvd’s to see all the different trails in the country not for the quality of the footage. I also preferred to get the videos out as soon as the trail season ended in novemberish. Some people spend 9 months preparing a dvd and by then the footage is all a bit old hat, prettyshady dvd’s were fresh, bang bang riding, but with a lower production quality. So both intentional and a necessity.

What was the deal with the first Prettyshady DVD covers?

Making covers would cost money, and I thought it would be cool to have home made one off covers. How hard can it be to make 25 or so cool covers? Well the problem was it sold way more than 25 copies. In the evening I’d have a stack of 33 dvd’s to post and I’d sit there with a friend / my sister / whoever trying to make covers while the computer burnt dvd’s every 9 minutes. Some of them were masterpieces other were just a scribble, people I didn’t know would come up to me to complain about their prettyshady 1 cover like 5 years after it came out.

To post the dvd’s on budget the pack had to be under 100 grams. Often I had to take a pair of scissors and cut some plastic out of the dvd case to get the pack under 100 grams. If I received a trails dvd back in 2004 from a website called prettyshady and the dvd box had a hole cut out and the cover was some leaves shoved in the dvd sleeve I would be so happy. After a few complaints and struggling to make enough covers I went for photocopies for dvds 2 to 6.


Prettyshady 2 Danzig Section

How many Prettyshady dvds have there been.

Made one after every riding season, from 2004 – prettyshady 1 up to 2009 with prettyshady 6. Prettyshady 7 (2010) almost happened but didn’t due to a number of reasons. I would love to go out a make a new dvd of next years season like prettyhady 3, but I am not in the situation to do it. I would love to film Jon Robinson at Epsom, Jimmy at Leatherhead again and go film some new lesser know spots and other lines that no other media guys cover. Hint; some one do it. Please film more than just the same old trails/line and no arty intros please.


Joe’s take on a proper intro

Prettyshady recently became Veloup. Care to tell us the details behind that?

Someone pestered me enough to be taken seriously and offered to buy it. I took the money so now that this winter I don’t have to sell my lovely vintage bikes, which is nice. It wasn’t much money but I wasn’t doing anything with the name either plus I was worried I was going to lose the name like knowlhill.com. May as well sell it while I still had it plus its nice to not have dreams about losing teeth.

Do you know what they are going to use the Prettyshady name for?

I wish them the best but I have not looked yet and don’t wish to look or know.

Will Veloup be a continuation of what we’ve come to expect from Prettyshady or do you have plans to change things up?

When you went to prettyshady, or now to veloup, I don’t want you to expect anything. Last month there was a roller skating race, anything could go up there.There are a few post’s I have planned for this winter, the more original content posts the better!

How much do you ride these days.

BMX? like 4 times a year. While we know that it’s possible to ride bmx until your 40 something but I don’t live next door to anything I wish to ride. After riding bmx for 10 years it was time to explore what else in life there is to do. Those 10 years were great and I would recommend bmx to any youngsters, for example no girls would go near me before I rode bmx, but when I was a bmxer some girls treat you like your a famous rockstar.

Whilst on the subject, I quite enjoyed the quitters section in albion, it is by far the strangest thing I have even seen put out by the bmx media. A whole section as to why someone who was good at bmx stopped riding bmx and what they are up to now. Its like the opposite of what bmx magazines are usually trying to do which is encourage more bmx. James Brooks said in issue 7,  “am I waiting for something to stop me”, referring to is he waiting for a big crash to stop him riding bmx, which I can relate too. I felt happy to stop bmx before I did any major damage to my body which would force me to stop and might hinder my later life.

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Joe’s bike

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For the love of god will someone get this man a sprocket!

You said that you don’t live next door to anything that you wish to ride, but don’t you have trails in your back garden?

You have got me there. Today I could not be bothered to take the covers off then put them back on again. Lazy. When I was 16 or 17 I used to love going out and riding a curb, but have explored pretty much everything I am capable of doing on a curb and won’t get any better at riding that curb so its not as exciting as it used to be. To get me excited to ride something takes a lot, and its quiet here. When I used to ride Slades Farm Skatepark there was always something going on there and I miss that. If I lived there I would ride bmx often and would not ride roads bikes often.


Joe’s Garden Trails POV

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According to him he “can’t” ride anymore. This table from the other day proves otherwise!

What are your interest these days?

Gardening is amazing. It’s just like making trails but instead of bmx’ers appreciating it, the family appreciate it. Just like building trails you have to work in the winter to get it ready for spring and then you harvest your work in summer and autumn.

We have a few vegetable patches this year and I put a seed down in spring and then in summer there are carrots and tomatoes and all sorts to eat. Its so amazing I’ll say it again, you put a little seed in the ground and then a plant grows with food on it. We made some strawberry jam this year, there’s cherry tarts in the freezer and there are still tomatoes in the garden ready for lunch tomorrow.

It’s autumn and yet I am really looking forward to winter when the grounds soft and workable. I will be taking the garden jumps down to make a brand new garden, so exciting. Its crazy to think I am actually wishing that winter comes along faster so I can get to work on a garden. I love it!

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The garden before Joe got ahold of it

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Backyard paradise

Even though you don’t ride BMX as much anymore, you seem to keep pretty good tabs on what is going on in the BMX world. What are your thoughts on the trails scene these days compared to when Prettyshady was in it’s heyday?

I enjoy watching bmx in the same way men like football, but watching some bmx street videos leaves me as confused as when I watch a skate video.

As for the trails scene now, its hard to say as I am quite detached from it. From what I see the trails just get more and more dialed each year. If you look back to what was considered perfect 5 years ago it might not cut it by today’s standards. Which is good, but it’s not so quick and easy to stack up a set of trails. Also trails seem to not run all spring time in England, back in the day optimal conditions were not so important.

The lack of photo’s sucks considering almost everyone has a camera in their pocket now yet I see less photos then I was seeing 10 years ago. There was always someone getting a camera out to take a photo of an x-up or what ever. Way back when we would take turns taking crappy photos of normal tricks but that kinda stopped happening so often in riding sessions. The standard of photography is up, but I miss the large quantity of photos and getting a riding photo of something basic like a tyre grab. Maybe I’ll get instagram.

Who are some of your favorite riders?

I have a top 3 list, a top 5 list and a top 10 list all prepared for questions like this.

1. Chris Doyle – yup

2. Mulville – On the deluxe trip most people had done their whole tricks book in the first few days, but mark still had little variations which was gold to me as that’s what I needed to keep the video footage fresh. It just something simple like instead of a straight superman he did a no foot one hander into a super man and I had never seen that done before.

3. Mark Webb, because I enjoy watching creative unpredictable tricks. It helps that jc pieri films and edits very well, I am sure he leaves all the under-clicked messy stuff out. Like the 360whip to turndown wasn’t all bowlegged under clicked. As he has been injured for sometime now I might have to update my lists.

Would you say that you have a bit of a man crush on Chris Doyle?

Doesn’t everyone? I like that he’s one of the many main trails dirt jump guys, but he’s the one who has always had his own trails spots through out the years. Some other riders get labeled as trails guys and roll with it. They might have helped out getting the jumps ready but don’t build trails, they are just good at riding them. That’s pretty awesome as it must be temping as a pro to spend time at Woodward rather than building jumps.