You have been giving Jamie Bestwick a run for his money, do you have any special tactics going on for the Dubai X-Games with $ 100.000,= USD on the line for first place?
Chad: Jamie and I go back and forth a bit and I'm trying to make it a little more often that it has been, ha ha. We're running the same comp format we used at the US X Games and it makes for a weird event. With five 30 second runs and your 3 best runs count I'm going in with my consistent hard tricks for a few runs to put up a good score and then let loose with the new bangers if everything goes well. I'm after the #1 spot at that event. I'm not going to be bummed if I don't win but I'd be soooo stoked to win 100k at a single vert comp.
What's your feeling of Dave Mirra riding vert in Dubai? What are you expecting?
Chad: My honest opinion is that I don't think he should've gotten an invite. I know why they gave him an invite but it's been years since he's ridden in a vert comp and there are a lot of other actual vert riders that deserve an invite from riding damn good over the last 5 years that didn't get a spot. I'm not trying to step on anyones toes but I'm just calling it how I see it but then again I'm not the organizing body picking the people to ride nor am I the TV company putting on a show that they're trying to get ratings for. Having him in our event will definitely get more people to watch, the all time most gold medals won by an X Games athlete and the former host of an MTV show. His name associated with this event will bring in more people. The comp format we're using now is going to allow Dave to take runs up to 30 seconds and he still has some vert skills to tap into. I've seen him to 5-whips, double whips and flair whips on big quarters in the past few years so I know he can bring it. The format will allow him to take short runs if need be and put up scores. I think he'll place well. I'm hoping he comes to ride camp with us some time soon, brush up on those vert skills a bit.
Bike sponsors are hard to find in the vert class, just heard that Simon Tabron and Steve McCann lost their rides with Mongoose too. Do you have an explanation for this?
Chad: Vert is a bit of an art form and it takes time to figure out how it works. I've done everything from street riding to dirt to park and mega ramp so I'm allowed to say some this. Other than flatland, vert is the hardest things to figure out but like most things that are a challenge... its worth it to put the time in and get the feeling of a 12 foot air. Park and street have a quicker learning curve so kids can huck themselves for a year or two and be "pro". Companies have taken advantage of the fact that street riders are so young and how many there are so they can pay next to nothing to have a team of 6 riders where they used to pay 2 well known riders a decent salary. Youtube has changed things too, an unknown kid can do something cool in his hometown and an hour later everyone knows about it and he gets his 5 min of fame, it used to take months for videos to come out and magazines to show the action that people had been talking about. Vert is that thing that all bike riders respect and think it's cool cuz it's nuts but don't want to put the time in to elarn how to ride it the right way. There are a ton of kids riding street and they're going to buy a street riders signature bike. Not all kids know that a bike designed by a vert rider or street rider can be used on anything else so they're going to buy a "street" bike. I'm not offended by that at all, it's the way the world works. I just ride what I want and have fun with it all, you guys just don't see me riding trails or street cuz I compete on vert and that's what's shown on TV and the internet.
You have had some serious injuries but still you are not afraid to go big. What did you do to make a complete comeback to the top level after breaking your neck?
Chad: I did all my physical therapy, listened to most of what the doctor had to say as far as being cautious. I built the muscles back up as quickly as I could and took things slow on my bike. Sometimes an injury is a good thing, at no point will I say it's good that I broke my neck but I learned a lot from it. All that time off my bike got me thinking of how I got broken so badly and how to land certain tricks smoother to not hurt my neck again. I also approached learning tricks different. I would learn how to do the trick but I now figure out how to get out of the trick if it goes wrong at different points of the trick. Basically I prepare how to best crash without getting hurt. The time off my bike also let me think about a lot of things I wanted to learn. I had a lot of time on my hands.
Do you think more/better safety gear is a must to play it safe(r), or do you say it's up to everyone personally to do what he wants to do?
Chad: In most cases the major injuries are a rider error not a safety gear malfunction or lack of. We have room to improve on our safety gear by a lot, there is a lot of technology out there that could help protect us better but there is a point where no matter what you're wearing will not save you if you're dropping down 20 stairs to flat ground and landing backward, or going 50mph on the mega ramps 70 foot jump. If riders analyzed what they're doing a bit more and understood what it takes to pull the trick as well as what they need to do to get out of it if it goes wrong then we might have a few less injuries. And as uncool as it is to wear a helmet on trails and street, wear it cuz we don't need anymore Mikey Aitken type of accidents.
There's a possibility that Vert will be in the 2012 Olympic Games. Do you think this would be good?
Chad: It's good for BMX overall and there are a ton of reasons for it even though there are also reason that it'll be a negative affect on BMX. You have to take the good with the bad and the guys that don't compete and don't have a desire to ever compete won't like the fact that the Olympics will make BMX more popular around the world and would add more kids riding their local spots. But overall it would make us seem more legit in the publics eyes, allow more parks to be built around the world giving us more riding spots, I don't think street would be such a bust like it sometimes is since a regular person may have watched us on TV during the Olympics. For the competition guys, it will make it easier for more riders to make a living from riding a bike. It would provide jobs for retired riders in the future to work with the Olympic committee's or Olympic training facilities as a coach. There are a ton of options and it will all trickle down to all aspects of bike riding. If a company like Failure can get world wide coverage from the Olympics and business expands then everyone on the team, including the street rider that does Vital BMX videos and never gets on TV at a comp, will get a raise or get paid or a travel budget. It all depends on how you look at BMX. It's always changing and never stays the same, don't get bitter when it changes in a direction you didn't want it to go in... I never wanted to see riders wearing their sisters jeans but it's part of the riders style and one of the changes that happens over the years. I think vert will have more riders entering in the next few years anyway since you need vert skills to ride Mega Ramp and I've heard a ton of people say they want to ride it and my answer is, "ride vert and I'll vouch for you". The jump is easy, the quarter can kill you.
If BMX makes it in, also a girls class needs to be in. Do you think it is possible to get a decent girls class ready for 2012?
Chad: There will be a girls class, there's time to get some girls blasting some good airs but if it takes the prospect of the Olympics to get a girl to ride vert then she's riding vert for the wrong reason. You need to love vert to wan to ride it cuz there's no way in hell you're going to escape getting hurt and knocked out. I know a few girls that are interested in riding vert and want to ride it more often but just don't have access to a ramp on a regular basis. I'd love to have those girls stay at camp for a winter riding vert with all the vert guys that live here near woodward. The could hang in a regular vert comp in a year or two.
You have moved close to Woodward Camp. How important has that place been to you(r progression)?
Chad: It's a major reason a lot of the crazy ass tricks we do are possible. Foam pits allow me to test out a random idea to see if it's even possible. Some are and some aren't but if I had to try all those things on a real ramp I would have killed myself a lot time ago or been hurt so badly that I couldn't ride. It allows riders to progress quickly and stay healthy, without places like Woodward comps would be less exciting since riders wouldn't progress at a pace to allow new tricks at every event month after month. Woodward was unbelievably helpful after my broken neck too, allowed me to do all the tricks I knew I could do but was scared since I hadn't done them in a year. I was able to get comfortable on my bike again a lot faster.
Do you have a certain schedule where you go to Camp to ride your bike or do you just go with the flow and see when you will make it there?
Chad: My life and schedule is a mess. I go when I have the time and try to meet up with a crew of other guys riding. There are so many riders living around here now that it's easy to find someone to ride with. This year has been so messed up that I barely get to ride Woodward since I'm on the road so much. My friends that live here make jokes about weather I still live here or not and when the last time I rode at camp. This winter will be better, after Dubai I'm home for a while so I'll get to ride a lot even though I'm having surgery again.
Who do you like to ride with?
Chad: I like riding with different people all the time. It's good to session with a variety of guys to get influences from other styles of riding and learn something new since everyone has a different perspective of how to ride the same ramp I'm riding. Tom Stober, Seth UFC, Will the Thrill, Zack Warden, Jamie Bestwick, Daniel Dhers, Nate Wessel, John Parker, Vinny, Steve McCann, Keith McElhinney, Andy from Aus and the constant rotation of riders all year that come in and out of Woodward.
Who do you like to party with?
Chad: Nothing better than a party with the Albe's crew. Just go to their web site and look through the road trip/ party pics in the blogs.
Last words/thanks: I'm just a bike rider doing what I love. Some people go through life never knowing what it's like to be passionate about something and follow those passions through till the end. I'm lucky enough to love what I do and do what I love. I'd still be riding my bike if I didn't make a living at it but I just wouldn't be doing it as often since I'd have to get a real job to pay my bills... growing up and getting responsibility is tough. To the young kids out there, don't hate it cuz you don't know how to do it or don't understand it. Try it before you bash it. To all you little bastards in your parents basement talking S about everyone online cuz you're just so damn tough, use your time to go ride and let your riding speak for its self rather than getting keyboard courage.
I'd like to thank everyone I've ever ridden with, at one point or another I've learned something from you and had a good time riding with you. Thanks to all my sponsors past and present for supporting me. Obviously more thanks to the ones I have now than the ones I've parted ways with in the past but even those sponsors helped me get to where I'm at and I've learned something from them as well. Thanks to my family for supporting me and putting up with my life which I've come to realize is very difficult for most people to understand and hard for me to keep up with at times. Thanks Bart and FAT BMX for always posting quality content and keeping all of us informed and laughing.
Pics: BdJ/Dew AST/Jared Souney/Chad Kagy/Josh Kirtland