Title of the book: Concrete and Smog – Unseen Photos from 1980’s BMX Freestyle Author: Bill Batchelor Date published: August 2022 Pages: 424 Copies printed: 1,071
How long was the thinking process before you decided to get to work on the book? Bill Batchelor: Once I opened my archive of photos and realized how favorable the response was, I thought of doing a photo book. Given that I was only 13 when I took most of the photos and disappeared from BMX for almost 35 years, I felt there could be a good story as well.
Did you have things lined up and organized as far as photos were concerned? Bill Batchelor: The process started very loose, just posting random photos online. Once I decided to do the book, I wrote most of the story copy and created a rough outline based around sequential events such as AFA contests. I also set aside break-out chapters to talk about publishing and photography,
and well as delve into my family and BMX history.
How many days have you spent scanning images for the book? Bill Batchelor: Too many. I used an inexpensive flatbed scanner (Epson V600) to scan everything and did it from my dining room table. I originally scanned all the images quickly and at medium resolution. Once I started the book layout, I had to go back through all the negatives and scan again. Many of my original negatives were in poor shape (scratched, low contrast, overexposed) so I ended up scanning difficult images several times, and eventually changed to Silverfast software which seemed to produce better results.
Once digitized, how did you proceed from there? Bill Batchelor: Everything was stored on mini-SD cards organized in folders based on chapters. I did some Photoshop to clean up dust and scratches but limited myself to tools I would have had in my photo darkroom, such as dodging and burning. I kept it basic and left many images as I found them. I wasn’t interested in making it perfect. The photo scanning, editing and layout took about fourteen months. The book incorporates elements from my old BMX fanzines, so some of the writing and graphics were pulled from original analog sources. Most of the chapter titles were made by hand using old style dry transfer letters. I even used a typewriter for sections.
Did you get help from others? Bill Batchelor: I relied on several people—Xavier Mendez, Scott Towne, Maurice Meyer, Ron Camero—to help me identify riders and clarify facts and timelines. All of the design and production work was done by me, although my sister-in-law helped create the logo and establish a website. I taught myself Photoshop and InDesign and did the entire project on my work-issued Dell laptop.
Is the book your story of how you lived BMX? Bill Batchelor: Yes, it is the story of my early love for BMX racing and the BMX magazines, then a switch to freestyle. Once I picked up a camera, I started documenting the early freestyle world, especially around the Pipeline skatepark and the early AFA contests in California.
How does it feel to have been part of BMX' history from beginning to where it is now? Bill Batchelor: It’s quite strange. BMX was my obsession as a child and almost everything in the book happened when I was only 13 and 14. I retired from BMX in 1985, and permanently in 1988. I hadn’t paid attention to anything in BMX until 2021. I completely missed the last 33 years of BMX. Did anything happen?! I am proud of my early contribution to the sport, and it’s great to be recognized for that. People in the early California freestyle scene knew who I was, but most of the world had never heard of me when I resurfaced in 2021. At the same time, I was just some kid who loved BMX freestyle and happened to document a lot the early days with my camera. I am happy to be involved again and look forward to contributing more photos of the modern era.
Is the book a personal project or more a way to document BMX as it is/was? Bill Batchelor: Equally both. Half of it is a photo book documenting mid-80s freestyle, the rest tells my story as a young photographer and publisher. There is also writing about youth and nostalgia, and what it all means as we get older.
Did you come across pics that you forgot about? Bill Batchelor: Almost all of them! What is wild is the memories were clear and intact. I think it’s because I left all the images in a box for 35 years. When I pulled them out it was fresh and the memories came back by looking at the pictures. I kept finding things in the box, surprises and forgotten moments. It was a surreal experience for sure, like finding a 3000 unknown pictures from your family history, then reliving the moments in your mind. The pictures provided clues to what happened, and when, and I slowly pieced it together like a puzzle. Pieces of memory are missing for sure, and I note that throughout the book.
Did you find pics that should never be printed in a book? Bill Batchelor: There are pictures which aren’t good, of course. But I found nothing that would be embarrassing to anyone, or anything that was negative. It was all about people having fun and laughing and enjoying BMX. Some of the riders who have seen the book say it brings back great memories from when they were young. I have hidden nothing, it was all rad.
Who supported the book? Bill Batchelor: The BMX community was very generous with pre-orders, and I sold photographic prints to help pay for the project. The book has been 100% financed by the BMX community. The support has been overwhelming and I couldn’t have done the project without everyone’s trust.
How hard was it to put a fair price on it? Bill Batchelor: I would have done this for free, but unfortunately book printing is very expensive. I wanted it to be high-quality, so I paid extra for offset printing and hard cover. I am charging a very fair price given my high printing and shipping costs. The hardest part is international shipping is very expensive. The book is big and heavy, and it costs me $48-60 to ship to Europe, UK and Australia. I’ve tried to offset that by allowing BMX shops like Kuntsform, Alan’s and Luxbmx sell the book to local customers.
How was the feedback on the book from your audience? Bill Batchelor: Feedback has been great. I am very humbled by the positive reviews and happy that people are actually reading the book, not just looking at the pictures. It was a very personal project and I’m happy that people are able to relate to it. That makes it all worthwhile. From the beginning I wanted it to be deeper than just a photo book.
Do you think you could do another one in the future? Bill Batchelor: I may have to do a second printing, however I’m not sure if I would do a new, or expanded edition. I have more photos but I don’t think it’s enough for a second book. I am contributing some of my extra photos to the new Birth of the Freestyle Movement book by Dominic Phipps. I published quite a bit when I was young, and making this book has reminded me how much I love it. I hope to do more books or zines, but I’m not sure what the subject matter will be.
Have you run out of copies? Bill Batchelor: I have some left but will run out very soon. I am talking to the printer about a possible second printing. Order now if you want one, this could be it.
Where can people find more information on the book? Bill Batchelor: Go to billbatchelorbmx.com to order or follow my Instagram @bill_batchelorbmx.
If you lived through the midschool BMX era and have no magazines left for reference, the book that Jared Souney created pretty much sums it up. 404 pages of goodness that will bring back some fond memories. We caught up with Jared to see how his experience was creating a book that pleased many out there.
Title of the book: Things Seen Along the Way Author: Jared Souney Date published: August 2020
Reading books gets a lot more exciting when the story is of interest. More and more BMX books are hitting the market so at FATBMX we decided to contact a few of the people behind them. To start it off we got in touch with Olympic BMX Park gold medalist Logan Martin who has a book coming out about his road to the gold.
Title of the book: Logan Martin - Journey to gold Author: Scott Gullan Date published: 18 October 2022 Pages: 208
How long was the thinking process before you decided to get to work on the book? Logan Martin: The publishing company ‘Penguin Random House’ reached out not long after the Olympics to see if I was keen to do an autobiography. It was sort of a no brainer for me, I believe I had a cool enough story up until this point for it to be told in a book.
How was the process working with an author on the book? Logan Martin: Scott flew up to the Gold Coast for a few days and we pretty much caught up 4 days
Niek Kimmann has made the move to a Carbon Frame. He sent over some pics of his new ride which looks killer in the Black / Gold color scheme. Here's the parts list of the Olympic and current World Champ.
Frame: Meybo Bikes HSX Carbon Fork: Box One X5 Pro Carbon Forks 20″ 20mm Custom Paint Bars: Box One - 8 inch Stem:Box One 60MM Headset: Box Components Grips: ODI x Box Brakes: Magura Seat: Box One
BMX Magazines are hard to find these days. Besides the rare special issues once a year, there's not much to flip through. PULL Magazine seems to appear on a regular basis still and you can enjoy the hard work that goes into each issue from you computer screen also, free of charge. The latest issue has an interview with Ava Corley, the 2021 National Number one Amateur girl who wants to stick to BMX to be the next fast female rider coming out of the USA. The magazine has 108 pages and on page 24 you can find the race report of the Cajun Nationals held in Louisiana.
Kevin Peraza's signature model Mongoose gets reviewed and on page 56 the Warwicke Scholarships get explained further. See where the $50K went. Page 62: Dixieland Nationals, georgia. Page 72; Fraser Valley Nationals, Canada.
Page 80 shows Laura Smulders (NED) in the lead at the Legacy Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma and also the Florida SCR Battles receive some coverage in the June issue of PULL magazine.
Besides the articles there is tons of info on standings, schedules, points etc. based on the American BMX Racing season.
Tom Deville just built up a fresh Alex Valentino Signature Autoportrait frame and built it up with some of United's finest parts.
Frame: United Auto Portrait Alex Valentino Sig Frame 21" Pale Grey Bars: Union Motorcade 9.2" x 28.5" Bar Black Forks: United Dinero V2 Fork Gloss Black - Offset: 31.09mm Grips: United Team Grips Black Headset: Union Headset Black Stem: United Precedence Top Load Stem 52mm Black Seat: United Fat Stealth Pivotal Seat Black Seat Post: United Stealth Pivotal Post 200mm Black Cranks: United Severance Cranks Regular Bosses 175mm Flat Black BB: United Supreme Mid BB 22mm Black Chain: United Supreme Half link Chain Black Pegs: United Metal Miki 4.5" Peg Black Oxide Sprocket: United MDLCLS Sprocket & Guard 28T Black Tyres: United x Union InDirect Tyre 20" x 2.35" Black Wall
Leading with a sense of DIY and empowered by creative expression, Vault by Vans is proud to partner with Brooklyn-based Krink. Krink began as the first ink and paint market brand for graffiti writers and grew exponentially into an international art supply brand with continually expanding collections of apparel, artist tools and accessories. Inspired by Krink’s founder, Craig Costello, who grew up writing graffiti, skateboarding, and listening to punk and hip-hop, DIY sensibility informed much of what he and his community did in their youth. These core tenants influenced the early beginning of Krink and have remained an important part of the brand's ethos. This collaboration with Vault by Vans celebrates these creative communities through functional design.
United's Joe Embrey recently swung by the sponsor's warehouse to freshen up his bike and built up a new Signature Alex Valentino Autoportrait Frame in Raw. He laced it up with some of our finest parts like Severance Cranks and Dinero Forks.
FRAME: United Autoportrait Alex Valentino Signature Frame Raw FORKS: United Dinero V2 Fork Gloss Black BARS: United Dirty Bar 9" x 28" Fernando Laczko Signature Bar Gloss Black CRANKS: United Severance Cranks 175mm Flat Black SPROCKET: United MDLCLS Sprocket & Guard 28T Polished CHAIN: United Half Link TYRES: United X Union InDirect 20" x 2.35" Black Wall HEADSET: Union Headset Black SEAT: United X Union Gaaar Railed Seat Brown
A collaboration coming straight from the streets - etnies and Colt 45 have linked to create a slightly sweet, super smooth capsule collection that is available globally today. Crafted from premium materials with comfort in mind, the etnies and Colt 45 capsule collection includes shoes, apparel, accessories, and a soft cooler for keeping those tall cans frosty.
It’s not a Colt 45 collection without the Colt 45, and how could you go wrong with an etnies x Colt 45 cooler full of tall cans? It’s all about the details and behind the clear outsole of the etnies Marana Slip x Colt 45 is a 40oz bottle and a tall can shows through the Calli Vulc x Colt 45’s clear sole.