Chris is one of those Canadian guys who you may or may not have heard of. He is real good at riding bikes, and even better at remembering exact moments in time. With a little help from Cory Beal, we put together this interview for Chris and it turned out real good. There’s a lot of really cool stories from his past to go along with his great outlook on life and BMX as a whole. I don’t think you will be able to stop reading this one halfway through. So give it a look, and leave some comments on how you feel about Chris!
Toronto Ontario Canada
10pack-Animal bikes/Macneil bikes, The Warehouse(Toronto indoor bmxpark)
What was it that first got you into BMX in the first place? What is the first memory to come to mind from when you started?
Ive always had a bmx since I can remember. I was one of those kids from the mid 90’s in a ghetto hood that had a chrome bike with mags on it, never thought of doing a trick just wanted to have a mint bike.
Then in the summer of 1996 I saw the X-Games and Jay Miron and was blown away. I saved up all my allowance and got a haro shredder on september 23rd 1996. I dont remember doing much on it in ’96 just trying to learn a few flatground things but I was horrible.
I went to the Toronto Bicycle Show for the first time in ’97 with my 2 freinds Kyle and Jay and as we walked in we saw Jay Miron and Dave Osato walking in frunt of us and I shit my pants, we followed them around for about 30 minutes and Kyle asked Miron to sign a piece of paper. Miron told us that him and Osato would be signing posters in a few minutes so we continued to follow him till he got to the autographing session. I think at that exect moment of my life I knew that bmx was real and I wanted to be a part of it.
I took the day I met Miron and Osato at the ’97 bike show.
How are things going with the sponsors these days? Any big trips, filmin projects, or anything like that going on these days?
Everythign is awesome, I couldnt be more stoked on the people I ride for. I kinda plan trips pretty spontaneous, I plan trips a week before I go on them with no idea of what Im getting into, its fun that way. I really dont have any filming projects going on at this time but Im going to film as much as I can this summer. Im sure by the end of the year there will be a project I will donate my blood to.
What’s the deal with the Inner City Circle(ICC)? For those who don’t know, how did that start, and what’s the crew’s current status?
ICC was started fall of ’03 by Taro and “Drifter”Dave, just as an idea to get dudes in the city together and try to get a indoor park for the winter. We got our park, became a tight crew, when the spring came around and we shut the park down about 10-12 of us were really into street riding so we just started to ride with eachother and Id say by the summer of ’04 ICC was not the name of our “winter park” anymore but we now went by it as the name of our street crew. So from then on we did yearly videos and street jams and continued to keep ourselves in the tight crew and always road and hung out with eachother.
I wish I could say good things about the crews status but it dyed pretty good this past year. Theres about 4-5 of us that still ride and chill but we lost some to the fact that people get older and move away, school, get a girl and stop riding, jobs and bills to pay, shit like that. Theres always someone down to ride its always a good time.
Photo: Jamie Burke. from the ’07 icc toronto street jam.
It’s about that point in the year where the snow will start slowly melting, what are you most excited to ride once everything gets dried out?
The Toronto winters can be deceiving, around this time of year it always looks like the weather is going to start to get better but anyone who knows Toronto knows that we will be hit with more storms that will stretch the winter long into April. I hope that im proved wrong though.
Once it is gone I just love to call up the ICC crew and get out on the streets. Just rip around downtown.
I am pretty sure you are the only person I have ever seen do a candybar vader jam. How the hell do you learn tricks like that?
I always have like 20 tricks I cant do and I just mess around with them for fun, weird different things I have ideas of when Im bored and that candyjam was one that just worked out. Its just a joke trick, I think so much of that footjam stuff is just funny.
If you were offered to go on two trips, one with a bunch of pros you look up to and the other with a bunch of your friends, at the same time. Who would you go with and why?
I could care less about “pros” and going on a trip with them. I have gone on lots of trips with freinds in the past so Id like to create a third option where I go on a trip with local “pros” who I looked up to who I am now freinds with. The trip would consist of Keven Salmon, Mike Wilkinson, Jamie Dalaney, Phil McPhadden, as well as some dudes I dont know to well like John Pratt, Justin and Tom Clappison and Josh Lichti. Thats all that comes to mind right now Im sure there is more. I dont think we would make it a hour without getting pulled over and put in jail.
Who is one person you have always wanted to ride with but have never had the chance to? Any reason why?
Paul Buchanan! The dude is just amazing and does his own thing. I hear lots of stories about him from people now and then, I would feel privileged to just be in the presence of him.
If you could relive any trip, session, moment in BMX when would you go back to and why?
I 180’d over the rail at Brooklyn Banks a few years ago and smoked my head off the floor and saw the most amazing bright lights for a few seconds, I think I would want to relive that cause it was a weird but enjoyable experience. I still dont know why I saw bright lights, it was trippy.
What is the coolest thing you have been able to experience because of bikes?
The coolest thing that happens every now and then is going somewhere new away from home and meeting a new bmxer, after a day they trust you enough to let you sleep in their house. I think thats crazy.
One situstion that stands out is a trip I went on this past October, my friend Jamie and I were traveling Europe riding and we were on our way to Paris France and had nowhere to stay so I got some info from Ralph at Animal about this dude Willy who lived there. One e-mail later we had a place to stay in Paris. So we met up with Willy and go to his place in downtown Paris, chilled out with him and his girlfreind for a bit then midnight rolls around and he says that hes going to stay at his girlfriends for the weekend and we have the place all to ourselves! hands the keys over and takes off. Willy also hooked up with us during the days to show us around the city. It was an amazing time and I dont think Ill ever forget that. Thanks Willy!
Photo: Jamie Burke in Paris France
What about the shadiest thing?
In 2005 my friends Patrick, Leland and I took a month long trip in a van around the north eastern states. The first night we were in Philly we ran into some dudes riding street and they told us that they were going to some new place under a bridge to ride. It was super late and we still had not figured where we were going to sleep, so in a act to get in with the locals we followed them along. These dudes were some grimy street dudes that all had U-locks hangin off their bikes, not sure for locking the bikes up or for beating the shit out of people,haha. But we went along with them hoping for the best. We road for about a half hour across the city threw the most sketch streets Id ever been pedaling at top speed. We had no clue where we were or where we were going, it didnt help that Patrick, Leland and I were about a city block behind the locals and could be lost at any second. It was a pretty shady situation but we made it to the destionation alive and it turned out to be a fun night.
Patrick, Leland and I on our month long van trip around the states.
What do you think you would be up to if you never got into BMX?
Like most people from my hood I think Id be living at home and jobless(not a big change) but instead of riding Id be into heavy drugs and selling it as well. Some dudes around here are fucked up but still freinds for life. Im glad I didnt become a product of my environment, bmx really kept me away from all that. Although I think I would have had a lot more money,haha.
I read that you actually don’t like getting money from your sponsors… So what do you do to pay those bills?
-There is no way of putting it without sounding stupid. Its just something I feel is right. I have been paid to do demos and shows of course but getting a actual pay from a company to ride their bikes just seems stupid to me to ride my bike and receive money for it. Its something I do cause I love it. I got into bmx cause it was rad and I loved the fun I have on my bike, that has never changed. If money was the issue I would have gone to school and had a great job that paid a lot, but what kind of life is that? A life fuled by the thought of money, thats not for me. Of corse the day will come when I got to realize Im not a kid anymore and I have bills to pay and what not but till then Im still the same kid on a bike that I was 12 years ago and he didnt care about making money.
Have you ever been scheduled to ride a contest or show and skipped it before?
Haha, ya! Ever since 2003 I ride ever other year at the Toronto Bike Show. I always enter every year but pull out last second. But I think the real story your looking for is ’08 Kingston Metro! I was scedualed to ride again but when I showed up I told them I wasnt going to ride and I was going to go shoot photos around the city instead. Then that night I was told to do a box jump demo for the city fair in the morning. Im no box jumper, so I didnt go to that either. It was a pretty shitty move on my part Ill admit, I saw Gary Young the next day and he said to me “I got a call to do a box jump demo this morning cause you werent going to show up”,haha. Well I guess the kids got a way better show with him rather then me. Sorry again Gary.
This is from when I took off from the contest in kingston to go ride street. photo: Dave Hawthorne
What are you usually up to when you aren’t riding?
Ive been into researching random things lately. I dont like to watch stupid TV, if I do its always History or Discovery stuff. Im a huge fan of Neil Young and hes got some crazy lyrics, so I take some of his ideas and research stuff on it. It leads me to some interesting topics that keep me busy for hours and days, weird stuff like Charlie Manson, Hernan Cortez and the Aztec people, time traveling, civil war, and just random weird things like that.
If you could no longer live in Canada, where specifically would you move and why?
Its hard to see a life away from Toronto I dont think I can truly leave for ever but if it came to it I think Id go to Portugal, the Azores to be exact. Its smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 9 volcanic islands, its where my parents are from its the most beautiful place ever. Id Learn to speak portuguese and get a piece of land and become a farmer. My uncle lives there and hes a big time drug dealer so if farming doesnt work out I can always work for him.
If a midget came up and kicked you in the nuts, then told you he wanted to fight, would you fight back? Do you think you would win?
There is a dude named Khagendra Magar whos the smallest person in the world or something I think I would let him kick me in the nuts. Of corse I would fight back I think it would be a fare fight.
What would it take to get you to go 10 minutes in a ring with Hulk Hogan?
I would rather do 10 minutes in the sack with Brook Hogan!
If you could bang any famous person, dude or chick I don’t care, who would you pick and why?
Would siamese twins count as one person or two??? Because that can drastically change my answer.
What is the worst thing you have ever spent your money on and why did you do it?
I got magic beans off a dude for about $5.00. He told me it would grow to the sky….It didnt.
What is the meaning of life?
Its a movie by The Monty Pythons from 1983. Its pretty funny.
What is the best advice you have ever been given or able to give?
When I was younger and I had ramps in my backyard, one day this old man came walking down the laneway and said to me “be careful with your knees, youll need them when your older” or something like that. I didnt listen I guess but I have started to and I think of him sometimes and the good advice he gave. I also think that when Im about 60 years old I time travel back to 2003 and I am the man that is in the laneway that day telling my younger self to take care of my knees.
Where would you like to see yourself in about 5 years?
I can see myself in 2 different places either a broken down bmxer with shot knees living off of past glory telling kids at the park that I used to do that shit, with a huge beer belly hanging down past my large t-shirt that is skin tight. Going home to my trailer to my welfare wife with 4 kids that are not mine cause Im impatient from all those years of crushing my nuts on my seat. Watching old reruns of Highway Patrol widdling with my knife contemplating ending it all night after night.
Or I could also see myself getting my act together and going to college and actually getting a job Id like and make a living from. Riding the bmx on weekends and keeping my knees healthy. I think Id like this one over the first. Although I hear welfare mothers make better lovers? So who knows? Time will tell…..
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Thanks to you and Cory for hooking this interview up, my parents for conceiving me sometime around october 1983, Bernard Shakey, Ron at The Warehouse, Ralph at Animal bikes, Jay and everyone at Macneil/Tenpack, ICC crew, and the Harwood Park boys.