Photo: Josh McElwee
One thing we really like about doing The Union lately is having the chance to watch a lot of talented riders putting out their own series of videos that are more than just trick, trick, trick and trick. We get to see a lot of personalities and get a little glimpse into how other BMX riders are living their lives. Thanks to Youtube, this has been increasingly more and more popular and it seems like every day there’s a new channel to subscribe to. One rider in particular that really has caught our attention lately is Jay Dalton, between his less than serious approach to BMX and his undoubtable talent to go from jib tricks like peg chings to hucking backflip tailwhips, you don’t really quite know what you’re going to see when he drops a new video. We were curious jus what Jay’s story was, so we hit him with some questions. Let’s see what he had to say!
Name: Jay Dalton
Photo: Josh Kirtland
Location: West Haven, CT
Sponsors: Tony’s Bikes and Sports
Years riding: 9
Jay! What’s going on? How are things going on your end?
Hey! Not too much. All’s going pretty well, except I just broke my pinkie so riding is a little annoying. Other than that I’m great.
What was it that first got you hooked on BMX? Any real early memories just pop up?
Jumping those little, sketchy, plastic 1080 ramps got me hooked on BMX. I just remember pushing the launch and landing crazy far apart, bombing my neighbor’s driveway and then sending myself over the gap. Perty intense.
Kind of random, we didn’t know your actual name is John. Why do you go by Jay or how did that name ever come about?
How did you guys find out!? This was my most well-kept secret. Darn Red Bull for using that name in that Raditudes episode.
I think Jay came about just because my dad’s name is also John. My family probably started calling me Jay to avoid confusion, and then I stuck with it once I was aware of it. Today it’s pretty weird for someone to call me John. That name just seems so formal.
So, we’ve been taking quite a bit of notice of you lately from your Youtube channel. How long have you been posting videos up there? What kind of started that whole thing for you?
I’ve been making videos for quite a while. My first one is an ‘edit’ from Haven Skatepark almost 7 years ago. It’s basically me hitting the box over and over for 3 minutes, filmed by my grandma. Not my best work, but 13 year old me was pretty happy with it.
As for what got me started, I really can’t remember too clearly. I guess it was just me wanting to show people what I could do on a bicycle.
Now you’re pushing 10,000 fans on there and have a regular flow of videos popping up. Is it starting to turn into a job or is it still just something you do entirely for fun?
Right now it’s still something I do for fun. It would be amazing if it were to become a job but the channel has a long way to go before that’s the case. In a way, I don’t really want that to happen. If I were living off of my channel, I feel like the videos might start to become forced and uninspired. As it is now, ads provide a little extra money which I try to put back into video making by using it for gas, camera equipment, bike parts, etc. That’s probably the way it will stay.
One thing we really like about your videos is the laid back, goofy and not so serious vibe all the videos come with. Is that kind of the goal of the whole thing or is it just how you come off?
I think the goofiness is just me being me. In my opinion, It also helps to make the videos more fun to watch. Watching one of those webisode-style videos and even edits with a bunch of people messing around and laughing the whole time is far more entertaining to me than one where everyone’s super serious with their attitude and riding.
So, this past summer you spent your time at Woodward Camp out in Pennsylvania. How did that opportunity all come about and what was / is your job title there?
I’ve been going to Woodward for the past 6 or 7 years now. The past 3 I’ve gone as staff working as a counselor and instructor. Before that I went as a camper. The cut off age for campers is 18 (except for the 1 adult week at the end of summer). I knew I didn’t want to just stop going once I reached that age, so I filled out an application and they thought I was fit for the job. Each summer is best of my life and I couldn’t be happier that they want to keep having me back.
What is it that you like about working at Woodward? Is there really any sort of downsides to the job?
Working at Woodward doesn’t feel like working. I’m able to wake up and do what I love every single day. For me, the only downside comes into play if you’re hurt and unable to ride. Having to watch everyone ride these amazing parks every day and not be able to do the same yourself is pretty difficult.
Now that the summer is winding down, what are your plans? Any trips or projects you hope to get to work on once you’re done with camp for the year?
Actually, camp is continuing for me. I’ll be living and working there for the off season. It’s going to be amazing to actually be able to ride more than once every other week during the winter months. With Woodward as a home base, I plan on making occasional trips out to other parks around the area throughout the winter. I might also head down to Florida for a week or two to ride with some nice weather and cement parks.
You have a lot of bike control and style on a bike. Would you contribute that to your past from riding motocross? Do you feel like having that background has been a big influence on how you ride BMX now?
Moto definitely helped me out a bit. Being used to throwing around the weight of an MX bike and sending myself over 100 foot jumps made me very comfortable on a BMX bike. I don’t know how big of an influence it had style wise, but the love of going fast and high has stuck with me.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
One thing we are always surprised by is your riding style. You put a lot of emphasis on doing peg chings and simple tricks, but you’re perfectly capable of hucking backflip tailwhips over a box jump as well. Is there a certain style of riding you lean toward or are you more of a loose cannon?
It really depends on the day. I’m really just super street (as this edit can attest to), but most people consider lean more towards park riding. Some days I just feel like doing tech stuff in the mini ramp and other days I just feel like going fast and sending stuff. The dream is to be able to get super tech, send all of the crazy box/quarter tricks and do it with my own style.
Who are some of the riders that really influenced you growing up over the years?
I didn’t really watch many videos growing up, so everyone that influenced me was basically from my hometown and local park. Frank Virzi, Colton Civitello, Justin Kearney, Kevin Butts… Too many to name. They would all go to the park and kill it. Each one has a different style, but I wanted to ride as well as they did.
(I feel like I’m talking about these guys like they don’t ride anymore, but they ride and they’re still awesome).
What about these days? Who are some of the guys you really like to watch ride?
I still love watching those guys ride, but on a slightly broader scale there’s quite a few. In no particular order, I really enjoy watching Kyle Baldock, Logan Martin, Kris Fox, Dennis Enarson, Drew Bezanson, Jamie Bestwick, and Kevin Peraza. There’s plenty more, but those are the ones that stand out in my head right now. Kyle and Logan are always pushing progression and are insanely dialed. Kris blasts and is stylish as heck. Dennis kills everything. Drew is always full throttle and doing absolutely insane stuff like that recent edit with the containers. Jamie is just Jamie. It’s mind blowing to watch him ride the vert ramp in Cloud 9. Kevin finds the craziest lines at any park and is able to throw super technical tricks on everything he hits.
Everyone has a weakness. What’s one trick you cannot do for the life of you?
720s. They are the bane of my existence. Somehow I learned them 2 years ago (video) and they were pretty dialed. About a month later I just completely lost them and haven’t been able to land one since. AGHHHH that darn trick.
Back to the videos a bit more. Your goal is to release a video every week on your channel. Do you have any plans on a bigger project where you put more time into stacking clip for an edit, or is that not really for you?
Stacking clips that I have control over is the hardest thing for me. If someone else is doing all of the filming and editing and everything I have no problems, but if it’s me in control of the clips, I just can’t hold onto anything for too long. If they’re just sitting on my hard drive I feel like I should be doing something with them and I’ll make a bunch of Instagram edits or something. Every edit of me out there now is a 1-3 day filming effort. Maybe one day I’ll stop being so post happy and save up some crazy clips for something. Who knows?
Photo: Kyle Noble
We have been seeing you popping up in a few contests lately. Are you much of a contest rider or is it something you just end up doing for fun?
Contests are fun, but also something that I really want to learn to be good at. They’re sort of few and far between lately, but I ride them when I can. I like to think of myself as a fairly consistent rider, but for some reason whenever the pressure’s on I can’t put a run together. The plan is to ride as many as possible so that I can get used to the whole contest environment, and then maybe I’ll be able to put something together.
Do you have any plans or contests you would like to hit up in the future?
The only one I’m going to for certain is the Recon Tour stop at Rye towards the end of September. Other than that, I would like to go to at least one of the Florida Series stops and maybe make it to Toronto Jam next year.
Do you ever find yourself getting burned out on BMX? What are some of the things you like to do to keep things fresh?
I don’t know if I’ve ever been burned out on riding, but I’ve gotten burnt out on trying certain tricks or lines. There’s a point where you just stop learning from your mistakes and get caught up in an endless loop of doing the same thing over and over again. To keep it fresh I just take a step back for a minute and take a break or try something different.
What do you think you would be doing today if you never got into BMX?
If I never got into BMX I’d probably just be working a normal job and playing too many video games. I already do the last part, but it would probably a lot worse without riding.
What are you usually doing when you aren’t riding or working on a video?
If I’m not riding I’m probably sitting on the computer watching Youtube or playing video games. Lots and lots of video games.
What’s your current favorite video game to get down with?
Counter Strike has the one for the past few years. It’s a really fun, competitive first person shooter. I’m also really looking forward to a game called ‘Super Hot’. That one’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s a strategy-shooter where time only moves when you do. If anyone’s interested, you can play the demo here.
Have you gone to college or anything or are you currently in school?
I’ve been going to school at UCONN for the past 2 years, but this year I’m taking a break to live at Woodward.
What were you going for at UCONN? What was it about college that made you want to take a step back?
I was pursuing a math degree. The whole college lifestyle and environment is what made me want to take a step back. It basically boiled down to me choosing the wrong school. The majority of each semester it was cold and miserable which kept me from riding. On top of that, I couldn’t have my car on campus unless I wanted to shovel out $600 per year for parking. I was basically trapped there and that drove me pretty crazy. Going back to school is definitely on my to-do list, but UCONN definitely won’t be my choice.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
If you were to go back, what do you think you would go for? Do you have any sort of “dream job” you could imagine yourself doing some day?
I’d probably go for some sort of computer science degree or something involving video production. There isn’t any specific dream job that I have in mind. Something that I would be able to do on the move or from home that allows me to live a comfortable life would be the ideal.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
Hrmmmmm… Ya’ stumped me. My answer for this is usually that I travel around and ride bikes, but I figure that isn’t the answer people are looking for in this case. I think this is a sign that I should to take up some new hobbies or something. Hahaha
How can people keep up with you these days?
Instagram (@abmxiclerider), Youtube (Jay Dalton BMX and/or my Facebook page. The only things I post are riding photos, clips, and videos. If you’re into that stuff you should totally follow, subscribe and like!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Honestly I haven’t even thought that far ahead. If all goes well I’ll still be riding every day and traveling around. Maybe I’ll be back in school, maybe I’ll be done with school and on to a career, who knows.
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
I’d like to give a massive thank you and shout out to Mike Macisco at Tony’s Bikes for all of the support he’s given to me and the local CT scene over the past few years. Shouts to Will and Phil from Full Factory for helping me keep my bike dialed throughout the past few months. Last but definitely not least, shout out to Travis the pug for being awesome.
Anything else you want to say?
GO OUT AND RIDE!