Doug. Most know me as Sheepdog.
(I try to give out my last name as little as possible for various reasons.)
Missouri, some would say B.F.E. but I actually kind of like it here.
you run bikeguide, when and how did that all come about?
Well I started out on Ride BMX’s message boards, but they were not moderated at all. Which was a mess and a pain. Some things happened, things got worse, I was reported to them. Somewhere along the way I had started a small web page with some common answers and measurements, things of that sort. I figured why not start a small forum.
Eventually I got sick of the Ride boards and told everyone I was leaving and where they could reach me. I guess a lot of people liked the idea and went with me. In a matter of months we were bringing that server to it’s knees so I bought an actual domain name and hosting and put up a real site with an integrated forum, which is Bikeguide.org. Within 2 years we were about the size of the older and most well known boards. We just turned 5 years old as Bikeguide.org and now we are one of the largest sites in bmx. We have a larger readership than most bmx magazines.
did you ever expect it to be as popular as it is?
Had I known, I probably would not have done it.
It is a lot more work, time and money to run than people think. Every mistake along the way, a few morons here and there, and the incredible growth has at times been a real challenge. 3 times I got called by my host and was told upgrade or we are shutting you down in 24 hours because we were killing the server we were being hosted on.
You do not get a site this big or run as smoothly as BG does without a lot of work. Luckily I have some people who have helped me over the years keeping it going. Most notably Bluebmx (Brett). That guy was there from day one and has always been a big help.
do you think it will ever get changed up a little bit or do some new things?
Expect some changes soon.
I hate to do too much though as every change, you either tick someone off, or lose some people. People fear change. I have been catching a bit of flack over this, but things are going good, I hate to mess that up.
How many years have you been riding?
Well it sort of depends on how you look at it. I was jumping curbs almost as soon as I could ride a bike (1976 or so). I started jumping dirt a few years later (1978).
I took a few years off in the military and did some mountain biking, but I kept doing bmx stuff and breaking the bike. I got tried of it and got transferred. I basically quit riding completely for a year or 2 and focused on RC car racing.
What are some of your favorite tricks you like to do?
Technical stuff. Anything backwards or opposite.
Not extremely difficult stuff, or big, but I like to take a simple trick and do it on opposite pegs or backwards, just because. While everyone was going big on heavy bikes, I was focusing on backwards stuff.
I have been known to take my pegs off and put them on the opposite side, run 4 pegs, or force myself to run opposite foot forward, all to learn things differently. Sounds easy but try riding as a lefty for a day if you are a righty, or other way round.
any that you are working on?
I have been slacking lately due to health reasons, but the last thing I was working on was a backwards whopper. Quite hard without a free-coaster, had one, it was terrible. Did more harm than good to my riding.
Do you do anything else besides run bikeguide?
I am a independent computer tech and consultant. Bikeguide does not pay well. It is definitely not large enough to support me.
I maintain several hundred computers in the area mostly associated with the real estate industry, and a few doctors. My job is cake though. I am the boss, I do not have to kill myself to pay my rent. I could make more if I wanted to work my ass off, but hell with that.
I also run some other websites, some are running, others are in progress. My plan is to eventually stop having to drive all over and focus on my sites once they can support me.
What are some of your favorite websites outside of BG?
http://www.m42club.com/ (one of my sites)
I check several others daily as well, but these are some of my favorites as they pertain to what I am most into.
Do you have any sponsors or hook ups?
No sponsors at the moment but I am open to them, to a point.
Some guys love going someplace and having every kid in the place running to get an autograph or take a picture. I am not into that, in fact I have had it happen and frankly I find it creepy, and this is the least threatening thing I have had happen. I am sure you can get used to it, but that is not me. People are idiots around anyone they think may even remotely be famous. Any sponsor I have would have to deal with the fact that I do not want my face all over everything.
Despite how it may seem on Bg, I am more of the guy behind the scenes type of person. I am often asked for input on products. People ask for ideas, advice, and occasionally I get to test something or get handed prototypes. I am all into the technical side of things. I am better at it than I am at riding anyhow. I probably should have stayed in school and gone for an engineering degree, but all the engineers I knew at the time were not what I wanted to become.
I am lucky though in the fact that I can call up several companies and get pretty much anything I need. Most of my favorite companies support Bikeguide so I get things pretty easily one way or another.
you have a pretty crazy set up for a bike, is it like that just because when you started riding having two brakes and all the extras on was just how it was and your so used to it or is it just preference now?
When I got into freestyle, yes, 2 brakes were the norm.
I am actually not quite sure what is so crazy about it though. To me it just evolved that way and in fact it is probably the most production oriented bike I have ridden in a very long time. At one point pretty much every part on my bike was being messed with, either for weight, strength or performance reasons. Though I will admit I am not 100% happy with it at the moment either. I am almost to the point of having several parts custom made. There is a huge market for some parts that companies are just not hitting.
I really like front and rear brakes, having only one or no brake can limit your creativity in a lot of ways many people do not realize. Yes, doing things brakeless is a challenge, but that just means I don’t pull a lever. I use them a lot less than most people do for the same tricks, and more for the things people just rarely if ever do.
I cannot think of any time when brakes really held me back, but they have unlocked doors for me. If anything brakes got me working in the industry.
Do you think there is more positives or negatives that come from forums like Bikeguide, like in riding sense, there seems to be so many pissed off people?
Wow, good question and a big one.
Well, I have gone at it with at least one manufacturer because they claimed forums like BG were the downfall of bmx. Obviously I disagree. Do I like where Bg has gone along with bmx, not really, though that could be a factor of my age vs the age of the average rider in bmx. It is not a result of forums but more a sign of the times. Society has changed and I do not like where it is going.
Here is the problem though, and I do see it from both sides. I talk to many companies regularly, so I know their side of this.
Some companies feel that sites like BG promote the bad things of bmx. As a company I could see them thinking that. If a rider breaks one of my frames, and shows it, that is not good publicity. Many people see it and think that company only makes junk or that the part has a high failure rate, especially when you see 10 other people saying they did the same thing. This is true.
The power Bg and I have is scary. I can see why they fear it. In all honesty, in some ways they should, they have little to no control over it and in my case they cannot just simply pull advertising. Bg is not funded that way.
On the other hand…
What they fail to see is the opportunity they are missing. A perfect example is George of G-Sport. When someone had a problem, he took care of it, assured them that he would, and did. His company has a GREAT reputation online. Same as Odyssey. They are there to deal with problems, spread the word, and just generally help. Does it help? I would say so. Parts fail, it is a fact of life. How a company deals with that can make a huge difference. Instead of looking at it as bad publicity, look at it as publicity that just needs help. Turn it around and make it work for you, not against you.
The other part of that is what many companies in bmx do. They watch BG for how people respond to products. Doe sit look good, is it what they are looking for, and more importantly, is it having problems and what can they do to fix it.
A lot of companies do this. It is the ultimate marketing research tool. How a good businessman fails to see that I have no clue. He is probably the same type of guy who will only update his site once per year even though it is the best, most direct and cheapest advertising he can do. Companies who fail to take advantage of the net are doomed to fail. Not because of the sites talking smack, but because they are living in the stone age. The companies who refuse to adapt will most likely go under. You can survive without the net, but why pass up what it offers. Ignoring it does not make it go away.
So are forums bad, hell no. Ask a few people how many new riders they have met from the internet, how much good advice they have gotten from it. Companies forget, bmx is not about them. It is about the rider. We need parts, but someone will always be there to take care of that. I have walked into parks thousands of miles from home and knew people there, and not just because I do Bg, but because I have talked to them online. It can be like meeting an old friend.
I am planning on writing more about this soon in my column on Bg because I could write a lot more about this and how companies deal with BG.
Any big future plans coming up for 2008?
I hate trying to plan too much for the future. Life is what happens while you make plans and usually your plans clash with life. I also hate the idea of things being too planned out.
Anybody you would like to thank or give a shout out to?
I would like to thank the guys who help run BG. Without them, it would be a mess and I would have shut it down ages ago.
Also, G-Sport, Odyssey, Seshin, Fit, Albes, these guys kept Bg and myself going. I am sure I missed a few as well, sorry.
Any other comments?
To see some older riding pictures and motion gif’s.. check out this