Well, this one is kind of an important column for me. Not only is it number 75, but it’s a piece that I was really stoked to share. Ben Hucke has been someone that I have enjoyed hanging with, shooting with and riding with for years now. He’s got a unique style, does things his own way and has a positive mindset on the regular. He has taken his own path in life, lives each day like it’s his last and truly understands how awesome BMX is. One of the few people who really get it and one of the few who will leave his mark within the riding world. He’s constantly busy raising his son, filming, shooting and working on multiple projects to keep his sponsors happy. His hustle is something that I can respect and on that note, here’s to number 75. It’s been a wild ride and I really appreciate every single person out there that has taken the time to read my column, share my column or just simply enjoy my column. When I get reminded of the fact that there are people out there that look forward to each piece I feel truly grateful to have had this opportunity. Thanks to Kurt, thanks to you, the readers, and thanks to BMX for shaping me into the person that I am today. On that note, let’s learn a little bit about Ben Hucke and show some respect to someone who’s in it for the right reasons.
Name: Benjamin Hucke
Hometown: Portland, OR
Current Residence: Portland, OR
Year’s riding: 24ish
For those who don’t know, give us your back-story within the BMX world. Start from the early days up to current.
I started riding when I was four years old. Since the first day all I did was try to jump my bike off curbs or anything else I could find, I was obsessed. I started racing BMX soon after that. From there I just built ramps out in front of the house, built dirt jumps in the park or wherever I could get away with it until they got torn down. From there I just did whatever I could do to get by in school and spent all my free time riding. I’m not going to lie; in my teens all I wanted was to be a pro BMX’er. I used to hit people up on the regular with sponsor me tapes or whatever. I think that hurt me, I was too hungry when I was younger. By the time I was out of school and 21 years old I was struggling to get by. I had nothing and was on a piss-poor path to self-destruction. I joined the military and went to boot camp right around my 21st birthday. I did that whole gig for four years and rode my bike when I got the chance, it helped me remember why I rode my bike and it wasn’t to become a pro like the road I got stuck on in my teens. Back on my feet I opted out of the military after my four years were up, I worked some random jobs trying to find my groove back in the civilian world, lived in a BMX house and loved being on my bike whenever I could again.
After a few years of living the BMX life I found out I was going to become a father, I had a pretty good job I liked but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do while introducing my son into this world. It would mean coming home filthy and tired working on cars 50-60 hours a week and probably in a bad mood. I didn’t want to be like that with my son, I settled for a different part time job and buckled down on my riding. My family, my sons mother; no one understood what I was doing or believed me when I said I was going to pursue BMX as my career. The internet was pretty new to the industry, I knew it was going to be the next thing, I knew if I worked as hard for a solid year or so things would work out. It truly was a gamble and I got lucky. I remember one of the first web edits I made was for Haro Bikes. I gave it to them to post on their site and they were like “What is this? Why would we post this? Delete it.” So I quit Haro on a good note to “do my own thing” and posted it for Lotek who at the time was helping me out with shoes. A few more edits and a year later I had to call my job and quit because I was going on too many trips with my new sponsors. I’ve been on that road for the past few years now and I’m loving life and appreciating everything, I wouldn’t change anything.
If anyone has paid attention to your path in BMX there has been some ups and downs throughout the years. How has that affected your viewpoint on riding and what motivates you to keep it going?
I’ve been up and down in BMX all through my younger years and I’ve learned a lot from it. One thing I never did was burn any bridges and be thankful for whatever I had at that time. I think what kept me motivated to get back on my bike is all the friends I’ve made and relationships I have from BMX, I’m honored to be able to get free bikes, parts, clothes, shoes, being sent on trips and earn enough money to keep living. The fact that I have friends who believe in what I love to do with my bike keeps me going. The only things that I take seriously are the relationships that I’ve made. That’s all that matters. From there I just try to have fun with it and not forgetting that it’s “Freestyle” bike riding and doing my own thing. I’ve been in BMX for a really long time, I’ve seen so many people come and go for the wrong reasons, I’ve learned from them as well. The biggest thing was about a year ago, I sat down with my Dad and he told me “I’m proud of what you’ve done, you’re a good father to your son and I always knew you always had what it takes in BMX. I just hated watching you struggle to get there.” My Dad and I didn’t get along too well growing up because my obsession for BMX so hearing that from him is by far the biggest accomplishment in life and helps keep me going doing what I love to this day.
How much does being sponsored change your outlook on the industry and what you do on a bike? Where would you be without the backing from all of the companies that currently support you?
Being sponsored will either ruin or make your BMX life. I’ve seen it time and time again, kids get a little taste of what it’s is and they just want more. Then they get bad attitudes, think they are the shit when they just got their foot in the door, and start hating on fellow riders who they should be still looking up to and being brothers with in the industry. It’s sickening to see such young positive talented guys step into the industry and becoming complete assholes within a few months. Kids see what skateboarders have and think they deserve the same thing. It took me getting out of BMX for four years to appreciate what BMX actually is and I’m glad I got my head on straight before getting my first real opportunity, it’s sad to see kids give up even finishing high school for BMX. Get a job and then keep following your dream in your spare time for fun. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you’ll end up a basket case that no one wants to deal with.
If the all of the paychecks stopped tomorrow, what would change and how would you go about your daily routine?
I’m fortunate to know that things could stop tomorrow and it’s something everyone should know. The economy isn’t doing so hot and shit could hit the fan a any given moment, the first thing to get cut in any industry are outside contractors. That’s what a pro BMX’er is to any company on paper. I’m fully prepared to clock in if I need to, I had my chance and some good times living my dream, I’ll ride it and do my part for as long as I can whether it comes to an end tomorrow or years from now. Everyone should just expect the unexpected whether it is they get hurt and can’t ride anymore or the industry just isn’t profiting from paying them. People should just expect the unexpected in life in general. I love what BMX has given to and made me as a person, the life long friends I’ve made and an extended family around the world.
Speaking of, what does your daily routine consist of?
Wake up, check emails, get Levi up, make or grab breakfast, respond to emails and chill around the house. Then I try to do something in the afternoon, ride, film or anything that’s come up for that day. Evenings make dinner, chill with Levi till he passes out, do some drawing, play on the internet, watch a movie, chill with a lady or do whatever and pass out. Pretty laid back everyday. It sounds lazy but I swear I’m always too busy to just chill out ever.
If anyone knows anything about you they know that you have a little son that you have pretty much put in the spotlight in BMX. How has that whole experience been and what’s it like balancing real life and riding life?
When I found out that I was going to be a Dad I wasn’t scared, it just seemed right and everything just fell into place. Since then Levis mother and I have split. It was for the better but it took me a long time to get over since my parents were together growing up. I don’t try to spotlight Levi; he just is my life. I don’t just post photos of myself doing tricks on my bike everyday, that’s not my number one. I post photos doing what I love more than anything; being a Dad. I love it more than BMX, more than anything in life. I never had to “try” being a dad, it’s just what it is and it’s made me who I am. People praise me for being good dad here and there and it blows my mind that you get praised for doing what you’re supposed to do these days. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it and it makes me feel great. I think people just opt out of being a parent because they are scared they will lose track of their personal goals in life. I can only hope that I present being a parent in a positive way for anyone going through it and proof you can still not only achieve your goals while being a parent but it will make you push far beyond those goals. Opting out is selfish, people forget they were given a chance at life so why not give your child an even better opportunity than you were given to be something.
Do you have a plan for him to become the next big thing in riding? Or would you be just as happy if he became a football player?
Absolutely not, I will never push BMX on him. He rides now because him and I are best friends and we love what each other is into and share that. I wouldn’t watch kids shows and play cars all day if it wasn’t what he was into, it’s just us spending time together; it’s natural. He will find what he wants to do one day, it might be BMX, it might be becoming a lawyer I have no idea. But I will tell you, if he becomes a scooter rider I will disown him.
What are all of the current companies that you ride for and who is helping you live the lifestyle that you do?
I ride for Diamondback Bikes, The Shadow Conspiracy, Dan’s Comp, Freegun Underwear, The Lumberyard Bike Park and Deft Family Gloves.
I know that we talked about this recently but whatever happened with Almond? It seems like that was a good thing for a while and then you were out.
Almond was great, we worked together great in the beginning, they gave me a signature shoe right away, sold a lot of them and then it all just kind of died right before my eyes. If anyone is unfamiliar Almond is a sister company to WeThePeople, Éclat, Fuse, Salt, Radio and probably some more that I forgot to mention. These guys work hard and did an amazing job with all these brands. With the addition of Almond I think they were just spread too thin, after the first year I felt like they were just frustrated with it and possibly over it. That’s just how I felt; I’m not saying that they were. Running a shoe company alone is a lot of work, yet alone several bike companies on top of that. There was just a lack of communication, they redesigned my shoe without even talking to me due to time constraints which is understandable to an extent with product but I wasn’t comfortable with not having input on a signature product that has my name on it. When it comes down to it, we just didn’t have any relationship like I have with every other brand I work with and it didn’t feel right anymore so I decided to part ways. I lost a good monthly check but it was the right thing to do since we weren’t seeing eye to eye. If I didn’t it would be like not breaking up with your girlfriend just because she has nice boobs or something, she’s great but you both just don’t mesh together and it just wasn’t right. I wish Almond the best, their new stuff looks amazing and they will be successful I’m sure.
How are things going with Diamondback? By the looks of it they have been supporting you and everything it is that you want to do.
Diamondback is amazing, they have a love for BMX like no other. They respect BMX and they give back to BMX. Not to mention they have been in the game since 1978 and have sponsored some of the most influential riders through out the years. I’m truly honored to be a part of it all.
What’s good with that upcoming contest you guys are doing in Salt Lake City? Can you fill everyone in on the details?
It went like this…“Hey Ben, draw a course, here’s prize money, invite whoever you want to and we’ll help them out if they can’t get here.” Who does that? Diamondback truly cares about real BMX.
If you had to give people one reason why they should show up what would it be?
It’s going to be a real BMX jam, you’ll leave knowing what real BMX is and what having fun is all about. You’ll just be waiting for the next one to happen.
What’s up with your “Getting Serious” web video series? Where did that idea come from, who’s behind it and where can people keep up on it?
I entered Texas Toast last year and somehow wasn’t signed up so we just filmed my own edit during practice, at House Park and behind the scenes of a normal trip. The response was pretty good so we kept making more. They are great. Kids only see the outcome of every trip that BMX’ers go on nowadays. I grew up watching Road Fools and Props credits. That’s real BMX. Having fun and getting to know different riders personalities. I would love to see more people doing similar things in BMX. Kids are getting too serious these days, haha.
The current state of the BMX industry seems to have some people questioning their dedication to BMX and some riders seem to be having to choose between trying to survive on not much income, or getting a job and riding in their free time. What advice do you have for young BMX’ers looking to live the dream?
Don’t plan on making a living in BMX, finish school and plan on working your whole life. BMX will just turn into a job anyway and you’ll probably hate it or get burned out. I promise you’ll have more fun just riding in your free time, BMX is a hobby I got lucky and found a way to make it all about having fun.
If you had the power to change anything about BMX, what would it be?
Honestly, I would remove the negative people from the BMX community. I’m embarrassed that there’s guys in BMX that leave negative comments on fellow riders stuff, have stolen from and are just negative towards other BMX’ers in general when they should be treating them as a brother. It’s sad, I remember a day when you saw anyone on a BMX; you would chase them down and become their friend for life just because they rode a BMX. It’s sad humans get this way when the food supply starts thinning out, they’ll do anything to try and eat or and or at least make themselves feel full for the time being. It’s just weird.
For someone that does a fairly regular web based series, I’m curious on your take on DVD’s and filming for full-length videos.
I’m actually filming for two full length DVD’s right now, I have been and will continue to save all the good stuff for both of those while still putting out fun edits online and supporting the sponsors that support me.
Aren’t you currently working on filming for the new Shadow DVD right now?
Yup, that and the Dans Comp DVD.
How’s that been going?
Pretty good, I have a lot to get done still but I’m super excited to get crazy.
Rumor on the streets is that Johnny Devlin is back on it and filming hard for the Shadow Conspiracy video. Is there any truth to that?
Truth yes, he probably filmed half an absolutely legendary section in one trip. The dude is insane/creative on a bike and has an eye like no one else. He could easily have NORA Cup video part/street rider of the year and most kids wouldn’t even know who he is.
How long do you guys have to film for it and is there any kind of expected release date yet?
As far as I know when we’re ready. I’d say filming could be done this year.
Is there anything else that you wanted to talk about specifically?
How much I love and appreciate everyone I’ve made friends with and everyone who has helped me out over the years. If it all ended tomorrow, I can honestly say you’ve all given me the most amazing life I could ask for.
Well, that about wraps it up. You ride for quite a few people so why don’t you go ahead and list some shout-outs and thanks.
Thanks to my family, especially my Grandma Baer for always being there for Levi and I, My Uncle Dave and Aunt Sharon for welcoming Levi with open arms anytime I need to work or travel. Levi’s Mom for giving me the best son that anyone could ask for, Ronnie Bonner for the friendship that stemmed years before ever working together, If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thanks to everyone else. You know who you are, thanks for the smiles and good times I love all of you.
That’s it for this week. I can’t believe that I made it to number 75. Thank you to everyone for all of the support, it’s been an amazing experience so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Also, be sure to check back next Wednesday for the seventy sixth edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me at email@example.com and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jeremypavia.