What would you do to follow your dreams? Would you wake up one morning and plan a move across the country? Would you leave home in hopes of pursuing a career doing what you love? Well, regardless of what you may or may not do, while you are still sitting there thinking about it there are people out there like Broc Raiford making moves. I’ve been doing this whole thing long enough now to where I have seen riders go from young up-and-comers just trying to make a name for themselves to some of the top pros in the game. Broc is on his way to fitting himself into that category. His bike control is blatantly obvious when he rides and he has the type of personality that will take him far. He recently made the move out West to California in hopes of pushing his BMX riding to a new level and I have absolutely no doubt that being here will do just that. He knows what he wants out of life, has the work ethic that it takes to be successful and did I mention that he kills it on a bike? Get familiar with Broc, find out about the move, and see what he has planned for the rest of the year and more right here.
As most of these start out, why don’t you fill everyone in on the basics.
Name: Broc Raiford
Hometown: Destrehan, Louisiana
Current Residence: Huntington Beach, California
So what’s up man? There might be some people out there that don’t know who Broc Raiford is, so take a minute and break down your BMX past.
I started riding BMX when I was 8 years old, not counting the years before that I pedaled a bike around the neighborhood as a leisure activity. My Dad rides bikes and he is the one that got me into riding BMX. I had tried out many other sports but would always find my way back to riding my bike anywhere and everywhere. From there I made the decision that riding BMX was something I loved doing so I started bringing my bike with me on family vacations. I went to skateparks in every state we visited. They both stood behind me when I told them I loved riding BMX and wanted to be a professional. Sitting here now actually being able to follow through with what I always wanted is honestly the biggest dream come true.”
If people don’t know just yet, you recently made the move out West. What was the driving force behind that?
California’s existence is the biggest driving force. The weather, amount of riders, beaches, babes, and food…the list could go on forever! Living in Louisiana was rad and I can’t thank all my friends and family there enough for everything they’ve ever done. However, it was time for me to make moves seeing that people here in California are constantly making things happen whether it’s web content, clipping in for a DVD, or even just riding with a solid crew every single day. I wanted to experience that and be able to live out here. That sparked the motivation to make it happen as I had been saying I was going to move for a while. I started looking for places, calling people, and actually hit up Devon Smillie to see if he was looking to get a place knowing he was already living here. He told me he was settled in but would let others know I was moving out. Amazingly enough, Devon calls me a week later telling me they need a new roommate and wanted me to move in! Too excited to form grammatically correct answers I told Devon Yes and started plotting how to make it happen. My Dad and I brain stormed a little, set a date, and before I could even get in all my goodbyes, we left! My Dad spent a week here helping me move in and hanging out. Now I am here living with Devon Smillie and Brandon Means and couldn’t be more stoked!
What does it mean to you to be out of the house, out of your hometown, and across the country to pursue your dreams?
It actually motivates me beyond anything else really. Knowing that I am here to do what I love and being able to have millions of spots at my fingertips is amazing. I can’t say it was very fun leaving my friends, family, and home behind but knowing that I have homies here to ride with everyday and being able to visit a few of my sponsors regularly is a good offset. For only living here a week and a half now, California has already proven itself to be more productive and beneficial to what I want to do. I really couldn’t be more thankful and excited to be living out here.
Top three things about home:
2. All of my friends that I grew up riding with.
3. Amazing food.
Top three things about living in California:
1. Friends to ride with everyday.
2. Endless spots.
3. The Beach.
It seems like you had a pretty good head start with making connections and getting to know some people in the industry, how did that come about?
My Mom taught Fat Tony when he was in middle school, before I was really into BMX, and we ran into him at a contest in Florida a few years later. From then on he helped me with meeting people and put together a few of my first web videos. I met Jim Bauer and Terry Adams at a pretty young age as a result. One day Terry hit me up to hangout with him and Jim at this wooden bowl near his house and from there we all became good friends. I also traveled around to contests a good bit and met a ton of influential people along the way. Sometimes, I’d meet people from the industry before even knowing who they were. It’s awesome to think about the people I met through riding just by wanting to make friends with the people I was riding with in a contest. With that being said, connections started popping up one friend at a time.
And just to be clear, sure knowing people helps but lets not forget that you have been putting in work on the bike as well and it’s a combination of everything that has led you to where you are today. On that note, you seem to be getting a bunch of support these days. Who are your current sponsors and who are you out there putting in work for?
The current line up is Volume, Odyssey, Dans Comp, Pull-In, The Come Up, S-One, and recently got hooked up by Etnies. I’ve been injured for the last couple months dealing with a weird rolled ankle and a broken scaphoid in my wrist. As of now I am trying to ease back into riding even though I can ride like normal. I have a Dan’s Comp trip coming up pretty soon and still have plans to make a “Welcome to the Team” edit for them. Also, I’ll be working on filming for the Volume DVD with Mastroni, which should be nothing short of a good time. Odyssey has some pretty awesome trips planned in which I am anxious to be on due to how low key they’ve kept the locations. Currently, I’ve been filming a good bit with Francis Castro, the head filmer of The Common Crew. I’ve been mostly riding HB spots around where I live now and I am really stoked on all the clips we have so far! Be on the look out for some content dropping soon.”
How has it been riding for Volume? I know you initially rode for Colony a few years ago but that didn’t seem to what you were looking for.
Riding for Colony was awesome and I can’t thank them enough but riding for Volume has been nothing short of amazing. It’s cool because we are all good friends and can joke around even in the most serious moments. They are very easy to work with and my TM, Mike Mastroni, is pretty much my older brother. They have done so much for me in the last year and I couldn’t be more thankful. It’s cool to have a head honcho like Brian Castillo because he shreds and rides pretty much everyday. I’m still working on getting a session in with him, only problem is, he gets to the skatepark to ride at 6 am, ha-ha. Also, I couldn’t be more stoked on our team. Every single one of them absolutely kills it and we all get along very well. Look out for big things cooking up from Volume at the end of 2013!
What about Odyssey? I personally love everything that Odyssey does so I know it has to be an awesome company to ride for.
Odyssey was a dream sponsor of mine and riding for them now is such an awesome opportunity. They are always looking for creative ways to approach the BMX world. Actually, after this interview I am heading back to the Odyssey warehouse to finish helping Jim Bauer paint the ramps. They recently got Walter Pieringer as the new TM and built a skatepark behind the warehouse, so never doubt Odyssey isn’t making big moves. These guys always have my bike rolling solid and are extremely supportive. They’ve recently stepped up their apparel game too so not only is my bike looking fresh, but also my wardrobe!
You are just coming off of your second wrist surgery. What’s the deal with that?
I broke my scaphoid in my right wrist about two years ago riding trails at Da-Compound here in California and two and half months ago I broke my scaphoid in my left wrist on the Young & Retarded trip in Arizona. I now have the same exact scar from the same exact surgery on both wrists. The scaphoid is a terrible bone to brake because it has minimal blood flow to it, which prolongs the healing. The healing rate without surgery is 14 weeks in a cast or surgery plus two weeks in a cast and braced for another four. I took the surgery route on both wrists and highly suggest getting it done if you ever have the same brake. I’ve heard of people breaking both at the same time but I think mine were just coincidental being that I throw my hands out to guard myself from belly-flopping onto the ground.
How is it dealing with injuries like that? Are you used to the idea of getting surgery at this point?
Yes, you could say that I am used to getting surgery now. It’s almost just a matter of weighing the options when it comes down to it. With my wrists, surgery was the easier route because my wrist would heal back 100% and I’d have a faster recovery opposed to being casted for 14 weeks with the possibility of my wrists still giving me problems. It’s slightly hard dealing with this injury because once I was out of the cast; I was free to take my brace on and off. The periods of when I wore my brace got shorter and shorter until I didn’t wear it anymore as time passed. It’s especially difficult right now being that it feels fine while I’m riding but once I am done or take a break it starts to get sore. It’s a waiting game and when you are as eager as I am to ride bikes in an amazing place like California, you don’t want to wait at all.
If anyone keeps up on your Instagram they would know that you post a lot of original drawings. Is that what keeps you busy during your down time?
Yes, drawing and painting are both things I enjoy a lot which helps me pass time when I am injured. I like it because finishing a piece I am stoked on has a very similar feeling to getting a really good clip when riding. It is also really relaxing for me to kick back, listen to some good tunes, and whip out a good painting and or drawing. I did play video games for a good while but making artwork is a lot more productive then screaming at the TV because someone killed you in COD. If you’d like to check out some of my work, feel free to follow me @BROCAFLOKA.
How long have you been into drawing and what is it about the “tattoo style” traditional artwork that you like?
I’ve been drawing since I was in the fourth grade. I’ve always had a cartoon style of drawing so when I found the “American Traditional” style of tattoos and flash paintings I instantly fell in love. I am not really good at drawing portraits nor am I good at drawing real objects. The bold lines, colors, and simplistic detail of traditional tattoos really hit home. Now all of my artwork pretty much resembles traditional style tattoos and at some point in my life I’d like to do an apprenticeship so I can tattoo my artwork professionally.
How has it been living with Devon Smillie so far? Have you guys had the chance to ride yet?
Living with Devon is awesome. Him and I formed a pretty good friendship back when we both rode in the Gatorade Free Flow Tour. We’ve kept in touch, rode together a few more times, and when I was looking to move out here, Devon was one of the first that I hit up. We actually got to ride together twice so far. He is currently on a trip filming with Dans Comp. Hopefully once he’s back we’ll get to shred a lot more. Since Devon’s been gone I’ve been hanging out with our other roommate, Brandon Means. He’s been teaching me a lot about surfing and the Cali lifestyle in general. I couldn’t really ask for better dudes to be living with. They are both really chill and kill it when it comes down to their professions.
What are you goals while you are out here? Are you looking at this as a permanent move or are you just trying to live it up for a bit?
I’d really like to make this a permanent move. Living in California is something I would always wish I could do and now that it’s reality I’m going to try my best to make it last. I just love the whole California vibe. Everything about this place is awesome and I really couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else and enjoying my time as much as I do here. That’s basically all the motivation I need to get out there and make something of this opportunity I’ve been given. My goal is to be able to sustain living healthy and not have to starve myself because I need to pay rent. I don’t need a big flashy house because realistically I’m never inside anyways. At some point I’d like to live in a house but an apartment two miles from the beach with two other BMX riders isn’t anything to complain about.
Have you had the chance to visit your sponsors since they are so close? It must be nice having a few of them within driving distance from your pad.
Yes, I’ve been to both a few times already. It’s really sick to be able to get in my car and drive over to places like that and visit, pick up parts, and or talk business. It’s also pretty cool because Volume and Odyssey both have ramp setups so if I’m ever in the mood for a private ramp session they are only a 30-minute drive away! I am really thankful and fortunate to be so close to the warehouses and be able to communicate with them face to face.
What’s going on with the newly formed TCU team? That Young and Retarded edit came out pretty crazy for sure.
The TCU team is awesome. The trip to AZ was really fun and I got to meet a lot of riders my age that I’ve seen kill it via web edits. As of now they have tee’s and hat’s available which are pretty dope and we’ll most likely be doing a lot more trips together this summer. Adam has a lot of good things planned for the team so I’m stoked to be a part of it when it all goes down!
Even though you got hurt only a few days in, how was it kicking it with the crew and getting to know everyone?
It was sweet getting to meet guys like Brock Olive, Liam Zingbergs, and Dillon Lloyd because if it wasn’t for that trip I probably wouldn’t have met them due to the large distances between our homes. I knew Stevie and Dylan Stark prior to the trip so it was cool getting to ride with them again. Everyone was really cool and fun to hangout with though. We all got along really well and everyone’s riding style was pretty different so when we got a spot everyone had something for it rather than having to rock, paper, scissors for who gets to smith nose bar the ledge.
As a young rider that has followed their own path, what advice do you have for the younger generation out there about making moves and getting some companies to back you?
The best advice I can give is to get out there and meet as many people as you can while having fun on your bike. One way to get people to notice you when it comes to riding bikes is showing them that you can kill it and have a great time doing it. Another staple to getting out there is going around to places, making friends, and forming connections. I know traveling to other states may be hard but make the best of it and make edits of you and your friends killing it or even driving to the next town to ride with the kids from there. It doesn’t seem like much but it all really does help. That shows that you have the drive and motivation to go out and make something happen even in the worst of situations. That is what will make you stand out amongst the crowd. The final and most important thing is your personality and attitude. In today’s world, everyone is getting really good at BMX but you can take it even further with a positive attitude and personality. If people want to be around you, ride with you, watch your videos, companies will notice that and it will have you sitting right for when someone wants to make a new addition to their team.
Top three best ways to get noticed as a rider:
1. Personality and attitude.
3. Having the most fun possible.
What’s next on your list and what’s the plan for the rest of this year?
Next on my list is a trip to the East coast soon with Dan’s Comp as well as continuing filming for the Volume DVD. I am sitting on a few clips I am really stoked on already and am really anxious to continue. We’ll probably do a few more trips to film for the DVD as well as web content. Odyssey also has a bunch of things lined up that I am excited for but as I said before that has to stay pretty low key. Other than that I am pretty open to anything and will be kicking it here in HB so if you leave near here feel free to hit me up to ride!”
When can we expect you to be back on your bike and back to 100 percent?
I’ll most likely be back 100% in about a week or so. I’ve actually been riding on my wrist a lot lately which isn’t the best so I am going to try and take one more week off to let my wrist get the final tender love and care it needs to recover. I want too be all the way back in action before I leave for the Dans Comp trip because I haven’t been able to make it on one due to my injuries the last couple months.
This is where you list some shout-outs and thanks.
I’d like to start off by thanking my parents because without them I wouldn’t be sitting here in California filling out this interview. Without their support and care I can honestly say I wouldn’t have the things I have or the opportunities that I’ve been so lucky to have without them. I’d also like to thank all the companies that support me and have allowed me to live my number one dream. I couldn’t be more thankful and fortunate. Thanks Volume, Odyssey, Dans Comp, Pull-In, The Come Up, S-One, and Etnies. I want to give a shout-out to all my friends and family back home in Louisiana. They too helped keep me motivated and shared some of my greatest memories with all of them. Also shout out to the Common Crew for taking me in and treating me like one of their own. I’ve only been hanging out with these dudes for a week but I felt like we’ve all been friends for years. Special thanks goes out to anyone and everyone I’ve met during my travels and my stays. You all make riding makes as amazing as it is. Lastly I’d like to thank the creator of candy, because that stuff is just so damn good.”
Do you have anything else that you want to add to this, any last words?
I’d like my last words to be that once you are done reading this interview, however you take it, whether you think I’m stupid or you enjoyed reading it, go outside and shred on your bike because that is by far the most fun thing in this whole damn world. Thanks!
If you take anything away from reading today’s column I hope that it’s some inspiration to get out there and pursue your passions. Broc is a living example of doing just that and I have nothing but respect for anyone that is out there going for it. On that note, be sure to check back next Wednesday for the sixty-fourth edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram as well @JeremyPavia.