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Today is a good day! Not only do we have a fresh new TJ Henderson edit that we’re premiering above, but we also have a full interview with him to go along with some damn good photos! This Sunday rider is from what some would call a “dying breed”. While most kids are dumping their brakes, TJ runs a classic setup with front brakes, 4 pegs and a freecoaster along with a back brake that comes off from time to time like in his new edit. Even though his setup might not be as common as it used to be back in the day, his creativity is what really makes him stand apart from other riders. We wanted to find out what this guy is all about, so we shot him some questions and this is what he had to say…
Name: T.J. (Thomas Joseph) Henderson
All photos by Ryan Capranica
Location: Springfield, IL
Sponsor: Sunday Bikes
Years riding: 12
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories come to mind?
Watching Layke Lane do tricks on his chrome bmx. I remember thinking that it was so cool what he was doing. I don’t remember what he was doing though haha. I would always check out his bmx magazines that he brought to school. I remember one picture of a guy bailing on a vert ramp and it was crazy!
I did tricks on my mountain bike with a buddy, Matt Giacomini, around this time too. We would hop up and down steps, jump shit and do a lot of wheelies.
My brother got a bmx bike when I was 15 and that really sealed the deal for me. I would steal that thing and shred it! Figured out really quick that bmx bikes were way easier to do tricks on than a huge ass mountain bike.
So you have been getting hooked up by Sunday for a while now. Does Jim have any trips or anything cool in the works for you these days?
I got a text from him awhile back about riding a Pirate Ship themed mini ramp at FunFunFunFest in Austin at the beginning of November.
I have slowly been getting clips for an edit for the end of the year and some other clips for another Sunday Bikes project.
Any other sponsor news you can tell us about?
Nothing at the moment.
I’ve always been a big fan of your riding and your edits always get me real excited. When can we expect to see a fresh edit out of you?
It needs to happen soon. Haha, well I got that one that dropped with this interview! I hope you all like fakie riding
How did summer treat you? Did you get much traveling in?
Honestly, my summer sucked riding wise! I was hurt probably 80% of the summer. Other than that it was really cool since I spent my extra time hanging out with my girl, Sarah, and hung out with a lot of non-riding friends.
What are your plans for the winter? Planning on getting some sun anywhere warm?
Winter plans….head down to Austin a few times. I am really trying to make a trip out to the west coast this winter. Non travel wise, I am getting a snowboard helmet to keep my ears warm for early morning mini ramp sessions and hopefully keep our local indoor spot going. We have been really fortunate the last three years to have 24 hour access to a heated indoor place with pretty much free reign of the place. Thanks Pete! I want to get a lot of grinding time in with the Champaign chapter of 217BMX at the MTF.
Where have you been getting most of your riding time in lately? Any spots you have been really stoked on?
Lately I have been having a lot of 7am sessions at our local park Centennial. The mini ramp there is so badass. Smooth transitions and the coping is perfect ☺
Actually, speaking of riding, who were some of your biggest influences on your riding? I know there had to be somebody to get you hooked on those front brakes and the freecoaster.
Dave Freimuth, Troy McMurray, Seth Kimbrough, Taj and Ian Johnston.
Freimuth really got me stoked on front brakes/freecoaster more than anyone else because he was so smooth and stylish with both of them.
It seems like you always have a pretty consistent setup Do you ever change things up much? What would it take to get you to go brakeless for a bit?
I do but I always end up going back to a full setup. Man, what would it take for me to go brakeless a bit… a desire to do more barspins without destroying my fingers, haha.
You have a pretty unique bag of tricks. What’s one trick you cannot do for the life of you?
Do you ever get burned out on riding at all? What are some of the things you do to keep things fresh after all the years?
I do. I think it would be odd if I didn’t. The thing that keeps it fresh for me is going out and riding with my friends and new kids to the scene. Seeing new kids drop in or a friend pull a new move gets me so psyched on riding!
Let’s say you got the chance to take a trip with 5 riders anywhere in the world to film. Who do you bring, where do you go and why?
Aaron Jones, Billy Weiss, Bobby Parker, Ryan Capranica and Jim Ceilincki because I get so pumped up watching those guys ride. We would go to… I am having a hard time with this one. Anywhere is a tough one. I’d make Bobby decide, he always knows of a cool place to go
BMX has its way of changing a person’s life. What do you think you would be doing these days if you didn’t have BMX in your life?
If I didn’t have bmx in my life I would have played football in high school and gone away for college. I would be married, have kids and a boring job.
What are you usually up to when you aren’t riding these days? Do you work or go to school at all?
I work fulltime at BikeTek, Inc. in Springfield and I run a part time business with my brother Eric doing dimensional stone work (granite countertops). I read a lot and eat too many sour gummy worms.
Are you really good at anything outside of BMX?
I can take some bitchin Instagram photos!
You got caught up in a sketchy situation while filming for your Take It edit. Have you had any crazy situations like that come up since then?
Not since then, but when I was 16 I got punched in the face by an old man named Clifford.
Let’s say you could have one super power of your choice. Which one would you choose and why?
Use 100% if my brain. I really want to be Limitless.
What’s one thing you need more of in your life and one thing you need less of?
I need more free time to be on my bike, there are WAY too many tricks to learn.
I need less injuries
You win the lottery. We’re talking millions on millions. What’s the first thing you buy?
A lot of acreage with timber
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
On the deck of a mini ramp.
I know you are on Twiter. How can people keep up with you these days?
INSTAGRAM!!!!!!!! Follow me @theTJHenderson
What’s the last song you heard, movie you watched and website you visited?
Moonlight Equilibrium-The Black Dahlia Murder, The Five Year Engagement, stonefabricatorsalliance.com
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
My favorite band is The Black Dahlia Murder
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Kurt at The Union for doing this interview, Ryan Capranica for shooting all the photos, Chris Costello for going out to film me and keeping me calm when I freak out, Jim at Sunday and Bobby, Logan and Mike at Full Factory for always keeping me fresh with clothes and bike parts, Aaron Jones and Seth Bedinghaus for always keeping me in good spirits, all the guys in my local scene that rip, Sarah Chatham for being a Good Girl.
Anything else you want to say?
It means so much to me that people are stoked on what I do on a bike. I seriously cannot express how grateful I am of the people that support and encourage me. Thanks!!
I really didn’t know a ton about TJ other than the basic things about his riding and everything, so I figured we could spice things up by having his friends and family toss in a few questions as well. This is what they had for him.” – Kurt
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I dont have one accomplishment that sticks out. I am always really proud when I try a trick for hours and hours and finally pull it.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My dad. He has been an incredible example of hard work and kindness for me.
What is the theme song to your life?
Something from The Black Dahlia Murder is usually playing in my head. The lyrics hardly ever reflect whats going on in my life though haha
How much does your current bike set up weigh and do you really care?
26or 27 pounds. I don’t really care what it weighs
How do you feel about pot smoking in BMX videos?
I don’t care either way
Red Heads, Blondes or Brunettes?
Do you think of a trick then look for a spot to do it on or find a spot then think of a trick to do there?
Tricks all day!
What was your first real BMX bike?
Chrome Hoffman Taj
Could you do any of the crazy backwards stuff you do with a cassette?
Not at all
Song Jacking, is it real or B.S.?
Trick Jacking is much more serious in this freestyle world of ours.
Is there anything outside of other riders that influences the way you ride?
Everything that I come into contact with influences me. I thought up icepick stalls to backwards manuals by stopping my car really hard at a stop light
Most importantly before we start, are you a tits or an ass man?
Ass man all day
What’s it like trying to juggle a full time job, a girl, and being an up and coming BMX superstar?
I don’t sleep a lot and I am always on the go.
Do you ever actually ride your bike forwards?
Only so I can go backwards
We’ve been filming together for a few years now and I know I can say that my filming style has evolved in our time together. Do you feel like your riding has progressed since our first edit we put out?
My riding is always in a state of progression, I don’t try and progress it just one of those things that happens.
I’ve seen you get pretty heated when trying a trick for a long time but you always seem to pull it in the end, what keeps you motivated on those days when nothing seems to go right?
Swearing and throwing my bike helps a lot. I like to pretend that I can grab my bike and rip it in half. That always helps me calm down. It has a lot to do with me being stubborn, if I think it is possible I am gonna keep trying until I cant physically try anymore
Can you tell us about “the trick button?” This is a Seth Bedinghaus term.
I am pretty sure he came up with it as an excuse to make me touch him while I am riding.
The 217 BMX crew is a pretty unique group of dudes. How has having such a tight knight scene helped keep that BMX spark alive?
Getting to watch everyone progress and have fun keeps it alive for me. I LOVE seeing my friends do new stuff.
Everyone seems to love the bum fight scene out of the Take It edit but looking back on it now, would you have handled that situation differently? I know you were pretty shaken up after the fact.
Had I known he had a knife I would of thrown my bike at his face. Fuck that dude. Yeah that whole ordeal shook me up pretty bad. I hate having that surge of pure hate/anger and that dude took me there real quick.
You are a really hairy man. When did you get your first chest hair?
My first chest hair sprouted as a freshman in high school, little did I realize that in a few short years many more would come to form a bison head on my torso.
Judging by your Instagram you take a lot of early morning solo sessions to the skate park, is that something you do to keep riding fun and care free? Is it your way to separate the stresses of filming and the pure joy you get out of riding?
It’s more just another way to get on my bike. I work during the day and at night a lot so I dont have a lot of daylight to spare after work so I take advantage of it before then.
Favorite Seth Bedinghaus quote?
His Rockzo the Rock and Roll Clown impersonations are my favorite
Pretend I was holding a gun to your head right now, what are your last words?
You are an asshole Chris or I would be crying too hard to say anything