There’s no denying that Jason Phelan is one of those riders that is always awesome to watch ride because you don’t really know what to expect when he drops in. Over the years, he’s blown our minds time and time again between crazy stunts off the bike to some damn amazing riding on his bike. 2015 has been an interesting one for Jason so far, leaving long time sponsor Wethepeople, being let go from Nike and now joining the GT Bicycles team that has really gotten some fire behind it lately. After his last two videos dropped, we knew it was time to get ahold of him to find out just what his story is and what he has going on these days! Let’s find out just what The Irish had to say!
Name: Jason Phelan
Location: Unit 23 Skatepark, Glasgow, Scotland
Sponsors: GT Bikes
Years riding: 16 years
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories come to mind?
I grew up on the outskirts of waterford City in Ireland and my granddad had a farmhouse. Beside that, there was a sketchy motor cross track surrounded by fields of travellers horses and sketchy lads who would drive stolen cars around the fields. My brother and some of his friends used to hit the table top jumps on there mountain bikes which soon got me into it. I soon turned out to be the test pilot who was stupid enough to try out the other jumps and see how far we could go.
Soon after that, I saw some BMXers cruising the city and I saw one of them do a hop barspin on flat ground (Wayne Duggan). My mind was blown. There and then I knew I wanted to get a BMX bike, like who in their right mind doesn’t want to do a hop barspin, haha. Soon enough, after buying a stolen bike which was taken from the circus, I was doing barspins off shed roofs into mulch landings, otherwise known as tree bark which makes for a nice feature in your garden.
At the time, when I first got into BMX, I had friends who did everything, so I would carry around a pair of rollerblades in a bag with a skateboard strapped to my back. When I wasn’t doing that, I would be found driving bikes and cars or even jumping travellers shetland ponys over logs in the fields around my granddads house, or just being a jackass somewhere loving life to the max.
Photo: Nathan Beddows
That’s awesome. How’s it going on your end? Seems like you have had a pretty interesting year so far.
Yeah, I’m having a brilliant year. I’ve been to Majorca to film for Nearly 4 and we have done a bunch of other trips for it so far. I made a dream come true by flipping out of a rail and now I’m sitting on a plane listing to Chris Wollard and the Ship Thief’s heading to America on my first GT Bikes trip. Ye haw, haha.
Let’s start off on the big news. You have recently joined the GT Bicycles team after parting ways with Wethepeople a little while back. How did that opportunity all come about? Was it something you had in the works before leaving Wethepeople?
I love Wethepeople. I gotta say that and I appreciate everything Harry and everyone at Wethepeople have done for me over the years I’ve rode for them. I just felt I wanted something a bit fresh and something a bit different to how Paul Robinson is taking the team.
I know at the start of the year you were let go from Nike and you chose to part ways with Wethepeople after some changes. What was going through your head when those things fell through? Were you worried it was time to start working in the “real world”?
Worried? I was terrified, like what’s a dumb ass bmxer with no qualifications thats nearly 30, not having a job since he was 20, going to do when his sponsors drop him? We will see soon enough, haha. But seriously, I definitely thought about it and THERE is no way I’m ready for that right now. I’m not ready to put my body and mind in straight forward mode. I’m not trying to take anything away from anybody who is a hard worker, but I like to be adventurous, creative, random and a bloody idiot. If I have a 40 hour set shift week doing something that I’m not into, I would go mad. I would much rather push myself and focus on riding as hard as I can to keep this dream alive. It’s my life, it’s bmx and I fucking love it. The lifestyle, the friends, the trips, the battles to overcome a trick, bloody everything. As long as my body is healthy, I’m pushing it.
What do you have planned with GT Bicycles so far? Sounds like you’re already going on a trip with the team?
I’m on the way to meet the rest of the team right now in Kansas for a GT trip, so very soon indeed!
I know you just dropped that rail backflip video and the Unit 23 video, but have you been filming for anything else lately? Any chance we’ll have something good to see soon?
I’ve being filming for “Nearly 4” for over a year now and I hope to get away soon to film again. I’m pretty sure this video is going to blow heads when it comes out. Everyone has killed it and I’m super happy to be part of such a sick group of people. #nrly4k
You have travelled quite a bit over the years. What are the top 5 places you have had the chance to visit?
Wow… This is tough. They have all been amazing. The world is too good. I’m never going to fit in everything that I want to do. I want to see and explore as much as I possibly can. I’ve travelled across Asia, Europe, South Africa. Flew first class to Shanghai for the Asian X-Games, travelled by train around eastern Europe, travelled in the back of a van across Germany. I have been on endless road trips with friends going on team trips or travelling to contests. I possible can’t pick five. The KEY IS if you travel with good friends, people that don’t whine too much, people that can sleep anywhere, people that can travel on a tight budget, people that don’t need to use hairspray, haha, you will have a good time wherever you go.
Where are a few of the places you have never been, but really want to go at some point?
I want to go places where the culture is amazing. Places where people are not as well off as we are, places where you truly bring home a story and memory that will last a lifetime. I really want to explore crazy undeveloped cites and hang out with some amazing people and get to know a bit about different culture. This is the bmx lifestyle that I’m talking about. EXPLORE & ADVENTURE
Let’s go back to the backflip out of the rail. You had tried that quite a while back and slammed REALLY hard. What made you want to give it another go? What did you change this time to make it work versus the last?
What made me give it another go? Well, the job wasn’t done, haha. I wanted to land it, I’m not one to walk away from something I’ve set my mind to and this rail wasn’t getting the better of me. The first rail we built was too tight and it was like hitting a vert wall. I also wanted the glory of doing it without any crash mats. I wanted the glory for myself, learning something without the safety net so to speak. That didn’t work, haha. After slamming hard, I gave it a good think and decided to build a mellower rail which turned out to be perfect. Thanks George Eccleson for helping me with this.
Are you still living at Unit 23 Skatepark or have you found a new home? What’s it like living at that place?
I am indeed. It’s exactly what I want right now. I just want to ride whenever I want. The Unit is amazing. There’s a great bunch of people, a rad park and a bloody great time. Without Chick and Unit, I feel like I would be in a whole different place within BMX right now. Maybe I would have that unwanted job you speak of #reallife.
I’d imagine with living at a skatepark, you end up talking BMX 24/7. Do you ever get burned out at all? How do you keep things fresh after all these years?
Yeah, we talk about BMX a lot, but to be honest, we pretty much all just have a laugh and wind each other up all the time talking mostly shite to be fair. I felt like I got a bit burnt out a few years back but since moving to Unit 23, BMX is as fresh as it has ever being for me and I’m definitely motivated to make some more dreams come true very soon. In terms of keeping things fresh, I just keep moving, keep travelling and make sure to push myself on a daily basis. I find eating good and keeping yourself fit and healthy really helps motivate yourself and keeps your drive going.
We have seen you pop up at contests here and there. Any plans on riding any contests this summer? How do you feel about contests? Is it something the motivates you or that you’re more into just for the fun of it?
Yeah, I’m going to ride a few for sure. I love all aspects of BMX and contests are no exception. I get some buzz riding certain (well organized and down for a laugh) contests that are not so serious, but people are still there to kill it and have a good time afterwards spilling beers over their heads, haha.
Who are some of the riders that really inspired you growing up?
I guess Van Homan, Morgan Wade, Peter Adam, Jay Mirron, old Corey Martinez… So many to name.
What about now days? Who are the guys that really get you motivated to go ride?
Dennis Enarson is the boss, but people out there who are killing it and having a good time doing just that are winners in my eyes. Kriss Kyle and Alex Donnachie push me like mad. I love how motivated and creative those two are. I can’t keep up with them, but where I lack in skill I make up for with age and wisdom, haha… Most definitely not.
Now that the weather has been getting a little nicer over there. Where have you been getting most of your sessions in lately? Any hot spots you have been real into lately?
Yeah, UNIT 23 SKATEPARK IS PRETTY GOOD.
I’d imagine it’s pretty hard to imagine, but what do you think you would be doing these days if you never got into BMX?
It’s a tough one, but I feel like I would be making films or doing something creative with the camera.
What are you usually doing when you aren’t riding these days? Do you have any hobbies or cool projects keeping you busy?
I’m always riding theses days. I don’t stop, but when I’m not on the bike I’m off out on an adventure hiking up the mountains or jumping off waterfalls or you could find me behind the computer making an edit of some kind.
You have always been one to be filming and pumping out videos. What kind of a camera setup are you working with these days?
I don’t think I know off the top of my head, haha, but two GOPRO Hero 3+’s with mounts and accessories, a Cannon 60d with fish and L lenses, 15-75 or something like that, and I think a Panasonic Agac90 Zoom beast. That’s it I think, haha.
Do you have a dream camera setup you wish you were working with or are you pretty content with what you have right now?
I love what I have, but I would like to get a good slow mo camera and a stedycam…. And a fire suit so that I can set myself on fire for a video. Shit, I just gave my next video idea away, another Rooftop inspired move to be had.
What’s the last song you heard and movie you watched?
Right I’m going to press next on shuffle on my iTunes see what comes up, haha… Bob Log “111 Wag Your Tail Like A Dog” and the movie was The Kingsman.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
I eat quite healthy when I’m home and try and keep myself fit if I can. In the last 18 days, I’ve been to 10 circuit training classes, my body is definitely at its healthiest it has been in over 5 years. I’ve drank Spurlina for about 5 years. Maybe that’s why. Drink the green stuff guys!
I know with all the traveling you have done, you have probably been caught up in sketchy situation a time or two… Care to share a good story?
Well, on my trip around asia I had a run of bad luck but great memories. It all started when I was doing a demo on some sketchy jumps. I fell of and broke my nose ending up in a sketchy hospital visit where I got stitched up. A few days later I got lost on a moped somewhere in Bali in the middle of the night and had to drive for about 5 hours to find my way home with the woman Arlene who organised the trip on the back of the bike freezing cold and tired… Oops. A day or two later I got pulled over for driving topless, oh and I didn’t have a license. I gave the police man 20 quid and I was safe to leave. Then a few days later I went to the monkey temple with the Venture Further crew where I picked up a monkey who decided to bite me for the laugh. I went back to the hospital because of this and I had to get rabies vaccinated just to be safe, but the following morning I came down with a mega fever and I could bearly walk or even make it to the bathroom without pooping myself… So, yet again, I went back to the hospital. The doctors gave me bags of pills and sent me on my way saying I should be ok, but the following morning I was in so much pain covered in some poo from the night time spillage. I was thinking this is it, I’m about to die. I got rushed to hospital. Sweating like mad, losing every ounce of water that was left in my body, the doctors pulled me up on a bed gave me an injection of some sort, covered me in a sweat blanket, pulldd over contraption that reminded me of a body bag and left me shake in out for a few hours while the meds did their thing. A few hours later I was released, but due to the pain, I walked in the shape of an “r” to grab a taxi back to the hotel where I stayed in bed for the day. I still didn’t get any better so we needed to sort this. Arlene decided to to take me to a private hospital this time, still not knowing what was wrong with me the doctors checked me out. They took me straight in to a private room, hooked me up to a drip and filled me with vital fluids and powerful meds for the next 4 days reengerizing my body and bringing me back down to normality. The doctors said we were lucky we came in on time, they said I came down with some sort of sever food poisioning and they said if I left it any longer the parasites could of climbed up and eaten my brain, haha (not sure if theres much brain to be eaten). So, it was nothing to do with the monkey bite, but just a dodgy piece of meat or even some sketchy rat infested water. After the hospital trip, I actually felt great again as all the lost fluids were put back in my body. Arlene had rented a posh pad with with our own private swimming pool for the last few days in bali. I actually had a great few days to finish of the trip and I can’t thank Arlene enough for looking after me. “Bad luck is better than no luck”
The Venture Further trip, even though I had a lot of bad luck, was one of the best trips I have ever being on.
What kind of advice do you have for the kids just getting into BMX?
Have as much fun as you can and be yourself theres no one else like you.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still BMXing strong and hopefully I will have some sort of BMX brand running
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
I just want to thank everyone who has helped me out over the years from sponsors to friends and family. Thanks a bunch. I appreciate it all and you are all awesome.
Anything else you want to say?
Stay Motivated and do what you love. Make sure to appreciate what you have got and the people around you.
An Interesting fact or not… It took me three and a half hours to write this mambo jumbo! Hope you guys enjoyed it.
Jason (The Irish)