It’s funny how BMX works. If you ride long enough, travel and go to a bunch of events, you’ll undoubtably meet a lot of people, and also end up meeting people you never expected to meet. The other weekend in the middle of Wisconsin during the Baco-A-Go-Go jam, I had the chance to meet one rider in particular that I’ve known of and watched ride since I was a kid, but never quite expected to meet. That rider is Paddy Gross. Paddy has been a front brake legend for years and continues to blow peoples minds to this day. After watching him ride in person and finding out a little more about him, I knew there was no way we couldn’t do an interview with him. So, today, were stoked to drop this interview where we find out a bunch of stuff about him that you probably had no idea. So, let’s get into this already!
Name: Liam Patrick Wyatt aka Paddy Gross
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Paddy in 1999.
Location: Portland,OR USA
Sponsors: Colony BMX, Roller Derby Skateshop (supports me with Etnies)
Years riding: 23
Paddy! How’s it going? How was the trip back to Portland from your Baco experience in Wisconsin?
I am doing good thanks! The trip back was good. Bobbie Altiser and myself had a good time talking about the world, life, and how awesome and unique the Baco jam was. The whole thing reminded me a lot of the Rebel jam in Berlin/Germany. We drove for around 7 hours and had plenty of time to chat. Whoever knows Bobbie knows that he is one of the nicest humans out here and since we don’t see each other very often we made it worth it to talk a lot. Friends are awesome!
How did you like the Baco contest? You definitely weren’t the only one there with some front brakes!
First of all, it was the best time I’ve had in a while! A frontbrake contest? Really!? I can’t put in words how much this felt like true BMX (and I believe I can speak for everyone in the frontbrakebrethren contest). I felt like I was participating in something that doesn’t really exist at all in this format, which made it special and one of a kind. I felt super close to everyone, because we were all doing the same sort of thing, and knowing it’s not something a lot of others doing anymore. Some may say this is old school but after all these years of riding with frontbrakes I’d rather say it is a different kind of school that is based on experience, activity, and skill for a longer period of time and a different background. Maybe back then, when it was sort of normal to run frontbrakes, people didn’t think this could end or that they’d ride less at some point. However, some of them kept doing what they loved, and weren’t paying too much attention to what everyone else was doing and how much the sport turned into a one brake or brakeless world. It was and simply is a part of them and their style of riding. Also for me personally a dream came true when I finally had the chance to meet my biggest frontbrake riding influence and legend Dave Freimuth. You know Dave was the very first person I ever saw doing a nosepick whip in Baco 4 when I was 12 years old, and that was my moment of truth. I knew this is what I wanted to do. So being at a Baco jam for the first time and having the actual Baco crew around me was fulfilling and I thought, “yeh this is BMX and this is why I ride BMX”. Also hearing a “yeah Paddy” after doing a trick meant the world to me. The Baco jam was pure BMX with what BMX is about: FUN! It seems some people in the current BMX world unfortunately forget a little what BMX is about, and that it is BMX Freestyle and you can be who you wanna be and do what you wanna do, right?! Its not all about Monster Energy and triple tailwhips and it’s not about anyone else. Of course everyone will choose their way with where to go with BMX, and I think its important for the younger ones to understand that having a good time is the foundation of it all and that learning the basics sure will help to progress. The sport turns into gymnastics a little from what it seems and some of the younger ones maybe feel like they have to learn tailtaps before tailwhips to be a part of the BMX community. It was very refreshing to see that at the Baco jam everyone except the Pro’s got separated in age groups and this way everyone had a fair chance. The Baco jam was a type of forgotten event that is about having a good time with everyone, making new friends, meeting old friends, amazing and unique riding, wild parties and a lot of fire haha. Thanks you all and I’ll be back next year for sure!
Dave Friemuth and Paddy at the Baco-A-Go-Go jam.
There was definitely some wild parties going on after the riding. What was the craziest thing you saw all weekend?
Haha, yes, there were a few things I remember like people falling of roofs, burning furniture, a campfire rail contest and a lot of fire in general. Trick wise I’d say TJ Hendersons fakie nosepick to backwards nosepick over the spine to fakie canadian nosepick whip has been one of most ridiculous tricks I’ve ever witnessed. Also this kid who 180 whipped the big box was a little out of his mind doing that and my favorite rider all weekend on the street course was Matt Lough! Go big or go home explains it best. So much bike control and a constant smile on his face! I really enjoyed watching him ride because he obviously had a good time kicking ass! Last but not least the saturday night party was pretty wild and watching people falling off roofs and others matching their alcohol blood level with their trick level and somehow managing pulling some serious grind variations on a rail standing on top of a campfire. Takeitforbaco!
So, you have been doing it for Colony for quite a while now. How many years have you been on Colony now? How are things going with them? Any projects you have cooking with Clint and the rest of the crew?
I’ve been on Colony since 2009, and it’s the best that happened to me in my BMX career. Company Owner, riding influence and friend Clint Millar and I have been friends for an eternity now. We share quite a history of riding contests and demos at different places of the world. What can be better than to ride for one of your friends’ company? It’s the best, and Colony is a true BMX company that knows exactly what riders need these days to have a reliable bike/parts. I am super happy, my bike feels amazing and the team is like family. I am not taking any of it for granted and this a great chance for me to say “Thank you Clint for being a friend, for everything you do for me and having me as a part of the Colony family” As far as projects go, I’ll take it as it comes, and if there’s a trip my job allows me to take time off for I won’t think twice about it. I always save up money in case something comes up so I’d be ready to go. Clint and some of the team recently visited me in Portland, and we had a short but good time riding. Mostly it was just good to see all of them, catch up and hang out.
It has been a little while since we’ve seen a video from you. Have you been working on a new video? Any chance we’ll see some fresh footage surface sooner than later?
It’s difficult to find someone to film and edit around here and the people that could help me with that are either too busy with work or have families. I started filming myself in the last few months and most of the clips ended up on Instagram. I’ve filmed quite a bit of myself and was thinking about putting it together as sort of an Iphone edit. I’d have enough clips for a 3 minute edit and it would be a waste not using them I guess. One idea for starting to film a few months back was working off my list of tricks/combos I haven’t seen before and the list long. I am sure I’ll put something together very soon.
You have been doing the Pro thing for a long time now and you have seen riding styles change a lot, but you have always stayed pretty consistent. What keeps you rocking the front brakes when it seems like everyone else has gone brakeless?
You know I took off my frontbrakes for a while as well and started wearing my girlfriends pants haha. I don’t know why I followed that trend for a while but I did, and I came to a point where I was almost thinking BMX became boring and everything looked the same to me. I’ve had the impression that originality and creativity was getting rare and that most of the riders were floating with the current. Tricks changed and became terrifying and intense. Most of the BMX industry and media moved into the Internet world, no more videos or magazines but those were the things I really enjoyed having and collecting. I was able to hold a piece of BMX in my hands. I know times change, but I am giving myself a bit of a hard time just accepting everything in way of many others do. I also don’t want to judge all of the changes, because it is what it is and many people are happy with it. Just because I don’t agree with some of the things I see or read, doesn’t mean I have the right to point my finger. As long as I keep doing my thing and are happy with it there’s nothing to complain about. So I’ve put my front brakes back on and gave my stretch pants back to my girlfriend because I’ve noticed that just wasn’t me and I also didn’t have as much fun as I use to have. I wasn’t doing my thing, I was doing what most people did because I thought I had to. Ever since then, I am running front brakes again I feel like where I was when I was younger, and I am loving BMX as much as I did back then. Separating myself from the mass with riding front brakes makes me feel a bit more original. I guess I am getting older too and I have no need to learn double, triple and what not tricks because there’s also a lot of crazy injuries coming along with it and I just don’t wanna hurt myself as much anymore. As much memories I’ve made in the last 23 years of riding my body tells me about its memories as soon as the weather gets colder haha.
You have a pretty long list as far as accomplishments as far as contests go from world championships and everything over the years. Do you still compete much or is it just something you do for fun now days?
I’ve ridden contests for more than 15 years and mainly to return the favor to my sponsors. I loved riding contests but not with any intentions or expectations of winning. So as far accomplishments go I am very happy and thankful for how many contests I’ve ridden turned out. Nowadays Contests changed as well as BMX in general and there’s much more money involved. I remember when I rode X-Games in 1997 I got invited because I’ve qualified in a contest before that. It wasn’t important who I was or who I rode for and just my performance was what mattered at that point. These days riders get invited who may have sponsors that put a lot of money into the event and it seems to be important who you ride for or what standpoint you have in the BMX world to be able to make money off of you. I can be wrong about that and I don’t wanna make people upset with my opinion but if you look at it close enough you’ll see that the media has their hands in everything and tells even the BMX industry how to run things. Riding contests is getting less for me but I’d always return to a Baco A-Go-Go or a Rebel Jam.
Who were some of your biggest influences when it came to riding while growing up?
They were many such as Dave Freimuth, Axel Reichertz, Dave Mirra, Dave Osato, Dustin Guenther, Joey Garcia, Clint Millar, Dave Thom, Jay Miron, Rick Moliterno, DMC, Joe Rich, Sandy Carson, Luc-E, Chad DeGroot, Tom Haugen, Tobias Wicke, Rob Sigaty, Tobias Wicke, Martin Drost, Alex Bender, Christoph Huber, Senad Grosic, Markus Fischer, Rob Nolli, Kurt Schmidt, Rob Ridge, Jan Heinen, Max Gaertig, Eben Fischer, Andy Merrall, Daniel Randall,, Adam Banton, Kevin Jones, Mark Eaton, Aaron Behnke, Danny Hickerson… and much more!
What about these days? Who are some of the guys who really get you motivated to ride?
Definitely still all of my influences! Everyone has/had their style and tricks which I look/looked up to and I still remember all of it. I’ve also added a few people that I came across in the last couple years ever since I moved to the USA such a Bobbie Altiser, Dusty Horten, Levi Weert, Isaac Waits, Jake Horge, TJ Henderson, Travis McCray, Nick Harkins, Twobraketony and much more. Also people I ride with on a daily basis are my motivation, because they are doing what I do, riding a 20″ bike and that can be kids, pros, or people in my age.
Where are you usually found riding these days? I know there’s no shortage of parks in the Portland area.
I mostly ride at “The Lumberyard” Indoor Bike Park. I used to work there when they started the business and I was an instructor for summer camps and after school classes with kids. Those guys are rad and give Portland a place to ride when it’s wet and cold out. They really do a lot for the scene and help kids finding their into BMX. The park is also is all wooden and wood is bit more forgiving than concrete. I once in a while ride the famous Burnside Park but honestly I’d have to ride this place for 3 years straight to know how to ride it. I am honestly feeling most comfortable riding The Lumberyard and they are also the only place in Portland who has a street spine and that’s my favorite obstacle to ride.
After all these years, what’s one trick that you cannot do for the life of you?
Double Tailwhips! My mind doesn’t let me go through the second one.
Do you ever get burned out on riding? How to do you keep things fresh for yourself?
I try to do what I haven’t done when I was younger, which is listen to my body and don’t stress things. I am thinking a lot about tricks and riding through the day and write things down. I take a break for a few days sometimes to rest up and to get anxious to go ride. I enjoyed this very much when i was younger, this “can’t wait to go ride” feeling, and the only difference now is that I have tell myself to hold still for a few days, because otherwise my body won’t let me do what I wanna do and it wouldn’t be fun and I might hurt myself. What also keeps me going is to start a trick off my list and have to go back a few times to get it done. Sort of a mission to accomplish. I guess what it comes down to these days with getting older is to do things next to riding to keep it interesting and I have many of those “things” in my life. Going to ride is always the top of everything though.
I’d imagine it’s hard to imagine by now, but what do you think you would be doing today if you never started riding BMX?
That is a good question because my childhood was a bit confusing and BMX was my way of escaping reality and a very disturbing environment. I am glad BMX took me places and made me who I am without feeling sorry for myself or being a complete screw up. BMX pretty much made it impossible to make wrong decisions and all I wanted was riding my bike. I don’t know i remember when i was young I worked at a farm a few days a week just because I liked animals and i thought i could be a farmer someday. I never thought I would be at where I am now and that BMX will pave my way through life like it did. Pretty stoked on everything how it turned out though.
What are you usually up to when you aren’t riding these days? Any jobs or hobbies filling up your time?
I work full time for one of the biggest online stores in the US that sells bike components for two years now and it’s a great company with a great health insurance which is very useful if you ride BMX. Next to work I love spending time with my lovely wife who supports me in everything I do. I like to play the piano (I am still learning). I love watching my many actual VHS tapes I kept all these years. I am also into swimming, working out, reading, hiking, traveling, cooking, going to the movie theater and having a beer or 5 with friends.
Now, I know you’re a German so you gotta love the beer. What is your top 5 beers?
Haha yea beer!
1.Frueh Koelsch (Germany)
2.New Glarus Spotted Cow (USA)
3.Paulaner Weissbier (Germany)
4.Lakeport Pilsner (Canada)
You made the move from Germany to the United States and have called Portland home for quite a while. What lead to the move over here? Could you ever see yourself moving back or living anywhere else?
Yeah, it has been 4 years now in Porland and I like it here. Portland seems very liberal and people care and judge less about others believing in god or not, having a lot of tattoos or even still ride a BMX bike as an adult. Portland is punkrock! I came here first in 2000 with Daniel Randall who used to ride for Wethepeople. I’ve stayed for three months and made a few good friends such as Andy Merrall who’s a Portland legend. So after my first visit I kept coming back at least once a year for 10 years in a row. About 5 years ago I met my wife and i decided to come back and stay. I’ve seen around 15 states of the US so far and I know there’s more amazing places. I wouldn’t go back to Germany though, because I’ve made my decision to move on with my life at another place and I’d rather keep moving on to another state or country before going back. Since I just added 3 states in the US to my list from my recent trip I could totally see myself living in Missouri or Wisconsin. I absolutely loved it there and I wouldn’t even mind the cold that. As the Germans always say: “there’s no bad weather, just the wrong gear” haha and I would totally move to Wisconsin just for the cheese!
I don’t think too many people actually know your real name is Liam. How did “Paddy” ever start and how long has that one been going for now?
Yeah, that is a confusing thing! My middle name is Patrick and someone came up with Paddy around 24 years ago. Not a lot of people know that my actual first name is Liam because my biological mother is originally from New Zealand and gave me that name in the first place. I was born in Germany and right after my birth my mom took me back to live in Australia. She only kept me a few years, took me back to Germany, and I got adopted by Germans. For some reason they simply ignored the name “Liam” and just called me Patrick or Paddy. When I immigrated to the US I decided to return to my true first name, and so in the work world I am Liam, and in the BMX world I am Paddy. There were so many things that I had to figure out about what actually happened when I was young that the name thing is the most uncomplicated issue of all of them. To give you an idea, I was at a point in my life where I had 3 ID’s with 3 different date of births.
Is there anything else about yourself that might surprise people?
Interesting question and i think the most of the time the way you behave or react is the way you think its the right one if no one tells you differently. I know that I have some sort of strange body language or look on my face depending on the situation or topic. Sometimes it’s this moment when something happens and I have a different opinion in my head and I am not sure if I should say something or keep it for myself. I believe that is that moment when people don’t know if I am upset or not. Most of the time I am not I am just dealing with it inside of me, and at that moment people might think I am upset. I am not catching all of the time and sometimes leave people with a question mark, though I try and explain whenever I can.
Word on the street is that you have a bunch of cats? What is it about cats that you like so much? Any good names for them?
Haha these little buggers! Yes, we have 3 of them! Always hungry, naughty and wild! Their names are Dottie (old lady), Finn (7 months old) and LFB which stands for “little fat bastard”. Hahaha when we got him he quickly earned the name from stealing food and that was the first thing I said and we just kept the name even though he’s in shape now. The cats are fun and also pretty smart. They can look after themselves and don’t need to be walked or anything. It’s just nice to have them around and look at their crazy moves sometimes. Sometimes I just look at them and I am glad we are taking good care of them and provide them a friendly and safe environment. You know they are a living creatures and need love as much as humans do.
What was the last song you heard and movie you watched?
The last song was “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straights and last Movie was “Little Miss Sunshine”
Speaking of movies, we heard you have a pretty heavy collection of VHS tapes. What is it about VHS that keeps you so stoked on it when everything else seems to be digital these days?
I don’t have DVD player in my man cave, I still have a VCR and a whole bunch of videos I still watch at least 2-3 times a week. I guess one reason is that it reminds me a lot of when I was young and I remember waiting for the new Props video to come out! I compare videos with records. Times maybe change but I still like the soft sound of a record or a shaky video tape slowmo. I am happy I kept all these things because it reminds me where it all started and what it meant to me back then. For me it feels more real watching video tapes than just looking up internet clips. It seems I am also paying more attention to what I am looking at without getting distracted by reading the comments underneath a webclip from someone who’s hating on something for whatever reason. Its easier for people to share their opinion these days because its easy access to things and everything seems to be connected to each other. I am just keeping my world alive I guess and that’s why I ride how I ride.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully healthy, happy, still having a job and riding my bike as much as possible.
How can people keep up with you these days?
I am not much of an social media person and I don’t want to worry if some of my friends couldn’t be my friend anymore because he didn’t “like” one of my photos or posts. I also think they should add an “dislike” button because I am not going to like someone’s photo of when they get hurt. I only have Instagram (which is too much already haha) @paddygross
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
I wanna thank my wife Casey for supporting me with everything I do! Clint Millar @colonybmxbrand for our friendship, every little piece of product and for having me on the Colony team, it still means the world to me! Keith Treanor, Cooper Brownlee and the whole team @colonybmxbrand for all their hard work, kindness, fun and friendship! Jonathan at the Roller Derby for taking care of me with Etnies! Jason Start for all the trust and support moving up at Velotech, I am not taking having a job for granted! All my BMX influences from the past and present named above for still motivating me to ride and paving the roads for the sport! All my friends around the world that i’ve traveled with over the years! All my sponsors from the past that helped me traveling the world, took me on roadtrips and helped me out with gear and products such as Andy Zeiss @Vans, Mike Emde @Carhartt, Thomas Goering @KHE, Alex Reinke @Schwinn Europe, Gaz Sanders @Mutiny, Klass Schroeder @Eastpak, Andreas Schuetzenberger @Etnies, Harold McGruther @Snafu, Jan @Parano Garage, Christoph Huber, Frank Schnuettgen @Domsports, @Unity BMX and Thomas Stellwag @Allride Distribution! All my friends that i call “friends” that either have been truthful in my life since a long time, gone trough good and bad times with me or just people i know they got my back as much as i have theirs such as Sebastian Lauter, Axel Reichertz, Tobias Wicke, Andy Merrall, Patrick Wulff, Hans Werner Schaak, Sebastian Vornberger, Dusty Horten, Stefan Redinius, Thomas Fritscher, Christian Lutz, Tom Stephens, Will Hawkins, Dan Steinle, Sonny Tamez, Clint Millar, Peter Koecher, Janosch Ritter, Sven Hoffman, Randy Gibson, Thorsten Pullich, Moritz Dassing, Dirk Becker, Keith Treanor, Marc Andresen, Brandon Fite, Bobbie Altiser, Tom Stretton, Shane Batchler, Regina Heim, Mike Emde, Eilif Knudsen, Charles Bogart, John Buultjens, Soeren Jacobs, Levi Weert, Spencer Wolfe, Ben Ewen aka Twinfin and Tope & Seyi Sosanya! Big thanks to everyone at The Lumberyard Bike Park such as Craig, Michael, Will, Shelby, Mike and Levi for letting me ride there and being family! Thank you Karl for this opportunity to have an Interview and letting me speak my mind. I am not getting any younger and who knows if i will be ever given a chance like this again! I am sure I forgot people and I apologize in advance. You know who you are!
Anything else you want to say?
I thought I’ve been talking way too much already but a last question doesn’t make a difference anymore I guess. I am not religious, a saint, a psychologist or the smartest guy on the planet but life taught me a lot. BMX has been a therapist, a friend, and also a life guide. I’d like to tell everyone that we are all in this together and that each and every one of us doesn’t have to move with the crowd to make a difference in a positive way. It’s hard to know who cares and who’s fake and who’s real; it most often doesn’t matter if you know for yourself you are doing the right thing and you know what you want. You can put that either into your riding and if you like doing tailtaps all day and it feels good to you next to people who do flairs all day, then you are doing exactly what is best for you. You can also use this for your life next to your bike and if you are the one who’s patient and saving up with hard work for whatever you want to get while people around you get things right away with their credit card, then you also doing the exact right thing for yourself. It may sounds funny and i don’t want to tell people what to do but in the last few years I’ve noticed what seems to be important to some people to have an “accepted” status in society. I remember riding demos in India where a bicycle is the cheapest transport if you can’t afford something else. They told us not to drink their water or even use it to brush our teeth because it might cause harm. I was thinking that’s funny because where I’m from I could basically drink the water out of the toilette and i’d be absolutely fine. What I mean is that most of us have it all, and yet it seems like it’s not enough and there’s still a reason to complain. Who knows for how long we will have what we have, and it certainly doesn’t help to make yourself crazy over that question, but what might could help is trying to appreciate all the good things around us we have every single day. Don’t waste your time with jealousy, greed, hate or being bummed out because you’ll shorten your quality of life in addition taking away from who you are as a person. Remember that most things life are temporary and so is BMX. I always liked the thought that when all of this is getting less I was the best person I could possibly be, made a lot of friends, saw a lot of the world, was original and used the time I’ve had to the fullest with riding a little kids bike.