Heres one of many videos they have on their site.
There are a lot of dudes behind the scenes for companies that people generally never hear about. To be totally honest, I had only heard bits and pieces about how Ben is the dude designing the odyssey parts and I was interested to get this interview since he doesn’t have the typical job in BMX like most dudes. Heres what he had to say.
Ben Ward friends call me bdubbs.
Buffalo, NY Usually: Anaheim, CA via.
Product Designer/ R&D Odyssey
How long have you been working for Odyssey?
I will be with Odyssey for 2 years this month (November) on the 15th.
Being a designer for parts at Odyssey must be about the best job in the world, am I right or wrong?
You are totally wrong, it is the best job in the Universe. But seriously, my job is the only thing that could take me away from home, family, and the best friends anyone could pay for. I am living a dream.
Are you fully in charge of the design, or do you take the team, and other guys working for Odysseys ideas then work with it?
The way Odyssey works from the creative side of things, everyone is equal. But I am stoked to call Chris Cotsonas my boss. He is they guy that turned Odyssey around and is the first reason Odyssey is the success it is today. That being said, we all work together to develop a product and I think that dynamic is what continually helps us to be successful from the owner (Richard Tang) to the guys in the warehouse. I couldn’t pick 10 better people to directly work with.
What is the average time you spend designing each part?
That is really a hard question to answer. Some projects can go real quick, 1-day discussion, to design then to drawings. Samples, hopefully no revisions, sign off for production, production sample check, shipment and then QC. Even the fast projects can add up over time. Other projects can take years for development. Some of the first projects I worked on haven’t been released to the public. When we do something completely new, we want to make sure we’re happy with it as designers, but more importantly as riders. When I think about it, we are never done with a project. We may move on to something else, but we are always looking for ways to improve everything.
Did you go to school for engineering and such?
I have and Associates of Applied Science for CAD Drafting. School gave me a good foundation to start with and opened doors for me. The rest of my knowledge of materials and product design comes from first hand experience designing tooling for the computer industry for 8 years. I did some cool projects over those years, but nothing as rewarding as what I get to do here.
What is a typical day like for you?
A friend recently asked me this, and I really had to think about it. There is no “typical” day for me. For example, when I started these Interview questions I was in NY and Canada visiting and meeting with our Distributors. I then spent a few days in Buffalo at Sunday! and took a early flight home to QC a shipment of new products that came in. Currently I am back in the office where I finally have some time to breathe and I now get to put in some more time on these questions. The days vary. Emails and website checking all day, out back riding the ledge to see how something holds up, or weeks straight with headphones on and grinding on a post-it note mountain of tasks to complete. I think that is one of the things I really enjoy about this job. It’s always changing, so it never gets boring.
Do you have any new products in works that you can give us any sort of information about?
The one that instantly comes to mind is the Pleg. It seems the Internet is going crazy for these things. Testing is going great. In fact I had a bunch of people ride my bike last night at the Etnies Park and they couldn’t believe how good the Pleg’s were. They are so fun. They make street riding new again. No more waxing ledges. No more chipping ledges. No more Gnargoyle Skaters giving you shit. Everything on my bike that touches the ground is rubber and plastic, their boards will do more damage to a park or spot and I love that.
Being one of the designers, does the job give you the opportunity to test out the prototypes?
That is one of the “perks” I have had to get used to. When I started at Odyssey I had a beat up bike. I rode a frame and parts until they didn’t work anymore. The only time I would get a lot of new parts is if I was putting a new setup together. I always kept my bike as dialed as possible, but now it is just out of control. I try to ride stuff as long as possible, but sometimes parts need testing so it isn’t rare for me to change up my setup quite a few times in a month. I do miss having that nice familiar broken in bike, but I don’t miss riding messed up, rigged parts.
Check out Ben’s bike here on the Odyssey site, towards the bottom
Out of my own curiosity; are the Twisted PC’s made out of the same sort of material as Plegs?
Nope, they are a totally different material.
What is your favorite product that you have designed and why?
I would have to say the MDS (Million Dollar Sprocket). It was my first totally independent product design. I always rode a guard sprocket and I know I couldn’t just do a sprocket for the sake of making one; it needed to serve a purpose and bring something new to the table. I thought double guard and the rest is history.
The day the samples showed up, is was a trip. You know that numb dizzy feeling you get when you know you’re in trouble, it was a lot like that. I was pretty excited. I was even more stoked when I knew they were selling. We sold out of the first run really fast.
Do you find yourself with much time to ride after work?
I used to when I had a crew from back home living down here. The time is still here, the crew just isn’t. That’s a huge reason why I even ride a bike, to hang with my friends. I try and get together and ride with the Give D guys when ever possible. They are such a great group of guys, and a session with them is always fun. D!!
Outside of work and riding, what sort of things are you into?
Writing, Learning tons of useless information about nothing important, Websites, Not updating websites like www.pdxbmx.com, Art, Graphic Design, Cars, Skateboarding, BMX, Big Bikes, Internets, Beards, Numbers, Shoes, Movies, Music, TV, Video Games, Gadgets, Chillen’, Friends, and Family. I think if I listed everything we would need another website to fit them. I try to take from life and apply it everything I do. Taj Mihelich said this in his 96’ interview and it has always stuck with me, “It felt like I put all my creativity into riding and just pushed drawing away. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve had a big mental block, and I don’t feel I’ll be able to draw anymore until I stop riding.” Well, I have stopped riding and for me the drawings are back. You can still find me on the bike, but it all means something different now. It’s funny, the question was about other interests and for me it always ends up back to a bike and work.
5 favorite bands/songs right now?
-Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, without this I would never get any work done.
-Block Party, put it on shuffle and hit play. Can’t go wrong with that.
-A Tribe Called Quest, been in my headphones for almost 20 years now.
-Dashboard Confessional, a guilty pleasure from a happy part of life.
-Descendents, always a good time to, No, All!
Who are some of the people you look up to the most?
-My family and Friends, they totally supported me when I left Oregon to follow my dream.
-Rich Hirsch, one of the best friends I could ever ask for. Dude had a plan when we lived together on Hancock St. and I think he has done quite well for himself.
-The Odyssey Family, Chris Cotsonas, great mentor, boss, friend. Nuno and Jim, dudes are official. They have never let me feel like an outsider.
-Taj Mihelich, one of the most Genuine People I have ever met. Dude changed my life before I met him and he changes it every time I hang with him.
If you could spend the day with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
I have spent way too much time thinking about this. I will just go from a design type angle. I would have to pick Howard Hughes; he was a Millionaire, Engineer, Director, Crazy, and he took on the Government. I think I took learn a lot in a day from a man like him. Maybe even get in on some of that money.
Where are some of the places in the world you would like to visit?
I was finally able to take the East Coast, NY off my list. But I still didn’t get to go to NYC so that is still on there. Japan, Taiwan, Europe. I love history so much. So if you have a destination and it has some history or something for me to learn, then I am there.
(I know this is the 3rd shot of the trick, but it’s rad, and Ben said people like taking pictures of it, I can tell why!)
Any shout outs or thanks?
Family, Friends, Chris, Jim and Nuno for a rad job and good times, Everyone I hounded for recommendation when I politicked to get this job. Jesus, don’t know if you a the son of God or were a Miracle worker, but you seem to have done some pretty rad stuff I can be into and support that. Thanks to Portland for beating me into who I am. Thanks to anyone in Southern California that is chill and doesn’t give a damn what I do for a living.
Any last words or things you would like to add?
“I’ve got a wonderful future behind me.”
The first time I actually met Tony was at a chenga comp and he was our sober driver. to tell you the truth I thought he was kind of an ass…. but that is because I didn’t know him, I think everyone is an ass before I meet them that way I don’t get let down if they turn out to be one for real. I have had the pleasure of going an a decent sized r0ad trip with Tony Hamlin. In the time we spent on the road I got to know him and turns out he was the exact opposite of what I initially thought. He’s a really funny character and a pretty smart dude. Just don’t call him a fag for cuddling with his girlfriend after a heavy love making session…. he gets livid. So enough of my take on the little guy, here is what he had to say. Enjoy.
You have gotten to travel a lot because of that bike, What are two trips you’ve had that were the most memorable and why?
Tony riding his favorite park, and bending a table at the redbull contest
PHOTO CREDITS: Kyle Opits
Mark Filipowicz …most know me as Flip @ Albe’s
You are one of the men in charge of Albes, A dad, and a few other rolls, how do you manage to still kick so much ass?
Ha….i have NO extra time. not sure how I find the time to do the things I do. being an owner at Albe’s I put in a shit ton of hours at the shop and work almost as many hours from home. the hardest thing to find time to do is travel so when I do make it work I make sure the trips are VERY fun.
I will always find time to be a dad. i have 2 boys and they are everything to me.
Catfish once upon a time reported you were “born in 1400 B.C” how was the sessions back then?
ha…fucking catfish…i think he’s like 6 months older than me.
It seems like the Albes team has been taking a lot of top spots at the big contests, how did that happen?
most of our team was picked more on them being fun people to be around. just turns out that all of them seem to kick ass on a bike as well. notice we have some of the biggest name pros on our team as well as people you probably never heard of. our team is pretty diverse. get them all together on or off their bikes and it’s a good time for sure.
Albes has been doing a lot of promo contests lately, even getting in trouble for a few of them, do you have any new ones coming up?
we don’t plan shit like that too far ahead. in most cases we get the ideas while drinking way too much beer and then the next day we set it up.
You recently met Rick Flair at the Orlando Dew Tour, how did that go down?
haha…i had no idea it was even him. he’s sweet and all but I’m more of a Hulk Hogan fan. Brooke is kinda cute too.
Now that you got the bus running again, what trips do you have planned?
we try to hit as many jams / comps as we can. its just fun to ride and hang out with everybody. the Albe’s bus just makes it that much sweeter.
Are there any big changes happening at Albes for 08′?
not that I can really tell you about. a video maybe??? guess you’ll have to find out.
What is the secret to doing no foot cans so well?
haha…thanks. doing them longer than most of the people reading this have been alive.
Last time I saw, Kase photos he was doing rails and all sorts of stuff, what is he doing now days?
he’s been working on more tech stuff. yesterday he did a 540 tailwhip tailtap to tailwhip in. not bad for a 2 year old on a 12″ bike.
Where are some places you would like to travel to that you haven’t been to yet?
we have been thinking of heading overseas but it cost big bucks. I’d need to find a place with a bunch of cool riders i trust could show us around and show us a good time. we may do another Florida trip in early 2008. we seem to go there every year but it’s always fun. lots of stuff to ride, good night life, beaches, and weather that isn’t shitty like in Michigan.
What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years?
just want to keep albe’s running well. keep the team stoked. travel some more and a few things i can’t talk about yet.
If you could pick one band to listen to for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
wow…i have no idea. my tastes in music is all over the map.
What is the craziest riding story you have?
one time i was riding flatland in a parking lot and this old lady pulls up across the lot to a mail box and gets out of her car to drop in a letter. she forgot to put her car in park and her car took off. i rode over to the car as fast as i could, did a dukes of hazzard slide across the hood, jump in and stopped the car right before i drove out into a busy road. i rove the car back over to the old lady and when i got out of the car she hit me with her purse and yelled at me. that’s the only PG story i could think of.
When you aren’t riding or working, what do you do?
hang with my family. that is my life. Work / ride and my family. sometimes you may find me snowboarding.
If you could spend the day with any person in the world, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I can’t answer that. i have such a cool family and so many great friends that i could never pick just one. however if you were to pick one for me what would HER name be?
What is one question you wish I would have asked, and what would the answer be?
I got nothing. i think you should ask other people that know me what they think of me and post their comments. ask some others you have interviewed. that may be fun to see.
Alright guys here’s what we will do, to the right, or in the comments, post your best story about flip, or what you think of him, any comments as anonymous=your a pussy
Any shout outs or thanks?
family and friends, my bike, anybody that helps support albe’s
Anything else you would like to say?
no sir. thanks again
(My favorite picture due to the fact that there are 100 stories from that night alone haha)
Ryan Douglas Fudger
(I had Walter Pieringer snap a photo of me the day after I got beat up in Paris. I look like a disaster. Good times, for sure.)
Oceanside, California…as far north I can go and still be a “San Diegan.”
You work at Ride BMX magazine, What do you do there and how long have you been there?
Running on almost five years now. Official title comes in at Associate Editor…there’s no quick answer, but pretty much Jeff, Keith, and I all do the same: shoot photos, write, generate content for the website, respond to way too many e-mails, do all the behind-the-scenes time-consuming stuff, and squeeze some riding sessions in between.
What is the best parts of your job? What is the worst parts?
The best part of my job is that I’m sitting in an airport on my way home from hanging out with a bunch of funny as fuck Australians, going to Baco Jam in Florida, riding Mirra and Nyquist’s personal warehouses, and going to a wild Halloween party with a bunch of people that I looked (and still do) up to as a kid. The worst part is that no matter how awesome things are, it is still work. There are always things that you have to do that you don’t want to, dates with your girl that you have to cancel because someone wants to shoot a photo, and the combination of landing flat for 12 years and spending way too much time on my laptop is taking it’s toll on my wrists.
What kind of gear do you shoot photos with?
I have a Cannon 1V 35mm body, a Cannon 1D Mark II digi body, a Hasselblad 500 c/m, two Quantum Q-pack flashes, and a bunch of lenses that attach to all of them. To any photographers out there: feel free to learn on digi, but you’ll enjoy film in the end.
Where are some of the places you have been able to go to this year?
I’ve actually been more wild places this year than years past. I was riding in a car with Gary Young one day and I said, “Lets go to China.” Two months later we were in Shanghai and Beijing for two weeks, got a bunch of culture shock, and rode in between. It was my first time out of North America and it’s made every trip since then seem mild in comparison—every time we left the hotel it was a certified adventure. I recently went on Megatour with the DK team in Europe; we spent time in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. The story from that will be in the January issue of Ride, so I don’t want to get into it too much, but I will say that I experienced what it’s like to get punched in the face multiple times by a Paris thief.
(I told a few people before I went to China that I all I wanted to come back with was a photo of me standing in a sea of people. Photo: Gary Young)
I remember reading in the magazine part of the job is being able to run from the cops or people trying to steal your camera stuff, what’s your best story of having to run from the man?
I don’t know if it’s a combination of getting old or what, but I haven’t had anything incredibly wild at my time at Ride…at least nothing worth really typing. It’s funny how much your motivation to run from the cops changes when you imagine how much it’ll hurt to get tackled with 50 pounds of camera gear on your back. I have had plenty of close calls, sirens over my shoulder as I duck around a corner, and guns pointed at me throughout the years, though.
Your pretty big into cars, what’s your car putting out now days? Did you and Morgan Wade ever race? Who is the next person your calling out?
I was pretty into my VW, but one day while I was cruising to work a connecting rod decided to let go and the engine popped. I was sort of expecting it…doubling the horsepower of a car will do that. To fix it, I made the decision build a new engine myself…having never pulled an engine before. A solid year later, the Volkswagen is all built up, sitting the garage, and ready to run around with about 500hp, but I’ve sort of lost all will power to spend anymore time or money on it. Morgan and I never raced, but my car was always faster (sorry buddy); it had a little more done to it. I was actually the one who helped Morgan get his car together after he drove mine. I’m calling out anyone who thinks they can take my automatic 1996 Nissan Sentra.
(I was bored and pulling the engine from my car was worth remembering. Figured I should act like I was stressed out instead of stareing at the camera like a moron. If you look close at the engine block I’m sitting on, you can see the hole.)
Back in the day, sandiegobmx.com was the best site around along with the Dirt Bros. What ever happened to the site, and what ever happened to Dirt Bros?
The site was something that I wish I could have kept running, but I just didn’t have enough time to do on the side. I tried to pass it off to a couple of people, but it never really happened. Dirt Bros is slightly complicated… basically, Dirt Bros was always more of an idea or a way of life than an actual company. In the end it really came down to too many hands in the pot and no one could support themselves off of DBI. Those days will go down as my “golden years” of sorts—hanging out with all my friends, being ratty as all hell and doing whatever, but still having the time of my life. I’ll run a sticker til the day I die…
Rick Thorne or Mountain Bikes riding street, does it ever get old?
It sort of does. I actually think Rick Thorne is a really nice guy—even with all the stuff he has going on, he still does his best to share the wealth and hook up his friends. But, unfortunately, there’s always a martyr. He puts himself out there and people respond to it one way or another, and I admire him for that. With that said, it doesn’t mean that I won’t take a pot shot every so often…and that doesn’t mean that I don’t like him, either. I actually heard a rumor that he wanted to fight me up for my comment in Gary Young’s Props interview, which is pretty wild. That question wasn’t planned and it really just went down like that, so hopefully that’s just stuff getting put through people’s shit-talking filters.
As far as mountain bikes, I still think that shit is lame. A BMX bike has been engineered (I use that word loosely) over two decades to serve a purpose…and it does a really good job of that. Just because you can jump a spine on a floppy, spongy mountain bike doesn’t make it cool or progressive. It’s like me showing up to a skate park on a long board and thinking I’m hot shit because I can do a boardslide. I never had the intention to cause a “mountain bike jihad” or whatever I saw someone on Defgrip say, but I’m allowed to have opinions and I have a venue to get them out there, to some people’s dismay, I suppose. People can have as much fun as they want riding mountain bikes at a park or wherever—they’re entitled to do what they want, just as I’m entitled to think it’s lame. I don’t think it was ever really a big deal to me, just another subject to have in the letters section. And, for all the shit I talk in the letters section of the magazine, I’m actually an all right guy. Promise.
(After riding the giant park in China for a while, I made Gary[Young] shoot a photo of me carving the fullpipe. I’m obviously no Joe Rich, but the pipe is something like 22 feet, so I was pretty psyched.)
5 influential people in your life?
Gary Young and my granddad. Not sure if there is five.
4 things you cant live without?
Friends, fun, food, water.
3 places you have never been you want to go to?
South Africa, Russia, and Japan. Anywhere I can go, walk right outside, and instantly know that there will be something worth remembering.
2 places you have been and never want to go back to? And why?
My go-to answer for this has always been Florida, but there’s something worth the trip, now. I’d say that Paris sort of sucked, and Cleveland, Ohio. Not a fan.
(I don’t shoot photos ever, but I think I needed one for a staff bike check for the Ride site or something. This school is right down the street from my place. You have to creep at this hop since the bank is about a bike length and a half before the drop. Photo: Brandon Turner)
1 Car you dream about having?
There’s really too many. I’m willing to go in on a third of an Ariel Atom if anyone wants to join in.
What is the most awkward request you have gotten from a person emailing you or letters for Ride?
For a little while there was always little girls wanting my phone number and shit, which I found weird on multiple levels. There was a kid that said, “If I can’t have you no one can” once. Then there was a guy that wrote in multiple letters about a robot that was in love with its creator, from the robots perspective…in poem form. Those we’re probably the oddest ones, especially since they were hand-written and came in over the course of months. I never did anything with them since they were so abstract, so I think the guy finally gave up.
The magazine is undergoing changes over the last few issues and the next few to come, can you give us some info about what’s being changed and what’s to come?
I like to call it Ride reinvestment. People have had their gripes with the magazine, and I can see why at times. But there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes that people weren’t aware of—those obstructions are gone. We have our new Art Director, Dwayne Carter, who worked for Transworld Skate and most recently Slap, and he has been working on a full redesign that’ll be in the January issue. We’re going to a larger size, better paper stock both on the cover and in the magazine, and switching up a lot of things content-wise. More lifestyle, bigger photos, more spreads, full-feature interviews are back, and all the stuff that can go online, are going online (how-to’s, product tests, etc…). We want to make a magazine filled with entirely exclusive content and the best photography possible.
What are some things you would like to accomplish in the next few years?
I don’t make plans, I don’t set goals, and I’ve never had a “career” in mind. I went to college for graphic design before I dropped out to work at Ride, and I was only there because I got financial aid to go to school. I used to break down the hours I had to spend at school and how much money I got from financial aid so I could use it as motivation to show up. I consider myself very lucky to be in the position I am, and I’m reminded of that everyday I wake up without the aid of an alarm clock.
Who are some people you haven’t had the opportunity to meet but you would really like to?
I’ll say Dave Mirra, because I’ve met him probably four times and I’m pretty sure that if I walked up to him tomorrow he would have no idea who I am. I don’t mean that in a bad way by any means; he probably meets five new people every time he stops for gas.
(Favorite pool ever, RIP. Brakeless tire-jammer thing in the love seat. Photo: Brandon Turner)
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
I thank all my friends, family, acquaintances, people on the Internet that talk shit everyday and then are really cool in person, and anyone and everyone in between.
Anything I may have forgot you would like to add?
I think we’re golden. Or maybe bronze.
And in good sense, I searched youtube for San Diego BMX in hopes of finding an old edit from there, and I came accross this, I remember being stoked on this when I was like 13!
Miami FL,Greenville NC, Woodward PA
Mirraco bikes,Monster Energy,Ballpark franks,Nike shoes,Bell helmets,Woodward camp,Albes mailorder
A few years ago, did you ever imagine being where you are now?
No wayyy its just crazy its like a dream, I still dont believe it I pitch my self all the time ha ha ha.
How are things with MirraCo, do you have any signature parts coming out?
As of right now I am not sure of any signature parts but other then that I am super stoked to be apart of an awesome team !!!
How about Nike, any shoes coming out?
HA HA HA I dont think so.
You recently got yourself a new car, what did you get and why?
I got a 2007 sxt Dodge magnum its awesome it was pretty high in price but I am giving it to myself as a present because I am soo stoked on how I did this year, I think it is a perfect car Throw my bike in it no problem easy for long road trips and I heard Corey bohan has one too.
Now that the 1080 is out there, its been done quite a few times, what are you working on now that will amaze everyone?
I have some Ideas in my head but I am going to keep it under wraps but trust me I will be messing with some stuff during the winter.
How did you get some good at footjam whip variations!?
Thanks for noticing thats one of my favorite tricks and there are soo many varitions to do with them. My favs are 540nosepick tailwhip,Double whip nosepick and the whip to whip back nosepick I think it is just awesome to balance on your front tire so I always try them.
Do you ever ask yourself, what if I never entered the free flow contest?
HA HA HA yes I do all the time I think I would be in my second year of school right now.
Since you did so much this year, what do you got planned for ’08?
Man I am so stoked on how I did this year I am just going to ride all winter super hard and See what happens in 08 !!!
Who are some of the people you ride with mostly now days?
Austin coleman, Dave Mirra, Dan sieg, Mike Laird, Daniel Dhers, Chad Kagy, Jamie bestwick it changes all the time mattering where I am at.
Who are some of the bigger influences in life?
My Mom who passed away about 3 years ago from Smoking she was super smart I had the most respect for my mom and everything she taught me I just try to bring it to my everyday life.
How was working with MTV for there show that followed you around on the Dew Tour? Man it was awesome those guys were stoked too, they said this was way better then what they normally do ha ha ha. But it was unreal they also flew my dad out to Portland Oregon.
What do you think the best part of being a pro is?
Man I would say traveling the world for sure.
What is the worst part about being a pro?
The stress with Sponcors now I just say to myself that they are supporting me I want to support back and the way I can do that is by just doing the best I can do, Sometimes it gets to me or actually gets to my stomach lol.
Where all did you get to travel to this year? and where do you want to go to that you haven’t been to yet?
I went everywhere in the US but out of the states, New Zealand, Estonia, China, France and Germany I am open to go anywhere ha ha ha.
First word or words that come to mind when you hear:
Albes? best dam mailorder ever
Tricks? 1080 !!!
Girls? No time
Woodward? Best place to ride
Friends? Are everything
Family? just my dad
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Live life, IF you have a dream follow it.
Anything I might have missed you would like to add?
I was kinda in a rush when I did this so make sure I spelled everything right thanks a ton bro