|1966||DOB: january 8, 1966|
Place of birth: New Orleans, LA., USA.
|early years||Ron:When I was in ninth grade, this guy I knew had a pretty rad BMX bike and my brother Sean had a Schwinn Stingray five-speed. I rode their bikes as much as they'd let me. I think I only had a lame ten-speed or something, but I saved up money from a job at this grocery store. Then I looked in the newspaper and there was an ad that said, 'Redline bike'; it had a ton of cool parts. I didn't know anything about bikes, so I bought it for like a hundred bucks. A few years after I bought it I found out it was a Huffy with Redline stickers on it. It was a rad Huffy, though. All kinds of alloy parts, "Z" rims, the whole bit. I basically got into hard-core jumping with that bike. Up the street from my house there was a mini-track and that's where I met Rich Avella. We started racing, but the tracks were at least an hour away so it was hard to get to them. We started freestyling instead of racing.|
|1983||FIRST DAY RIDING A QUARTERPIPE.
Ron Wilkerson has been freestyling since day one. This photo is from his first day ever riding a quarterpipe. No deck and plenty of kinks on the transition. 1983.
Ron: Rich and I were co-sponsored by a bike shop for racing and since we were trying tricks a lot, the owner asked us if we wanted to do a show. I mean this is back when freestyle first started. Mike Buff and R.L. Osborn were the only team out. Anyway, we said yeah, and he booked us a show at the county fair. We built our first quarterpipe a month before the show. It was only six feet tall and it didn't even have a deck but the first day we rode it, we were getting about a foot out. So, a month later we did a weekend full of shows at the fair. All kinds of people asked us if we could do shows for them and stuff. Forming 2-Hip just kind of happened after that. From that time on we had shows booked solid for months. I was kind of the team manager. I called up people to get shows and I called up the magazines and sponsors. GT was our first big ride, and then I got on Haro. Rich ended up losing interest in riding. I think he was too bogged down with school.
Ron: Rich and I were pretty much unknown. We started doing shows as 2-Hip and gettin' coverage around town (Novato, California), slowly getting dialed. We picked up co-sponsors, like Vans, Dyno, and Skyway - one seemed to lead to another. We sent a LOT of resumes out. We did this one show at Sears Point Raceway, and one of the owners of Skyway saw us, took pictures back to Skyway and told Ken Coster he should get some product to us. We had already sent a resume to them so Ken wrote us a reply and sent us some stuff. We were really pumped.
Ron:When I did the firsts no footers, I went to the Venice Beach contest (back in '84) and did no footers, and people were just blown away. No one had ever done anything like that.
Ron: Then we heard GT was coming out with a freestyle frame and we were TOTALLY stoked because that was a BIG thing - another company besides Haro making a freestyle bike. We were working with Bob Morales at the time because we were wearing Dyno stuff, and he recommended us to GT.
Very first show tour around the U.S. for GT.
Ron: That was just our first tour and experience it was awesome. Just the beginning...
Ron Wilkerson is on the cover of Freestylin' #1 summer 1984.
Ron Wilkerson is the business man of the Northern California freestylers. Wilkerson's the team manager and one of the tricksters for the 2-hip trick team along with Rich Avella. Both of them are factory GT mounted.
Ron: Once we got on GT, things started moving. FREESTYLIN' came out and I got on the first cover - that was REALLY cool. My mom ordered about 40 of 'em and I skipped a class and drove home to get one. I remember I was so stoked, I was drivin' 60 miles an hour down this little street tryin' to get back to school to show my friends. It was fun, 'cause we used to do shows at our school and they all knew we rode freestyle.
Interviewin BMX Action august 1984.
Wilkerson to join Haro Team.
Haro rachete le contrat de Ron chez GT pour un bon paquet de dollars.
BMX Plus! january 1985: Freestyle pro Ron Wilkerson has signed a deal to ride for and manage the Haro freestyle team for 1985. Wilkerson, who currently lives in Novato, California, just north of San Francisco, will move to the San Diego area to join the Carlsbad-based firm. Haro is still negotiating with GT, Wilkerson's current sponsor, to try to buy Wilkerson's contract for the remainder of 1984. Haro Design's president and founder, Bob Haro, told BMX Plus! that he plans to have Wilkerson handle the promotion and scheduling of the Haro Trick Team, in addition to performing in the shows. Wilkerson formerly started and promoted his own freeestyle group, the 2-Hip Trick Team, giving frequent performances in the San Francisco Bay area with his riding partner Rich Avella, who remains sponsored by GT. As a side note, we should mention that Wilkerson is engaged to marry his girlfriend Stacy in January.
Ron: Haro lost Dominguez, and they needed someone to take his place. It was a great spot for me 'cause they needed someone to do the tours and stuff. That was when Haro bought my contract from GT.
|1985||HARO CATALOG COVER.
Ron Wilkerson is on the cover of the 1985 Haro catalog.
BMX PLUS! COVER.
Cover of BMX Plus! july 1985.
BMX ACTION BIKE COVER.
Ron Wilkerson switchsided one-footed, one-handed in his final winning routine in the Frosties on the cover of BMX Action Bike july 1985.
Interview in Freestylin september 1985.
Aggressive might be one word to describe Ron Wilkerson. Some might even say pushy. Be what he may, Ron is also one of the top freestylers in the country. And his aggressiveness has helped get him there. It's his style, his personality. Wilkerson is fairly new to the game of professional freestyle, but in some ways he's a seasoned vet. His determination to be the best and to put on a good show, along with his genuine excitement for the sport, are almost unparalleled. When talking about new tricks or just something he's been working on, he can hardly keep from going out of control with enthusiasm. If you're ever at a freestyle event you'll recognize him - he's the guy who looks like he's ready to explode. Let's have some words with this individual.
Ron Wilkerson: So when are we going to do the interview?
A.J.: How does now sound?
Ron Wilkerson: Ah ... sure.
A.J.: "Let's see, what's up with the 2-Hip Trick Team? Rich (Avella) is still singing with The Bohemians and going to school, right? Is the team history?"
Ron Wilkerson: Yeah. But I still like the name. I'd like to do something with it - maybe get a couple of new guys to be the 2-Hip Trick Team.
A.J.: "That's a cool idea. Have you picked anybody up yet?"
Ron Wilkerson: No. I'm just kinda looking right now.
A.J.: "Are you gonna sponsor them yourself?"
Ron Wilkerson: I think so. I'm still kicking around ideas, because I have fair shows and some other things that Rich and I would have done. I need some guys to go out and do 'em.
A.J.: "Here's a major question for ya. I know a lot of people want to know how someone goes from a small trick team like 2-Hip to a factory team like GT, then to being the team manager of the Haro Trick Team. Can you give us a hint?"
Ron Wilkerson: Well, we moved up really quick. A year ago Rich and I were pretty much unknown. We started doing shows as 2-Hip and gettin' coverage around town (Novato, California), slowly getting dialed. We picked up co-sponsors, like Vans, Dyno, and Skyway - one seemed to lead to another. We sent a LOT of resumes out. We did this one show at Sears Point Raceway, and one of the owners of Skyway saw us, took pictures back to Skyway and told Ken Coster he should get some product to us. We had already sent a resume to them so Ken wrote us a reply and sent us some stuff. We were really pumped.
Then we heard GT was coming out with a freestyle frame and we were TOTALLY stoked because that was a BIG thing - another company besides Haro making a freestyle bike. We were working with Bob Morales at the time because we were wearing Dyno stuff, and he recommended us to GT.
Once we got on GT, things started moving. FREESTYLIN' came out and I got on the first cover - that was REALLY cool. My mom ordered about 40 of 'em and I skipped a class and drove home to get one. I remember I was so stoked, I was drivin' 60 miles an hour down this little street tryin' to get back to school to show my friends. It was fun, 'cause we used to do shows at our school and they all knew we rode freestyle.
Then Haro lost Dominguez, and they needed someone to take his place. It was a great spot for me 'cause they needed someone to do the tours and stuff. That was when Haro bought my contract from GT.
A.J.: How much did they buy it for? Can you disclose a number for the curious freestylers out there?"
Ron Wilkerson: NO WAY. It was a lot.
A.J.: "Off the record?"
Ron Wilkerson: A lot (laughter)! It surprised ME how much it was.
A.J.: "How have things been since moving down and starting at Haro?
Ron Wilkerson: it was hard at first because I was under SO much pressure. They'd paid all that money for my contract and they expected a lot out of me. I had to prove myself to them because they'd taken a risk. I went through a slump for a while because I was kinda bummed after Rich stopped riding. I hadn't been riding with anyone. I lost motivation and it was hard getting used to the different ramps down here too. So I felt lame riding with other people. But now I'm just gettin' to where I feel good riding with other riders again and I'm getting used to the ramps.
A.J.: "What was the difference?"
Ron Wilkerson: I went from six foot high ramps with no vert, to eight foot high ramps WITH vert.
But I like working at Haro, settin' up shows and stuff. It's great. It's the place to be - nice weather, people I can call up and ride with. And we get to play Asteroids a lot - there's an Asteroids machine there. I'm too BUSY to play, of course ...(laughter)
A.J.: "How do you see freestyle working out for you now?"
Ron Wilkerson: NEXT year will be the great year for me because I'll have a year of scheduling experience under my belt and I'll have gotten a lot better. I think next year will be amazing. I'm gonna ride as long as I can and put away my money and then I'll buy my Porsche (laughter). Then buy a house in a few years. When I'm 25 or 26 I'll have my options open, and I might go back to school, or do something in business. I drive by those really huge buildings that are really fancy and I think of the big executives and what it would be like up there. I'll either do that or open up my own business.
A.J.: "BMX related?"
Ron Wilkerson: Anything really. My wife, Stacy, is a dancer; we could open a dance studio. Then maybe branch off and start a bike shop.
A.J.: "What does Stacy think about the whole freestyle thing?"
Ron Wilkerson: It's funny, but I actually met her at my first show. So she's been with me through the whole thing. It's cool. She thinks it's great."
A.J.: "Here's a question I know you want me to ask you. What do you think about pro ramp and ground competition? You're one of the few pros who's actively participating in it right now."
Ron Wilkerson: I think the sport needs pro competition. It won't hurt it; if anything it'll do the sport some good. It's stupid for pros to compete as pros in skateparks and ramp jams and then say, 'I'm not going to compete in flatland and ramp freestyle. I don't need to.' There's a LOT more competition in flatland/ramp contests than there is skateparks. And the money is practically the same.
When the first real contest happened in Venice Beach last year, most of the pros were there except for the ones who were on tour or injured. Venice was the first contest where I was competing in my area of expertise - I was so stoked! For so long we'd had to compete in other people's territories like skateparks just to get noticed. At Venice a lot of people thought I should have beaten Eddie. But I was just stoked that I came in second and got recognition.
The San Diego competition this year was different because most of the pros were there, but they weren't competing. It was terrible for me as a competitor because they were all sittin' there watching me and it made me really nervous. I didn't do half as well as I would have if I'd been riding AGAINST them. It was good though, because there were people there and the guys competing were in the spotlight. Those guys were just sittin' back goin', 'Man, I should be out there.' In practice they'd get out and do a couple of airs or ride, just so that people would see them, then they'd get kicked off the competition area. It was bogus; you could tell they really wanted to compete. I also think it's important to our sponsors that we compete to get coverage and to be seen."
(Editor's note: Ron, Brian Blyther, Hugo Gonzales, Dave Vanderspek, and Dennis Langlais were the only pros to compete in San Diego, although most of the pros were present.)
The Venice pro contest was SO hot because there was a climax to the contest with the pro event and people got to see us go head-to-head. But it doesn't bother me as much anymore because I'm the one who's gonna be gettin' the coverage so I'm gonna go for it."
A.J.: "Some people feel that the newer guys in the sport want to compete because they want an easy way to the top. What do you think of that?"
Ron Wilkerson: If they think that, then they must be scared. I don't like to be classified with the 'new' guys. I might be new as far as coverage goes, but I've been around for a while. R.L. is about the only freestyler that I would let slide on the pro competition thing because he HAS put a lot into freestyle as far as his shows, his team, and promoting the sport. But R.L. also said he WILL compete if everything is run right."
A.J.: "What do you put more importance on, competing or doing shows?"
Ron Wilkerson: I'd say it's equal. There's not that much difference putting in time to do a show because the routine that you work up for competing is basically the same. What you do is dial in your hot tricks, whether it's for a show or a competition. It's not that much more effort."
A.J.: "Is it different in terms of how you dial in your head?"
Ron Wilkerson: Shows are WAY casual. Competitions are really HAIRY. I was fully into competition for Venice, but that was when people started talking like there wasn't going to be any more pro competition at ALL. I was thinkin', 'Really? I WANT competition.' But then I started to think, 'Well, maybe we don't need it. COOL! It's gonna be CASUAL, I don't have to work HALF as hard!' Look at it this way, if there's a competition in a month, you're gonna be out there practicing EVERY day if you want to win. If you have a SHOW in a month you'll be casual and think, 'Well, I'd better go out and ride.' Competition breeds better quality freestyle."
A.J.: "Do you think sanctioning bodies should schedule contests around the factory team tours?"
Ron Wilkerson: Yeah. Don't have competitions in the summer."
A.J.: "What about parts of the country that are under snow in the winter?"
Ron Wilkerson: That's true . . . Indoors is always an option."
A.J.: "Can you see contests becoming less of a West Coast thing?"
Ron Wilkerson: Yeah, maybe. There are DEFINITELY good guys out there. Freestylers need a few good riders around them so that they can get better. Dennis Langlais, the pro from Massachusetts, is pretty good; he has good tricks. I think pro competitions WILL happen. We'll see how it goes, though. I'll compete. Everyone knows that a different person will win every time. One guy isn't going to dominate - and people don't forget about guys who don't win. I mean, everyone doesn't love the 49ers.
BICROSS MAGAZINE COVER.
Couverture et interview dans Bicross Magazine #38 novembre 1985.
Participation à Bercy 2.
SUPER BMX COVER.
Super BMX and Freestyle december 1985.
|1986||Ron Wilkerson became the first freestyle star to sttle down and get married. His wife Stacy was a ballet dancer and a psychology student at the University of California at San Diego.
Jeff Carroll, Fred Blood, Ron Wilkerson (bottom left) and Woody Itson are on the first issue of Freestyle Spectacular, april 1986.
Brian Blyther over Ron Wilkerson on the april 1986 issue of BMX Plus!
Sunset cover: BMX Plus! august 1986.
LIVIN' LARGE riding, riding, riding, traveling, living VERY large...!
|1987||No hander on the cover of the january 1987 issue of BMX Plus!
Birth of the Enchanted Ramp
Ron Wilkerson, www.notfreestylin.com: This was my first official vert half pipe ramp and was looking for a house that would accommodate that. I found the house and BAM! We started to build the ramp even before we moved in.
Interview in Freestylin #32 december 1987.
Interview: American Freestyler december 1987
About a week before the AFA Finals at the Velodrome, Ron became a dad! Ron and Stacy are the parents of a baby girl, Tiffany Anne Wilkerson, born november 14, and weighing in at six pounds, nine ounces.
Pedal picker drop-in at the KOV round 4 in Washington, DC., october 1987.
|1988||Brian Blyther and Ron Wilkerson, both riding for Haro at the time, appear on the cover and get interviewed in the january 1988 issue of American freestyler. (Isn't this one quite similar to the april 1986 issue of BMX Plus! ? ... Ah! Hi-Torque publishing.)
Interview in American Freestyler april 1988
Ron is one of the few pros who owns a house. He moved into his two-bedroom wonder, in Leucadia, California, shortly after Haro sponsored him. The Haro offices are only about five miles away, so the location is super practical. The house sits on a secluded one-acre-lot. In the wilderness of "Wild"ersons' land lies a long driveway (about dragstrip length), a garage packed with things too good to throw away, and the famous "Enchanted Tree?" Yes, there's a ramp to go with that tree, and guess what it's called? Well, the "Enchanted Ramp" doesn't really need an introduction. It's hosted two big King of Vert contests, endless photo sessions, and is called the local practice spot by many. It's also Ron's personal toy. This ultimate ramp is 24 feet wide, 9-1/2 feet tall, and has 18 feet of flat bottom. With a dialed layout like that, it's no wonder you can find Ron blasting airs on it four to five hours a day. Since Ron is an overall pro, he also has to get in some flatland riding every day. That's no problem, though, especially with the killer spot he's got on the side of his house. A cemented area puts the possibility of endless ground sessions right outside his bedroom window. Inside his pad he's got all the luxuries of a normal home. A kitchen, living room, bedrooms, walls and windows all exist. The comfortable atmosphere of Ron's house isn't the only thing that stands out. A Banganolson TV and stereo combo imported from Denmark pumps out a few hundred watts of power. Four whomping speakers easily over ride the noise of the nearby freeway, but don't come close to bothering the neighbors, since they're too far away.
Cover: FAT issue 05.
The readers of BMX Plus! have voted Ron the freestyle rider of the year in 1988.
Yearly earnings: $100,000
Ron Wilkerson was the first to pull a nothing back in 1988.
Ron Wilkerson: I was on tour when I tried it for the first time and I pulled it on the second try. It was the next step from the no footer air to the no hander air. After that, I learned nothings on dirt, and I kept doing them on vert until my vicious 1989 nothing hang up to face.
Ron flying-out in Camarillo on the cover of BMX Plus! november 1988.
Nothing hang up to face put Ron in a week long coma in Wichita, Kansas.
Ron Wilkerson: It was the last contest of the year and I was all stoked. I was leading the points for the ramps and everything. So there I was, ripping through my run, and for my last trick I did a nothing. Something went wrong and I hung up, flew to the bottom of the ramp and slammed my face on the ground. I didn't even get my hands out in front of me. For two weeks after that, I was in the hospital. I had blood clots on my brain that for some reason didn't require surgery. I totally lucked out. I couldn't stop riding. As soon as I was better I just jumped on my bike again. The weird thing was that I had to relearn every single trick I knew before the crash. I tell everyone to wear full-face helmets now.
Mat Hoffman, The Ride of my Life, 2002: Ron Wilkerson slammed on his trademark nothing air (no-hander no-footer) on an AFA quarterpipe and was laid up in a Wichita hospital with a bad head injury for two weeks. After Ron's condition stabilized my dad converted his plane into an air ambulance, hired a paramedic, and flew to get Ron and bring him home to San Diego. The whole time, plenty of people in the sport were holding their breath, hoping against hope that Ron would recover. He did. But it underlined the severe consequences of ramp riding, and most of the sport switched to full-face helmets just after that terrible crash.
Ron, Tiffany, Stacy.
1956 Mercedes 190 SL
|1989||Cover of Freestylin march 1989.
Nothing on the cover of BMX Plus! april 1989.
After five years of riding for Haro, Ron Wilkerson quit the team and started his own bike company.
Ron Wilkerson: I went over to the Haro offices and I called a meeting. I told Bob Haro and Jim Ford that I was going to quit to manufacture my own line of bikes -Wilkerson Airlines. They probably expected that I wasn't going to re-sign for '90 because I've been complaining about things for so long. I guess freestyle's slow for all the companies this year and everyone's cutting back. The business end of the industry just isn't as psyched on freestyle as it used to be. The recession of the sport did them in -the money isn't there anymore. I want to be on my own so that I won't have to deal with all the pessimistic attitudes. I can do what I want now. That's about it.
Ron Wilkerson: It's my own bike company. I've designed a couple of bikes that were exactly the way I wanted them. The prototypes need a little refining, but production models should be available a little after this mag gets out, I guess. Yeah, that should be long enough. It'll be a totally separate company from 2-Hip-that is, the King of Vert and Meet the Street contests. Next year will be a big change for the better. I'll have a lot going on for the sport.
Ron Wilkerson's Enchanted ramp is becoming endangered. The city of Leucadia made Ron get his 20 closest neighbors signatures saying they don't have a problem with Ron's ramp.
Interview: FAT #9
Ron Wilkerson wins the NORA Cup.
|1990||Interview in BMX Plus! february 1990.|
Ron Wilkerson has sold the Enchanted House. Ron will still be living in San Diego. He purchased a new house in the vicinity and plans on building a monster ramp in the backyard.
In may, the long hair wich once covered Ron Wilkerson's head has now been removed.
Ron Wilkerson finished building his new halfpipe at his house in Lemon Grove, CA. He's connected two giant halves back to back with a one foot wide spine.
|1991||Todd Lyons, D.Nelson and Ron Wilkerson on the cover of Go volume 2 issue 4 february 1991.
Ron Wilkerson fence-riding his way over a ditch in San Diego on the cover of BMX Plus! april 1991.
|1992||Interview: Go february 1992.|
Moved to downtown San Francisco.
|1996||Interview: Ride BMX US february 1996
Ron Wilkerson, www.notfreestylin.com: I got my skateboard and I got this thing in my head. I had to ollie this one curb 5 times in a row and so I was there doing it a million times till I finally got it took me a couple hours and I was stoked when I got it. Then on my birthday day I went rock climbing with my friend. There was this rock hidden away in down town S.F. and there was this one line that I couldn't do before but got this time and was all stoked. Then we went riding we did some fotos and getting ten feet. Turning thirty was a good time.
|1998||Ron Wilkerson 7 storey pool dive on the cover and interview in Ride BMX UK #38 december 1998|
|2001||Interview: Ride BMX US september 2001|
|2005||Robert Castillo's house party after the Joe Kid on a Stingray video premiere in L.A., april 2005. Photo by Xavier Mendez.|
|2007||Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, april 2007: I dont think Ive ever met a rider who didnt like Ron Wilkerson. Actually, let me be clear Ive never met a rider who didnt respect Ron Wilkerson. Have I met people who thought Ron was weird and goofy? Yes. Have I met people that think that the man who pushed freestyle in a new direction is a little punchy? Oh yeah. All these people would also go on to say how Ron Wilkerson made it cool to be freestyler. With his Spicoli accent, ripped jeans, leather jackets and Flock Of Seagulls hairdo Ron Wilkerson brought a rockstar attitude to a freestyle world dying for some credibility. Every picture you saw of Ron in a magazine he was always smiling or looking into the camera as if almost to say Hey Bud! Lets party!! And we wanted to. We drove hours to see him in person. We ate undercooked hot dogs in the hot sun to watch him do a Smoothie or a Pedal-Picker Drop-in. We pestered our parents to buy the posters and t-shirts and wait for hours so he could sign them for us. For me, and many of you, when you met Ron he was every bit the rockstar you thought he was. He never let us down. Ron lived the lifestyle we dreamed of having if we ever made it as a pro rider. He didnt flaunt it. He enjoyed it and we wanted him to. Thanks for the memories Ron.|
|2008||Interview in the Freestylin book.
Ron had a knack for pulling off the impossible. Whether it was inventing the Nothing air (during a show, nonetheless) or winging together a competition series on halfpipes that were usually screwed together just hours before the actual events. Ron flew by the seat of his pants and made you want to join him because if looked so fun. This interview is the definition of what it means to be deeply connected and committed to BMX. To read more of his insights into life, liberty, and the pursuit of funanus, look for his forthcoming book, If You Don't Crash, You're Not Trying Hard Enough.
How did BMX affect your life?
Ron Wilkerson: It's really hard to separate it from my life, because I was growing up as BMX was growing up, and it was kind of like the same thing. BMX was brand new, people making fun of you for riding those little bikes, which no one could even comprehend now. I was a pro rider getting paid to travel the world and do what I loved. It gave me opportunities and set my standards really high. That was my benchmark right there. From then on I couldn't do anything less than that.
What was your favorite photo from an issue of Freestylin'?
Ron Wilkerson: Of course it would be the cover of the first one. I don't think there was ever a photo that impacted me as much as that I won't ever forget when I saw that, getting it in the mail and freaking out. Not to mention that it was the first issue of the first magazine devoted to freestyle. And I was on the cover. Back in the day, every pro was different from every other pro. and Freestylin' covered everyone. and you covered them all as if they were equally cool.
Describe the bond that you share with Brian Blyther and Dave Nourie.
Ron Wilkerson: Those guys are brothers to me. It's interesting that some of my best memories are around the relationships I had from touring with those two. When you're touring with someone, you're with them more than the person you're married to. You work together, eat together, you do everything together. For three months or six months you're with these people all the time. We were three new pros hanging out traveling the world and living it. There's never gonna be another first generation of BMX pros.
What's the most noticeable way that BMX has changed since then?
Ron Wilkerson: Attitudes. It's a whole different thing nowadays. The easiest way to explain it is like, before, people got into it because it was unique and different. Not everyone did it. It was something special, almost like misfits. You were a BMXer. And nowadays people get into it because it's the cool thing to do. And that's very different but if I just go riding, it reconnects me back to what it was for me. I can forget about all the things I don't like or that have changed. Although, nowadays, the level of riding. holy shit! The stuff guys are doing is unbelievable.
How did you learn to push yourself and progress?
Ron Wilkerson: Freestyle wasn't really something you learned. You either want to or you don't. And I live my life the same way that I ride or have ever ridden BMX, which is pushing myself as far as I can go all the time. There's a quote. "If you're comfortable then you're doing something wrong." That's my quote for life, I was always doing as much as I possibly could. There was never anything I wished I tried because I was always trying everything I knew. Going for new things is about desire, just going for it. That's really a personality, not something you can learn or not learn. That's one of the biggest things I've learned in life, about energy. One day I got on my bike to go riding and this thought popped in my head: what would you be the most proud doing? And I was like, "I'll keep doing my bike company." I stuck with it. I've taken out loans from family members and friends and banks. Borrowing money from friends that's the worst. Not only are you putting yourself on the line, but friendship too, and someone's trust. I have some amazing people who've helped me in my life just by giving me leans when I really needed it. Some of them I'm still paying back. It's remarkable what I've done with bad credit and a bad divorce. I was able to get loans from banks unsecured just strictly by conveying the energy that we're going to do this! And that alone makes me strive to do better.
Describe what a ramp being built smells like.
Ron Wilkerson: Every time I smell plywood, it reminds me of building ramps, It's never going to go away. It's the best smell, it gives you this energy. I don't know if new school kids have that experience. Everything's already set up and made.
Pick one of your favorite contest pulling-it-off-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth stories.
Ron Wilkerson: I can't separate them because they all run into each other. But probably the biggest would be when we decided to do a vert contest on the barge in Austin There's an example of new frontiers we were forging, and we pulled it off, which was miraculous. It wasn't the best event, contest wise, but wow, what an experience that was. Someone would roll in and the whole ramp would move. Setting tip for that was just unbelievable. We'd just bought a brand new dually and a brand new ten foot tall trailer to bring the ramp from San Diego to Austin, and half way there the truck engine blew, and we had to have a new engine put in. We ended up getting there the night before the contest and stayed up all night building this ramp on a barge. Kevin Martin was the man, the one driving it out.
Do you have any disappointments or regrets?
Ron Wilkerson: No way. I don't believe in regrets Do things you want to do, and you can't have any regrets. You can have lessons and learn things and grow front that. But it's about taking risks. That's what life is about in my book: taking risks and just going for it. BMX gave me the opportunity to do something that I was so into and passionate about that I'd kill myself doing it, and then get better, and keep doing it Most people don't get to have the experience of breaking their legs or having concussions and wanting to get up and do it again I was that passionate about something that when I'd recover! I'd want to ride I was in a coma for five days once. Holy crap.
Spike, Andy, and I were all sitting around trying to pinpoint the exact nay that freestyle started to really change and slow down. The day we picked that freestyle got changed, was the day you crashed in Wichita, Kansas.
Ron Wilkerson: Yeah, now that I think about it, that was the beginning of the end And the beginning of the beginning for other people.
Was that the last AFA contest they ever did?
Ron Wilkerson: I think it was The quarterpipe was definitely done. It was done way before that I was trying to get Bob Morales to do halfpipe contests, and he, was like, "No, it's going alright, it's going good how it is. And so I started the King of Vert.
You crashed on a Nothing, right? You didn't get your hands back on?
Ron Wilkerson: Yeah. I got one hand back on the handlebars and then I hung up It was like 20 feet to face.
What memories do you have from your recovery?
Ron Wilkerson: Eddie Roman was sitting in my living room when one of those commercials for some college came on, you know, make a living, blah blah blah, And I asked Eddie, "What do I do? What's my job"" And he was blown away. He said. ''You're a pro bike rider, you travel around the world getting paid to do shows,,'' and I was just like. "I get paid to ride my bike? Whoa!'' A week or two later was the first time I rode again. It was totally scary lust going down the roll in on the Enchanted ramp I had As to completely relearn everything,
How long did that take?
Ron Wilkerson: It happened pretty quickly, because with I'i ring tricks it's all about inner confidence and knowing you can do something. That's probably the biggest part of all of it. So it took a couple months to feel comfortable, but it came pretty fast, ocean, I heard that I already did it Even tricks I'd invented, like I had to relearn the abubaca I wasn't allowed to drive for a little while, It was pretty crazy.
Did you have gnarly medical bills?
Ron Wilkerson: I don't even remember any medical bills. I guess insurance paid for it But actually it was the best crash I ever had. I crashed and I don't even remember feeling anything. It was like I was starting out again as a kid, but then progressing rapidly fast It was probably about the best thing that's ever happened to me.
Ron Wilkerson: You go through something like that and you really appreciate life. You can't ever not really appreciate it again. It lust shows you the bigger things, it shows you what's important. I was all religious beforehand, and of course that was dwindling even before the accident, but I was still in it. I still called myself a Mormon. But then after that accident t was lust like, belle, here are the things that are important, here are the things that are not important
What was the scariest part of that crash?
Ron Wilkerson: Right at that time, the whole bike business is crumbling. and I'm looking at my future I had family. kids, a life. I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do. And I can't even really ride all the way yet. For me the crash was without a question the end of my competitive riding, because to be competitive you gotta have the eye of the tiger, that edge. After the accident, that edge was gone. I'd stilt ride for fun, and I loved riding, but the whole time I'm considering, you know, what should I do? All my sponsors arc dropping off they get no money, what am I going to do, how am I going to live? And so I made a smart decision [laughter] I started a company. I started Wi Ikerson Airlines
What do you think you've given of yourself to freestyle?
Ron Wilkerson: Even when I was making a let of money as a pro. I knew it wouldn't last We didn't know hew long we could ride. There was no one before us to look at. At 19 or 20 I was thinking I wouldn't get to ride past 25 or 26. We had no idea when we could stop And of course there are things you give up, like the style of living. But I was happy, Trying to run a bike company with ridiculously little amounts of money, that's been my life There's been times, and I'm not even that far from it now, where it's like, "How am I going to pay rent this month?" Id sit there with a stack of bills and not knew hew to pay them and I just kept working, figuring things would work out But it's not really a matter of what I gave up for freestyle, it's lust what I choose. I didn't give up anything. I put all of myself into it. It was me, it was my life, and you can't separate it.
What was your shining moment - the best thing you ever did?
Ron Wilkerson: I like to live in the present. My shining moment was last Thursday when I was riding my BMX bike from my home to the office in downtown Santa Cruz and the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I've experienced so many astounding things in my life that I couldn't even pick one to highlight There were so many times we'd be doing demos with screaming girls. walking around being stars and people wanting to meet us. Getting 20 thousand dollar chocks in the mail. There was all that But I think my smiting moment was last week riding my bike to work. The fact I can still ride my bike, even after all the injuries, and I'm just pedaling the whole way and smiling, and no one else knows what's going on in my heart.
|2010||Judging the xgames vert|