Who are you?
Well, my name is Brett Middaugh, but I’m really just nobody, I’m just a middle aged dude who loves BMX and wants everyone to realize how great it is in all its different forms.
How long have you been into BMX/Freestyle?
Dang, I started with me old Mongoose Moto-Mag in 1979, so that would have to be 26, almost 27 years. Some guys say well the first time I jumped a curb or put a cinder block down, but the first time I realized what I was doing was something everyone else was doing was 1979, and right here I want to say thank you to Bob Osborn and BMX Action for showing me that. Strangely enough the first issue I picked up had no riding on the cover. It just showed a bunch of buds piled in a car going to the races being all goofy…what does this have to do with anything? I’ll explain it in some answers to your dang good questions below.
List some of your accomplishments?
Hmmm, I dunno, I mean I’ve won races and contests…never anything huge, all local stuff. If you’re gonna count that kinda stuff, I’ve been an ABA District #1 in cruiser, top 10 in 20” BITD, PAFA Overall winner in freestyle, NBL #1 in street and flat one year, lol…I placed higher than The K in an early PA AFA comp way back… probably because no one could understand what Kevin was doing at the time, lol. Ya know what though, when you look back it’s never about nonsense like that…my big accomplishments…trying to lend a hand wherever I went, at the track I used to announce and do the gate, freestyling…I’d drag my ramps all over, HA, my old HVTT ramps were at the 85 AFA Finals in New Hampshire. When the NBL was doing their thing I was giving Ellie Stack a hand… I was always pretty happy with Dave Wynn letting me do the Ramp-Ateria behind TC Cycles those few years. Ya know we caught a lot of B.S. from some of the riders back then about some things, but all I was trying to do was keep freestyling alive in NJ. Hey Kevin Robinson was at one of our comps back in like 92 or 93, lol. I was always stoked when I saw new people coming on board to do stuff, when I was doing the heavy girlfriend thing (you know how that worked out…) I felt ok, because I saw Steve Wisbeski sorta take the torch and keep stuff going with Jump For Joy. So, I guess one of my biggest accomplishments I hope is that in some way I kept it going when it was dying in this area…
Who were some of your influences?
Every dang thing I saw in BMX Action influenced me. It wasn’t really the “riders” it was the lifestyle of BMX’in. Think different, be different, to hell with what others say can and can’t be done. Bob Osborn, that guy…I still talk and write a lot of stuff with heavy influence of his style. Everything in BMXA pushed, “go out and make BMX what you want it to be”. Hmmm, now that I think about it….local fellers that influenced me…Glen Mattioli, he was from Middlesex, in 1980 that dude could jump 10 tires stacked up, total bada**!, Dan Menapace, he blew me away with how smooth he was, real laid back too! Sam Conti, he was this old dude who sold bike parts out of his house and took a crew to the races way, way BITD..he was another guy who had that why the hell not attitude, The Gleasons from Bicycle World, Jimmy Cerullo, ran JV Bikes and had Braddock BMX, …Charlie Huber, who passed away right before 9-11. That guy never made a dime off BMX or freestyle and LOVED it like you can never imagine. Some people think he was just around during the freestyle days, nu uh..he had a race team that went back to like 1981. I try to pattern what I do after people like that, don’t sweat the money when you are doing something you love. I posted something on Vintage awhile back about him and Brett D, said something to the effect, “it wasn’t a big shock when Charlie died he was overweight and didn’t take care of himself”, it really bothered me that he was being sort of smug like that…it’s not cool..ya know Large Ray is a big dude…and I wouldn’t be bagging on him, ‘cause it’s obvious Ray loves BMX. I dunno, I just want people to know that Chuck really loved all you BMX maniacs and would do anything for you guys. I’d also like to thank RIDE BMX for putting my letter in there about his passing a few years ago. I guess you’d say my influences are all the people who give a damn about BMX.
Who was in your riding crew?
LOL, man…I’ve had so many crews over the years….
79-81…Danny Notte..he was a National #1 rider from Middlesex, fast as he**!, Glen Mattioli, Gary Sherayko…all great racers of that time! We used to cruise to Somerville to snag that latest issue of BMXA… I swear man at that time it was all about BMX Action!
82-86…Robbie Giaretta…his dad used to drag me to the races all the time, he also used to make these starting gates that used a solenoid to drop ‘em…Tom Nieradka, that guy was unreal as an overall rider! 6-8’on a ramp, pretty good flat and was ABA#1 in his district like 2 years in a row! How many riders today could do that? Dan Menapace rolled with us at that time too.
87-88… Adam Stack, another FANTASTIC overall rider, Rob Ryer, some other guys from Hillsborough. 88 was when I got the team picked up by General Bikes, we had Jeff Mayer with us at that time. LOL, we were “The High Voltage Trick Team” presented by General Bicycles. Right here I’d like to say that Harry Myers the guy behind their freestyle program was one he** of a guy! He used to run Craigmeur BITD, they had the very FIRST east coast NBA national there! He loved BMX as well, cool guy88-89… I was the team manager for the General Bikes team in NJ. We had Mark Roldan, Roger Sullivan, (before he tweaked his spleen, Rog was INSANE!), Jeff Mayer, Sean Leslie, Jay Jones, Brad McCarty, (he came on tour when Jeff quit because I couldn’t afford to bring John Byers with us, rock on John!! Eastern Bikes!) I also tried to flow stuff to Adam Stack and Rob Ryer. I quit after doing the tour in 89, Sean and Jay pretty much hated me after that tour…it sucks being the dude in charge, lol…dang the story I could tell about breaking down in Indiana…but I better not…hehe..
90-93…Number one guy was Eric Fleming. He was a 4-H dude, who I met and he just rocked the house at that time when street and small ramp was getting big. We even built this crazy jump box to do shows. We did a show at the Bicycling Hall of Fame for the NBL to show them how cool BMX was and let in some guys, this was before Stu Thomsen’s induction. I also jammed with you guys, Adam Guild, Bill Danner, Joe Doll, Rodney Morweiser, bunch of other guys I forgot…sorry fellers! Mike Wilson…he was a great young shredder, I’m gonna take this opportunity to apologize to Mike, bro I lost your membership back in the Ramp-Ateria days man, that’s why you never got stuff…Always thought you were a great rider though.
94-95…Steve Wisbeski, Steve told me one time that I sort of half-assed inspired him to do the Jump For Joy contests. I couldn’t believe he had the balls to do those contests at his house! When I started dropping out at that time, I felt pretty good because Steve really seemed like he was taking charge and doing the contest thing! (Seems I was right, I talked to him on Thanksgiving, seems another contest is happening at Hackettstown in February!)
96-04…Girlfriend lead to marriage…I shut down…I messed with some flatland, did some jumping but sorta gave it up. I’d had 2 knee surgeries and was feeling like…what the heck can I contribute to BMX all busted up and with no finances or place to do things. Kept the Blammo in the basement and bought a home.
2005…Divorced…free again…what’s missing? BMX. I had new knowledge in web design, literature publication and I suddenly realized I had 20 years experience in BMX, and no one was giving NJ props. Old dog Anthony “The Mouth” Brown bagged on me to come to Howell to race…I went there got back into it, started doing CJBMX’s website and my site and the fire was relit! I call George Hoernig, Ant-dog, and all the crazy guys in the 35 over class my crew now, lol.
What a strange 26 years!
You have been around a long time whats your thoughts on the world of BMX/freestyle past compared to present?
Hehe, right now, things are actually a lot like the old days…except for a few major differences. BIG MONEY for the pros, Mirra is going to be able to retire as Pro Freestyle rider, that is awesome! Scott, Ryan, the new, new blood have opportunities that just didn’t exist 20 years ago. Also PRIME TIME COVERAGE! The Dew Action Sports Series is really going to step up BMX in the eyes of the USA, I really felt that it legitimized the sport this past summer.
It’s really great that a lot of the companies now are 100% rider owned, the only thing I see wrong with the companies is that they are all trying to cut into the same small pie. The manufacturers have to get together and begin a united front on how to grow BMX as to make the pie bigger. Why is skateboarding so huge? Why is surfing an “in” thing even if you live in Bismark? Lifestyle, BMX needs to start becoming promoted as a lifestyle, not a kids sport or hobby. Not something that you do to “graduate into Mountain Biking or road racing or motorcycles. Ya know how you walk into Brave New World in Pt Pleasant and it has a “surf feel” to it? I’d like to see a BMX shop with a feel like that, still have surf-skate stuff but put the emphasis on BMX…100%.
Ya know what never changes? Trends, remember baggy pants, uniforms, low a** shorts…now its those caps, and girl pants…hehe. It’s all good though, just the next gen throwing out their style. Oh….I talked above about that issue of BMXA that just had guys on the cover heading to a race stuffed in a car…That’s what we need to push in BMX, lifestyle. Trucking to contests, races, people that ride or race but have lives outside the bike. Show people that BMX is something that you don’t grow out of, it’s something you grow deeper into.
Skill levels today are amazing, progression has gotten unreal. But a big difference I see is that the hardcore guys today seem to want to get the young guys involved…ramp parks are all over the place, that is very heartening, 20 years ago you’d never see a park, lol.
Hmmm, how about I do a comparison thing, lol
Pros- BITD- very hype oriented, though you could tell they were pros by demeanor and the way they looked, Now- 200% Pro level riding, no Ams can really touch them, BUT…barring maybe Dave and Ryan, they need to somehow separate themselves by look from the average dude on a bike, not the gay old uniform thing but…something. Race pros- those guys just need a decent magazine again, I’m hoping BMX World does it for them. And the race guys need CONTROVERSY, that will get them rocking.
Parts- BITD- Frames, forks, pegs…ai yai yai, trend, breaks, hype..you know the deal…if something lasted for 6 months that was unreal. Today- A Taiwan bike for 400 beans blows the doors off anything built during our time, lol. Parts are near damn unbreakable, Thank you rider owned companies!!
What are you currently involved in BMX wise?
Well, I run this website, Brokenspokes.net, we’re trying to document BMX history in NJ as well as give the new guys as much coverage as possible. I’m also doing NJ BMX Szine, covering every dang thing we can get our hands on from flatland to racing. I work with the NJBMX NBL organization lending a hand there. I keep up the CJBMX.org website. I race, George Hoernig and I are trying to set up a team that does shows at schools and the like to hype young dudes on riding. Basically anywhere I can help out I can. I guess playing with BMX bikes for 26 years can help someone out, lol.
With all the hype and sponsors in main stream society, are we going into another BMX recession?
It would seem that things could head that way once again, the hype masters used to call that the “7 year cycle”. It was skateboarding that started that “myth”. What really happens is that one generation of riders gets old enough to head off to college and get on with life and it takes 5-7 years for another generation to come into being to fill the void. I think the guys that came into it in 90-95 started to change that, they started all the rider owned stuff. This is really where the lifestyle thing needs to be pushed like I stated above. I think in skateboarding, Hawk really made that change for that industry, Alva, Mountain those guys really made riding a skateboard look like it was something that everyone does, 5-50. We need that in BMX. The magazines need to showcase more lifers, like Todd Lyons, Pete Augustin, and Dennis McCoy… other guys who I don’t even know, like racers who love to ride but also roll a 9-5 job. It would show riders that it’s ok to work and ride and still be “hardcore” it would show parents that people who ride BMX aren’t all just “juvenile delinquents” trust me… a lot of parents look at the freestyle guys like that.
To directly answer the question, I don’t think so. With the Olympics coming up in ’08 and The Dew Action Sports Tour a solid thing, if we all work together and push in the right direction the age of action sport recessions may be over. Bottom line, we have to make BMX generational, ya know when a young kid sees a dude in his 30’s still jamming on his ride, he gets sorta stoked, I’m not talking about the “local hardcore, I’m a bada** rider”, I’m talking the young kid we are trying to get fully jazzed on BMX, it shows them that it isn’t some thing that’s a fad.
What would you change in the structure of sanctions or sponsored events?
Ohhhhhhhhhhh man….I better start with freestyle because that one is easy. Freestyle BMX needs only ONE thing, a national organization that you can hook up with to run local contests. We need beginner classes and intermediate and expert classes. Sort of like the AFA, but with a more relaxed atmosphere. Maybe 6 BIG events a year. Northeast, southeast, northwest, southwest, and upper and lower middle America, oh and a final that switches up locations from year to year. Flatlanders need a contest series BAD. They are doing unreal stuff, but what they need, and I don’t want to bag on them, is a Pro who can speak to the public and sound intelligent. It’s very important for public relations, Dave Mirra, and I know some hardcore guys bag on him, but Dave has done a lot for freestyle. His well spoken demeanor has gotten a lot of people on board the BMX party.
So an am contest series and local events that aren’t just big stupid drunken parties will help things…Anyone have any venture capital? I can do make this happen, lol. The Pro side of freestyle is doing great, I mean the Dew thing is perfect and is doing good for the sport…(use the clout you have now guys. Dave, Kevin, Jamie, twist the sponsors gazoons and they will listen).
Ok,now BMX racing… what a mess…The NBL is so focused on the Olympics that they have forgotten their local scene almost completely. You should see the garbage software that the officials have to work with. The ABA is really well run, organized and the only problem I see there is that the head of the ABA doesn’t apparently get along with the head of the NBL, which is why they run MAJOR NATIONAL events against each other. So they are doing the stupid, “cut the small pie, into smaller pieces thing”, instead of making the pie bigger. Those 2 sanctions are also what is holding back major TV coverage. The networks basically have to go through them, happened with ESPN. The Olympic thing is heading into a fiasco because of some rules about allowing athletes, that I really have no clue about. Bottom line, they don’t work together and with a sport as small as BMX racing they have to. It really is a shame because so many riders do start as racers but then quit because the sanctions suck the fun out of it. I think things are gonna start to change there though because I saw a lot of old school racers come back this year with their kids and are making a BIG positive influence on the local scene…you know who you are Farside…Hicks, Goldsmid…Again BMX racing needs to become generational. I guess I’d like to see just one national sanction for BMX and a major Pro series on TV.
Share some of your best riding sessions?
It’s funny man, when you are young all you wanna do is be the fastest or do the hardest trick, then when you look back you realize every damn time you are on that bike it’s special, because you are doing something most people don’t do.
To answer it bluntly, making my first BMX national main in Lawrenceville…Doing a big show in AC at the first Tour De Trump,hey… you had one of the first skate-bike jams BITD that went like all over and through New Brunswick….anyhow, we were all riding and I hit this curb man and this skater is right next to me, so I hit this curb and get this f-ing pop that I swear put me 4-5’ up and the skater was all WOA dude that was nuts…it just felt so perfect…weird how something like that pops into your head. Freezing in Tom Nieradka’s garage practicing kick-turns, Steve’s barn ramp, and just this past year, lol..I was racing at Howell and they have these back to back doubles that are like 5’ tall, anyhow…I’m in like 2 nd or 3 rd and I’m pedaling at these things and finally cleared ‘em, LOL. I get to the finish line and couldn’t care less what place I got, I was all, I cleared the dubs, I cleared the dubs..HAHA… I love BMX…
Any final thoughts?
Yea…I just wanna apologize to any dudes I may have inadvertently dissed BITD. Sometimes my mouth was pretty big, lol.
If you’re jumping a curb, racing with clips, spinning a flat trick, you’re a BMX’er man. Treat all your brothers with respect and don’t quit, if you can’t ride anymore…doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. BMX needs everyone to speak up and get the word out. To all the young dudes….don’t be afraid to walk up to anyone that’s riding and say hi, you’ll probably find a bud for life. To all the old dudes, ask yourself…what can I do to help BMX?
I see all you mid school guys like you Adam, Rodney, George, all doing crazy stuff to further BMX, and I see the brightest future for riding ever.
I’d also like to thank the guys who asked what the heck happened to me when I left…I thought everyone was sick of me and I come back and all you guys welcomed me like a lost brother, lol.
I want everyone to know, that by the time we are done, EVERYONE is gonna know New Jersey’s historical contribution to BMX.
Oh and a special thanks to Mark Eaton, Joe Kid says it all.