Friday Interview: Van Homan
What new can be said about the most legendary street rider of all time? Not much, really. But all I can do is state how getting to spend a few days with this dude was a true treat. A seasoned rider in every sense of the term: Van had stories for every story, a joke for every situation, and a trick for every spot. And if you haven't figured out how to be a great addition to a road trip is, well…that's it.
We were just on a little trip in the south and I got to witness my first Van Homan straight-on rail manual and high-speed tailwhip gap in the same day. It was a damn treat for the 18-year-old inside of me. With that said, it's safe to say your leg is pretty well healed, right? What was the recovery process like for you?
[Laughs] Thanks. Yeah, the leg is feeling great. The recovery process took a while, but I was in a good place mentally, so doing what I had to do physically to get myself healthy didn't seem so bad. As soon as I was able to ride again, I headed out on a two-week road trip with some good friends and that was a great way to start regaining my confidence.
I know you've dabbled with some whips since you've been back, but the whip you did that day (to be seen in a future issue of Ride) was about a 30 foot gap into a bank…any negative thoughts pop in your head or is it all forward thinking?
I've definitely been enjoying being back on my bike, back on the road, and back hanging out with the guys, so recently I've been giving a little more thought to bigger set-ups. However, we had such a good crew and good vibes on the trip that pushing yourself just happened in a fun and naturally way. Riding with Garrett [Reynolds], Tony [Neyer], Corey [Martinez] and Brian [Kachinsky] was really motivational and inspirational. They made riding at a higher level seem a lot more fun and a lot less scary—thanks guys.
I hope you don't mind this line of questions, but I feel like your life has changed a lot in the last couple years. You've had some changes to your personal life and you decided to close the doors on your shop, Two By Four. What was your mindset like before these major changes and then after?
Yeah it was nice to move on from the personal hurdles and focus my energy towards positive things. I'm really proud of what I accomplished with Two by Four, but it got to the point where it was holding me back from what I really wanted to do so it was time to let it go. I'm enjoying putting my focus towards riding and traveling. I've had a lot of awesome opportunities lately and I'm doing my best not to waste them.
"I'm enjoying my life and my bike, so hopefully that shines through in my riding."
I always say I fear change, but when it comes down to it, big life changes are often a much-needed reset. I feel like in your case, it breathed new life into you and your riding. Agree? Disagree?
I agree, change can be sad or bitter sweet but it usually results in something positive. I've had minimal distractions and awesome people supporting my riding lately. I'm enjoying my life and my bike, so hopefully that shines through in my riding.
What freedoms do you have now that you may not have had, say three years ago?
I just have less responsibility so traveling has been more frequent and carefree.
Stew Johnson guest question: Do you find it strange, that after all these years and a major injury, that you now have more sponsors than ever?
I've had a few really good things fall into place the past couple years: IPath, Bell and now Dan's Comp. Every brand I ride for has someone I respect working hard behind the scenes so that I can be out riding every day. Having those people put their faith in me, and my riding, is a good feeling.
Although I really don't want to bring up your Criminal Mischief section, I feel as if it's become this insurmountable video section that you can never overcome. From all accounts your new Fit part is your craziest yet, but no matter what, Criminal Mischief will always be your best section ever. Is that a good or a bad thing? Do you think people are stuck on the impact of that section and are not looking at your riding today objectively?
We put a lot of heart into Criminal Mischief so I'm proud that the video hasn't been forgotten. However, it's rewarding knowing that there's plenty of things I'm capable of now that I couldn't have dreamed of back in 2001. At this point, I just try to put out content that I'm proud of; I don't really compare it to my past sections or what other people are doing.
You've been spending a ton of time up in Richmond, Virginia, and hanging with Steve Crandall and the boys up there. What's appealing about the scene up there?
I met an awesome girl down there so Richmond visits have been fairly regular. I've always loved the small southern cities so having a good excuse to head south is a good thing. I really like the vibe in Richmond: there's always something going on, but it still has somewhat of a small town feel. It's been awesome hanging out with Crandall on the regular and there's a really tight community of riders down there, so it's never a bad time.
Stew Johnson guest question: You've been judging some contests lately, what are the pros and cons about judging over riding?
Riding in big events is a lot of fun, but the nerves make it a little stressful sometimes. Although there's still a lot of pressure and responsibility that comes with judging, it's a lot more relaxing than being out on the course. I love seeing/riding new cities, so I welcome the opportunity to be part of any BMX event, whether it's as a rider or a judge.
What's your riding like when you're not on an "official" trip? Is it ever hard to turn on the gnarly portion of your riding?
Nah, I wouldn't say that. I like riding everything, so I welcome the opportunity to have a laid back session at the trails or get in some high speed lines at FDR.
I heard that you've been taken to some pretty wild spots by locals and been expected to produce.
On occasion locals will take you to insane set-ups and stare until you have to disappoint them by asking if they know any less scary spots [laughs]. You never know, though, sometimes I may be feeling a wild setup.
"I think there's something to be said for a less is more style of riding."
DMC and Brian Foster are good examples of guys that have proven that a BMX career isn't a fleeting thing in park and dirt. But, I believe you're the one showing it's possible on the street side. What have you figured out over the years that others haven't?
Wow, thanks. I tend to keep things simple and not over complicate my riding. I like when I can watch video parts years later and not feel like the riding is dated. I'm not sure if that really answers your question, but I think there's something to be said for a less is more style of riding.
You shared the spotlight with a pretty core group of friends around ten years back, namely Garrett Byrnes, Pat Juliff, and Brian Wizmerski. Over the years they've gone their own directions, and I feel like it was a choice they each made on their own. Is there a notable difference between what they had going on at the time and why you never let "the dream" fade away?
All three of those guys have a different story, but eventually we all have to figure out how we are going to make a living after BMX. I've been riding for Fit for over ten years now and their support is one of the major reason I've been able to postpone growing up [laughs].
Allan Cooke Guest Question: So you kind of came on the scene with good results in dirt and park contests, gained legend status with your Little Devil video parts (which still hold up today I might add) then collected a few medals in X-games Street. Your time in BMX has been diverse to say the least, do you have a plan for the future or are you just going with the flow?
I've always just done best to contribute something I'm proud of to whatever project I'm involved with. For right now I'm enjoying riding and traveling so the plan is to take advantage of any opportunity to do just that. I guess my only real plan at the moment is to finish up my section for the new Fit video, I'm looking forward to it coming out this fall.
Bonus! While you’re here, check out Van’s current ride, as well…
Frame: Fit VH3
Fork: Fit Blade
Bars: Fit Sky High
Stem: Fit High Top Stem with Dan's Lighting Bolt Wrap
Grips: Duo Homan
Brakes: Odyssey EVO II
Lever: Dia-Comp Tech 77
Detangler: Odyssey GTX
Clamp: Built in
Seat: Duo Fat Perf Pivotal
Pedals: Fit Mac
Cranks: Fit Indent 24mm
Sprocket: Fit Key with Dan's Lighting Bolt Wrap
Chain: Odyssey Bluebird
Front Tire: Duo Stunner 20×2.20"
Front Wheel: G-Sport Marmoset laced to a G-Sport Rib Cage
Rear Tire: Duo Stunner Lo 20×2.20"
Rear Wheel: G-Sport Rachet laced to a G-Sport Rib Cage
Hub Guard: Matt Berringer custom
Pegs: Animal Lino
How long do you typically ride a bike for before building a new one? Do you switch out parts as they go? Or just build a whole fresh kit?
I’d say eight months to a year. Everything is usually still fine so I end up giving the bike to a rider that needs it or auctioning it off for a good cause. In most cases I change it up so I can rep the new parts or new colors—always hyped to have the new stuff.
Speaking about new stuff, tell us about the Dan's Comp wrapped stem and sprocket…
Fit and Dan’s did a collaboration, we had the High Top Stem and Key Logo Sprocket wrapped with a lighting bolt print. I’m really hyped on how it came out.
What parts do you change out the most often?
Tire, grips and chains. Tires and grip because they’re obviously the wear and tear items and chains because it really sucks when one snaps at full speed.
What are you most particular about on your bike?
I like my spokes tight—I hate carving a bowl corner and feeling my wheels flex.