We had been planning on heading down to Encinitas to check out the new park design and do some riding with Jason Richardson for the past few weeks, but every time we’d plan something, it would fall through at the last minute. When things finally worked out for this trip, we figured it’d be a good idea to do some interviews with some of the guys down there. During one of the few afternoon breaks, we asked Jason some questions on how things had been going for him lately in AA Pro.
James: You mentioned yesterday when we were talking about the South Park race that you “felt like you were going fast again.” Want to explain that?
I got my head out of my ass; that’s how it happened. It’s just hard dealing with this “you’re sponsored today, you’re not sponsored tomorrow” stuff. I just said screw it, I’m just going to race, and all that matters when I’m on the gate is getting to the finish line. I just want to try and keep racing simple and pure, like when I was a kid.
James: How is that different from how it was before?
It’s just easy to get caught up in all the bullshit–the politics, the sponsors, trying to make sure you don’t get stabbed in the back, and all the cock blocking that’s out there. It can just get to be a bit much.
So I’m just at another level. I have an undergraduate degree, I have a masters degree, I own my own home, I have money in the bank… well it’s running out at the rate I’m going, racing all these races laughter. But I’m not trying to get rich out of racing. I just want to go to every race and race my heart out. Do the best I can and let the chips fall where they may.
James: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?
I’d have to say my girlfriend Halé (pronounced ha-lae).
James: That sounds serious.
I know, huh? Everyone got quiet! I don’t know what’s up with that, but that’s my honest answer. It’s my girlfriend.
James: How long have you been AA Pro?
Almost a decade. I turned Pro when I was 17 and I dicked around for a year. Then, when I was faced with getting dropped from Auburn, I got off my ass again and turned AA. That was ’93, so that’s a strong eight, eight-and-a-half years. Working on nine…
James: Has your training program switched up at all?
No, I’m just training a little smarter. I’m fortunate enough to have a coaching gig at the YMCA (Encinitas, California). It’s enabled me to ride trails, and the way the trails are set up allows me to link around and do laps. That’s about it, I just make sure I do the right things and do them correctly.
James: How did you get the YMCA job?
I caught wind that they were rearranging the course through Epic Skate and Surf and Matt Ortwein (Alliant), and I just wanted to help out. It turned out that they were having summer camps and I thought to myself, “Well, I probably need to supplement my racing somehow. If I can get in on this coaching gig and help them out with the camp it’s good for my sponsors, it’s good for me, it’s good for the YMCA.” So I approached them with an idea, and they were down. So, four hours a day, two days a week, it’s not that much time and I get to ride and work with the kids. I get to keep my pulse on what’s going on. So, now I’m a coach laughter.
Scot: What do you get out of coaching?
That’s a good question. I can’t explain it in words. All I can say is that there are times when I wake up in the morning and I’m like, “Oh god, I have to go up there.” But every time I leave, I always have a smile on my face and I always have a cool story from the day. Working with the kids is definitely work, but for the most part, it’s refreshing. It’s fun seeing the world through their eyes.
James: This is a dirt park, so obviously you’re not out here showing them how to do gates and stuff. What are you teaching them?
These kids are really at the beginner level. They’re coming out here with bikes from Target and Wal Mart, so a lot of it is bike set up. They’re swapping around after they come off of a jump because their bars are too far forward or their tires don’t have enough air pressure. And the shitty brakes that come on those bikes, they can’t pull the levers in.
So, a lot of it is bike set up, safety, trail maintenance, and trail etiquette. Then just basic stuff like using their elbows and knees to pump through jumps. Trying to get them to be brave enough to roll in and teach them how to pull up on the front of their bikes. Some of the older guys already have a good idea on how to ride a bike; it’s just a matter of coaching them through it. It’s simple stuff, like their feet aren’t on the pedals correctly when they roll in, they’re not leaning back when they roll in or land a jump, or they’re getting squirrelly because they’re going too slow off of a lip.
It’s a lot of stuff that we do as racers that cross over, but it’s kind of funny that I’m not teaching them to go fast. I’m like, “Okay, pull up as hard as you can,” which is something I don’t say to a kid at the BMX track. But the basic fundamentals still need to be there, so there is a lot of crossover.
James: Shout outs. Who do you want to throw some love to?
Shout outs go to my girl, Halé, Darryl Crews at Sonic, Bill Grad at ODI and Kastan, El Marco at Dia Tech –big ups, Greg Romero who’s making it work in AA without a sponsor, Steve Veltman and Darryl Mitchell for being good friends, Joey Licata at Answer, and basically everybody that has shown me love over the years.
Click here for a bike inspection with Jason Richardson