Photo: Nathan Sykes
I’ve been seeing stuff of Randy destroying just about any type of terrain his bike touches in the last year on instagram. From riding dirt to vert and riding at a high level since the 80’s we talked with him about riding for Visage bikes in the 80’s to working in the motocross industry. Click the link to see whats helped keep him going for so long!
Interview By Keith Treanor
Name: Randy Lawrence
Hookups: Haro bikes, Intense cycles, Fox, Vans, Colony, Locals Only, Bell Helmets, Ethika, Mainline Coffee, Ryno Power and Scorpion Bike Stands.
When did you start competing?
At 17 years old. My first contest was the 84′ AFA KOS at Del Mar Skate Ranch. I rode the 4 comp series and won the points title in 17 over Novice. Xavier Mendez finished 2nd. We still ride together today. The contests back then we’re unreal. Not only did I compete at KOS I started competing in Flatland comps in 85. AFA Masters (velodrome) Super Soco comps around So Cal. There were comps on Main St. And PCH in HB. The scene was amazing then. It seemed like everyone was into Freestyle. There were 90+ riders in just my class at the Velodrome comps. Going back to then the jams at the HB Pier, Jeff Cotters house in Long Beach, The Spot in Redondo were a who’s who in the world of freestyle. Way to many riders to name. The teams were big and Bob Morales at the AFA created this industry that seemed to take off and no one thought it would end. You could go to GT shows, BMXA shows, Haro shows, Kuwahara shows. It was nation wide. I’m always trying to think of ways to get the sport back to what it was then. The tricks were being created daily and progression was crazy. All in all my life would not be what it is today without that time period in my life. To be born after this time period of BMX Freestyle I feel your missing something. Not to say BMX in the 90’s wasn’t great and definitely took a big turn. Just being there when flatland went from balance to scuff to roll ramps went from notchy 6ft to big half pipes like the Enchanted Ramp, Wizard Publications TOL ramp, and the tricks went from one footers to no foot can cans, no handers, 540’s, 900’s huge Fakie airs. I could go on and on.
I first got hooked up with Vision Street Wear. Mike Sarrail introduced me to Jeff Bottema. You might remember Bottema forks. He was the team manager for Vision. And we wore it all. Head to toe. Including berets and fanny packs. I still have one of the fanny Packs. (No I don’t wear it). After a contest I was approached by the team manager for Visage. A Taiwanese company wanting to be bigger in the US. They sponsored a couple different guys and asked me to be on their team. Of course I was stoked. Getting free bikes some travel money, photo contingencies, Etc. Co-sponsors for the team were Shoei helmets and Reebok clothing and shoes. Although I still rode in my Vision Street Wear.
Visage was into it. They made me special parts so my bikes stayed together. They based their high end bike off the Redline RL 20 II. Which was the bike I rode before getting hooked up with Visage. This was at a time that was the beginning of the end. There were still comps and jams and all that but teams were pulling back and the sport was slowly sinking. Until it almost seemed like overnight there was no sport left. Teams like Visage evaporated. The steady flow of Vision Street Wear went away. I still rode, just the comp side kinda died down for me. Street was growing and flatland was slowing down so I spent as much or more time finding wall rides and more street like stuff to ride as much as i rode flatland.
The Rolaid (rolling decade)?
I was at a contest in HB and I don’t remember if I saw someone do it in their run, or if it was the buzz around the comp, I think someone from Florida was doing it. So after the comp we were riding under the pier as usual and I wanted to try it. With in about 10-15 min I had it pretty dialed. For whatever reason it came pretty easy to me. Next thing you know im at HI Torque Publications with Mike Sarrail and I was shooting the How-To for the next issue of American Freestyler. I ended up with a cover shot, a full page color photo and the How-To. I still have the magazine.
What is your motocross background?
I grew up riding and racing dirt bikes. I switched over to BMX freestyle in 83. In 1990 I worked with my brother Phil when he turned pro. The next year I was traveling the country driving a box van working for team Yamaha rider Doug Dubach.
Through the 90’s skatepark were gone and flatland wasn’t really doing much. Although Matt with his BS comps were doing all they could to keep things going. No one had the money to go everywhere. So when I could I was riding dirt and street. So much went on on the early 90’s for me. I became a professional mechanic for team Yamaha. I was driving all over the country to races and still carried my S&M dirt bike around. I was riding Sheep Hills, Dover, Twin Palms, Mission Gorge, Mo Val Skatepark, anywhere that people were riding and keeping the dream alive.
I remember getting ready to travel to the races and asked Keith Treanor if he wanted to go with me for 3 months. Of course he went. We traveled and stopped and rode street when we could and we based our selves in Virginia and ended up building a 9ft tall 24 ft. Wide half pipe for the kid we were staying with. We were in our 20’s and had a passion for BMX that wouldn’t stop.
Back here at home I met up with Heath Pinter. He was still in high school and I was older married and had a house. But BMX was our common thread. We began to be good friends and ride together all the time.
I continued as a mechanic through 95′ then decided I wanted to race downhill mountain bikes. I got lucky and hooked up with Intense Cycles and Shaun Palmer and we took off to the races. I still rode my 20″ at trails and street. So for the next couple years it was a dream. Riding bikes a over the world. Riding BMX and filming movies like Moto XXX and Crusty Demons of Dirt. But again I was at a cross roads with an opportunity to work as mechanic for Jeremy McGrath or continue riding MTB’s. I chose to get back to work. I had a 3 yr old at the time and needed the steady income. Next thing I know I’m working with Jeremy he loves riding BMX so we’re riding a lot and winning SX race and titles. And he’s not riding outdoors so I made some calls and got back in with Intense and went off to ride Downhill nationals and World Cup events. And of course still riding BMX bikes.
Then I hit a wall. Divorce, 4 yr old. Not working with Jeremy anymore missed the 2000 Downhill season because of shoulder surgery. So I had to make something happen. This was a rough time for me as I went through a divorce and Jeremy made the decision to hire back his old mechanic Skip Norfolk. This left a big question mark for me. Seeing the lack of loyaly in the industry was am eye opener. After 3 titles and 25 wins a phone call was all it took to be replaced. I wanted out of Moto. I went to work construction with my dad. I didn’t like it. Then Brian Blyther call me and want me to fill in for a GT show. I jumped in my car and took off. Did the show. Had fun rode well and was asked if I’d do more shows. So I started mechanicing out of Heath Pinters garage and doing shows for GT. I didn’t do many but I was still riding quite a bit.
At the end of 2001 I was asked to take a job at Kawasaki to work with Ezra Lusk. This was way more than a full time job and I had my daughter full time. So basically 2002-2005 BMX was non existent for me. In 2004 Heath was pissed that I wasn’t riding anymore so he built me a bike and said come ride. By the time I did ride I had to put new tires on they we’re dry rotted. So I went to Heaths Trails in Riverside. I hadn’t ridden in a very long time and he takes me to these ridiculous trails. I was stoked to get through one line and I was hooked again. Early in 05 I left Kawisaki and started training riders. I was training a lot with my riders and getting in good shape. I was riding BMX a lot more and really having a lot of fun.
Fast forward to now and I now have a son Ryder, he 7 years old and riding with the same passion I have. We’re riding with current toP pros, riding trails that arebigger than I ever thought I would be to ride, still progressing my riding and watching my son progress daily. We ride everywhere, park or dirt. We’re currently working on our new compound that consists of a foam pit, resi-mats, mini ramps, spines, trails, pump track, etc. We’re gettin a lot of support from some great companies that I have mentioned and at 47 I still have more that I want to do on my 20″ bike.
Photo: Nathan Sykes
What it means to still be riding BMX.
The fact that At 47 yrs old and I can still ride BMX at the level I do is really a blessing. BMX has been a passion of mine since I can remember. To have had the chance to start riding freestyle as it became a sport is something that I couldn’t imagine. There was so much going on then and it seemed like it was all anyone was doing. Then as the sport died and it was a core group of riders that did all they could to keep it alive. That’s when you made the choice that it was something you were going to do no matter what. You knew at that point it was in your blood and you were going to ride and risk whatever injurys came with it. With the sport changing to rider owned companies there was no money involved. And it seemed like every contest everyone’s last run was to just send it and hope to pull something off. It was an amazing and progressive time for BMX. Then came the X Games. Now BMX had a stage and mainstream people started seeing what adults were able to do on kids bikes. We started to get our sport back. Although it seemed like we were lost in what we wanted in bikes. From the feeble Taiwanese made bikes of the 80’s and early 90’s rider owned companies started making bikes strong. With strong came heavy. We convinced ourselves that 35-38lbs bikes were good for momentum. Haha, looking back now they were terrible. Long rear ends. Tiny bars. Huge axels, etc. The sport continued to progress and riders and rider owned companies evolved with the bikes. Through the late 90’s early 2000’s and on and on. I have been blessed enough to ride in every era of BMX. From pre 1980 till 2015.
Photo: Nathan Sykes
The fact that I still have as much of a passion for riding my 20′ bike as I did in 1983 is to some maybe odd. But to me it’s my life. Is a part of me that won’t leave. And now with my son who just before he turned 2 had already rolled into a small wedge at a concrete park. Has increased my passion for this amazing sport. Over the past couple years with Ryder now 7 yrs old and seeing the support and welcome he’s getting from my sport is incredible. We have became very close with some of the industries top pros as well as a huge amount of current as well as legendary riders. I have help in the planning and building of the FOD trails out here in Menifee where we can have 10-20 rider session on any given day with a who’s who list of the best riders. I have been invited to Woodward west Old school jam for the past couple years and being invited to ride the KOS masters demo at the HB OP Pro Van Doren invitational. Is nothing short of an incredible honor. FYI: rolling into the US Open bowl with my son Ryder is a feeling that I don’t think words can describe. We are 40 years apart and we are sharing the same passion. At this time we are currently building a riding facility for Ryder and a few of the local pros around here Joey and Matt Cordova, Nathan Sykes and Larry Edgar. Our plan is to have jams and just have a spot where Ryder can progress and we can enjoy riding our BMX bikes for who knows how many more years. I hope you enjoyed the stories and the pictures from my life over the past 30 some years.
Trust me if it’s in my power you’ll see me on a BMX bike for another 40 years. I’m still motivated to learn and progress. Not for sponsors or money but for Myself and the feeling I get when I push myself and reach another level. So have fun and don’t let age or others attitudes toward BMX make you stop.