I’m glad to know Chris Myers. He’s an integral part of the BMX scene in San Diego, and knows how to tell a memorable story. A burly rider with a distinct style of his own, Chris received his share of media attention as a dirt jumping and street riding phenom in the early 2000s. I’ve wanted to give readers a look into Chris’s life and his perspective for a while, and all the pieces finally fell into place. Enjoy!
By Paul Covey
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I’ve heard that you go bass fishing with Voelker and Pete Augustin? Is that true?
I haven’t been able to get out with Pete yet. But he’ll come by and we’ll bs about it, you know. And that’s basically the same thing as fishing. (laughter) He’ll tell me about the things he’s working on – the techniques to try at different lakes.
But Voelker, man. He really taught me about fishing. Like, “THIS is how you do it.” Before he got hurt and we both got super busy he’d take me out on his boat and we’d fish, and go bait the local ponds around here. It’s pretty crazy. You know, he’s been doing it for forty years. He’s the one who opened my mind about paying attention to how you fish and not just what you fish.
So it’s technique and not just equipment?
Oh ya. Definitely. I mean, you can be the dude that goes out there and buys a $1,000 dollar set-up, but if you don’t know how to fish with a worm, you aren’t going to get a bite. I guess it’s kind of similar to riding in that sense.
It’s 50/50. It’s 50 percent luck; 50 percent knowing how to do it. Honestly, it’s probably more like 90 percent luck, but, let’s just say it’s 50 so I make myself feel like I know what I’m doing. (laughter)
What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a lure?
Oh my gosh. (laughter)
If you want to say, it’s cool. You don’t have to.
I shouldn’t. My wife will read this and lose it. I’ve wanted to spend a lot. But, the most is $150 bucks. That was getting a deal on a used $300 lure.
If you could go back, would you try to be a pro bmxer or a pro bass fisherman?
Pro BMX rider. Because that that was my passion. It’s funny. BMX is still my passion but, you know, I’m older, so I’m more chill these days. I don’t even want to be a pro bass fisherman. I just want to fish. Just have fun with it, you know? But, if anyone out there wants to sponsor me and send me free lures, that’d be sweet. (laughter) I wouldn’t have to spend so much of my paycheck on fishing equipment. (laughter)
How did you first get started in BMX?
My brother bought me a bike when I was six. He bought me a 16 inch white GT Performer. My dad was a roadie, and my older brother went on tour with him for a whole summer. When he came back, he bought me that bike and taught me how to ride. From that point, I just rode all the time. I didn’t really know about BMX until I saw the magazines later, I just rode. As I got older, my brother got me into racing, and that led me to the whole culture around dirt jumping and the freestyle aspect of it. Racing got a little boring, just riding in circles all day. Nothing against racing, but I was just into cruising, building jumps and hopping curbs.
What was your first 20 inch bike?
It’s funny because my race bike was a Dyno VFR with a gyro on it. I got it for $200 from a local shop. I raced with the gyro, a number plate, and full pads.
Photo: Travis Gardner
Who did you look up to when you first started?
Well, to be honest, back then it was probably someone like Todd Lyons or maybe Shaun Butler.
Was that because they raced and jumped?
Yeah, I always thought that was sick. A lot of the S&M dudes back then raced and entered the jumping contests. Later I was super stoked on Troy McMurray and the Gonz for a while.
How would you say the San Diego BMX scene has changed since you were younger?
Just like now, it was a good scene. There were tons of people that rode, and we would all meet up and just ride, but we didn’t really care about much else.
So, no filming or photos?
No filming, no photos. Just show up, and basically if you weren’t there, you were missing out. Not like today, where if you don’t get a clip filmed, you’re kind of the odd man out. As long as you showed up, then that was it. You were considered good at riding if you were having fun. We were just meeting up and riding every day. And then my scene kind of died off. I should say that there were, and still are, several crews and different groups in San Diego. One of those scenes, my scene, slowed down for a little bit. There was only one other kid, Grant Teal, and he and I just built jumps, and rode and went to contests. That’s all we did. When he got out of BMX, I met up with Mike Grosse and a new scene started to develop.
Were you street riding or dirt jumping?
We rode everything. We just rode. It didn’t matter.
Photo: Scott Papiro // RIDE UK
You mentioned some riders that influenced you, but who did you like to watch later on?
I’ve been all over the place with being influenced by other riders. But to imitate anybody…there are a lot of pros you look up to, but of all the dudes I think I was trying to emulate, it would be Mike Grosse. Mike Grosse shreds. Just watching him, he rode everything. He rode dirt, pools, street, vert…he tore it up. And just looking back on it, that’s how I wanted to ride. And as far as the bigger name pros from when I was younger, I was psyched on Garrett Byrnes. All the pros were so amazing to me. Joe Rich, Ruben, Mike Aitken of course. That’s when the slammed seat came around with everybody…made more sense than having a high seat. (At this point Chris’s phone rings) It’s John Stafford. Sorry Little John. I’ll call ya back . . . What were we talking about?
Your riding influences.
So ya, Kevin Porter was fun to watch because he was doing stuff that nobody else was. Paul Buchanan. I was so stoked on Paul Buchanan. He was so good and he didn’t care about being in the spotlight or anything. I still google that Terrible One commercial where he does a bunnyhop-whip down a curb and that crankarm slide down the red rail. He had a raw style. There’s so many more. Gary Young is so rad and always has been. All the locals in San Diego.
Who do you like to watch in 2016?
There are so many. Matt Roe tears it up. He doesn’t have to do any tricks, and that’s really cool. For street, I like to watch Jeremiah Miller, hands down. He’s a local, and I could watch him ride all day. He’s sick. Gary Young. Dennis and Garrett, of course. For flatland I like to watch Henry Davis when I get to. He’s so good and doesn’t even know it. He shreds. Honestly, I get psyched on being at the bike shop and simply watching the kids out front learning stuff in the parking lot rather than watching new videos of all the top pro riders.
Photo: Mark Losey // RIDE BMX
What’s your favorite trick?
If you were going to answer that, I’m sure you’d say supermans. Which, they were fun, but, turndowns. Because they took me the longest time to learn.
You really have to work for turndowns.
Exactly. It took me forever to learn turndowns, because probably like most people, when you first learn them, you kick-out the wrong way in the beginning. Just learning the bike control, kicking out the proper way, clicking the bars in, and getting it dialed took a long time. Tailwhips took me a month to learn. I even learned flips onto the resi first try. But turndowns…It was a solid year of just trying them every day. Just getting them good; getting them clicked. Turndowns would be my favorite.
That’s rad! What is your favorite trick to see done? Like when you’re out at a session and someone does a trick, and you’re like, “that’s dope!! I wanna do that.”
Nowadays, it’s just airing; just a sick, fat air with nothing in it. (laughter)
Just going big?
Ya. Just a solid blast. On street, crankarm slides look sick. Those are cool. Anything with no pegs is bad-ass. Long nose manuals are fun to watch too. Everybody does them, so they’re all over the place. They’re fun.
Photo: Travis Gardner
What did it feel like to have a signature frame from Dirt Bros?
It was cool. We just made it pretty basic. It was supposed to be the trail / light-street /ramp frame. So we used thinner walled tubing. I wasn’t really hard on bikes. Every now and then I’d twist a back end from eating it or doing tailwhips, or over-rotating. But anyway, it was cool to see that it came out essentially just how I had designed it. Most signature frames are basically the same thing, but just having my own geometry, (and that was the only geometry it came in), and having it be so light. It was pretty cool.
Do you still have one?
Ya, I think there might be one in our shed somewhere, I don’t know.
Tell me the story about your car catching on fire.
Okay, so we’re coming home from a little get-together. Shawn McPartland, Hoang Tran, and my wife, Stephanie, are all in the car with me. We were dropping off another dude, and I wasn’t driving, because I’m responsible. (laughter) So we’re at a stoplight. And of course, there’s a 7-11 there on the corner- just to give you guys an idea of the scenario. And for whatever reason, I glanced at the hood of the car and I noticed that it was smoking. Then, I saw small flames at the bend of the hood. I yelled, “Get the f*%K out of the car!” (we hopped out) And literally, not even a minute later, the whole inside of the car was engulfed in flames. It was wild!
And, I was bummed because that was our only car. That was our first set of wheels, you know. First this dude in the parking lot of 7-11 gives us this fire extinguisher that’s like 6 inches tall, and I spray it once, and it was like, “pffhhh_”. One little spray; then it ran out. So I was like f%#K. I ran in to the 7-11 and got a Big Gulp cup and started throwing water on it. Well, that didn’t’ f@#king work. So as the car is on fire, the tires blow out and the f%*king trunk flies open. My wife was coaching my son’s soccer team at the time, and she’s like, “the soccer equipment!” So, I f*%king ran over there while the car was burning up, grabbing up the soccer equipment from the trunk. And I got it all, you know. But I lost a lot of good CDs in that fire. (laughter) I’m just happy we didn’t get burnt to death. Hoang actually got it on video, because he had his video camera with him for some reason.
Do you know what caused it?
Gas leak I think. The car had smelled like gas for a couple of weeks. (laughter)
What is the best advice you have ever received?
You’ve got to sell out to eat out.
That’s a good one. I hear that a bunch.
(laughter) Victor Murphy. I don’t live it too often, because I’m definitely not eating out at fancy restaurants. (laughter) That, and don’t eat yellow snow. That’s a good one, too. (laughter)
Talk about doing school shows with Vic and Jimmy Worobec.
Oh man, that was the tour when Jimmy ate it riding, then he got mad at Vic, and then he tried to fight me. I don’t know exactly how that worked out. I was seventeen, and I had only left school temporarily to go do these shows. But, for whatever reason, they gave Jimmy the microphone, and as he’s introducing the riders he said: “Give it up for Chris! He dropped out of school to become a professional bike rider! He’s going to be doing some big stunts for you today and yada yada yada…” The principal and the teachers were NOT psyched on that. They were super-pissed off, because they are trying to keep these kids in school. (laughter) So they were pretty bummed on that. And the thing funny thing was, I didn’t drop out of school. My dad was like: “Hey, go ride your bike and school will be there when you get back. Bike riding sure isn’t going to be!” (laughter) And, that is real talk. That’s truth. I ride my bike now, but it’s for fun. Traveling and having fun, doing shows, getting to see all new skateparks, and meet new people. That was fun. But am I going to do that again? Probably not. I can go to school tomorrow if I want to. (laughter)
Was being a pro-bmxer everything you thought it would be?
I don’t think I ever really had a pro-bmx career to be honest. (laughter) I was in the magazines a few times and had some video stuff, but I think the last riding trip I took was in 2004. That was with Morgan Wade, Gary Young, Brandon Turner, Ryan Fudger, Adam Watkins, and Robin Fenlon.
Was this the Oregon trip in RIDE?
Ya. We were going to the Metro Jam in Vancouver. So we drove up from San Diego to Canada. The whole way we camped in vacant parking lots and baseball fields where the sprinklers come on at two in the morning. (laughter) We stayed at Park N’ Rides. I’m gonna get off subject. But during that trip, we camped at this Park N’ Ride, and we were sleeping under the bike rack. It was in Oregon, so there are these gigantic, huge trees surrounding the camp. We woke up in the middle of the night and there were dozens of firefighters all around us sleeping. A giant wildfire had started somehow during the middle of the night while we were asleep. So we had to detour and go somewhere else. But, that was probably the last trip I took. 2004. I may have done some other stuff after that, but I’ve forgotten if I did.
Photo: Ryan Fudger // RideBMX
How do you pay the bills these days?
Same way I did back then. Work. I work full-time for the city that I live in, and part-time at a bike shop. East County BMX.
What would you like to see more of in BMX?
That’s a tough one. Just companies supporting riders that are supporting them. I know there is little to go around, and that’s not the company’s fault. BMX has always been like that. It’s just crazy to see some company give a kid a set of wheels and the kid is out there nearly breaking his neck to represent the brand.
January 2016 // Photo: Paul Covey
Here is your opportunity to say thanks to anyone.
I’d like to thank my wife Stephanie, my brother, Henry, everybody else that’s alive. Everybody has influenced me in some way even if they are a jerk. You’ve influenced me to be a better person if you are a jerk, and if I come off like a jerk, I’m sorry. Thank you, Paul and Snakebite for doing this.
Absolutely! What advice would you give to someone just starting out riding BMX?
Don’t look at any of the magazines or web videos for at least a year, until you really get into it. It just feels more natural doing it that way. This is all personal opinion, but if you just get on your bike and you just go ride, then you’re not molding yourself around someone else that you are watching. You develop your own style and you learn the basics instead of buying 4 pegs, a freecoaster, and all that other stuff in an attempt to imitate somebody else before you even really know how to ride your bike. Have fun. There we go. That’s easy. Have fun.