Fri, Apr 13 2012 4:00 am |
Whether it’s the charm, the skills, the attitude, or whatever it may be, there are a certain amount of individuals in this world that seem to just “have it.” From an outsider’s point of view, Brian Kachinsky could easily be described as one of these people. He’s got amazing video sections, is always a podium contender on the contest side of street riding, is always spot on when the camera is in his face, and can attract all of the attention in a room with fascinating stories of world travel and unique experiences that few have lived. Does it sound to you like this dude has it? It sounds to me like he does…
In the world of BMX, Brian is a sponsor’s dream. Big moves, an even bigger personality, and a motivation level that few fellow professionals possess. He has it going on–but it wasn’t just given to him, it was built from the ground up. Raised in a Midwestern household with two hardworking parents in Neenah, Wisconsin, his attitude is reflective of his parents and the stereotype of the region. Hard work, perseverance, and a friendly demeanor are three things that have molded Brian since his upbringing and it’s very easy to see once getting to know him on a personal level. Brian doesn’t “just have it.” He built it–but he’s also quick to give credit to those around him for their help.
While many of his contemporaries are enjoying the spoils of what is essentially a professional athlete’s lifestyle, Brian is out there in the trenches making things happen. He treats each day of life as a constant learning and building experience, and certainly gives in much more than he takes out. Now well over the four month mark with light at the end of the ACL recovery tunnel, I hit up Brian to talk about his work with kids, the doors BMX has opened that wouldn’t otherwise be there, and how he has both influenced BMX and more importantly, how he uses BMX to influence others in a most positive way.
We started our conversation off with the usual jokes and pleasantries, when Brian informs me of a time constraint on our chat. “We only have around 25, 30 minutes. Is that cool?” he asks. “I’ve got to hop in the shower and head to Children’s Memorial Hospital to talk with the kids today.” With that prompt, I hopped right into the questioning.
Intro and interview by Andrew Brady
Photos as credited
How did you end up getting involved with Children’s Memorial Hospital?
I have a friend who works there and I said, “Hey, if any of them are into action sports at all, let me know and I could stop by and visit.” She said a bunch of them are, so she put me in touch with the coordinator and we worked it out. So yeah, it will be a fun.
You do these sorts of things on a regular basis, correct? What drives you to go the extra step and do philanthropy work like this?
I’ve always been into giving back and I’ve done stuff with the Boys and Girls club of Chicago and we did the LA Mission event in Los Angeles last weekend for etnies. etnies gave away 2000 pairs of shoes and 3000 meals to the homeless and that was pretty amazing. What I’m doing today is going to the Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago and hosting their bingo contest. I have a bunch of little giveaways and I’m basically going to hang out with them, because doing stuff like that is always good.
If you want to look at it from a humanitarian level, I’ve gone to Iraq and Qatar and Kuwait to support the troops…so between the troops and the kids and the homeless, it’s always a rewarding experience. I just think it’s kind of ironic because BMXers and action sports in general have a stigma still, of being, “take, take, take” and not giving back to society and I think it’s cool to show that some of us do care and that there are good things you can do with this [BMX]. I think that as BMX and all that stuff grows, so does the opportunity grow to positively affect people’s lives. As things like BMX grow, more people are aware of it and more people are inspired by it. I can remember to when I was a young kid and I was at an age where basically, I didn’t want to listen to anyone. I didn’t want to listen to teachers, I didn’t want to listen to my parents, and I think that as a pro BMXer, I have a unique opportunity where I can reach these kids and just convey a positive message…convey a positive message to kids that are at an age where they don’t want to listen to positive messages from anyone. it’s a cool opportunity to sort of affect those people’s lives at a point when they definitely need it.
Whenever I’ve been with you at a spot and gotten the boot, you’re quick to try and civilly talk and reason with the authority figure, whether it’s a cop, a security guard, whomever it may be. What do you attempt to accomplish by doing this? What are your best and worst experiences trying to change a mind at a spot?
The worst experience…I think about BMX and where it’s taken me, it’s taken me to some amazing places. I’ve been to exotic islands, Sadaam’s Palace, I’ve been all over the world, basically been to the most beautiful and the most grimy places on Earth and everywhere in between. I think it’s always a unique experience no matter what way you slice it. One particularly horrible experience I’ve had was a few years back with Dave Leep on this campus just south of Chicago. We got arrested, basically for doing a wallride and booked for a felony for criminal destruction of property.
What we were doing wasn’t “right,” but they really threw the book at us and really tried to make an example of us. What really bums me out is that I did end up getting convicted. Not for a felony, but for a Class A Misdemeanor, which is a very high-end misdemeanor. Now, when any police officer runs my license, it shows up as “Oh, Brian Kachinsky, criminal destruction of property” and it’s unfortunate because “criminal destruction of property” isn’t what really happened. The property was temporarily defaced and what I mean by that, is that the rainwater washed it off over the course of the next couple of weeks. It was thousands of dollars in costs on behalf of myself and Dave, in addition to being booked into county jail, which involved being shackled, being completely strip searched, being booked with limited food and really no say. So during that process, I lost faith in the legal system.
Best experience would have to be…this has actually happened a number of times. Basically, the best experiences are when you don’t freak out and you just explain to them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and sort of put it in perspective. In that situation, they kind of walk up to you, expecting you to be some punk kid, and you’re actually a legitimate adult, and they think different. But I think whether you’re a young kid, a teenager or someone my age, you should always be respectful. They might not always be respectful back, but I think that that point, you just need to swallow your pride and be as kind and respectful as possible. Listen to them, and then try and articulate your point of view. And I think a lot of the times, if you ask nicely, and tell them that you’re trying to do something active and productive, that sometimes they’ll even let you stay. I’ve even had cops say, “Hey, I’m on my daily rounds, and I’ll be back in two hours. Be gone by then.” It’s nice when you get a “get out of jail free” card. You just never know. Also, you need to think that other riders are going to come to that spot and want to ride it as well. If you are cool to them they might be a little more cool the next time around.
Give us a quick update where you are with your knee.
I basically have a brand new knee now, which feels amazing and I’ve been working hard with my doctor and physical therapist to bring it back up to speed and the progress has been amazing. I’ve actually starting pedaling around already and getting back into it. With injuries like this and with any injury I listen to my doctor and my body and I really try to not get too ahead of myself. I feel like a lobster with rubber bands on his claws not being able to ride full speed, but that’s right around the corner. My doctor said my knee has been doing amazing and I basically want to make sure that I don’t have to go through this again and I that I take the proper steps to heal. You know, an extra week or two now could mean years and years of health later. It’s one of those situations where you need to be patient, but you also need to work hard. I can basically sprint full speed, I can run up and down stairs, I can jump down stairs and all that stuff, so I’m pretty much ready to go and I know once I’m back on my bike it’ll almost be like a new beginning. I think I’ll actually come back even stronger since I’ve had a bad knee for the past three, four, five years. So I basically have a new beginning. Along with that, my hunger to ride is more than ever because I have been off my bike.
Can you give us a quick run down of what’s happening at The Bakery in early May?
The Bakery contest is going to be amazing. It’s the vitaminwater™ Chad Kerley Invitational. A lot of the details are still being worked out and are being solidified now, so I can’t speak too much about it. I can tell you that there will be a lot of information dropping in the upcoming weeks on RideBMX.com and that if everything goes as planned, it’s going to be one of the best events of 2012, so I’m really excited to be a part of it.
You’ve helped push a lot of handrail moves in the past…
I think street riding is in an interesting spot right now, where its being pushed in all directions and I think in regards to handrails especially, it’s being pushed so far and getting so technical that it kind of reminds me of what Dave Freimuth did with sub box and sub rail riding. He took really tech, simple moves and brought them to bigger stuff and I see that happening now. In addition to that, the smaller, flat ledge tech style of street riding is still being pushed. It’s been going on for decades now and its still going because it’s so limitless.
I think for myself, a lot of my ideas just depend on the ideal setup. Once you find that ideal setup, then it’s time to fire it out. There are definitely a few ideas that I’ve had for a few years to get the right setup for. I think I’ve actually found a couple, but I need to seek them out in person, so that’s always kind of exciting. The right setup in addition to the right time and place usually make things happen, so I’m really excited for what this summer has to bring.
While watching the Simple Session from this year I noticed a lot of nollie moves onto legitimate sized rails and ledges. You were certainly holding the torch for the trick by yourself for a number of years, and it wasn’t until Corey Martinez and Nathan Williams starting getting into them that it really took off and became more commonplace. What’s it like seeing this sort of explosion and where did you get your ideas on them from?
I think nothing is more flattering than when someone does something that you’re into and you see people start to do it. When I first started doing it, I knew it was fun and I knew it was challenging, but I never asked so see if people thought it was cool or not. It was was fun, challenging, thrilling and something different, so it was just taking stuff in a different direction. It’s awesome to see people pushing it. You know, Nathan and Corey, Alex Kennedy, guys like that…even Garrett Reynolds has been doing some (nollie) stuff recently. So I know that people will do their own twist on it and that’s awesome to see. But at the same time when you look at Corey, Garrett, Nathan, AK…you can’t forget where I got influence from, which was Butcher and Luc-E back in the day, where they’d do some nollie stuff onto ledges. I never saw them take it to rails, but just the fact that they took it to ledges is where I got influenced and where I got my ideas. Those guys definitely paved the way back in the day, and just like anything in BMX, it just keeps getting pushed further and further.
You don’t have a hard-line approach to street spots and street riding, but you do have respect for the art of spot finding. You both crawl the streets of Chicago as well as take trips to the middle of nowhere to find spots and unique setups. However, you’re no stranger to destination spots in places like California and Barcelona. What are your thoughts and feelings on finding your own setups and taking your moves to them, rather than just being driven around to spots to do a banger and make a splash?
The beauty of street riding is that you can really do it everywhere. And while I love to go to destination spots…you know, Cali spots…I’ve gone to Hollywood High, I’ve gone to El Toro, you know, specifically for those things. I’ve gone to Barcelona, I’ve gone to a lot of the sort of famous street destinations, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. However, I’d really like to encourage other riders to think outside the box because there are so many places that are in lesser travelled cities that have good stuff to ride. That’s one of my passions and motivators, setups and new spots. I think just searching for new spots and finding spots is just as fun as riding it. It’s all about the search and seeking it out. I have taken some really random trips and usually they come up successful–there are so many places in the US that haven’t been touched by BMXers. And even if they have been a little bit, everyone rides different and everyone thinks different. So I think there’s just so much to be explored, and you don’t need to just go to these famous spots that have just been beaten down again and again and again and just try to one up everyone.
Now granted, there is a progression factor and even I don’t care if I get one upped. I think that’s just part of progression and what happens. There’s so many different places…last year, you, Tony Neyer, and I took a random trip up to the UP. And the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is something that’s not highly traveled by BMXers or highly traveled by humans in general; it’s pretty remote. There are cities up there that I remembered from when I was a kid that are completely on a hill. I’ve been to the UP of Michigan; I’ve been to Duluth, Minnesota…place in Indiana, Michigan, remote parts of Illinois and even cities in Wisconsin that are completely unexplored. I understand people choosing to go somewhere that they’re guaranteed to find something amazing, but I think really, if your riding is diverse enough and you’re willing to search you’ll find good stuff. It takes time and it’s frustrating and there are days where you don’t find anything, but nothing beats that feeling when you find something amazing that no one has ever seen. That’s a total passion and motivator for me.
You turned 30 this year. What still gives you that feeling that keeps you motivated this deep in the BMX game?
I’m still motivated by the same things. I’m motivated by learning new tricks…you know, there’s always that one. I’m motivated that riding keeps changing and evolving…I’ve changed my riding. You’ve seen me go from two pegs and front brakes to four pegs and no brakes. And all of that stuff, as long as you keep changing and evolving personally, it keeps it fun. For me, personally, I’ve just developed so many great friends. I love traveling with the whole DK team, the whole etnies team…in addition to all of the other foreign friends I’ve met around the world. I love to go hang out with them, go check out their spots, go check out their food…so all of that stuff keeps me motivated and keeps me doing. It’s my recipe for motivation and progression.
Thanks to my parents, sponsors and friends. All three who have helped me through some times the past year and stuck with me through this injury and changes in my life. Anyone who has lent me a helping hand or stuck with me…I’m just thankful to have such amazing friends and sponsors and family who help me out and allow me to live my dream. Also, thanks to all my friends around the world who have been amazing and supportive and let me have a lot of fun and live my dream. Oh yeah, also, thanks to everyone who follows me on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook. You all make me laugh and smile on a daily basis. Thanks!
TAGS: Brian Kachinsky, exploring, influence, philanthropy work, searching, street, The Friday Interview