Grow Up, Sunday – Ride Magazine Issue 218

Photos By: Walter Pieringer

If anyone’s ever told you to grow up, they probably weren’t being very nice, and you probably didn’t want to hear it. When I think of grown ups, I think of unhappy middle-aged men in cheap suits, chained to a desk and a mortgage, trying to forget crushed dreams and a life they never wanted but had to settle for. Strangely, I’m pretty sure that’s who the people telling you to grow up are thinking of, too, and I don’t know why anyone would wish that upon anyone. Misery loves company, I guess.

Still, take it from a 35-year-old, there are a lot of awesome things about growing up. New privileges like driving and getting into bars and freedom from parental control open up whole new worlds of excitement and opportunity. But really, the coolest part about growing up is you get better at things. As Erik wisely puts it in his story on the following page, “We can always become better versions of ourselves.”

Over the summer of 2015, I drove the Sunday Sprinter van from Texas to California to Cape Cod, back to California and then back to Texas, transporting Sunday team riders in different phases across the country on a mission to film for Grow Up. It was a grueling schedule of riding and driving and riding and driving. The dudes were beat to shit; exhausted from weeks on the road, killing themselves on their bikes every day, and sleeping in a different hotel room almost every night. And they were just down. They were down for every bit of it, whatever it took to make our video everything it could be.

It’s rare I find someone as dedicated to a project as I am, and for an entire team—10 guys!—to be ready and willing to pour their hearts into this thing has got to be some kind of minor miracle. Their incredible devotion to what we’ve all been working toward has been the absolutely most rewarding part of making Grow Up.

These guys are passionate about bike riding and passionate about life itself, excited to travel and experience the world, care deeply for their friends and teammates, and are endlessly appreciative of the opportunities they’ve made for themselves. They put in untold amounts of effort to make this video as kickass as it possibly could be. They’re following their dreams, and they’re succeeding. These characteristics make them outstanding professional bike riders and will continue to benefit them the rest of their lives. The Sunday team will never “grow up,” at least not like the asshole with the condescending tone thinks they should. They’ll continue to grow up in all the right ways, and continue to become better versions of themselves.

Over the past two years we’ve shared countless struggles and heartbreaks, and countless triumphs and celebrations. I asked a lot of these guys, and they all came through with everything they had. I couldn’t wish for a better group of team riders or friends, and I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation for everything they’ve put into this project. —Walter Pieringer, Sunday filmer, photographer, and team manager.

“Taking Selfies With The Stick In My Arm”

Gary Young

Oddly enough, if you Google “Gary Young,” there’s an old, hippy musician dude I share a name with and he has a song called “Plant man.” I never put much thought into that (who would?) until after the Sunday San Francisco trip. The trip started off with beautiful weather and the stoke was high. It was to be the last trip to shoot for the video, and the main goal was to film the video’s intro with a bunch of locals, so it was really important we didn’t get hurt before we made that happen.

Day two of the trip we went to a fun spot that some of the dudes were stoked on, but I didn’t see anything I wanted to film. My plan was to just jib around and get stoked for the crew when they inevitably did some wild things.

The setup that got me was a super chill little four-stair with a four-inch-tall ledge that went up a mellow seven-stair up top. Next to it was a well-manicured set of bushes. I was trying to hop up the four-stair, manual, hop on the ledge, and manual up the ledge going up the seven stair. Literally just entertaining myself. On an early attempt, I got pretty close but ran out of speed during the manual up the ledge. Next try, I gave it a couple of extra cranks, hopped up the four-stair, and was cruising in the manual. Then I tried to hop on the four-inch tall ledge, but since I was going faster, I hopped too late for the baby ledge. By the time I realized I was going to fall, I remember thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen falling into a bush?”

Other than being a little surprised and embarrassed that I ended up in a bush, I was good. I remember making eye contact with Childs who was all laughs at my situation, before noticing that a half-inch stick impaled my forearm. I guess the bushes had just been trimmed, and the shears had left a nicely formed spike that easily went right into me. I still hadn’t realized the severity of it until I tried to get up and discovered I was stuck and noticed the branch was trying to poke out of the other side of my arm five inches away. Luckily, the park maintenance guy hadn’t left yet and he let Walter borrow possibly the same shears that had formed the spike in the first place so he could cut me free.

Like I said, it was early in the trip and the crew was producing, so I didn’t want to ruin the session and have them take me to the hospital. We were miles from the van, anyway. So after Alec was done taking selfies with the stick in my arm, I ordered an Uber to the emergency room…solo. It is worth mentioning that I couldn’t bend my arm at this point, but I also wasn’t bleeding. My driver showed up and didn’t ask any questions about the stick coming out of my arm, but I wasn’t trying to draw attention to it either because I didn’t want to get kicked out of his car… I mean really, would you let a stranger who had a stick protruding from him get in your car?

I made it to the ER and the triage lady asked what I was there for. I pointed to the stick, which scored me a spot at the front of the line. The doctors told me I was going to have emergency surgery and then I got moved to a bed…in a hallway. News about my injury must have been spreading through the hospital like wildfire, because countless doctors and other people who looked like medical professionals stopped by to give their two cents, shoot a photo of the stick in my arm, and leave. After about three hours, a couple of cowboy doctors from upstairs came down and asked what I thought about them just yanking the stick out. Aaron (who showed up about an hour in) and I were bored and getting hungry, so we were down. That sounded a lot better than surgery and days in the hospital.

They wheeled me in to an open room and asked Aaron if he wanted to film it. Aaron quickly fumbled with his phone just in time to catch the cowboy docs yank the branch out with their gloved hands. Once it was out, my range of motion came back instantly. The doctors began cleaning the wound, and quite a bit of dirt and bark came out. Then they explained how I was going to have to pack my wound with gauze twice daily for the next five days. Each day I unpacked the gauze from my arm less and less bark came out. It was, easily, the grossest, most awkward-feeling thing I’ve ever had to do.

Normally after something like that, I would have flown home. But, we hadn’t filmed the intro yet and I didn’t want to miss it. I knew that I would be able to push through the pain, and plus, I had a couple of days to heal before the intro shoot. Filming the intro was definitely painful, but the locals, the concept, and the team all made it an easy choice. Over the next couple of days, my arm healed to the point where I stopped needing to pack it with gauze and it started to feel better. On the sixth day of the trip I went and got my arm checked by a doctor and got good news that it healing properly.  I left that doctor’s office stoked to be able to ride with dudes again. Then, within an hour, I re-broke my foot on a foot-tall ledge…

“Never Fully Grow Up”

By Aaron Ross

My experience with the video has been super awesome and tough all at the same time. Working on two parts for the last two years and trying to stay healthy and make it all happen has been fun and challenging. I’ve basically been on the road the last three years straight. Video projects and the resulting filming trips have always been my favorite part about being sponsored… Getting to see the world and see all the spots around it is a dream come true. It’s an honor to be on the road with some of the best bike riders in the world and watching all of them kill it…some of these kids are going to change BMX. I want to thank everyone involved. Go outside, ride BMX with your best friends, and never fully grow up.

“A Journey Through The Dark Streets Of Mexico”

By Jake Seeley

Of all the things that happened filming for this video, the one moment that still to this day I can’t believe happened was the time I got lost in Mexico City.  It was just another average night where the team would all walk down to the food/shop district and get dinner. After we ate, some of the guys wanted to stay out and experience the nightlife for a bit. I was on the fence, but decided I’d stick around and go out to the bars with Erik and Walter while the rest of the team went home.

Me being as indecisive as I am, I changed my mind last minute and decided I was just going to walk back to our rental apartment. I then started a journey through the dark streets of Mexico City. A few blocks later I started to get a bad feeling about the area I was in. I looked at my phone and realized I had no service. I knew I couldn’t panic, so I remained calm and continued on my search to find a familiar landmark.

A half hour or so went by and I still hadn’t found my way. Soon I came upon a police barracks but remembered what some of the local riders had told me, that the police in Mexico City are crooked and more likely to rob and do harm than a normal civilian. I didn’t have a lot of options, so I said fuck it and took the chance of walking in and asking for help. I slowly approached the group of policemen who were all drinking coffee and talking amongst themselves, and as soon as I asked for help they all replied in Spanish. Of course! So I pulled out my phone and pointed to apartment’s location on my Maps app. One officer took my phone while the rest of them circled around, I guess discussing my best route back home, but I have no idea because it was all in Spanish. The officer handed me my phone back and waved me over to his cruiser.  At this point they were making me feel a lot more comfortable about my situation and felt I could trust them.

I preceded to follow his request to hop in the cruiser, which I hoped was heading to my destination. We ended up having a little bit of a conversation after I showed him a video of me biking. He mentioned Tony Hawk’s name, and at that point I knew I was safe. Once we formed that bond I felt a lot less like I was going to be killed, and soon I was right out front of our apartment. Man that was a trip and a half…happy I’m here now to tell the story!

“So Nice You Could Cry Real Tears.”

By Chris Childs

The beginnings of Grow Up, for me at least, all started in Barcelona. On the last day before flying out, we made a point to seek out this one particular spot/clip I was ready to give a whirl. Much to our dismay the streets were littered with humans and cars parked bumper to bumper blocking the necessary run up, With nothing left on our plates, the squad was ready to wait it out with a hawk’s eye on this one particular car. As soon as the car moved, we all got up hustling to the cameras that had been set up in prep for this one moment! Right before our eyes the parking spot is filled again. Fucking shit, what do we do now? Keep waiting, I guess. Mark tried to speak with the greasy Italian dude who parked there, but he played dumb like he couldn’t sort out that his car was in the way. All we needed was a little bit of space to squeeze through, but this guy was not about to make anyone’s day. Three some odd hours had passed, many cigarettes were smoked, and everyone was still patiently waiting.

Once again, the spot opened up! Man your stations everyone! I grab my bike, run up to the top for a quick scope. The spectators were lining up and peering in, confused as to what all the fuss and commotion is about. It lined up too well, everyone geared up, and we took the plunge. It worked just like I expected it would with a straight shot, and the parking spot was filled yet again moments after. What a relief. A little bit of patience and some good people made the clip what it was…

And then I was home. 

Back in Providence, with the idea of leaving for a trip around the country with hopes of riding our bikes on whatever spot any one of us could get savage on, no matter the spot, wounds, or weather. Flying west to Colorado and linking up for a week with Full Factory’s stacked am team, then on to the rest of our summer driving back east then back out west again. When you’re on the road you don’t realize what you’re missing. Black tar, white lines, illuminated glares of headlights in the pouring rain, and fearing at any moment that the van would tilt the right way and we’d all get water poured in our laps from a pesky leak in the roof AC. When we knew there was rain before taking off we’d tip, shake, and juke the van in a vain attempt to empty the newly added sprinkler system. Once necessary precautions were taken, we could hit the road.

What’s left of the road in this digital age? The blare of an iPhone and all the friends you’re not with fade into the background compared to the vast lands you see in textbooks as a child. I could honestly stare out the window in awe of even the rolling hills, thinking how desolate and vast this world can be outside the hustle and bustle of the cities we love to ride our bikes in, ensuring our insignificance but also humbled by nothing but the road ahead. Towns in shambles, torn to their brutal bareness, scenic views so nice you could cry real tears.

Some of the best stops were the small shanty towns where we would stop for necessary diesel injections to propel us into a sprint across the land. One particular stop I can put my finger on was littered with flies. There was no escaping the swarm of flies as they poured themselves into and all over the van. We had a vacuum system working with the windows to rid the van of these little bastards. What a wild scene at some of these places…

We ventured onward to Mr. Elstran’s homeland to spend a few days on his family’s beautiful campground on the lake where it rained most of the time was a nice break from the road. Swimming and taking the boat out to the island to jump off the cliffs—taking it easy was just what we needed. En route back to the house, Erik, manning the helm, gets up from his post at the steering wheel, runs, and leaps off the back of the boat! So long Erik, thanks for letting us crash! Obviously he had done this before, but Mark thinking quick took the wheel and guided us to get Erik and then back safely to land. It’s quite rare when traveling in a van for an extended period of time to have a home cooked meal, so we all were happy to lend a hand in a family pizza night! 

Once again we were on the road, I can’t tell you which way we roamed and came from at this is point in time. The events described may not be in chronological order, but anyone who’s travelled the country will tell you how easy it is to lose track of what happened where and when and on which leg of a trip.  I’ll gladly lose track of time and space to fulfill dreams had as a kid, hoping one day I’d be able to travel the world riding and filming and being a part off something I’m truly proud of with a group of people I consider family. My thanks and appreciation go out to everyone involved with SundayBikes for making some of my aspirations growing up a reality.

“A Disgrace To My Family”

By Mark Burnett

Filming for this video wasn’t always a walk in the park. My third trip to work on my part was with Gary, Chris, Aaron, and Walter out to the BMX-utopia that is Barcelona. Barca really is all it’s cracked up to be, and the fire was in our eyes for the two weeks we spent on its soil. Jay Roe had been living in Barcelona and mapping the city for months, so a good friend and our tour guide were in place, and we were ready to rock.

Gary and Aaron were busy and flew in a few days late to catch up with us before we’d all wander off to Simple Session together, so the first four days of this 21-day excursion were just myself, Walter, and Chris. Things started off wonderfully. Spots were aplenty, the weather was perfect,and clips were happening. We utilized the city’s public transportation to its fullest by hopping on the metro every day and popping out wherever Jay told us to. It was seriously unbelievable. Every stop looked different and they were scoured with skatepark-esque spots as far as the eye could see. Well, not really, but that’s what it felt like.

Of course, it couldn’t all be perfect because my body decided to disagree with my plans. I came down with a bad cold. It usually wouldn’t be the end of the world, but anyone who has been on a road trip knows that between the infrequent stops for a bite to eat, minimal hours of sleep, and feeling like you got hit by a train because your muscles can’t take ten hours of riding a day know that any illness, no matter how minor, can really make your time on the road unpleasant. But was I just going to sit around the flat all day while Chris battled the streets? No. Pushing through was the only option.

I had hoped that my sickness would clear up in a few days with the help of some vitamins and maybe taking it a little easy. Luckily it did, and after about 72 hours of feeling run down I was back to normal. Or so I thought. Of course, the next morning I woke up and felt just as shitty as before. I was sick again.

Nonetheless, standard procedure proceeded and we continued our hunt for progress. Jay was eager to take Gary to this humongous hubba setup, and before I knew it and before Gary was even in the country, one quick stop on the subway and there we were.

Standing at the top, looking down, all I could think was the spot was amazing. A minor nose bonk onto a hubba literally made entirely out of steel. My ideal width, height, material, grade of decline. Shit, it was perfect. Which is exactly the reason why I didn’t want to touch it. The problem with a spot that good is you almost feel obligated. Like, it would be a disgrace to my family if I didn’t put some pegs on it. I was scared, sick, and cold. I just wrote that line to sound dramatic. But with my trusty L.L. Bean jacket encasing my torso I decided to give it a go. I was nervous, my friends were nervous, but I knew it would work. A couple goes later I rolled away with what I wanted and only a minor hole in my jacket from sliding across a Catalonian sidewalk backwards. Good thing the Bean offers a lifetime warranty (bummer I lost it in Estonia). It turned out to be one of my favorite clips in the video, mainly because of the run up shot in which I shoot a double snot rocket right before my approach to the ledge. But hey, what can I say? I was sick.

“The Spectacle of a Multitude”

By Erik Elstran

“Hey! Sorry can you hold up a minute?” I say, my arm out stretched like a fence, trying to maintain a balance between sounding apologetic yet urgent. I address a Mexican man with his presumed family. I speak in English, but I have no idea if he will be able to understand me. The man stops, looking confused which I don’t blame him for. All I need is a slight pause though. Soon he will hopefully understand.

I stand on top of a staircase as if in a giant stadium, surveying the scene. There is a substantial mob of people gathered at this busy intersection. Busy is an understatement for we are in the heart of Mexico City. Along the street pedestrians, city workers, and shop owners alike pause, all directing their attention to a particular wall and set of stairs. Cameras on tripods are set up pointing towards this wall too. Walter darts back and forth between them. On top of the wall is a narrow walkway where Aaron sits on his bike. Jake is attempting to keep Aaron’s runway clear.

“Okay I’m good!” Walter calls out. Aaron nods and steps onto his bike. I look around. The masses seem to have gotten the cue, too. “You’re clear over here too!” I yell across the square. Jake ushers a small boy to scoot back and with that Aaron pushes off. A few quick cranks and up and over a ledge he hops. He throws the bars gapping past the stairs below the wall and stomps the landing perfectly.

I forget about everything. Everyone is yelling and cheering. I run down the stairs and hug Aaron. Jake joins in, ecstatic. We have just won the Super Bowl. Gravity briefly relinquishes its chokehold on the world and everything feels lighter. It’s the adrenaline-fueled feeling of victory every rider knows and strives for. Suddenly I realize we are still the spectacle of a multitude of baffled Mexicans and have to laugh.

“Sorry again about that,” I say raising my hand towards the man and his family whom I had just stopped. The man manages a half smile towards me and slides through crowd, dragging his family behind. The crowd quickly disperses and we indulge in some nearby celebratory ice cream.

I wonder what that man thought of the whole scene that day. There was a lot of unseen, incomprehensible buildup to that fleeting moment he happened to witness. From an outside perspective, risking your life defying gravity on a little kids’ bikes may seem kind of silly or not worth it. However, it’s not this described feeling of victory or any trick or even the bikes themselves that define BMX. To me, the best thing about BMX is community. There have been countless good times shared, as well as challenges over came throughout the filming of this video and as a result, friendships strengthened. Growing up is a never-ending process because we can always become better versions of ourselves. With that being said, I’m thankful for BMX, Sunday, Walter, and the whole team for helping me grow up, always.

“Fuck It. See You At The Bottom.”

By Brett Silva

When I was asked to write this my first thought was where the frig do I begin. So I guess I’ll start by just saying that riding for Sunday is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I was beyond stoked when Walter asked if I wanted to join the team about a year and half ago. Not only are these some of the best riders in the world, they are some of the best friends a dude could ask for.

There have been so many memorable moments filming for this video, but one really sticks out. As long as I’ve lived in Austin, I’ve been looking at this fence bank hop. With the video reaching an end, I finally gained the courage to go get it. “It’s not possible,” my homie Matt [Nordstrom] said as we were getting out of the van. I felt crazy and the dusty, gravel run up sucked. After a solid 25 minutes of setting up equipment and getting my mind, I took a quick look from the top and just said, “Fuck it. See you at the bottom.” to the homies. I cranked for the gap and went for it. The bike bounced and I hopped off the back. I went back to the top to get it and started gagging because I was nervous as fuck and full of adrenaline. I restarted my song and went for it again… Boom! I hit the bottom and held on! The hype was too real. There is no greater feeling than lacing something you’ve been eyeing up for over a year.

I really want to talk about another crazy experience but there’s too many, I would feel bad leaving something out. A lot of shit has happened in the time we’ve been filming this video. Never a dull moment when the crew is together. All I can do is thank Sunday and Walter and everyone else involved for backing us through all of this. I’m forever grateful for everything the team has done for me. I LOVE YOU GUYS FUCK YA MOTHER FUCKER SUNDAY BIKES GROW UPPPPPPPP! 

Captions: (In Order Of Appearance)

• Huge thank you to Erik for taking charge and practically single-handedly making the doubles section happen. Without his ideas and initiative it never would have become a reality. Huge thank you toJulian Arteaga for agreeing to this, as well

• I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that thing’sa whole lot harder to ride even than it looks. Nobody does it like Gary Young.

• It’s hard to be sure, but there’s a strong possibility this was the most dramatic BMX moment I’ve ever been a part of. Aaron Ross, busy square in Mexico City with a massive crowd that spoke almost exclusively Spanish. The hardest part was clearing the runway (and the landing) for Aaron, because we couldn’t convey to the crowd what was about to happen. Imagine trying to explain to a huge group of strangers—in a foreign language—that your buddy is about jump over a wall on his bicycle. It’s not easy. There was so much going on and so much pressure on Aaron, it’s hard to imagine how he got his wits about him enough to throw the bars over that huge ledge hop. Aaron is a true professional.

• This was without a doubt the quickest I’ve ever seen Jake pull anything. He’s such a perfectionist, it can take him forever to be satisfied with how he lands something. But this… What was it, like fifth try or something? Everyone lost it.

• Oh man, another hectic scene in another Spanish-speaking country. This time we have Chris Childs battling masses of humans both curious and oblivious who speak a language we don’t understand. And once again we triumphed. Chris was patient, and after a three-hour standoff he laced it first go, like it was a casual sidewalk gap, and we were off to Estonia. You really should read Chris’s story, he describes it much better than I ever could.

• This was one of the first things we shot for Grow Up, on the first trip we took for the video back in October 2014. A then 16-year-old Mark Burnett fired out this death-defying G-turn with absolutely no hesitation. In the two years since, his skill and confidence have shot through the roof, and it’s been a real treat to watch him progress at such a borderline-alarming rate.

• By the way, there’s a doubles section in Grow Up.

• Erik wanted to do this gap-in gap-out curved wall on a trip to Austin more than a year ago, and he broke his hand warming up. Last week, just after shooting for Grow Up had officially wrapped, Erik and Chris flew toAustin to help edit the video. It was an insanely fun and productive week. And as a bonus, Erik got his curved wall, and even threw in a bangin’ table for good measure. As a wise man once said, dreams will come alive. This ended up being one of the last couple of clips we shot for the video, and one of my personal favorites.

• Wow, this was such a crazy night. Brett had been sweating this gap for years. The takeoff was gravel, it was dark, cars kept parking in the way, and I had to set up so much gear it was taking ages. At some point Brett’s girl happened to show up too—as if there wasn’t enough pressure on him already. He dominated the gap second go and it was the best thing ever. In Brett’s story he describes the feeling immediately after this moment as “The hype was too real.” I think that about sums it up right there. Man, we really couldn’t be more stoked to have Brett on board, he’s always the most hyped and positive dude, and come on, who does stuff like this?