A few weeks ago we got the word from Dale “Spicy” Holmes that he was calling it quits racing AA/Elite.If you know Dale, then you know he’s got a ton of good stories — he could probably write a book just from the early GT days alone. He was a top guy back when virtually every AA had a sponsor paying near six-figure salaries. And with the exception of maybe Christophe Leveque, Dale’s got more to show for his pro career than anyone else out there (anyone know how many houses Thunder Danny has?) with a dope place in Huntington Beach and two more in Murrieta (did we mention the Mercedes?). We wanted to get a few stories out of him, so we sent him over some questions, and let him write the captions for the 12 photos that we pulled from the archives of him throughout his career in the states. Get ready for some good laughs…

You’re still making AA mains – what made you decide that now was the right time to call it quits?
I feel like it’s a good time to step out while I’m still in the mix…podium from time to time and be a respected AA/Elite rider. I don’t want to be some old guy hanging on. I’ve got some goals in 4x MTB, but with BMX it’s hard to do both at a high level. Next year I will give 4x a full hard season; it caters to guys a bit older and it’s not as crazy as BMX with all these young guns coming in and 30-plus weekends of racing. I still love racing and need my fix some way, it’s just a slower pace on the travel and still fun and very competitive racing. MTB is huge in Europe; at some of the World Cups you got 20,000 people lining the track watching.

This was 1994; I was in the States for three month for the winter staying with Leveque. After placing 2nd at the Worlds behind Ellis on a GT Euro frame and uniform deal the year before, I though they might help me a little more. This was the ABA Winter Nationals with the Jackal behind me. I asked GT for some help at the race…I needed some new wheels and Todd Toth who worked there played me out. I was pissed… They didn’t pay my entry fees; all I got was a ride in the box van there. I made all four mains and won Pro Open with all the big names there. Mongoose offered me a full deal to stay in the States after this race but I stayed loyal to GT and the support finally kicked in!

Caption by Dale Holmes.

You’ve been racing now for how many years? And how many as an AA?
Racing 25 years and turned Pro at 16 making it 19 years as a Pro even though first of it was Pro back in England not the US. My first AA race in the States I was 2nd behind Brian Lopes and won Pro Open back in ’94.

What was your best year (both title and money wise)?
1996 and 2001—both years I won the UCI Worlds. Financially, the late 90′s and early 2000′s were good to me.

Tell us a funny story about the early days when you were on GT with all the heads…
The first time I went to a race with GT and stayed with them I had to share a room with Gary Ellis. He was arriving late Friday night and sharing a room with me. I didn’t really know him and I was a little star struck so when he came into the room late that night I pretended to be asleep so I didn’t have to feel funny just him and me talking. He turned out to be real cool and a good friend. He always seemed so serious seeing him at the races and in the magazines before I met him. But really he was a good laugh. A lot of people thought cause a rider was on GT he was boring and in bed at 10pm eating Powerbars. Things got crazy from time to time with Nelson, Romero, Allier, King, TC, Townsend, Griggs and co.

199I was still on GT and ranked World #4. I think this is somewhere in Florida battling with Afro Bob before he grew a mullet and stole Romero’s ride after Romero stole mine! Allier stole all the rides and money eventually by double doubling every weekend. Haha, just messing! Gary Ellis gave me that helmet I’m wearing. I was stoked – this was one of the first Troy Lee full faces out there! It was too small for Gary so he hooked me up.

Caption by Dale Holmes.

Everyone always thought riding for GT was a high-pressure deal. Did anyone ever tell you that you had to win or you were off the team?
Never. I think the pressure was there but no one had to tell you. I won from time to time but was more of a consistent 3rd – 4th place guy. Still, I put pressure on myself. Then Thomas Allier showed up on GT and won week after week. I don’t think that helped my case being on the team much longer! Haha!

A little behind the scenes – do AA’s get nervous when they’re in the gate?
For sure; I think without that there is no desire to do good. I know the day I do not care is when I don’t feel nervous. I’m competitive so it’s natural for me to feel nervous. Even back in the day when all the Pros trained at Orange there was a little blood flowing even practicing on the gate.

You won the Worlds when you were Nirve, then got cut the next year. What was up with that?
The boss at the time at Nirve winked at me the week after the Worlds and told me I had a job for life after winning the ’01 Worlds. A few weeks later he called me in and told me he’s got to let me go. I don’t think it helped when Stephen Murray who was also on Nirve won the Gravity and X-Games the next month cleaning up on bonus money—over $80,000 I think. With me winning the Worlds we cleaned them out and my contract was up first!

2000 I got my first cover of a BMX magazine—Snap. This was shot at Sheep Hills. Keith Mulligan made me do that jump till I felt ill (and I was after going round and round hitting up titties! (name of the jump)). Afraid that’s as rad as it got for me (laughter). I got a lot of stick from that half ass Leary or turndown with my Oakley’s and full face on! Beat it! A cover’s a cover in my book. It had nothing to do with the eight pages of ads Nirve had in Snap back then. I got that cover by being rad, hey Keith?

Photo by Dale Holmes.

Now that you’re off the track, who were your favorite people to race and who did you hate racing?
I liked to race with everyone. There were a few guys that would throw down some aggressive moves but at the same time, I was never afraid to do the same, I respected riders that respected me—Leveque, Allier, Nelson, Staff and co. I didn’t like racing Townsend—he would cut you off no problem, but least he would call you out on the gate first and tell you he was going to.

You’ve been doing a lot with the F/A World team. How did that get started?
I approached my boss over a year ago and suggested we pushed F/A with a team more outside the US being as we have distribution all over the World. With my experience of being on GT Europe back in the early 90′s and with the Olympics coming up, I though it would be a good idea to do a similar kind of team and pick up some fast riders from around the globe who would not just promote us in other countries but also riders that had a shot to make it to the big show come 2008. FA/KHS thought it was a good idea and a 12-man World Team was formed for the 2006 season. I’m already working on the 2007 line up and things are starting to fall into place. I’m excited for it all to be a done deal soon so we can announce the line up and sponsors for the 2007 season.

Do you see a long-term career at F/A?
I hope so; I’m working hard to make it work. I’m not only trying to do my job as a racer for Free Agent/KHS, but I try to bring new ideas to the table and be involved in the team and other aspects of the company. Hopefully it can turn into a full time job once I’m totally done racing. I love it; it’s a new challenge to help the KHS/Free Agent name grow.

Photo by Smoker Dave.

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 credit: Reader Photo

You mentioned in your retirement announcement that you’re still going to do some 4x MTB stuff… Is that easier than racing AA? Let me tell you, it’s not easier…there’s a lot to learn, but I think once you’re established it’s a little less stressful with travel, being at the races all day and dealing with 16-year-old rookies that are full throttle. Like I said earlier, it’s better for an older guy that has maybe done a lot already in BMX and needs new challenges, which is something I have for 4x.

What’s a typical day like for you now? Are you still in the gym a lot or do you spend a lot of time at the Free Agent offices?
Right now I’m chilling a bit on the training front, just fun riding. In fact, we’re digging some trails this afternoon, something I’m not known for! Haha! I’m working on the Free Agent Team line up for ’07, which is a lot of work talking to our sponsors . I go down to Free Agent/KHS maybe once every week or so to see the boss, who I seem to talk to most days by e-mail. Other than that, you can find me at Starbucks and hanging out with my women and friends up here in Murrieta (California). Around December I’ll get back on the training and start putting some hard work in for the MTB season ahead. I still like to train; it’s a lifestyle for me.

Speaking of the F/A offices, have you come across any pictures of Kenny May?
No, but there is one of Belt Buckle Barry Nilson down there doing a flatty! Haha!

One of the best days of my career before one of my worst the following day. Here I’m battering with BF (Brian Foster) at the NBL Grands in ’99. I doubled, winning AA, Pro Cruiser, and the Cruiser title all the same day. The next day Todd Corbitt (GT Team Manager) bought me a $1 taco down on Main Street and told me he was letting me go. I knew it was coming. I thought the Grands results might save me, but they didn’t. I cried that night in bed thinking my career had ended. It was not even half way done looking back now! I’m not mad at GT no more! I was bitter for a while, but it’s all part of the learning process. I learned a lot around this time.

Caption by Dale Holmes.

Now that you’ve transitioned to the TM deal, what are you most psyched on and what are your biggest headaches?
I’m psyched on being involved in a different aspect of the industry, from talking to riders, working out deals, and helping out other rid and sponsors for the 2007 season.

Do you see a long-term career at F/A?
I hope so; I’m working hard to make it work. I’m not only trying to do my job as a racer for Free Agent/KHS, but I try to bring new ideas to the table and be involved in the team and other aspects of the company. Hopefully it can turn into a full time job once I’m totally done racing. I love it; it’s a new challenge to help the KHS/Free Agent name grow.

Photo by Smoker Dave.

We want your photos and videos! Submissions will be governed by our Terms of Service. Click here to find out how to send them our way.


Check out more photo galleries here.

 credit: Reader Photo

You mentioned in your retirement announcement that you’re still going to do some 4x MTB stuff… Is that easier than racing AA? Let me tell you, it’s not easier…there’s a lot to learn, but I think once you’re established it’s a little less stressful with travel, being at the races all day and dealing with 16-year-old rookies that are full throttle. Like I said earlier, it’s better for an older guy that has maybe done a lot already in BMX and needs new challenges, which is something I have for 4x.

What’s a typical day like for you now? Are you still in the gym a lot or do you spend a lot of time at the Free Agent offices?
Right now I’m chilling a bit on the training front, just fun riding. In fact, we’re digging some trails this afternoon, something I’m not known for! Haha! I’m working on the Free Agent Team line up for ’07, which is a lot of work talking to our sponsors . I go down to Free Agent/KHS maybe once every week or so to see the boss, who I seem to talk to most days by e-mail. Other than that, you can find me at Starbucks and hanging out with my women and friends up here in Murrieta (California). Around December I’ll get back on the training and start putting some hard work in for the MTB season ahead. I still like to train; it’s a lifestyle for me.

Speaking of the F/A offices, have you come across any pictures of Kenny May?
No, but there is one of Belt Buckle Barry Nilson down there doing a flatty! Haha!

One of the best days of my career before one of my worst the following day. Here I’m battering with BF (Brian Foster) at the NBL Grands in ’99. I doubled, winning AA, Pro Cruiser, and the Cruiser title all the same day. The next day Todd Corbitt (GT Team Manager) bought me a $1 taco down on Main Street and told me he was letting me go. I knew it was coming. I thought the Grands results might save me, but they didn’t. I cried that night in bed thinking my career had ended. It was not even half way done looking back now! I’m not mad at GT no more! I was bitter for a while, but it’s all part of the learning process. I learned a lot around this time.

Caption by Dale Holmes.

Now that you’ve transitioned to the TM deal, what are you most psyched on and what are your biggest headaches?
I’m psyched on being involved in a different aspect of the industry, from talking to riders, working out deals, and helping out other riders with my experience. The biggest headaches is trying to put it all together—from co-sponsors who might fit in our program to trying to keep within the budgets and being creative. It’s not really a headache, it’s just challenging to make it happen and quicker as sometimes a lot of people are involved. It’s a little harder for us as we sponsor riders from other countries so getting our distribution companies involved and communicating makes it a little harder and slower, but I still enjoy the challenge.

The Olympics are just around the corner. What’s your take on where the US is at?
Six months ago I would have said that there wasn’t a program and that the US is late compared to the other countries for rider support, even though they’ve got the best riders and quantity for talent. Since then, US Cycling has hired Doug Martin, my old Nirve boss who is involved with Mike King and I think Greg Romero also now, so I think a plan is in action. I’m sure the US will have that perfect Dream Team come 2008. There’s so much talent here and guys involved who know what’s up. Our job at Free Agent/KHS is to support Kyle Bennett as much as we can so he can make the team. Only three guys will go from the US so it’s going to be tough for anyone.

riders with my experience. The biggest headaches is trying to put it all together—from co-sponsors who might fit in our program to trying to keep within the budgets and being creative. It’s not really a headache, it’s just challenging to make it happen and quicker as sometimes a lot of people are involved. It’s a little harder for us as we sponsor riders from other countries so getting our distribution companies involved and communicating makes it a little harder and slower, but I still enjoy the challenge.

The Olympics are just around the corner. What’s your take on where the US is at?
Six months ago I would have said that there wasn’t a program and that the US is late compared to the other countries for rider support, even though they’ve got the best riders and quantity for talent. Since then, US Cycling has hired Doug Martin, my old Nirve boss who is involved with Mike King and I think Greg Romero also now, so I think a plan is in action. I’m sure the US will have that perfect Dream Team come 2008. There’s so much talent here and guys involved who know what’s up. Our job at Free Agent/KHS is to support Kyle Bennett as much as we can so he can make the team. Only three guys will go from the US so it’s going to be tough for anyone.