If you’ve ever met Mike Hoder, you know he’s a dude you won’t soon forget. I have so many vivid memories of Mike throughout the ten-plus years I’ve known him. I can recall the first time I saw him ride at the 2004 Vancouver Metro Jam, he did a huge gap-to-hanger during a best trick contest—yeah, Mike used to ride pegs. And then the following year, in typical Hoder fashion—shirtless with sagged basketball shorts—he jumped out of the course to flat over a Plexiglas wall (the contest was in a hockey rink) he crashed and then got up and started dancing. Later that year, around the same time that he and Davey Watson’s split part in Shook Rough Draft dropped, I shot a Bio with Mike in Seattle, it was 2005, he was 19, and it was the last time I saw him ride with pegs. The following year we were on a Sunday trip together in Atlanta, with the whole OG Sunday squad, and Mike did the first legit pegless ice down a rail that I had ever seen…with gold fronts on his teeth. And I’ll never forget when he barged into our hotel room super drunk and he was too huge for anyone to really control. He was big, boisterous, and kinda annoying at that time, but I knew he was just an excited kid who still had a lot of growing up to do. But even back then, it was obvious that he had some serious skills on a bike and his style and direction was already beginning to standout from the crowd.

Over the years Mike has easily become one of my favorite dudes to shoot with. His signature brand of high-risk maneuvers—done with little or no hesitation—always makes for some incredible photos and unforgettable memories. A few standouts include him doing a 180 over the fence at Hollywood High and his 360 down El Toro. And of course, there have been scary moments, too. There was a time when I had to wiggle his heavy as hell leg around until his knee popped back into place, and then just last year when he broke his foot, I had to help him get over a ten foot tall fence out of a school yard. I also remember in 2012 at the BFF New York Grands race through lower Manhattan, when Mike had the holeshot and a solid lead, only to plow into a lady a few blocks away. I didn’t see it happen, but I remember the look on Mike’s face when I saw him walking his bike down the sidewalk back to the starting area. I don’t even want to think of the potential carnage of Mike Hoder crashing into a lady at full speed… And these are just memories of Mike while out riding for the day. You could fill a book with all the stories about Mike in party mode. Mike has slowed down that part of his life in recent times, but thankfully he’s still going full throttle on his bike, despite putting brakes on recently. And after just turning 30 years old, it’s incredible to hear how much Mike has gone through and to see how far he’s come from being that annoying 19 year-old…—Jeff Zielinski


Photos by Jeff Zielinski, Connor Lodes, Calvin Kosovich, Ryan Fudger

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We started Mike’s interview in October 2014 with the plan to shoot the whole feature in Seattle, and we were well on our way, until Mike got sidelined with a knee injury. With a few photos shot and a full interview already done, the project got put on hold until Mike was ready to start up again. The original plan to shoot it all in Seattle fizzled when Mike came down to SoCal—in better shape than he’s been in years—to film for the upcoming S&M video. He quickly cleaned up a few spots, and we touched up the interview a bit and here we are, the Mike Hoder interview… —Interview by Jeff Zielinski

What made you move back to Seattle after living in New York for four years?

I just missed Seattle a lot. I just missed the weather in the summer. It’s not as cold in the winter as New York. There’s plenty of skateparks out here. There’s plenty of street. I just got sick of the overpopulated New York. There are just way too many people, constantly, and you can’t escape it. Seattle is just so quiet and calm. There aren’t as many people to ride with, but I got my homies that I grew up with all here. And I’ve got plenty of friends that don’t ride, too. I love New York and all, but there’s just no place like home. I’ve traveled for years now and I’ve lived in plenty of places, and it was just my time to come back to my stomping grounds…and stomp harder [laughs].

I’ve noticed that you’re kinda like the man around town. You know all these people who don’t ride… skaters, graffiti writers, etc. How do you know all of these people?

Growing up in Seattle, there were only a few of us who rode and we had one park in downtown, called Sea Skate. I grew up there, and at first, bikes weren’t allowed at any skateparks. Over the years, they’ve gotten to be allowed, and I took a big part in making that happen. I used to get into fights with skateboarders all the time, and now it just turned into… “Hey, we’re all just trying to use the same thing. Who gives a shit?” Then I had all my graffiti friends, and they all skateboard. Most graffiti writers skate, and then when most of them quit skateboarding they become good graffiti writers. Just growing up at Sea Skate, that’s how I know all the skaters and that’s how I met all the BTM homies.

You want to tell us what BTM is for those who don’t know?

BTM is a graffiti crew. It’s definitely a world-renowned graffiti crew. TRED and SEED started it in Seattle, and it just kind of blew up and it’s kind of taken over. I mean, I see it every place I’ve gone—in every country—there are members all over the whole world.

What does BTM stand for?

I don’t know… It’s got a bunch of acronyms, but I really like Bless This Mess or Born To Mob, or Big Time Mob [laughs]. But yeah, it could mean anything really. It just depends what you want to use the three letters for.

Ok cool, so lets talk about your time in New York… You lived there for almost four years. What prompted you to move there and how do you think that changed you as a person and as a bike rider?

I went out to New York in August of 2010 with Marco Svizzero, Jackson Ratima, Eddie Clevelend, and Deaf Paul. I had known Ed from before, but that’s when I like really got to know Ed… Edwin De La Rosa. I just tried to kill it out there, and I kinda did. Then he invited me to come out to a Red Bull contest in October, the Red Bull Trick or Treat. Then when I was out there, I met a girl, and I mean I could have lived anywhere, but at the time it just seemed right to stay in New York and see what happens. It opened my eyes to a lot of things. I mean, I’ve lived all over the place—Portland, LA, San Francisco—but New York is an eye-opener and it will make you hustle. New York is a hustling environment, and if you’re trying to get shit done, it’s the place to be. It was a good move for me, and I’m glad I did it. But now, just like anyone, people get over shit. I had to go.

How was it riding with two of the greatest street riders ever—Edwin De La Rosa and Mark Gralla—on a regular basis?

I grew up looking up to Edwin. He was like my idol growing up. And then when I moved to New York and started kicking it with him every day, it was crazy because I was in shock. Like I was kicking it with…shit, I drew pictures of this fool in high school. I would draw pictures of him for art class and shit. And never once in a million years did I think I would be kicking it with him. Through him, I met Rat Kid, then I met Joey [Piazza], Nigel and Ralphie…I met all of them. I started kicking it with pretty much everyone. But just riding with Edwin was sick because when I first moved to New York, I didn’t know where anything was, so he would just take me to everything. There’s just so much shit to ride, and it opened my eyes to a bunch of new obstacles that I could fuck with [laughs]. And me, Ed, Rat, and Joey would just go out and pedal all day long until the night—from morning until night. It was just so fun and it showed me that even small things can be cool. Like, usually I would just go for the biggest thing I could find because that’s kind of how I grew up. And in Seattle, that’s kind of how it is. Everything’s built on a hill. Everything is big. Then going out there, to New York, it’s mostly flat with weird obstacles. Storm doors—I never even heard of storm doors before I moved to New York. So it just opened me up to do new things. And now when I go to different cities and I see new things now that I wouldn’t have seen before because of the people I rode with in New York.

You also got on Animal while living in New York…

Everyone was on Animal. It’s New York. I mean, fuck dude, it’s like the company out there. And then I started hanging out with Bob Scerbo a lot. I used to get in the Toyota mini-van with Bob and Ed, usually, and we would just cruise around. Of course Bob had the TRV on deck at all times, so…we pretty much just drove around and they would show me spots, or we’d ride around and show me spots, and I ended up just filming with Bob. I ended up having enough clips and we turned it into a video part. And then after about a year of living there, I got on Animal.

I’m going to switch gears a little bit. The way you talk about your dad, he sounds like a super human.

Yeah, my dad is the fucking boss of all bosses. He’s retired now, but he’s like the ultimate dad. He swims three times a day. He does yoga. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He’s like the opposite of me. I mean, I’ll swim, but I’m not going for swims. I’m not like doing laps. He swims across the Green Lake three times a day. And now he travels all over the place just to swim. He plays volleyball every weekend, and he just turned seventy. He lives like he’s a kid…it’s insane. He’s unstoppable [laughs].

Tell me the story about the party at your dad’s house where you punched a window and almost ended up dying?

I was in a bad state at that point in time. I had just gotten kicked off Sunday and I didn’t really care about riding as much. I was like, “Oh fuck it. That’s probably going to be it.” I started partying way too hard…way, way, way too hard. And one night, my dad was actually in Brazil to go swimming for a couple of weeks [laughs], and I had a party. My dad used to collect all these suits—I don’t even know for what reason—so in his basement he had all these suits, like every different size suit. The tie, the button-up, the fucking jacket, the slacks, the shoes…he had it all. This kid we knew at the time came over and he dressed up in one of my dad’s suits and went to the QFC, the local grocery store, in one of my dad’s suits. And he wound up filling up a shopping cart full of beer, and pushed it out to the car. Then we went to another store, and he did it again. We had a big ass party at my dad’s house. We called it the 700-beer night, so you know how that went. We had been drinking all day, so I was already on one before the party even started. No real bike riders were there at all, but some high school friends, graffiti homies, and just shit-head homies [laughs]. Just fuck-ups [laughs]. It was crazy. People were everywhere. I had a tattoo gun at the time and these fools started tattooing themselves without realizing that they were tattooing themselves with the same fucking needle.

That shit is not a good thing to be doing at all, and it got me pretty pissed off. I kicked everyone out of the party, ripped the tattoo gun out of the wall and swung that shit as far as I could and into a tree. I lost my mind, locked all the doors in the house, and started punching fucking windows out. I went to punch the window in the door out and that one just cracked and that probably made me more pissed. Then I punched the window out above my sink—just left-handed, cracked it, and popped it out—as I was sliding my hand back through, that’s when it cut. It cut straight through the artery on my left wrist. The blood just started shooting out of my wrist—blood on the ceiling—it was literally shooting out of my fucking body. There was so much blood everywhere that I ended up slipping on my own blood in the kitchen. Pretty sure I went unconscious. My neighbor who lives in the building next door saw me, through the window, slip and fall and he ran down, kicked in the back door, and he saw me there pretty much unconscious laying in my own blood. He saved my life. He did the smartest thing anyone could have by taking my sock off—it was covered in blood—and tied it around my wrist as tight as he could and called 911. Luckily, there was an ambulance real close by. And usually, they’ll put you on a stretcher and roll you out, but they didn’t have time to do that shit because I was losing blood quick. So instead, the two paramedics—one picked me up by my arms, and one picked me up by my legs—and they just carried me outside to the ambulance. They pretty much just tossed me into the ambulance and were like, “Dude, we’ve got to take your ass to the hospital!” All this info comes from one of the paramedics; he stayed in the hospital with me because I was so fucked up. He said they were driving 100 miles per hour down like 30 mile per hour roads, trying to get me to the hospital, and one of the paramedics was checking my pulse in the back and he asked me what station I wanted to hear on the radio because he wanted to get my heart rate going a little bit more. “Rap! I just want to hear rap.” Literally ten seconds later, my pulse stopped. My heart stopped beating. He took out the shockers and hit me twice in the chest with the shockers and fucking got my heartbeat going again. So technically, I died for a second. I get to the hospital, and right away they hook up the blood to me and start pumping it into my body.

Luckily, the closest hospital to my dad’s house happened to have my type of blood, which is some weird type of blood that most hospitals don’t usually carry on deck. I woke up in the morning handcuffed to the stretcher and I don’t remember anything that happened… Supposedly there are four quarts of blood in your body, and I lost three and a half. That is a lot of fucking blood to lose. Even after having pretty much all new blood put back into my body, I still blew a point-three on a breathalyzer that morning [laughs]. So that just goes to show how drunk I was. It was definitely one of the craziest things, and I thank my neighbor Wolf, forever, for saving my life. They said if he didn’t tie the sock around my wrist, I would have been dead for sure…

Typically after someone has a near death experience—or dies, in your case—they tend to re-evaluate their lives…

It was weird…it really didn’t teach me shit. It just kept on going…I kept drinking. I actually have a picture—I think it’s on my Facebook somewhere—of me laying in my own puke in my front yard literally a week after this had all happened. In the picture I still have a cast on my arm. I was still young and shit and I just didn’t know what happened. It hadn’t hit me yet. Usually that would change someone’s life, but it almost made me go harder. Like, “Fuck it, dude. If I can make it through that, I can make it through anything.” Honestly, I wish I had stopped drinking then.

I remember when you got on S&M. I was really psyched for you, I felt like it was going to be a good fit…

Yeah, when I got kicked off Sunday I thought it was over. I literally took a year and a half off. I didn’t even ride my bike one time. That’s when I started partying real hard and got addicted to some things that weren’t cool. I missed kind of being in the BMX community so I went into this bike shop, Revolution Cycles, and I started talking to the owner, Trask. I asked if I could possibly get a job, like a little part time job. And that’s all it was. At the time I was actually going to a community college, trying to get my GED. And he was like, “Yeah man, I’d really love to have you work here, but you’ve got to get off that shit that you’re doing.” I just realized this could be a big help to getting me off drugs and getting me away from the bad shit. He hired me to work two days a week and I learned how to work on mountain bikes and road bikes. True wheels, tension brakes, and do all of that sort of shit. When I started it was a super small shop, but it grew and moved to a big shop, and that was when Trask hired me to work a full time job. In the beginning, he was like, “I want you to work here to help bring BMX business to our shop.” So people started coming in for BMX parts and I had to start calling companies to order new parts for the shop. So then I thought, “Well shit, maybe I should get a bike together.” Obviously S&M stuck out like a sore thumb. S&M is the sickest, and growing up, it had always been. I had been talking to Adam Zapatta at S&M constantly while placing orders for the shop, and after six months of talking and ordering parts, I asked him about getting a bike…just a frame, actually. Adam was like, “I’ll talk to Moeller, I’ll see what we can do. Everyone knows who you are, and if you’re riding again, that’s sick.” They hooked me up with a frame, fork, bars, whatever…then I started getting back into it and I started getting real good again. It felt good to be riding again, but honestly, I think I just needed that big break. It was like a reset button. After a year of getting flow from S&M, I was like, “Yo, what’s up with like getting a check?” I had never gotten a check. I didn’t really know how to go about asking a company—especially after I had been not riding for a year and a half. So, I just broke it to them and they were either going to say yes or no… That’s all there is to it; you just go for it. They said yes and I started out at $300 a month. It was fucking sick. I was stoked. Then I went down to California and filmed for the first video of the QP’s that we did for S&M. My whole thing was, “I’m going to 360 El Toro. I’m going to 360 El Toro.” And that was the meal ticket right there [laughs]. Once I 360’d El Toro everyone realized I was back on it and I wanted it. And I, straight up, talked to Moeller, and he had a team meeting to see if I was a good fit for the team and it worked out. I will thank Moeller ’til the day I die—he pretty much brought me back to life. Straight up, he gave me my second chance, and everyone should get a second chance.

This is the second half of Mike’s interview, conducted in October 2016, while he was in LA filming for the S&M video…

Here we are, two years after you tried—and nearly pulled—a 360 down the Levan gap. Would you mind retelling a little about how that day unfolded?

That shit was scary as hell looking at it. The drop is so big that you can’t see anything rolling up to it except the lake across the street. The bank is real short, only 6 or 8 feet long. And the gap—I measured it out—is 28 feet long and 13 feet tall. You’re going over a double set and a rail, too…and it’s a hard 360 into the rail. I knew I needed to under spin to do it because the bank is offset, but when I spun it I did a full 360 so I ended up sliding out. Fuck, man! I landed two tires in the bank and still slid out and got a bunch of rocks and gravel in my knees and fingers. I stole some gloves from a mountain bike shop on the way to the gap and they definitely saved me, because my hands would have been real done if I didn’t have those on…but then again, I might have pulled it if I didn’t steal those gloves [laughs]. I pretty much walked away from death, but I didn’t think I could ride really after. So we gave it a rest for a couple days and then I went to that rail to icepick it and I just completely missed the rail—I think I just flew over it. I almost ended up lipsliding it and when I slid out, I felt this weird pain in my knee. I’ve felt plenty of pain in my knee, but when you get that inside pain, that’s when you need to know it’s probably time to take a rest. After I tried that icepick I took about four or five months off…

So after that time off, you’re feeling good again and you come down to Cali to film for the S&M video and you break your ankle…

Yeah, we went to ride this school and this little bank to fence. The bank was kind of rounded off, but I jumped the fence anyway and it was no problem. I just came right around and went to 360 it—I didn’t even think about. The fucking rounded off bank got me, so I didn’t spin the way I wanted to and I bailed, landed on both feet, standing up and facing backward, and my fucking foot just shot out of my fucking leg. And we were in this schoolyard with ten-foot fences with those green plastic slots through the holes, so climbing the fence even when you’re good is a kinda hard. I ended up having a couple guys lift me up and then I had to push myself over with one leg with a broken ankle—bone-out to the side fully—and then I had to hop down on the other side and not put my foot down. Instead of hopping in an ambulance, we got the Uber.

Shortly after breaking your ankle is when you quit drinking, right?

I had to stay down in Los Angeles because I had to get the stitches out and do physical therapy, so I was just drinking a whole bunch and partying. I was still going out and getting drunk even with a broken ankle. One night I went out with Lizard King and we were partying until fucking eight or nine in the morning…who knows when. We were at this warehouse party in downtown LA and I was dancing. Broken ankle in a boot, stitches weren’t even out yet, and I’m dancing with my crutches straight up in the air. I was doing a bunch of drugs and we were up ‘till who knows when. A couple of days after that, I was sitting on the couch and I just told myself, “That’s it. No more alcohol.” And ever since that day, May 16th of 2015, I’ve only had one shot of whiskey that I got paid $1,000 to drink from my old boss.

‘Why did you put brakes on your bike?

I was in Colombia, and those hills are vicious. I’m talking even with brakes; they’re so steep that you had to walk down them. By my fourth day out there I had already blown through a pair of shoes, so I went to the local bike shop and picked up a pair of brakes. I don’t think I’ll ever take them off. I feel like I can go faster now with brakes. When I go down hills, instead of having to put my back foot in the tire or on the ground, I feather my brake just enough so I can keep on pedaling right on by. But, I’ll never use the brakes on manuals—I do like pulling them in mid air—that shit feels sick! Feels like a dirt bike.

Tell us how you made $20,000 cash and then took a riding trip to Columbia and then to Barcelona…

I was in Colombia, and those hills are vicious. I’m talking even with brakes; they’re so steep that you had to walk down them. By my fourth day out there I had already blown through a pair of shoes, so I went to the local bike shop and picked up a pair of brakes. I don’t think I’ll ever take them off. I feel like I can go faster now with brakes. When I go down hills, instead of having to put my back foot in the tire or on the ground, I feather my brake just enough so I can keep on pedaling right on by. But, I’ll never use the brakes on manuals—I do like pulling them in mid air—that shit feels sick! Feels like a dirt bike.

After waiting for two years to try it again, when Charlie Crumlish came out to Seattle to film with you, why did you decide not to try the 360 again?

I got a job in Southern Oregon trimming weed. It was only supposed to be a week of work and I ended up staying there all winter long. I couldn’t really ride still. I was riding the park in Medford a little bit, but it was real cold. So I ended up making like $20,000 cash in four months. I had been talking to Navaz because I wanted to get back on my bike and start filming for the S&M video. I told him I wanted to get out to Barcelona. So I had all this money and I was like, “Fuck, who cares about having a company pay for the trip. Let’s just go.” I paid for my flight and I was going to pay for Navaz’s flight, but instead it just turned into me getting him food money, because Animal paid for his flight so we could shoot the promo for my Animal chain. So, I had the Barcelona trip planned… and then Mark Gralla told me that he was going to Colombia to hang with Zac Costa. He was talking about how there are spots everywhere and that Medellin is incredible. So, I was like, “That’s it. I’m going there, too.” I bought my ticket to Colombia a week and a half beforehand and went out there for 23 days. It was incredible. Medellin is the most incredible place, ever, in the world. I was back in the States for a week before going to Barcelona for 27 days. It was sick because I love filming with Navaz; he’s a good ass dude. We were out there just getting clips and I was feeling super good after Colombia and I was all warmed up and I felt back on it—just jumping shit and not giving a fuck. Then I ended up smashing my right knee straight into the cement and cracked my kneecap in half. It was so bad that I ended up having to sit for about a week and a half while everyone went out and rode. It was split it right down the middle, 3mm apart. Well, I got it x-rayed a month after, and was 3mm apart then.

But you’re down to run the 360 crash instead of waiting to go back for a possible pulled version?

I want to run it because of the fact that even if I don’t ever do it again, I can’t believe that I even got myself to do that. And, I think that the photo is worth it. I mean, I landed two tires in the bank and slid out… I’m not saying I pulled it, but I think I can pull it and maybe it’ll give me motivation to, maybe, go back one day and get it. But who knows…it’s a mind fuck. That three is no joke. It’s so fucking scary.

So you’ve been dry for over a year now. You slimmed up a lot, you’re focused on riding, and this is definitely the healthiest and most mature I’ve ever seen you. Do you think this is like a phase or just a new you?

I don’t think this is a phase. This is a new me. I just feel so much better every day. I used to be wasted every time I showed up anywhere and that right there is motivation. Just remembering, thinking about the past and how fucked up I was. I’m never going to quit smoking weed. I absolutely love that shit to death, but that wasn’t my problem… I drank too much. But yeah, this isn’t a phase. I am going to stick with this one for, hopefully, as long as I live. Just being 20 pounds lighter, holy shit, it’s just an incredible feeling. I feel so good on my bike right now and I’m going to keep producing as hard as I can. I want this S&M part I’m working on to be incredible. So just wait people…

Photo Captions

Intro As if this gap off the entrance ramp over a fence isn’t crazy enough as is, Mike landed in a crowded supermarket parking lot on a Friday evening with cars pulling in an out and people everywhere—the scene was hectic and stressful, it’s amazing that Mike was able to block it all out and make this happen. Photo: Zielinski 1. Mike Hoder, at home in Seattle posted up under the Aurora Bridge. Photo: Zielinski 2. An iPhone photo of the back of a camera? Jeff Z. and I have a little habit of texting/sharing quick snaps of the photos we shoot. Unknown to me at the time (thanks to my camera bag being stolen out of my car shortly after), this iPhone flick would be my only documentation of this wild gap-to-quick ledge that Hoder fired out first go... Let it run. Photo: Fudger 3. This is the scariest thiing Mike has ever tried and he may or may not ever try it again—and who can blame him. This 360 down the Levan gap is one for the books. Read Mike’s recount of it on the next page. Photo: Zielinsk 4. When it comes to shooting photos, Mike has always been one to handle business without delay. I couldn’t have been in Seattle for more than two hours before he fired out this gap over the rail to wallride. Photo: Zielinski 5. Mike drops a knee real quick with a table over a rail into the streets of LA. Photo: Zielinski 6. As if you couldn’t tell by now, if there’s a gap into a wedge, it doesn’t matter how many rails, poles, or whatever else could potentially be in the way, you better step aside because Hoder is about to jump that shit. Photo: Lodes 7. Mike takes two of the most basic BMX moves and whips up one gnarly cocktail at this San Diego proving ground. Photo: Kosovich