If you wanted to look back over the last couple of decades to find the first hints of the brakeless/padless/narrow-fit-denim future of BMX, I’d say the 1991 cover of GO magazine was a pretty good indicator… even though it was ten years before brakeless riding caught on. Recently a Facebook friendship with cover boy Greg Guillotte began to trigger my memories of this era, so I got in touch, got some photos of the glory days, and asked him a few questions.
Click below to check that out.
MA: So pardon my ignorance, but my first real exposure to your riding was the early 1991 cover of GO Magazine, where you were folding an invert way above a sketchy vert ramp on a GT Performer. To me this was one of the best photos ever in a mag, and not only a photo that pointed toward the future, but also it really summed up BMX in general. To say that it’s still relevant now in 2011 would be an understatement. Minimal equipment, and a classic trick that we all still want to master. Can you tell us more about that shot?
GG: That shot was taken just around the time I had begun to drift away from the sport. My old ramp from Lucas had been torn down and rebuilt in a friend’s back yard who lived about thirty miles away. Apart from the “fly-out itis” I had been experiencing for the last couple of years up until that point, I was getting involved with the wrong crowds and found a lot of excuses to spend more time being selfish. Ramp distance was another one of those. My friend Robert called me up and said Go was stopping by and that a few other riders would be there and to come out and hang. At that point the riding was mostly muscle memory and it’s strange to think that a couple of my favorite pics were taken when I wasn’t really riding any longer. As far as inverts go, I remember wanting to push them as far as I could back when I lived in England. I used to carve the Chingford ramp already at a slight angle so as to make the initial part of the trick easier to get into. It just evolved naturally from there. Oh, and inverts always look more inverted when shot from underneath but don’t tell anybody.
MA: One of the funny things to me about that photo is that the bike wasn’t even the top of the line model (which at the time would have been the GT Pro Freestyle Tour) that you would normally see a pro riding on the cover of a magazine. Were you sponsored by GT? Or was it true when you said (quoted inside that issue) that you and all your friends shared one bike?
GG: I honestly don’t remember whose bike that was but to me, a bike was always a bike. I remember getting a puncture during a Worlds qualifying run and riding three completely different bikes to make it through the run. Looking back, it’s much more the positioning of your body that makes a good air. The bike is just along for the ride. I was sponsored temporarily by a few different companies throughout my days riding but GT wasn’t one of them.
MA: Were you riding brakeless by choice or out of necessity?
GG: Necessity. Brakes were always, well… breaking and I was either too lazy to put other ones on or I just didn’t care. It didn’t seem like a big deal because why do you need brakes when you’re going at those speeds? All I needed to do was un-pump a transition to slow down.
MA: Are you a Texas native? Where do you live now?
GG: I’m homeless! Really though, it’s hard to call any place home from all the moving I’ve done but Holland and England will always have a special place in my heart. I began putting plywood on bricks and doing stand-up wheelies in America when I was 5, started racing in Holland at 12, and turned to Freestyle in England at 14. Freestyle…now there’s an ancient word. I went pro after moving back to Texas at 18 and I’ve been here ever since.
MA: What do you do for a living these days?
GG: I’m currently attending the Art Institute of Dallas and hoping to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Digital Film and Video Production next year. To keep money in my pocket, I do what I can in the meantime. Anything from delivering pizza, photoshopping ugly people, and juggling nude on a unicycle. One of these things isn’t true.
MA: How often do you ride?
GG: I grabbed a new school bike a couple of years ago and started to mess around on it. I soon discovered that I needed to lose weight and try to grow back some old muscle. That got sidelined but recent events in my life have triggered the old passion and as soon as I get back in shape, I plan on having fun with it.
MA: Can you give us a rundown of your sponsorship history in BMX?
GG: Throughout the old days I had been sponsored by Ocean Pacific, Vision, Vans, Haro, Skyway, Odyssey, Ozone, Life’s a Beach and probably a couple of others. Oh yeah, DMC threw me a hat and shirt from his On Edge venture. I know that doesn’t count but thanks, dude.
MA: What are some of your interests these days? What do you do for fun?
GG: I lost a lot of my love for music over the years but that seems to be creeping its way back into my life. Of course, I love movies and messing around with various editing programs. Reading is always a great way for me to relax but my kids and the clean life are my main focus right now. I’m looking forward to making up for lost time.