One of the many awesome things about being involved in BMX for so long is that I've interacted with people much older and younger than myself on equal levels. When I was 12, I had to deal with adults and parents at the race track and even to order bike parts. Through the years, I've been around tons of kids of all ages. Now, as an "elder statesman" of BMX (cough), almost everyone is younger than me, but at the skatepark, we're all equals and can relate on one level at least--BMX. One guy that will always has a couple more notches on the calendar than I is Otto.
Otto rules and has been riding BMX a lot lately (believe me, he rides some sort of bicycle more than any mere mortal can comprehend). THis photo was taken by Kris K at Modern a couple weeks ago during a really fun mini-ramp session. Kris K also took that photo of Jason Burton (below post) during the same session. Thanks Kris. Otto has never stopped riding bikes and I'm sure he never will.
Since that park opened, as a Vans park in '02, tons of kids have come and gone. I can think of a few that got really good really fast, then just faded away. Sometimes they make a "comeback" but usually not for long. Maybe they get bored or frustrated, I don't know. Bored with bike riding is something I don't understand.
I remember the faces and names of a lot of these guys. One thing about the limited number of sessions at Modern is that the bike riders are all there at the same times each week. I remember the first time I talked to Nick Zander. I asked him about the shirt he was wearing. It confused him a little and his response was funny "I think it came from Target". I also recall the last time I spoke to him. He had pretty much stopped riding at the park, but he was there for an event or something. I talked to him for a minute and he told me he had been riding dirtbikes. I remember talking to Nick a lot of other times too. A couple times, he couldn't ride, but he would come to the park and video tape his buddies AJ or Dave Patterson. One conversation I recall very clearly was during a celebratory session to mark Nick's last day of chemotherapy. We called him "Zander", not only because it was his last name but because of Robin Zander from the band Cheap Trick. I think I tried to explain that one too, but the generation gap was pretty obvious.
That was all a while back. Nick's cancer had gone into remission and he was getting on with life. But it came back. He passed away last Thursday. My heart goes out to his family and friends in this time of heartbreaking loss. Rest in Peace, Zander.