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In BMX, many professional riders come and go. Few stay in the spot light for an extended period of time. Chris Doyle is one of the exceptions to this. Doyle has been a professional bike rider for fourteen years. With great style and some of the best-executed tricks in BMX, it doesn’t seem like Doyle will be leaving the spot light anytime soon. I caught up with Doyle to talk him about what it’s like to be a tenured professional BMX rider.
Hometown: Plum Borough, PA (a little suburb outside Pittsburgh)
Sponsors: Kink Bicycles, DC Shoes and Apparel, Demolition Parts, and Duo
Years riding: I started riding bicycles at the typical age that most kids learn to ride on two wheels (3 or 4 years old). I started jumping jumps and racing around the age of 12 and turned pro 4 years later. So, we’ll chalk it up to 18 years of “serious” riding.
Michael: What influences your riding?
Chris: When we were younger, growing up in North Carolina, my friends and I were influenced by the riders and trail spots in Pennsylvania. Modest as it was, we tried our best to model our riding and the things we built from what we saw in the videos and magazines that showcased all that PA had to offer. As a guy growing older within the sport of BMX, I’m heavily influenced by the younger generation of up and comers and already established young pros. Their lack of fear and the amount of skill that some of these young pros have is great to witness and is easy to draw inspiration from. I do my best to match their fearlessness and their lack of hesitation.
Michael: What’s your favorite thing about BMX?
Chris: The fact that BMX is my only real creative outlet. I can’t paint, write, play music, etc…but through riding I get the same feelings of creativity and originality that comes with the more accepted forms of art.
Michael: You’re an all around rider, but most would say you are known for riding trails and dirt contests. Do you enjoy this aspect of the sport more than the others?
Chris: Trails are by far my favorite form of riding. I like parks and street too but if the trails are running then it’s a no-brainer as to where I’ll be riding that day. I like dirt contests and I like to think that I play a good role in them. Most contests are pretty one-sided with the tricks and the attitude that so many contest riders possess. I don’t do the same tricks that most would attribute to winning and I like to think that my attitude toward contests is a little more light hearted. I think it’s important for kids to see something different at contests; you can still be successful by doing the tricks that you want to do, you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, and if you use your head and your style you can still achieve success. Also, nice guys don’t always finish last.
Michael: It seems you’ve moved a couple times to be around trail spots. Can you tell us about it?
Chris: Like I said before, I was heavily influenced by the trail scene in Pennsylvania so at the age of 19 I packed a u-haul and headed north to Erie, PA to ride the trails that I had seen in so many videos and magazines. I lived in Erie for almost a year and then moved to Pittsburgh for the summer of 2002. Pittsburgh has a rich history in trail riding and I wasn’t let down. I was so impressed that I decided to stay permanently.
Michael: When summer hits, you’re always on the road. What does this summer have in store for you?
Chris: Lots and lots of traveling. On this trip that I’m currently on I’ve already been to London, England, Portland, OR, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, CA, San Diego, Las Vegas, Cedar City, UT. I still have two more weeks on the road. I’ll be in Salt Lake City and Denver and then headed to France for the FISE contest followed by a trail trip through southern France. That’s only this month. The rest of this summer looks to be a busy one as well.
Michael: Do you have any current projects going on that you would like to tell us about?
Chris: No long standing projects right now. It actually feels pretty good to NOT have something to film for at the moment. Last year I completed two different video parts and a couple web videos… the break is well appreciated.
Michael: How long have you been a professional rider?
Chris: About 14 years.
Michael: How did you get into riding? When you started riding, did you ever imagine it would ever turn out the way it did?
Chris: It was something that was simply always there and always available. As a kid, I was naturally drawn to the freedom and excitement that a bicycle provided. I had a lot of friends who were into BMX and it was easy to be into it as well. I never imagined that my bike would provide this kind of lifestyle. Even when I turned pro I never thought I would have taken it this far.
Michael: You’ve seen the sport evolve over time, how do you feel about the direction of the sport?
Chris: Our sport lacks direction. The riding continues to progress and it always will, the tricks will get harder and styles will become more refined. However, there’s a certain level of maturity that we have yet to reach. Our industry is very selfish and they feed off the pros who will risk life and limb for a $300.00 paycheck.
Michael: Is there somewhere you’d like to see the sport go?
Chris: Obviously, I’d like to see the sport grow and succeed but a lot has to change within the BMX industry first. There are a lot of brands on the market today that undercut everybody to sell more bikes and accessories and get a better profit. If the brands within the BMX industry all worked together it would yield positive results. We should be looking out for our sport as a whole and not just ourselves individually.
Michael: You’re not only a professional rider, but you are involved in a successful bike company. Can you tell us about it?
Chris: I’m 1/3 owner in a small grip and tire company called, ‘Duo’. It’s nothing that’s going to change the world but it’s fun to be a part a brand with two of my friends and do things that we think are cool and creative. We have a stellar team and the BMX community seems to really like the things that we make.
Michael: Anything else?
Chris: Ride a bike not a bandwagon.
Photography by Kurt Hohberger.