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Last summer during the ASA MegaRamp Triples competition at the Orange County Fair, I was lucky enough to catch up with professional BMX rider, Austin Coleman. I say lucky because the O.C.-local is a tough guy to track down these days.
So, it was nice to see the 27-year old back at his old O.C. stomping grounds. And once I found him, he was happy to talk about some of his best days. You’ll see why I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we actually have a high school hockey league now.
How cool is it to be riding in a venue in front of your hometown crowd?
It’s awesome. Southern California is the birthplace of action sports. A lot of the contests used to be here, then things kind of filtered out to different parts of the country. So, being back in So Cal, especially so close to home and close to the beach, is just the best.
It reminds me of being at home when I was a kid and riding all the local parks around here. All my local riding spots are around here. But, the hometown crowd always puts a smile on my face.
What were some of the local spots you used to ride?
I used to ride at a place called Sheep Hills, which is in Huntington Beach, California. I’m from a little bit further south – in Lake Forest. So, Laguna Hills Skatepark was local for me. Just a lot of the street spots and, of course the beach. My local beaches were usually Laguna and Huntington.
Are you still living in Lake Forest?
No, I actually live in Miami. I’m from Los Angeles originally. I went to junior high and high school in Lake Forest. Then I moved back to L.A. and was there for about five years before I moved to the East Coast.
I know you went to El Toro High School. Did you play any sports there?
I played lacrosse. That was probably my favorite. We didn’t have a high school team then, but I played on a club team.
They have a team now.
Oh really? ETHS Lacrosse?
They’re pretty good.
Well, you’re welcome (laughs). Just kidding.
Yeah, lacrosse is really the only sport I played all the way through high school. I played everything else – I played basketball, baseball, football, hockey – All club teams and after school teams.
We’d practice hockey at Mission Viejo High School because it was the only place that had skating rinks. But, I finally settled on the action sports.
What brought you to BMX?
I played probably every sport you could think of, but I just really liked the more individual side of sports. I liked playing team sports but I never liked the coaches, the parents, and the scheduled practices and all that. But I enjoyed being active.
I got more into skateboarding because I liked that it was an individual sport. Then, I just needed to go a little bit higher and a little bit faster, so I got into BMX.
What sets you apart from other riders on BMX tours?
For me, I enjoy competition. Not everybody enjoys competition. You know some people get into BMX because it’s an outlet and they don’t have to deal with scheduled practices and the pressure of competition and things like that and that’s why they love BMX and that’s awesome. And I love BMX for all those same reasons but I also enjoy competition. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t do it.
Any advice for guys who are just coming into the sport or been in for a while and maybe are not as successful as you have been?
For guys who are trying to get to a high level, I would say ride every day and stick with it. Don’t let the injuries or anything get you down.
But for those guys who are not necessarily at a high level and really don’t want to be, just enjoy it for what it is. BMX is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That’s kind of the beauty of the sport. You don’t have to be an X Games gold medalist to really enjoy what you do.
Do you look at an event like Megaramp ASA Triples as a competition or as a show?
Well it’s actually both, because this is a competition throughout the week and then on Sunday it’s all show.
Obviously being a local boy, people are interested in seeing you. Is your mindset different when you go into a contest like this than with other contests?
Yeah, I mean for me it doesn’t matter if I’m at a chill little local contest or if I’m riding the X Games or anything in between the ASA contest. I just want to do the best that I can do.
Also, I like to be able to ride all year long, work on new tricks, and then take those tricks and execute them right when I need to. So, for me it doesn’t matter how big or small the contest. If I’m in contest mode, I’m in contest mode.
Sometimes if it’s just a little jam or something that I’m not taking too seriously, I can be totally relaxed. So it’s either like one end of the spectrum or the other. I’m either just chilling, riding, having fun or I’m in total contest mode – there’s really not much in between.
Yeah, most BMX riders know how to chill. It must be the SoCal in you. Is Miami much different?
Yeah, it is. It’s definitely more laid back in SoCal. Miami is just kind of all about the flash and the clubs and this and that.
You get a little bit of the beach scene, but there are so many different people from so many different parts of the world and they’re all crammed into one little area. It’s like a show constantly. It’s a little bit more relaxed here in Southern California.
Every BMX guy I talk to just loves riding. How much do you love riding?
My favorite question I usually get from an interviewer is, “So what do you do for fun?” Ride bikes! “What do you do for work?” I ride bikes. “What do you do for fun?” I also ride bikes.
I don’t think too many people can say that they do their work for fun and their fun is also work. So, yeah I just enjoy riding my bike.
Sometimes I don’t always like going out there and doing competition level tricks, but if I’m just pedaling around the neighborhood like I did when I was 12-years old then I’m still having the best day of my life. It’s always a good time.