If you’re feeling down about BMX, this is the interview for you. Jocie aka Joce, exudes what it means to have fun, and keeping it fun while on your BMX. This Connecticut bred 27-year-old rider came from cheerleading and bodybuilding, and then somehow BMX. We talk about how these moments in her life impacted who she is today and of course, we talk about the open loop at the craziest BMX event in the world – Swamp Fest. Also, thank you to Nina Buitrago for tagging us on Instagram, without Nina I would have never been introduced to this badass lady.
When and how were you introduced to BMX?
When I was younger my uncle used to race BMX. This really didn’t have much of an impact on me at the time since the only thing I really cared about back in the ’90s was that my Mom and Grandmother let us dye our hair red and green for the one race we made it to…lol. But! Years later after doing a ton of different sports, finding a passion in competitive cheerleading and losing that first love to student teaching (and not being able to travel the 2 hours to practice 2 times a week), I turned to bodybuilding for “something to do”.
After that wild experience on stage, I realized that wasn’t for me. This was when I started toying with the things I always wanted to learn. I got sponsored with gear to learn to skateboard, but prior to that happening I had already made the decision that I wanted to try racing BMX bikes. I’ve always, always been intrigued with extreme sports and tried my hardest to figure out a way to be around anything of the sort as much as possible. Bought my first bike from soon to be adventure buddies, (A Mirra Co promotional Monster Energy bike) and ate complete shit during my first race at Bethel Supercross in Connecticut… before even making it to the first turn.
Huge smile on my face, laughing and swearing… it was a good time. I was hooked. While watching me struggle to read the moto boards, this random guy Joe Doherty (GromDad) jumped in to help me out and explained that there was a whole ‘nother side to BMX. From then on he was dubbed “Race Coach”/ “Dad”, let me case his FBM stallion a few hundred times, brought me to crazy events including the NYC Grands to be a street jerk through a rebel race, and quickly introduced me to the “other side of BMX” which I completely fell in love with. I was double-hooked and ready for all the future adventures on two wheels.
Are you still racing BMX these days?
Sadly it’s been a while since I last raced. Last summer I started bartending and had to miss a lot of races at the tracks I came to love in CT. After I moved to Long Island, I had so much going on that I didn’t get to race out there before the end of the season! I do plan on trying to get back to a few races this year, and now I have to add Shoreham to the list! Because I’m not super competitive, I’m usually last place laughing the whole time trying to see how high I can get (which is nothing impressive after I watch the recordings lol). I’m really all about having fun and being around the people that make the sport so great. GromDad always laughed at me when I used to say that I was on “Island Time” when I got to the track, I was just happy to be there and kind of slacked on warm-ups.
|Photo: Jonny Nemecek|
What got you into that and how has it influenced your riding today?
I really feed off of feeling like a badass, as funny as that sounds there is nothing better than looking at yourself and feeling super proud of what you just did. Big or small. BMX seemed like the ultimate badass thing and since I had never tried it before I had all the room to run with it! I had the basics down (I started riding a bike at 4 years old) and the rest was just enough to catch my attention and keep me scared but excited. I’m glad I started with racing because of a few reasons; One being that I’ve met so many cool people that directed me towards the things and other people I really enjoy being around/ learning from. And second, because it forced me to practice bike control that I could eventually use in trying everything else. I used to be insanely squirrely on the track, bars going everywhere, one slight turn of the wheel and I was going over the handlebars. I’m still squirrely, just way less than I was when I started. I can see and feel the physical difference and it keeps me really motivated.
You’ve traveled to some amazing riding spots and trails, what’s your top 5 locations you’d like to come back to?
This is a tough one, I have an unhealthy amount of fun anywhere we go, to be honest. Thanks to my friends and Jonny throwing me in the car to ride all sorts of crazy things, I think it’s safe to say I’m kind of spoiled with spots. I’m crazy thankful for all the different people and crews who have brought me along to show me everything. If I had to choose I’d say:
1. Swampfest My first Swampfest was last year with GromDad, and since I had only really started branching out from racing that summer, learning to wall-ride a pallet wall thanks to Aaron Simone (@aaronfallsalot) was the cherry on top of a huge sundae. I refuse to miss any Swampfest from here on out, and I hope I never ever have to!
2. Catty & Posh The people and the jumps really make these places magical. The jams are full of so much love and excitement, it’s the coolest.
3. Mission Valley YMCA Krause Family Skatepark Although I spent most of my time dodging little monsters on the rollers, I had a blast jumping there. I talk about going back all the time, that place was so much fun to flow and just get lost in your positive head space. Since this was my first time to California it definitely stuck with me. We flew out for a Halloween jam weekend and Jonny somehow managed to pack in everything he knew I would go crazy for, this place included!
4. Rays MTB Park- I’ve been there twice and I can’t wait to get back. That Kink wall ride has my name on it, and some of my skin. One day I will get conquer that thing.
5. For lack of a 5th place and some strong wanderlust, I’d have to say that I really want to explore somewhere new! I know there are so many cool places I haven’t seen yet and I really want to make it to all of them! Physically seeing how I’ve progressed when I come back to an old place though is the coolest feeling. BMX is the best travel excuse ever.
Is there anything from your bodybuilding days that you bring to riding today?
One of the most important things that I took away from bodybuilding was all about how you handle yourself. I knew right off the bat that I wasn’t going to place during my fitness show. But I was getting up on stage painted orange with an insanely tiny swimsuit and I was gonna have a freakin’ blast no matter what I looked like. For my routine, I decided that I was tumbling which wasn’t what I was supposed to do. A fitness routine consists of set “poses” to show off muscle tone. This can be done however you please, so most people just add but a little bit of sass. My weakness is remembering choreography… so I made it what I wanted to. If I let myself hide in the shadows I wasn’t going to make the best of a situation that I was freaking out over in my head. I’ve never been an introvert, but I’ve also never been on stage naked before lol. SO, on with the show. That same day, as my buttcheeks were facing the audience (parents and friends included) my music decided not to work! So, I sat there laughing at myself and figured it was something to add to the “I did this weird thing once and it almost flopped” list. Like I said, I didn’t place. In fact, I got 6th out of 6th and had more of a field day pounding down a cheeseburger after the thing was over.
Obviously, the nature of this kind of competition has some negative downfalls. For example, what you looked like (however unhealthy for your body at your show weight) could make a huge impact on how you see yourself later. I’ve dealt with that a lot. Which on a positive note has helped me monitor my eating habits to be more mindful of what I’m putting in my mouth (dirt is calorie free * insert wink face). Everything is fine in moderation and starving yourself will only lead to medical problems later. Treat your body well and it will love you back. That’s not to say I always follow it though, I am the burrito queen. On the fitness side, I know my body physically needs to drain energy. So I do my best to follow a workout plan every day with my weekends as ride or rest days. The gym isn’t my favorite place, but I try. Heck yeah, sometimes I leave 10 minutes in because it’s nice out and I wanna ride. Wouldn’t you?
– Drink a ton of water, your body will thank you and you’ll sleep better.
– Eat simple things that have few ingredients, nothing with preservatives or too much sodium and fillers.
– Get your body moving, we never stop needing exercise. Anything that makes you work up a sweat is good stuff. The gym isn’t for everyone, maybe go for a strenuous hike.. or work fakies… those things make me sweat like a crazy person.
– Be yourself and make it fun. Naked on stage? Your time to shine! You control the attention you’re going to get by how you react. Use the scary things to pump you up! Anything that makes your heart go fast and spark positive excitement is worth a try.
– Smile. It’s good for yeh.
@awd_heather wants to know “how are you so fearless when it comes to your riding?”
Heather, I honestly think/feel like I’m just getting older and one day I’ll physically have to pump the brakes. So I keep going. I’ve also learned from my friends that if you think of all the reasons on “how you could get hurt” doing said thing… you’ll make one of them true. I’m also stubborn about where I create this storm in my head if I become interested in trying something because I know I won’t mentally drop it.
I try to make talking myself out of it isn’t an option if I want it bad enough. If I show up, and pad up, I’m doing something, no matter what it is. You and I both know as girls that if you show up on a bike you get labeled immediately, and from there we’re given one of two titles, either “She probably shreds” or “She’s just here to stand with her bike”. Everything has to start somewhere, so I always make a point to ride if my pads and helmet are on
Ps. I still can’t figure out a solid bunny hop, and pretty sure it’s because I don’t ride with my brain turned on (lol)
@aaronfallsalot wants to now “Do you have Olympic intentions? Has anyone been pushing you towards that?”
Aaron, I guess that depends on if my coach is willing to push me even farther towards that once seemingly unattainable goal.
Side Story: This one-time last year Tony’s Bikes team rider Aaron told me to do a wallride, somehow got me to do it… then as payment made me give him my snacks and a phone charger. This year he tried to pull the same nonsense and got me to try an open loop. We were both surprised. Apparently, he knew I had it in the bag the whole time.
But in all seriousness, if you were to tell me that only after a little more than a year and a half in of riding freestyle that I would have been able to throw my body into this pallet loop I would have laughed at you and started planning. Aaron killed it again this year with making sure I didn’t leave without something to show for (which I did, in fact, text him complaining about days before). At this point, if I make it into any competition with enough to be proud of… never mind the Olympics I’d be stoked! But hey! Skies the limit and I don’t plan on stopping! COACH AARON, PACK THE OLYMPICS BOUND BUS.
Ok, let’s talk about Swamp Fest, for those who haven’t been; what’s it like and what should a Swampfest virgin expect?
Be prepared to be addicted… Swampfest is a massive BMX party with all of the people you love (and some you don’t know you love yet) in one place. It’s the most awesome and rowdy time and there’s way too much that goes down to be able to watch everything. With that being said though no part of it has a dull moment so wherever you are at whatever time of day is guaranteed to be a hot mess of rad.
As a BMX virgin, I say jump in! It’s intimidating and scary and definitely doesn’t look safe but if you’re anything like me you’ll need some sort of bloody souvenir (within reason) to take home. My advice is to find something you think you can ride and go for it! Or get ambitious. Plan around events if you don’t like riding in front of crowds, for example, the pallet park is way less crowded when the jump jam is happening… although there are so many people that it’s incredibly hard to avoid having no one around. The good news is that if you put yourself out there you’ll have a cheerleading squad of sweaty randos clapping at you for even trying to ride!
I don’t know how, but Swampfest somehow got even crazier this year, how was it for you and where was your tent and shit located?
You know, after all the hype the first year (that I missed because I wasn’t into the scene yet) I think moving it to a bigger place and advertising more and more got everyone really fired up for last year. Then, this year social media and word of mouth got everyone more interested! Last year was awesome. Luckily, I traveled out with GromDad and Todd then managed to jump ship from that crew to stay some extra days with the Nasty North Kids, and another solid group of a great people.
Last year we camped and it was the coolest because we were disgusting, sweaty, and all in the moment. You woke up (in what looked like a scene from Jurassic Park) and jumped right into playing with bikes. My advice, bring warm clothes for at night. Sometimes it can get really damp and cold in the field.
This year, however, we stayed in an air bnb and jumped around a bit! Still just as fun but I think I might try to camp again because it was cool to be right in the action the whole time! Our home base this year was with some friends who camped overlooking the Shadow coffin. Because I knew so many more people this year, I had a blast wandering around talking to the world when I wasn’t riding! (because I’m the girl who can’t stop talking to EVERYONE)
Let’s talk about that open loop, what motivated you to give it a rip and how many attempts did it take?
That loop took me 6 tries and with the 7th I managed to land it. I think the frustration of thinking I didn’t have much to get rough on this year kicked my butt a little to do something that was scary. I’m an adrenaline fiend. I like physically scaring myself and figuring it out. I also like to do this thing where I go before my body feels ready… because it literally never does and I hate wasting time psyching myself out. At the same time the majority of the people, I randomly wandered into gave me a nervous “You want to try WHAT?!” which also gave me a weird spark of confidence… then the other handful of “hell yeah’s” like Aaron, Ben from GT, Chuck and the Kink boys, Rich and Courtney (LI), Brian (LI), and the random nice people trying to show me what to do… helped to confirm I was definitely about to do this. Topped it all off with a kiss and a “you got this, babe” from my boyfriend, copilot, and personal photographer Jonny Nemecek and we were ‘bout to get rowdy on Jesco’s mug painted by Nick Sawyers.
How sketchy were the ramps?
Sketchy “AF” but rideable until the end of the day when everything shifted. The boys had to move the loop back in place for me to try it.
@osxkate wants to know “what was going through your mind right before pulling off that insanity at Swampfest?”
Girl, honestly… it was the feeling of, “I’ll feel so much better about my life being a funny little mess, if I can get this thing landed.” Kind of a weird sign for me that I really really needed. The fails were good but the success at the end took some weight off my shoulders.
But before all that… was “Ah Fu*k this is terrifying, better just pedal hard.”
How would you go about explaining how that open loop is done and did your cheerleading background play a part in it?
The boys explained it to me as it “placing” you where you want to be. All I had to do was go fast enough, ride off at the right angle at the top, and commit. The last part is throwing your head back and just riding it out while holding on. I’m pretty sure I closed my eyes for the landing but I felt it and they were right. If you pull too hard you loop out. You can see all of it in the progression video I posted which is actually kind of cool. I think my cheerleading experience helped me to keep my body rotating so I could land where I wanted to instead of just on my head. It was all really quick but most of my bails were pretty solid! That and I’ve spent most of my life landing on my head learning tumbling tricks, so this wasn’t much different!
Did a thing. Heckin’ proud of this. . . Thanks @jonnynemecek ♥️ @laceyslittle_12 @rlacey24 and @aaronfallsalot for being my cheerleaders and standby medics, @mike_macisco @tonys_bikes for telling me to “suit up& smile”, all the rando’s who threw me extra love and set a small fire under my butt for some confidence and @spencerforesman for my congratulatory snow cone 🍧 🤘🏼. #Swampfest2019 #NoSleepTillCoolThings . . . Bikes are cool, man and I really freakin’ love my friends. ♥️🚲➰ #BMX #TonysBikes #EveryoneSucksButUs #MaloneyFrame #BobHaroDesign #LittleLoopy #Dangshades #DrinkTrimino #WellHeyThatWasScaryAsHeck #FeelinItMrCrabs #OuchinTodayForABadassYesterday #BIKES
Are there any other highlights from that trip?
Honestly just being around everyone I love was so huge for me, the sunshine, people, and bikes. It was great.
Going on another bike vacation, but this time with our friends from New England was the best. We often ride with Colby, Jeremy and the rest of the guys but this time we had Colby’s girlfriend Shelley and our friend Sara with us too! It was awesome having everyone there.
I also finally got to see Grapefruit trails! Ate some solid dirt and exchanged my blood for some to take home but that was cool!
Got a lot of questions about why you’re so cool, how does it feel to have that label?
Haha, it’s funny… I don’t feel cool unless I’m doing something dumb. Always been a dream of mine to join the Jackass crew for a day. Emotionally I’m a little less badass, so I make up for it with being physically rowdy. I’d rather land on my head 300 times over being bummed. Plus, the ADHD decides what I do, so I can’t sit still and I hate when I feel like I’m being a” deck warmer”. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that, but that kicks my butt into getting excited to try things. You are perceived by how you act so I always try to “dress for the job I want” even if it’s a loud girl in a bright yellow jumpsuit who lands on her face in Posh Woods.
Are you currently sponsored by anyone or hope to be sponsored by any particular company?
I am not currently sponsored but I do have a few people/ places that consistently take care of me!
Tony’s Bikes of Milford will forever be my home base no matter what state I live in. Mike and the boys are my source for bike parts and pep talks and I’m thankful for all they’ve done for me! Mike has seen me go through this whole process from the beginning of my BMX life to a slightly less awkward Joce! He’s great at making me feel like I’m killing it regardless if it’s small or huge! Mike was one of the biggest reasons I even tried the loop in the first place. He made me believe I could do it and pumped me up all the way from CT. Making him proud made me proud! Feels rad as heck to be riding for such a badass little shop!
Everyone Sucks But Us Ken makes sure I look really badass on the outside and feel more badass on the inside! Thankful for the extra love! He’s a one-man show with a huge heart and an unlimited supply of encouragement! Idk if you’ve heard but ESBU.
Bob Haro Designs Bob has been my go-to since around the time that I started taking leaps in trying freestyle. He’s always throwing me extra love and sunshine. Bob forever has the check in on lockdown and makes sure I’m smiling from all the way in Cali. He’s put up with me crying, laughing, and a weird combination of both. He’s the man.
I have so many people that are on my side with making sure I’m still trucking. I’m wildly grateful for all of them!
Do you have a crew that you ride with? What’s the riding scene like where you’re from, are there any ladies?
I have a few crews! I’m lucky enough to have a solid couple of groups to ride with! I have my home CTers, who I originally started with, the upper New Englanders who we should probably start paying rent to, and now I’m lucky enough to have people in Long Island to roll with too! It’s awesome because I learn different things from everyone, everywhere.
The New England and PA ladies crews are STACKED. We have some of the most badass girls from around the world all in one place. Although I don’t get to see them as often and even more so while I’m in Long Island… I still look forward to the sessions, jams, and events where I get to! Too many girls to name all of them but they all bring so much to the table and I feel really proud to know them! Currently, there are a few girls who ride in Long Island. The McCarthy girls are the bomb! Jane and Kayla shred!
What’s in store for Jocie in the next year or so, plans, ambitions, goals?
Aside from finding a job that lets me play a lot (every BMXer’s goal) I’m happy with whatever comes my way as long as it’s fun! The main goal is to ride everywhere, all the time, and learn everything! I plan on gathering some new bruises and new tricks and continuing to add to my collection of “I did this”! Hopefully, within the next year, Jonny and I will have jumps and ramps at the house so I can become an X-gamer overnight. (You never know)
Frame: Custom purple Maloney Frame with a sunflower on as the bridge – By Mike Maloney (@defconfour on Instagram)
Forks: Odyssey R32’s
Bars: Kink Grizzly’s
Stem: Profile Acoustic
Grips: Purple ODI longnecks
Brakes: Odyssey Evo 2’s
Seatpost: Kink Stealth
Seat: Kink Solace 2
Pedals: Odyssey Trail Mix
Cranks: Kink Pillar Cranks
Sprocket: Shadow Conspiracy Maya Sprocket
Front Tire: Kink Lyra
Front Wheel: Profile Elite w/ Odyssey 7KA
Rear Tire: Merritt FT1
Rear Wheel: Profile Elite LHD w/ Odyssey 7KA