Spotlight: Jesse Gregory

BeatriceMarch 24, 2020
Photo by Colin Mackay

Thanks for doing this interview Jesse, for those who don’t know you, how were you introduced to BMX?

I got introduced to BMX from my dad’s friend’s son when I was 9. He had a birthday party at Orange Y BMX track and I instantly fell in love with it, so my dad started taking me regularly and got me a proper race bike.

When I met you in California, we talked about the pressure put on you … the gnarly amount of weight you were pushing and the intense training schedule (for your age). What was training like for you as a young teen – let’s talk about the intensity and was it worth it?

Training started from when I was about 10, up until 15. At first, because I was so young it just started as doing a certain amount of full laps and each lap I had to better my last time. Then it started getting into weights my dad bought me in the garage, then he found a squat bar setup for cheap and I would do that and around 12 years old I was squatting over 300 pounds. As most people know kids listen to other people better than their parents lol. So to keep up with my training, I was involved in cross fit and boot camp. I got to the point where I was riding my bike to school and then rushing to cross-fit or boot camp and doing all that, I was kinda over all the training and weight lifting part. I just wanted to ride my bike and better myself on jumping and manualing. But as for the results I was getting, yea it was worth it at the time.

 

Now, I’ve seen some pretty  b r u t a l  shit from parents at the race track, and I’m sure you’ve seen shit too. I’m not sure if you have any stories or examples of what you’ve seen but like, do you have any advice for parents who want their kids to succeed?

If you have been to a BMX national, you’ve definitely seen some crazy parents. I can see where they’re coming from such as wanting their kids to win and be the best they can, but sometimes its too much. As for me, my dad pushed me in training and my mom pushed me at the track more. But as for crazy stories, it’s just about all the same, parents screaming at the top of there lungs telling their kids to dig or pedal. But it’s also a mental game for the children too. I knew how well my parents wanted me to do and I felt like I had to do the best I could. When I didn’t win, I would punish myself mentally more than celebrating the 2nd or 3rd place, which is still good.

Also, any advice for kids with pushy parents?

Any advice I have for kids with pushy parents is, just do whatever makes you happy and try as hard as you can, but just do it for you. Nobody else.

Your racer highlights on USABMX is just filled with podium finishes, a lot of successes. Were there any races you wish you did, or do you feel like you did it all and it was time to move on?

When I first started racing I always wanted to be one of the best and the most stylish racers. Soon I heard about racing getting into the Olympics and that’s what I wanted to do. But at the same time, I would do a one-hander or a T-bog when I won or in practice which lead me to wanna do more tricks and not do training. So that is what lead me out of racing and into freestyle.

Photo by Naoki Gaman

Was the transition from racing to freestyle gradual or overnight? Was there any particular reason or moment that made you put the race bike away?

The transition was kinda a gradual thing. I realized it when I didn’t wanna train or do local races. I kinda just wanted to do practice and only hit the jumps or see how far I can manual in the rhythm section. But if we had some spare time before the track, my dad would take me to Vans indoor with my dirt jumping bike and race bike in the car, and I would have fun in the halfpipe. But once I hit the 15-16 girls class it got really intense. Everyone would just try to take the other girls out so they could win. So that kinda got me over it too.

@beccakopchak1 wants to know: Do you miss the BMX racing scene sometimes?

Ah what’s up Becca. I do miss racing sometimes and I feel like I always will but freestyle I feel like is way better for me. I’ve been to Bellflower Race Track a few times since I’ve quit and its always a fun time.

@Paytonridenour wants to know: What are some things about freestyle that you like that you didn’t get from racing?

Payton I miss you dude, but the main thing I get from freestyle than I do racing is the freedom of it. Racing, you basically just have the track or the street for sprints, but for freestyle, I could just go to a school nearby and have a ton of fun. But the main thing I love is bowls, the tiny tires could never.

I think coming from a racing background, entering a BMX freestyle comp was probably pretty easy on the nerves – assuming. But like … I don’t think there’s anything in racing that could prepare you for the Toyota Triples … I mean was it like, “Yeah I can totally do this” or “I’m going to give it a try and hope for the best”? lol and @steezyrach wants to know, what it was like hitting the jumps?

Entering a contest was never easy for me. With racing and freestyle, I go into competitions saying I know I can do this and I know I have the ability to, but my mind was and is always in full panic mode.

The triples oof haha. I’ve been dirt jumping at Sheep Hills since I was 10, so I knew I had the ability to do them but any normal person would see the triples and be like damn those things are huge. Which is what I did. but I had faith in the builders that they set up the roll in and the jumps to blend perfectly together and give you the perfect speed to get over. As for hitting the jumps, it was pretty scary but my dad always says you have to at least try something one time and if you like it you’ll do it again, and if you don’t then don’t. So I sat up on the roll in terrified but I did them and he was right…

Photo by Colin MacKay
There’s a clip of you crashing on the Toyota Triples in 2018, I think your words were, “This was a big OOOFF!” lol. Was this the worst crash you’ve had? Because a lot of people want to know about your worst injury. Could you pick one, tell us what it was, and how shitty it was?

The crash clip was from the last triples stop in Texas, I overshot the whole jump and face planted, which sucked and probably had me the sorest from a crash for sure. Injury-wise I’ve fractured my ankle 3 different times and the latest time (last year) I had 3 fractures. That was for sure the worst pain for me. I was crawling around on the floor in pain at Woodward Tahoe, thankfully my good friend cade took me to the hospital and wheeled me around everywhere till I went home. But a week after that I had to compete in China for 2 weeks which I think ruined my ankle forever, so make sure to let your injuries heal and don’t rush it.

You’ve competed in various freestyle comps, and @maxvutang wants to know: What’s your favorite BMX event?

Sup Max. I think my favorite contest would hand down be Vans Pro Cup. The energy at those contests is always hyping up the riders to go bigger and faster. Just an all-around good time to have.

I also want to know what’s your least favorite, spill some dirt and tell us why?!

I don’t really have a least favorite contest. Fise maybe just because all the best riders are there which messes with my mind when it comes down to my runs. I feel it’s more strict and professional, and I am neither of those.

We talked about training when it came to racing, but during a normal week, are you consider yourself “training” now? Like are you in the gym, and if you are, what are you doing?

Training wise for me now is I have a pull-up bar and I used to have a gym membership but I just try to keep myself active with riding. I think I trained myself to hate training from racing.

Photo by Naoki Gaman

On a normal week when you’re home, what parks would we find you at?

On a normal week, you could catch me at Volcom, I’m always there or down riding Clairmont in San Diego or up in Chino as for dirt, I’ve been riding Regency more often then Sheep tho.

@lloydesherrod wants to know: How is it juggling BMX, moto and all your other hobbies? How do you find a balance?

Juggling everything isn’t too hard. Usually, I ride on weekdays and moto usually Sunday. The hard part is finding time to hang out with friends or do tattoos, I set plans but then someone asks me to go ride and who can pass up a fun sesh with your riding buds.

So how did you get hooked up by Rockstar? Any advice for someone who’s looking to get sponsors?

I got noticed by Rockstar for racing and I met Steve who worked for them and would hook me up with hats and stuff. I got a call from him after the Triples about a contract. I’m so grateful for everything they do, I wouldn’t be able to go to all the contests I do without them. And the advice I have for someone who is looking for sponsorship is to do things nobody else would and to stand out.

@tylagraham wants to know: How many rockstars do you drink a day and which one is your favorite flavor?

Tyla knows I drink way more Rockstar then I should. It depends on what I’m doing, like, I drink one every morning and if I ride after I’ll have another. But my favorite flavor is the OG sugar-free or sugar-free strawberry kiwi. I live for caffeine.

Also, I guess you’re also hooked up with S&M, how did that relationship come about?

I got with S&M when I was racing and there were a lot of the riders who raced that were part of S&M. They would always talk to me and encourage me. Eventually, Moeller and Dougie talked to me about sponsorship and next thing I knew, I was riding for the best bike company out there.

Photo by Colin MacKay

Your mom asked, why your mom was so cool. lol But for real, I met her, I was really impressed by how supportive and down to earth she is. Could you tell us something about her, we might not know? Like, how much does mom support you every day?

Haha she’s pretty cool. But I’m really thankful for how supportive she and my dad both are. A fun known fact is that she can do the worm and is NOT afraid to karaoke to anything.

Any interest in the 2024 Olympics at this stage?

I do have an interest in the 2024 Olympics. This was my first year of actual contests and I wasn’t even expecting to get onto team USA. But that just gives me more hope and encouragement for the 2024 Olympics.

What’s next in the near future for Jesse Gregory?

Next in my future is learning new tricks, getting the tricks I have dialed, and getting more height. Hopefully also hitting all the Vans stops this year if the Coronavirus doesn’t ruin it for us.

Photo by Colin MacKay
Quick Shot Questions (Don’t think too hard)

@nina.barratt wants to know: What’s your favorite tattoo you have?  My favorite tattoo is the dagger on my chest. But favorite one is the one I did on myself is the little demon kitty.

Who’s a female racer that you think should switch over to freestyle? I wish Dani George would get into freestyle. I looked up to her when I raced and last year I saw her riding downhill at Snow Summit, just gotta scoot over to BMX freestyle now haha

The person you look forward to seeing the most at comps? I always look forward to Naoki. She always knows how to make everybody laugh and knows how to take badass pictures. I also love seeing all the girls from other countries because contests are the only place where we’re all together.

Your most influential rider? The rider that influences me the most would either be Kris Fox or Larry Edgar.

Photo by Naoki Gaman

Best and worst skatepark? The best skate park would gotta be Goodyear in Arizona and worst (unpopular opinion) Vans outdoor

Worst hair color choice you’ve made? My least favorite hair color was when I dyed it dark brown, I need the colors

List all your sponsors: Rockstar, S&M bikes, Brags Design, S1 Helmets, and Lineinsight

You’re trap on an island and you can have only one option: ride on an OK race track or have a poorly built cement skatepark?: I’d probably choose the race track because I can use the side of the jump as a hip thing and I can trick the jumps

What’s your natural hair color? My natural hair color is light brown and it gets dirty blonde in the summer but it been so long since then.

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