Name: Taryn Askew
Current Age: 50
Hometown: Boston, MA
Sponsors: I don’t have any personal sponsors and I’ve always kinda liked it that way. Riding is and has always been, first and foremost, for me. While I wouldn’t turn an offer down automatically, at this point in my life with my ability steadily tapering down with life’s changes, I don’t expect anyone to come banging down my door soon. I’ll just be here enjoying the ride.
How did you get into BMX? Wow.. weird to think about sometimes, but I’ve been riding BMX for over 40 years now. We had just moved to a new house in a smaller college town south of Boston and in the garage was a surprise waiting for me, a new BMX bike for exploring our new neighborhood.
It was 1981, I was 9 years old, and the bike was a Team Murray – not a special bike at all, except in my eyes. I would explore the neighborhoods and all around the college campus looking for any little jump I could find. Unlike most of the other kids who rode through the big BMX craze of the early 80s, I somehow kept the passion alive along with a small group of friends – many of whom are still part of my life today. And that’s the real magic of BMX. The friendships we make through our shared love for the thrills and laughs these bikes bring us are forged of stronger stuff than most.
I can’t say how much longer I’ll still be able to ride at the level I do, but if a time traveller in the 90s or the 2000s had tried to tell me I’d be here, still going strong at 50, I would’ve laughed and never believed it for a moment. But if I can take one thing away and pass it on, it’s this: don’t count yourself out, you’re way more resilient than that negative voice in your head wants to let you believe.
What languages do you speak? English and a little bit of Spanish and French.
Your top three parks?
- The streets and parks of Boston. Boston is home and I love to just jump on my bike and ride around the city all day. A fairly typical solo sesh will start off cruising streets and hitting little jibs along the way from my apartment in Brighton toward The Fenway and Back Bay. I’ll stop for coffee and a bagel at Finagle a Bagel and then sit by the pond in the Public Garden, hanging out with the duckos and the gooses for a bit, then circle through parts of Chinatown and downtown before crossing the river to hit Lynch Family Skatepark for some quality bowl time. After that, I’ll pedal across Cambridge and back over the river to finish up the day with some laps at the pump track.
- Street in Providence. I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts and went to college in Rhode Island but moved up to Boston shortly after graduating and never really looked back – until just recently when I decided to go to a street jam happening there and my love for that place came quickly flooding back. I’m definitely going to need to make that trip more often now.
- PA Woods – Catty and Posh. Some of you may have heard the recent news that Posh was just closed and that its future is uncertain as the expansion of an adjacent quarry happens. The nature of BMX trails is that they’re always temporary, but some manage to be less temporary than others. Posh and Catty both have lived long enough to achieve legendary status around the world and I count myself lucky to have ridden and become part of the community over the last couple of years. Whatever happens to Posh, I hope the spirit lives on through everyone who ever touched tires to that historic soil.
Top three songs on your playlist? Oh gourd… I can’t do a list of three. Even a list of five feels like cheating. This is a tiny sample of some of the kind of stuff I like to listen to while riding or to get stoked on the way there!
- Little Blimp by The Joy Formidable
- Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience by Parquet Courts
- Daughters of the Kaos by Luscious Jackson
- Adeniji by The Budos Band
- Deceptacon by Le Tigre
Three people who inspire you and why? This may sound silly, but I try to keep myself humble and let myself be inspired by easy stuff – by the small victories and subtle-but-meaningful changes that people make in their lives to improve them. When you’re inspired by something that feels achievable, it’s so much easier to incorporate little bits of what you learn into your own life. But that makes it nearly impossible to make a list of a few people who inspire me because I’m surrounded by people who inspire me.
What is a trend in BMX you want to stop seeing? It’s not always easy, but I try really hard to focus on seeing and boosting the bright spots. BMX and the friends it’s connected me with have given me so much joy through all the other ups and downs of my life, so I make it my job to make BMX welcoming and inclusive.
Folx don’t always realize it’s far outside my usual comfort zone to be anything but a wallflower in large groups, but something about the BMX community at large and then more specifically about the blossoming communities of women, queer, and nonbinary BMXers that brings out my inner cheerleader. The chance to be here and witness the explosive growth of talent feels like a privilege that has to be celebrated.
And like.. the young talent. Seriously. You’re all seeing that, too, right? Every new clip I see just makes me smile from ear to ear. Sometimes I shout at my phone! (My coworkers all know I’m like this. It’s fine.) So trends I wish would stop? Nah. Have your fun the way you want. Just remember to leave the same space for everyone else and we’ll get along just fine.
What do you do when you’re not riding? How do I what my what? I’m not sure I understand the question.
Favourite shoes to ride in? Vans Model 114. And not just because I’m obsessed with Kevin Peraza. I mean, who isn’t?
Best advice given to you? “You know, Taryn? One thing you could maybe start working on is giving yourself the same grace that you seem to give everyone else in your life.”
Your biggest fear? Whether from injury or age, the day I have to give up BMX for good.
Your proudest accomplishment? In BMX? Being asked to do this interview. Hands down. This is a place I never could have guessed I would be.
Three guilty pleasures? A huge part of my life’s journey required me to get past shame. Three things I know I might (definitely will) overdo without appropriate supervision though…
- Doing wallrides until it feels like my thumb might break off.
Favourite person to ride or train with? I love riding with Chelsea Wolfe whenever I can. It’s usually only for a small handful of days each year, but I always end up learning new ways of looking at orange cones. – at spots… I mean new ways of looking at spots! Erin Laskowich and I connected along with a few other friends recently for a street jam in Baltimore and had THE best time. Except maybe for that part when Erin learned about the ticking time bomb I am if I don’t get coffee soon enough… My PA posse! By “training”, you obviously mean riding in trains, right? Trips I take to Pennsylvania to stay with Tasha and Jess or with Taryn and Brian for long weekends of riding trails and skateparks and DIY spots and pump tracks are something I absolutely live for. And the best is when it’s a big jam weekend when friends from all around the northeast come together. The whole atmosphere is pure magic. I can’t and won’t ever get enough of it.
Your worst habit? Letting my anxiety and depression win.
If you could hire someone to help you in some aspect of your life, what would it be? A personal kitchen staff, because I love food, but I haaaaate cooking and cleaning!
What is a memorable experience you had that couldn’t have happened without BMX? The first time I showed up at Catty Woods for Women’s Weekend in 2021, I was an anxious wreck. Dani Lightningbolt came straight over and said, “Hi. Have you been up to Rollers yet?” and led me through the maze of jumps to do some laps. Nina Buitrago joined us shortly after. Not sure either of them know how much that simple gesture meant to me, but it’s among my absolute fondest memories of my return to BMX.
Your top three future goals you want to achieve?
- Bring some writing and teaching back into my career.
- Buy a piece of undeveloped land and build my own home.
- Travel more.