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The life of a professional BMXer can be summed up in one word: ridiculous. Constant travel to warm climates around the world to perform bicycle tricks in front of thousands may seem like an easy ride to fame, but the path to the pro circuit can be a little bumpy. STACK caught up with four-year pro rider TJ Ellis at the ASA Action Sports Tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, to get his scoop on riding professionally.
STACK: How did you get into BMX?
TJ Ellis: I always had an adrenaline rush. I loved doing crazy stuff like rollerblading and skating, and BMX just stayed with me. My brother used to be a racer, so I hung out with a lot of racers, and I went to dirt jumps to watch everybody ride. I love motocross, too, and BMX is the next thing close to it.
STACK: Do you ever train for events like this, or do you just ride every day for fun?
TE: I’m a dirt jumper, so I really don’t train. I just love doing it. I go to the trails every morning. If I want to learn a new trick, I may go to [Camp] Woodward (an action sports training complex) and try it in the foam pit. If a new trick comes to mind, I do [train], but I [also] go to the trails, and I do my regular tricks every day, like back flips [and] front flips.
STACK: What is your favorite trick to perform?
TE: I love doing back flip variations. I recently got into doing double back flips. It’s a scary trick, but you just get used to it.
STACK: Do you get nervous when attempting a trick like that?
TE: When I first learned it, it was scary. Now that I have it down, I just get used to the jump I’m doing it on, and I make sure I know my speed and the height of the jump.
STACK: How do you go about learning or working on at trick like that?
TE: Usually on dirt jumps I’m used to it. I could probably flip on a dirt jump [during] my second attempt, but [for] a box jump, it’s always the same thing, just figuring out the speed for it.
STACK: What advice would you offer younger riders?
TE: Just have fun with it. Go to skate parks, [but] don’t really get ahead of yourself. Just ride your bike. Don’t try to learn the best tricks in the foam pit, just ride. If you want to learn tricks, then go to the foam pit, just don’t push yourself too hard.