Brian Lopes | Making Memories
If you're into bicycles and you don't know who Brian Lopes is, you need to educate yourself. The Orange County native has an impressively long list of accomplishments and all were obtained with a pair of pedals. Lopes raced seven professional years in the BMX circuit and then turned his efforts to mountain biking in 1993. He's won a total of 19 titles in his mountain biking career and in 2008, he was inducted into the mountain bike and BMX Hall Of Fame. After a successful 20 year career aboard bicycles, Lopes has acquired many friends in the action sports world, including professional cyclists and professional motocross riders. With that in mind and an approaching birthday, Lopes assembled the All-Star Weekend, which was celebrated at action sports mecca, Woodward West. We made the trek up to the Disneyland for action sports for a memorable weekend to see what kind of craziness was to come from a diverse group of professional riders. We caught up with the birthday boy to see what he brings to the table in Cole Seely's program and how his 44th ranked up against the rest.
We're here in Tehachapi, CA's Woodward West for the weekend. Tell us a little bit about what's going on?
Yeah, we're all up here to make a memorable weekend. Probably 10+ years ago, I put on a little event similar to this up in Whistler and I just called it the All Star Weekend. My birthday is tomorrow (September 6th) and I thought it would be so fun to have a bunch of my friends up at Woodward West. I have friends from so many different disciplines-motocross, Endurocross, mountain biking, etc.- and all of these guys like to ride bicycles. I knew that 90% of them had never been here, so I managed to get everybody together for a fun time. I was more or less using my birthday as an excuse to get everyone out here, but I didn't want it to be a "birthday party" per se. That was my initial thought process behind all of this. I want to come out and get in a fun session with everybody and I wanted to show these guys the Disneyland of action sports. I think everybody is pretty impressed with this place. I basically wanted to have a good time with my friends!
So why Woodward? Is it because this place is pretty close to a dream come true for almost everyone that's into action sports?
Well, I wanted to go somewhere were I figured most of these guys hadn't been before. Most people have heard of this place and probably even know what it is, but haven't made the trek out here. It's a little bit of a drive, but it's worth it in the end. Todd Wells flew out here from Colorado and Levi Leipheimer drove down here from Northern California. "Fuzzy" Hall is coming all the way from Utah, so there are quite a few guys that had to put in a lot time get here. There's a little bit of everything here, and I figured some of these guys had never jumped into a foam pit. Half of these guys can hardly ride most of this stuff, including myself, but I figured there's something here for nearly every skill level. There's also some really talented individuals, so it'll be a good time to sit back and watch them have some fun. It's always easy to watch stuff on TV and see how big a jump is, but you won't get the right perspective until you see it in person.
How is it that you know so many different people from such diverse disciplines? Everyone from TJ Lavin, who is a world renowned BMX rider to TLD/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM's Jessy Nelson and Shane McElrath are here.
Because I'm old (laughs). I've been around for a long time, but I think it's all attributed to bicycles. It seems like everyone rides some sort of bicycle to some degree, whether it's road bikes for training or downhill mountain biking for fun on the weekends. Even with sponsors you meet new people from all over the place. It's cool because we all have that common bond of riding bikes no matter what skill set each of us have.
Did it take much convincing to get a lot of these guys out here?
No, not at all. All of these guys were really stoked to come out. There were a few that backed out at the last minute and there were a few guys that got hurt. On day one for the weekend, Levi got hurt within the first ten minutes, so that was a bummer. Elliot Jackson-who's a downhill mountain bike guy-got hurt just a few days ago. He's got a bunch of stitches in his hand, but he still showed up and he's even riding, most likely against doctors orders. Cole (Seely) had to get shoulder surgery a while back, so he's not able to ride either. He's probably bummed the most since he basically has to watch everyone else ride. Mike "Rooftop" Escamilla had surgery on his hand, but he wanted to come out to see everybody. Mike Day, who is a silver medalist in the Olympics, came down with the flu a few days ago and Jeremy McGrath was supposed to be here, too, but I don't know what happened. He never returned my call. He was all about it in the beginning, but he's seemed to have fallen off the map.
You currently work with Cole Seely, who is clearly gifted on just about anything with wheels. Is that something the two of you can relate to when you're working together?
Yeah, for sure. Like you said, he's definitely a gifted individual, so we bond really well on the bicycle aspect of things. There's a lot of similarities between dirt bikes and bicycles, so it works out well for him. The same goes for guys that ride professional downhill mountain biking since a lot of them ride dirt bikes. Bicycles and dirt bikes just go hand in hand and I think pedaling is the perfect cross-over for Cole. The best part, though, is that he enjoys the cross-over; it doesn't seem like work to him. It's just like anything, though, if you do the same thing every day you end up getting burnt with it. It's especially good for him leading into SX, because all of that riding the pump track or jumping those dirt jumps helps make him more precise on his motorcycle. You don't have 12 inches of travel on a bicycle, so you can't come up short over a jump.
You're obviously known for your accomplishments aboard nearly every type of bicycle. Is that something that you bring to the table with the riders that you work with?
I definitely think that if you're accomplished in something you've been in that mindset-you get what they're thinking and you know how to handle certain situations, whether it's the pressure or defeat. I've raced bikes forever and I won a lot of titles, and I feel like I've more than likely been in similar situations, whether I've been down on myself, overcoming adversity or something were I've been super confident in myself. I have to reflect back into my memory bank sometimes and I just try to put myself back in that same position. I know what to say, when to say it and when to keep my mouth shut. My entire life, I've always tried to surround myself with good people, whether they were smart in their business/sport or just good people in general. A lot of these guys are still kids and a lot of us still feel like kids; you've got to have fun. A lot of trainers these days are so diligent and cookie cutter-you can't eat this, you can't have that, you can't have a beer. Yes, there's a time and a place to be focused and strict, and I'm not saying to go out and get drunk every night or have a dozen cookies every day. You also don't want to ride your dirt bike ten hours a day. I think if you do anything too much, it gets old.
This is your birthday weekend. How does this one rank up against the rest?
It most definitely ranks way up there with the best. I'm honored to have all of these guys come out. Some of the best current and past talent out of a lot of different sports. I'm just stoked that a lot of these guys would even take the time to come way out here to hang out. Like I said, I don't want it to be my "birthday weekend", but it was a good excuse to get some friends together to make a great memory.