One would assume that, naturally, most professional BMX riders get paid to ride their bikes and travel the world for a living. But that isn't always the case. In fact, there's a good number of BMX pros that hold down full-time jobs or self-owned businesses on the side.
Brian Hunt is not one of them.
Granted, he is a professional BMXer. And granted, he does make money from riding his bike. But Brian's also possessed by a strange attraction to temporary, off-kilter employment of all types. "It's actually become a hobby of mine, finding really odd, funny jobs," says Hunt. The Derry, NH native, currently at Woodward Camp in PA and undergoing therapy for a fractured ankle, has no shortage of experience in the temporary work force. Before getting picked up by a wealth of sponsors, including DK, System Cycle, Orchid Footwear, POC Helmets, Rye Airfield, Eastern Boarder and Maxxis Tires, the 28-year-old park, trails and street ripper drove forklifts, delivered phone books, and even posed as a secret shopper.
All this while maintaining a progressive BMX career marked by the ability to go huge and stylish on anything that's thrown in front of him. And I didn't have the slightest clue about any of it. In fact, before this interview, I simply thought Brian was an awesome bike rider that was super friendly and very thankful for everything that's come his way thus far in BMX. But there's a lot more to Brian Hunt than just amazing BMX riding. There's a very dedicated work ethic, even if he claims it's just a hobby or a way to keep gas in his car. What follows is a collection of experiences from Brian Hunt involving odd jobs, BMX demos and his entrance into the professional BMX ranks. Look out Craigslist, here comes B. Hunt.
"I used to work at Home Depot, four or five years ago. That was cool, driving a forklift. I actually lost my drivers license while I was working there for speeding tickets, so I used to ride an hour to work from my house. And then, on my lunch break, I used to ride down to the local park, go ride there and have as much fun as possible. I'd stop, grab a hot dog and a Coke, eat it real quick. I had it timed perfect. It took me seven minutes to ride there, I could ride for 35 minutes, then seven minutes back and be back in time for the end of the lunch break."
"Most recently, since the winter is kinda slow, I was just looking for random jobs, and I found this secret shopper job. I had no idea what it was about, I looked into it. It was for beer and alcohol sales. I'd go into a store, I'd buy a case of beer and bring it to the register, and if they asked for my ID, then I give them a green card, and if they don't, I give them a red card. If you get the red card, it says, "Shame on you. ID People" or something like that. And they're supposed to tell their manager. I only did four or five stops per trip, and it's like $70 for two hours of work. It's pretty good, and it helps me get gas money for going to the park... They do it for cigarettes too, and when I ask for a pack of cigarettes, I love picking out the most random brands, like "Can I get a pack of Camels?" If I smoked cigarettes, I certainly wouldn't smoke Camels. The girl didn't ask for my ID, and she saw who I was once I gave her the red card. At that point, they instructed me to leave the store and give a brief description of what the clerk looked like. I love funny jobs like that."
I love funny jobs.
PHONE BOOK DELIVERY
"One year before that, I broke my face. I fractured bones in my face right before a DK trip. So I'm chilling in Boston, and I found this job delivering phone books that paid outrageous money. It was a little wear and tear on your car, but it paid good. One time, all I had to deliver was a stack of 300 phone books to the bottom of a hotel or an apartment complex. I could just make one drop and that would be a $300 route. And it would take two seconds."
"For Christmas, I worked for UPS as a driver helper one time. I worked with this dude who looked like Dave Chappelle, and he made me pee my pants from laughing every day we were working. He called me "Brian" the first time he met me, and two seconds later, he said, "Yo B, get over here and drop this package off!" He would send me into the beauty salons and tell me about the fine women inside, then ask me to get their phone numbers. That dude was awesome. Hopefully, I'll find him again."
"I was out in Denver. I remember the exact phone call. I was in a hotel room, and Brian Kachinksy called me. I hadn't spoken to him much ever. He told me that DK was looking for a new guy and said that I was his first choice. I told him that I'd be pretty psyched on it. I got on the beginning of the next year, and we started off with an amazing trip out to California. A couple months later, it got going and it's been a non-stop adventure ever since."
"I do some demos through DK and Maxxis. We used to do an annual thing out in California. We'd go from the top of the state to the bottom, and they would actually drive all the way out from Ohio. I was never able to meet them and drive out there, so they would usually pick me up in Vegas. Then we'd hit as many parks as possible on the way out from there, taking our time. And in between shows, we'd go out riding spots. Probably some of the wildest stories that I have come from those trips... But as far as non-DK shows are concerned, I do some with this guy out of New Hampshire named Josh Carlton through Maximum Velocity. This guy doesn't even ride bikes. He just loves to help bike riders make a couple of dollars. He hooked up some amazing shows at Kennywood, an amusement park. Just some crazy park. And we get in for free, the ramps are super dialed and built by my friends. We get to ride roller coasters all day, eat ice cream, with passes to the water park, plus amazing trails, concrete and street in Pittsburgh. It helps out with bills. I only do a week every month during the summer. It's way easier to not have to work a real job. I'd rather do shows for a week and be able to ride the other three weeks without having to worry about going to work or paying bills. Especially medical bills. I've still got tons to pay from breaking ribs and my jaw."
THE PRO LIFESTYLE
"Being a professional bike rider, it's certainly a blessing. It's not as easy as some people think it is. There's tons of guys out there that are struggling, and there's a couple at the top, but those guys kill themselves. I think shows are the best way to keep your head above water. For the most part though, going on trips, having people pay your way to other countries, free bike parts, I think that's amazing. And I never thought that would be something that I would ever ever do. I consider myself fortunate. I hear people complaining about what their sponsors aren't doing for them, but I try to look at it as being thankful. I just went to China and Colombia. Complaining about any of this would be a waste of time. I would rather just focus on the wonderful opportunities I've been given."