Recently, I headed up to Massachusetts to catch up with BMX racer turned pharmacist Johnny Pinsonnault. I really had no clue what to expect. Outside of BMX races I had never hung out with him, and the only time I spoke to him prior in regards to him sending me season one of Gossip Girl on DVD. But in the three days I visited Johnny, I learned quite a bit. For starters, he is a donut connoisseur. He also has awesome parents, and if he's going to do something, he's going to do it right, whether that's becoming a doctor, throwing down hot laps at every race or digging at the trails. If he has a goal, he'll do everything in his power to meet it. And when he's not killing it on his bike in 26-34 Expert or searching for donuts and junk food, his days are spent at the hospital distributing medicine. Even though Johnny wasn't in the the Action Sports Braniacs feature, he fits right in there. This is Johnny Pinsonnault.
Home: Springfield, MA
Local Track: Torrington, CT
College: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston Campus
Degree: Doctorate of Pharmacy
There aren't many riders on the race scene that can win a main, rip the trails and legally prescribe medicine. In fact, John Pinsonnaut is the first of his kind; BMXer turned Pharmacist.
Why did you end up becoming a pharmacist rather than something else? Does anyone else in your family have a doctorate or similar degree?
I was interested in med school, pharmacy, and fashion school. Fashion is hard to break into and I don't like examining people, so pharmacy seemed like the right thing to do. Nobody in my family has a doctorate. I'm the trailblazer.
If you didn't end up going to pharmacy school, what direction do you think your life would have taken?
I would've attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC to eventually design clothes for top retailers. That has always been a dream of mine.
What is the craziest thing you've seen go down while on the job?
Car accidents and little kids getting sick are the worst, but the craziest is the things people get stuck in certain places. It's shocking.
We're more behind the scenes in the pharmacy.
When most people think of a doctor working in a hospital, they think of Scrubs, House or ER. What exactly do you do in the pharmacy at the hospital?
In short, hospital pharmacists act as a drug information resource for physicians and nurses while verifying every medication order a patient gets. We're more behind the scenes in the pharmacy.
Is it how any of these shows portray it?
Yes and no. Physicians and medical personnel write the medical dialogue so that part is accurate. But for dramatic effect, they add inaccurate stuff. Like when a patient "flat lines," they don't whip out the paddles and start shocking, they give drugs!! Shocking is way more dramatic than pushing drugs though.
Is it just a coincidence that you happen to look like a cross between Zack Braff (Scrubs) and Doogie Howser MD or was it fate?
It's definitely fate. They're smarter and make a lot more money, but can they rip 30-foot dubs?
You took a few years off from racing for pharmacy school. How does it feel to have a solid season under your belt?
I love it! Now I can travel to races and have a blast without pressure. I improved with every race this season so I'm eyeing the #1 plate in 2010, and beating Pat Parker as much as possible.
What are your plans for 2010 BMX wise? You predominately race NBL, are you thinking about possibly going ABA at all?
Before starting grad school I raced ABA a little and this year I'd like to get an ABA plate too. The 19-27x class will be crazy but might whip me into shape.
While you were away at school did you keep riding? Was the work load too demanding?
The workload was too much for traveling, plus I couldn't afford to race while being a poor college student. I rode park and trails on school breaks and during summer, but didn't race. Before racing I only rode trails so this wasn't a big change.
Why is Gossip Girl the best show on TV?
GG gets us into the lives of high fashion promiscuous adolescent billionaires, can we ask for anything else? It's magical.
You wore Stampede colors for 2009, who are you going to be representing for 2010 race season?
I'm still getting support from Fat-Trax and Stampede, but will represent Standard Bykes for 2010! Some of my first race/trail bikes were Standards, so it's a dream come true.
What do you aspire to become in your professional life? What are your long-term goals in medicine?
I want to become a board certified psychiatric pharmacist. Psychiatry is an interest of mine and certification would make me an expert. Working in a psych unit and teaching psychopharmacology lectures would be long-term goals.
Do you have any hobbies outside of BMX, Gossip Girl and GTR's?
Working out the beach muscles, shopping/fashion, sneakers, video games, cars, traveling and talking trash.
Who do you ride and train with to keep yourself up to par?
There's huge talent in our area for ramp and street, but nobody's into racing or trails. I ride trails, hit the gym, and do sprints alone before work most days. Getting a riding crew together is hard when life gets in the way.
What does your training regimen look like?
Staying on the bike seems to work best for me. Trails or park as much as possible, gym 3-4 days/week, and uphill/downhill/flat sprints 3 days/week. During the winter I tend to slack on sprints but once racing season is in full swing, I get motivated.
You raced A Pro for a little while before falling off in the race scene to pursue your career in pharmacy. Do you aspire to ever race professionally again?
When I turned up, I was at the top of my game. National #2 in 18-20x behind power house Beatty and making pretty much every main unless crashing out. I turned up on my way into pharmacy school after doing my undergrad and being delusional, thinking I could handle both. A-Pro was a different animal then. A lot of people turned up when they weren't top amateurs, which led to a lot of crashes. People would end your season for $20, which took the fun out of racing. I was either 1st or last in A-Pro and crashed in pretty much every main I made. Now Super-Ex riders are dialed, but I'm not sure I could commit the time it would take to be competitive in that class. In expert I'm calmer at races and not freaking out on the gate, so I probably won't ever turn back up. I'll just keep snaking into pro practice.
What got you into pharmacy in the first place?
Two of my buddies are pharmacists and knew I liked chemistry, so they told me to check it out. The rest is history. One of the people is my current boss Sean, who used to race BMX so he understands when I need time off for racing.
While up at your house, I learned that you were a solid all around rider. Is there a reason you stick to racing and trails over anything else?
Street and park are fun but I prefer racing and trails. Skateparks that are set up to flow like trails and go high are where it's at, but most aren't like that. I can have fun riding pretty much anything though, if my good friends are around to ride with.
Any thank yous before we wrap this up?
My parents, family, and girlfriend Senita, Bryon Lewis (B.L,), Mike Lee and the guys at Fat-Trax, Rick and Jess at SBC, Ben and Chris G. at Stampede, Tom and Tyler Johnson, my bosses Sean and Scott at Baystate Health for a race friendly schedule, and anyone else who's helped me out along the way, thanks!!