For the second part of our Vision of a Pioneer feature, Aaron Chase was definitly the guy we had to interview. Aaron was probably already riding bikes before you were born, he featured in the biggest freeride videos and still kills it! He definitly played a huge role in the evolution of street MTB and freeride, so click the Read More link to get a little education about the sport and learn more about the guy.
Previously on The Rise: Vision of a pioneer with Jeff Lenosky
Name: Aaron Chase
Hometown: Smellmont, NH
Current location: On a plane over the Atlantic
Years riding: 4-eva
Sponsors: Cannondale, Red Bull, Sram/RockShox, One Industries, GoPro, DT-Swiss, Native Eyeware, Maxxis, Camelbak, SDG, Lizard Skins, Osiris Shoes, Loaded USA, Highland MTB park
Q: This will probably make you dig in some really old memories, but how did your passion for biking start at first?
A: Probably with my Dad, he used to race triathlons and always made sure I had a bike. I grew up in the woods so the mountain bike was the weapon of choice.
Q: From as far as I can remember, you've always been riding for Cannondale. Did you ride for any other frame companies during your riding years? And how are things going with Cannondale these days?
A: Nope, Cannondale for the start. Since 97! First year they gave me a frame and a jersey, the next year I got a letter in the mail (pre email) and it said they were going to pay me! From then on Cannondale has taken me on one hell of a ride and yes, they are still very good to me today. BIG THANKS!
Q: You are probably the only person I've seen ride street with a Lefty fork years ago. How did you manage to build a decent street bike with the components that were available back then?
A: Well, I was racing Pro at the time and that was my Dual Slalom bike. The Lefty fork is real nice, its just tall, so the engineers lowered it for me and raced for a year and rode street for fun.
Q: What are your main inspirations ridingwise?
A: I think you can look for inspiration from anywhere. BMX (Aitken, Bowen, Webb) is wild and I always keep my eyes on all that. FreeRide is raw and dangerous. (McCaul, Claw, Pilgim, Soderstrom) Travis Rice with those tree/ pillow boxes up in the trees. Wake skating with that winch. Skate boarding for the filming style and just style in general. You can grab inspiration from anywhere
Q: Who are your best riding buddies these days?
A: Adam Hauck, George Ryan, Jeff Lenosky, McCaul.... the list goes on and on. I love riding with all the shredders known and unknown. Anyone that has that spark helps you keep your spark. Lets ride!
Q: What is your favorite stuff to ride lately and why? Did it change over the years?
A: I love dirt! Street is real fun, Im just not as good at it anymore.... or maybe street is just getting to crazy for me... IDK, I really love to ride technical dirt of any shape. Flairs are my new thing, they feel so good when you get one under you, like the first time you flip a jump.
Q: A couple years back, you had a serious back injury. How did it happen and how was it to recover from it? Do you feel like its back to a 100% right now or does it messes with you sometimes?
A: Well, Ive told the story a hundred times. It was a freak accident at a contest in Europe and I ended up burst fracturing my L1 Vertebra. SUPER serious, I was even temporary paralyzed! I am happy and lucky to be ridding still today and its something that I think about a lot. Yeah, it still messes with me but I get by and now Im riding hard and having as much fun on my bike as I can because a freak accident can happen anytime.
Q: You probably did quite a lot of travelling during all those years as a pro bicycle rider. What would be your top-3 destinations? Not only for biking, just good places to be at.
A: Tokyo Japan was probably the farthest I ever felt from home. Cappadocia Turkey, was like riding on the moon. Europe is an endless place to explore and its only 5 hours from home.
Q: It's probably hard for your to pick only 3, but what would be your top-3 best moments ever that had to do with bikes?
A: This is a crazy hard question but here are the first three off the top of my head. Winning District Ride in 06, Watching Zink land that huge 360 at Rampage and ridding with my Daughter around the block on her Strider bike. Im telling you is on the same level of all that other insanity.
Q: What is your current bike setup? Did it change a lot or did you always aim for similar setups?
A: Cannondale Chase. I always "tweak" my bike set-up. I like low fork, low head tube and tall bars. The chain stays can never be too short and the lighter the better.
Q: Do you have any other passions or hobbies aside from riding bicycles?
A: Yeah, I like to mix it up with Skate, Snow Boarding, Mini bikes, Bowling, Poker, Guitar, pretty much what ever has wheels would be safe to say I like it.
Q: Tell us something funny about you that would surprise us. Don't be shy.
A: OK.... When I was in Tokyo with Don Hampton we were tricked into going to a "hot spring" which ended up being a "men only" 18inch deep pool that you sit in with everyone totally naked! It wasnt for me but when I saw that the showers were only accessible by sitting on a lil stool like a foot off the ground I couldnt help but laugh my ass off. Hampton and I shared more then a bar of soap if you know what I mean!!!
Q: From events back then like the Boston Bike Battle to today's huge events like Crankworks, what do you think of the way the sport is progressing?
A: The progression is off the charts! I would like to see the crazy tricks that these guys have at there home jumps on the Slopestyle course. Contests rarely put a big ol step up jump that everyone can vomit there bag of tricks on. I dont know why that is..? What I do know is that the top riders out there are "hands down" the sickest dudes on two wheels. Those guys can ride/ hit anything, the jumps that they ride in comps or film on are gnarly! It was crazy to see the top riders hitting the "mega ramp" jump at District Ride. They had one hour of practice and there were 55ft front flips, flip combos and a double flip! ..in practice!!
Q: Let's talk about videos. As far as street MTB goes, you were definitly ahead of your time when you released the Killing Time video. It was the post-webedit era, so what do you think of today's situation, where anyone can pretty much film a video with a cellphone and share it with the world in a couple hours? How would you compare today's situation with the Killing Time/Match Videozine era?
A: Internet killed the video star! haha... whatcha gonna do? Its good and bad. 5 years ago I traveled the world looking for different places to ride and film and put out the best 3 minute section I could. That is pretty cool to watch! Now, I film when I can or maybe do a trip and put it out for free online. Both are good but I really miss being in the biggest DVD releases of the year! NWD premiers at the Palms in Vegas!! I felt like KING.... It was fun while it lasted.
Q: Is there a trick you've always wanted to do but somehow never worked for you?
Q:If you could change anything about mountain biking right now, what would it be and why?
A: Ok, I really think sk8 helmets with goggles is the worst look for us (Freeride MTB) I view our sport in between FMX and BMX. We should ride slopestyle in a Full Face, pants, long sleeve shirt/ jersey, gloves, no skin showing. I think that Zink and Semenuk are doing a good job with the image of the sport right now. Check out how official those two look at Crankworx next time.
Q: Do you have any plans or goals for the next five years?
A: Are you kidding! Im not following the competition circuit so I have to make my own plans. Hold on Loosely Tour 2012 is in full swing! Harley Davidson fueled free ride trip starting in Vegas and out to the Utah desert. If you have seen the last ones online you will love this one! Red Bull is backing it and it will be a 6 par web series on the Red Bull YouTube channel.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just getting started riding bikes?
A: Keep on truck'n
Q: Anyone you would like to thank?
My family, friends, sponsors, fans and anyone that helped my out along the way. Thanks!
Follow Aaron riding, swimming and partying around the world.
Aaron definitly had a big impact on the whole biking scene during the NWD era, so this is a good watch for sure!