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All You Need Is Love: The Simon Tabron Interview…

"Encapsulating a lifestyle - The Rise Of Simon Tabron"

Introduction (By Chad Kagy)

There are few people in this world that believe in you more than you believe in yourself. There are few people that can do more on their own than what they show while people are watching. There are many people that will call you out but only few that do it when you deserve it or need it.

Simon is all of these things and he goes out of his way to make himself and the people he cares about happy. Because of these characteristics, he can come across as quite misunderstood by everyone else that hasn’t taken the time to get to know who he is.

We, as BMX riders, see the world in a different way than everyone else. I can almost always see where Simon is coming from but his originality keeps everyone guessing what he’ll do next. His riding style has always been smooth & consistent so it’s easy to see why BMXers consider him a podium contender at contests but you never get to see the side of Si that goes out street riding or riding a concrete park. Just because you see Si on TV at the X-Games doing an interview, don’t assume you know him. He didn’t get rid of his brakes and pegs to be trendy. I think he even dropped the pegs before street rats made it cool not to have pegs. If you get the chance to talk to Si away from the circus of contests I know you will be impressed with the kind of person and rider Simon truly is. Talk to him about how tricks are done, don’t determine how he rides but the shapes your body & bike can make in the air determine what tricks he does and how they’re done.

Hopefully this interview shows what kind of person Simon Tabron is. He has such drive and a diverse thought process that he will do back to back 900’s for a TV comp on a perfect ramp but then follow that up with a perfect 900 at an FBM Ghetto High Air Comp on pallets & plywood. Then the next week, Si will do shows for Make A Wish Foundation at T.Hawk’s warehouse. I’ve known Simon since 1998 and we’ve been great friends since then and no doubt have many more adventures to come. He’s been a big influence in my riding and I’m lucky to have a guy like that as part of my extended family that’s got my back no matter what – Chad

"Chad & Simon... Brothers from different Mothers!"

Full Name: Simon Tabron/ Nationality: British/ Sponsors: Rockstar Energy Drink, 5050BMX, Stay Strong, Vans & Bell/ D.O.B: 17th October, 1973…

A)     Right Mr Tabron; let’s get things started with a buzz – How did you celebrate the New Year? And have you made any New Years resolutions?

I spent Christmas in Florida with my in-laws and then went to Denver for New Year and a friend’s wedding. It was a pretty fun time, it was snowy and cold, we hung out with a bunch of friends and drank a lot! It was a cool trip but I was glad to get back home to California. I was missing my bike! I always feel like that after Christmas, all I can think about is throwing myself back into my riding and never drinking again!

My New year’s resolution this year was simply to try and ‘seize the day’ more. Take every opportunity and do as much as I can.

Simon was born in Liverpool, where he resided for three years, subsequently moving to Southport, where he spent the rest of his childhood. At age eight Simon was witnessing what many herald as the golden years of BMX – Racing was getting serious international TV coverage; both Haro and Torker had recently released the first freestyle specific frames and the major motion picture “E.T the Extra-Terrestrial” had recently been released…

B)     The early 80’s was clearly a boom period in the evolution of BMX; How did your career start? And how did you set yourself up as a rider?

I just rode around the neighborhood with my friends on our bikes, doing skids and making little jumps and stuff – Then I saw BMX bikes, bikes designed for what we were already kind of doing, so it was logical. I still remember riding that first bike home like it was yesterday.

C)    You got into “Freestyle” a little later – What made freestyle a more attractive pursuit over racing?

Racing was fun at first but it began to bore me. I’d get yelled at for doing an x-up or a tabletop in a race. Like parents would take me to one side and explain that I was losing time in the air and jeopardizing the other kids with my ‘showboating’. I didn’t like getting criticized – To me, the whole point was jumping and having fun. Sure there was a race but it was BMX not athletics.

Then a quarter-pipe appeared at our racetrack and that was it. I started missing my races because I was riding the ramp. It was ironic, I stopped caring about racing but that was when I started winning races. I think I quit completely when I was 11. Racing was too organized and formal, I just didn’t fit.

I guess it was the ‘free’ in freestyle that appealed to me. I went to a really strict school and my parents were fairly strict. When I rode my bike, I wanted to be able to do whatever I wanted, that’s why it appealed to me. Other sports had rules and referees and stuff, even BMX racing felt too constrained to me. It was as though I was always doing something wrong and someone was always yelling at me about it. That’s why I liked freestyle so much. I just liked the feeling of being in the air and doing tricks. There were no rules so I couldn’t do anything ‘wrong’.

"Age Eleven and Simon was already establishing an uncanny ability"

D)     It wasn’t long until you were capturing the imaginations of those around you – The neighboring children would even badger their parents (possibly vice-versa!) into stopping by your house, in order to check out the latest maneuvers you had to display… What stands out  from this time in your life?

I remember just having a really tight little crew of friends and we rode together every single day. I had a quarter at my house, so did one of my friends, another friend had jumps and we had spots all over town. We all rode so much that, inevitably, we started progressing – Ramps, dirt, street, flat, everything.

A funny memory from that period was a Liverpool footballer called Alan Hansen; he lived in the same road as me and we even had a jump at the entrance of his driveway that was named after him. He used to stop by sometimes at the weekend when he was out walking with his kids and watch us hit my quarter. He seemed like a nice guy and always used to smile and be complementary.

I remember being really clear in my mind that BMX was the greatest thing ever, the answer to everything. It was around this time that I told my mum what I was going to do ‘when I grew up’.

She laughed at me and said that BMX was silly, that I should get into something “where I would be able to travel and meet people. Something like football?”…      I knew she meant well, but she didn’t understand. I mean, how could she have?

Caption.4: "What if Simon Tabron had turned his focus to football, instead of BMX?"

E)     It was also around this time period that you started riding contests – What’s your earliest memories of competition?

My first memories of contests are how intimidating the whole thing was, but of me and my friends coming out of nowhere and doing pretty well immediately. It was as though we were hurled into the deep end but were already swimming before we even hit the water.

It was crazy how quickly we made new friends and how our world just opened up. I remember that, within about a year and a half, we went from hanging out in our neighborhood to riding local contests, then regional contests, then national contests and, finally, when I was 13, the World Championships. The whole time, I was just a kid who liked to ride. I never really stopped and thought about it, I just kept rolling with it, wherever it took me.

It was around this time that my dad started to take my riding pretty seriously. He’d been encouraging and supportive from the start but, after my first Worlds (I got 3rd), I think he realized how important it was to me. He started getting more and more involved, driving me and my friends all over the country to contests and events, helping us build bigger and better ramps and, essentially, sponsoring me. When I look back, I can see how lucky I was, he carried me and a couple of my friends until we became sponsored pros and got our own cars and money. Those days are definitely some of my happiest memories of my dad. And he was always pretty cool, never a pushy parent. He was more like our roadie!

F)    After a strong show at the Worlds, it was only a matter of time until you started picking up your first legitimate sponsors – Who were they? And how did they affect your outlook on riding?

I was 15 when I got my first sponsor – Freestyle BMX magazine (that later became Invert) had a team and they approached me to ride for them. At the time I was getting a little help from the Haro distributor, but this seemed more full on; it came with a Converse deal and a clothing company deal and demos, and I would get to be team mates with Scott Carroll, one of my favorite vert riders.

Suddenly, I was getting magazine coverage, I had sponsors and I was winning contests. I think that the biggest effect that it had on me was it made me step up. I started trying harder, scarier tricks. I was getting to ride with people who were way better than me. Scott had a big influence on me over the next couple of years and there were other pros at the time like Lee Reynolds, Andy Brown, Mike Canning, Jason Ellis and John Povah who all seemed to accept me and kind of take me under their wing. It was a crazy time for me because suddenly I was hanging out with guys that I’d seen in magazines and looked up to. I think that’s a lot to do with how and why I started to step up my riding, I was 15 and got tired of being scared of tricks. I tried my first 900 when I was 15, pretty much full speed, about 6 feet out. I didn’t get close but I’d opened a can of worms.

"Back in the day the caption may have read a little like this - Bio top-side 1-hand, 1-foot, bar-grab"

In 1990 Simon made the move back to Liverpool, where he was to live for the next few years of his life; he then moved to London for a few years (age 17-19), and then back to Liverpool for another spell (age 19-21)…

G)     When reminiscing about the times of your youth spent in Liverpool; what are the highlights that spring to mind? And how do you feel the experiences sculpted you as an individual?

By the time we moved back to Liverpool, I was 16. I’d just finished high school and had turned pro. My parents got divorced and my dad moved away. Almost everything in my world changed that year but I just sucked it all up, I embraced the change. The day after I finished school, I went on tour for about 3 months, barely coming home at all. If I’m honest, Liverpool wasn’t a fun place, kind of a harsh and hard city. I was having too much fun traveling and riding to give my home life a second thought. It was probably a really good way of dealing with all of the changes in my life at the time.

The harshness of Liverpool as a city gave me a lot in terms of having to grow up early and learn to look after myself. No one gives you an inch in Liverpool; it’s unapologetic in its ruthlessness.

To this day, I still feel as though I have a lot of Liverpool in my sense of humour, sometimes harsh and sarcastic. My dad used to quote John Lennon a lot; he always tried to instill Lennon’s sense of humour and fearlessness in me. Fearlessness when it came to just being yourself and doing what you believe is right whether it’s popular or not. I know that influenced me a lot to take responsibility for myself, not to be scared of what people think, not to be scared to be myself.

So Liverpool definitely had a big influence on me, it gave me grit and determination. It gave me a unique outlook, a sense of always trying to be better without ever taking myself too seriously. There’s a weird dynamic in Scouse* culture where you always see things as ‘you against the world’, like a chip on your shoulder so you try twice as hard to prove yourself.

Liverpool definitely influenced a lot of who I am. I blame my dad for a lot of it. And John Lennon.

* ‘Scouse’ is what you call all things from Liverpool – people, culture, etc.

Caption.6: "In answer to 'Caption.4' - You'd have never been able to enjoy these classic lookback's!" (Pic: RideUSA)

Guest quote: “There are people that define every sport; every attitude and era. Simon Tabron has defined our sport by riding the line between pure fun and gnarly.” – John Parker

"Simon, Bar-hop, 1989"

H)     It was also around this time in your life, that you started being classed as a Pro competitor… Tell us about this milestone in your career?

I knew I wanted to turn pro as soon as I could. Back then, there was a controlling body, an organization, and you had to be 16 and finish in the top 3 for the year end. Then you could advance to ‘Masterclass’ before turning pro a year later.

My first Masterclass contest was January 1990. I remember that Jamie Bestwick turned that day as well and it was the first time we had ever competed against each other. Jamie was a few years older than me and I felt he was a lot better so it was pretty intimidating. My memories of that day, of my first pro contest were Jamie going so high, about 13 feet, and of everything I did in my run working out pretty well. Somehow I got 1st. I was pretty surprised and flattered to beat Jamie but I was also super relieved that turning pro hadn’t been a mistake. It gave me new belief in myself, that I could actually go somewhere. At this point, I was still in school and still just rolling wherever BMX took me. I was still in awe of the whole thing.

The rest of that year was like a whirlwind. I started riding against all the big European pros and was making top 3, I left school and started traveling constantly, making money from demos and contests and from sponsors. I also got to hang out and ride with Mat Hoffman for a week. He was in England for a demo (the infamous day that he pulled the first flair, as it would turn out). I’d met Mat and seen him ride a couple of times before but, this time, we rode together for a whole week and I got to know him a bit better. I remember having an epiphany that week; as far as I’d come in BMX, I was still nothing, I still had a million miles to go. Mat was like no other rider I had ever seen. I’d ridden with some amazing people but Mat was from a different planet. It was pretty cool, it has humbling and it gave me a lot to aim for in my own riding.

"Early video-grab of Simon and Mat."

Fast-forward several years to 1995 – A classic year for Simon! He packed his bags and made the move to Bristol, where he was to reside for a total of seven years, before moving to Cornwall. During the first year of his move to Bristol, he also met his then fiancée …

I)     Two fairly major lifestyle changes! How did these events affect your course in BMX your perspective on life?

Firstly, the move was amazing. I had lived in London for a few years, had ridden for Hoffman Bikes for a while and had been to America, but BMX had somehow ‘died’. There was no way of being a ‘pro’ in the true sense. I’d worked regular jobs all those years and been a bmxer at the weekend. I was pretty happy with this set-up and had no big expectations of a ‘career’ or anything like that. Jamie and I had started riding together pretty regularly and we were definitely pushing and learning and progressing. I think we both believed in ourselves but there just seemed to be no way out. We were both working full time jobs and riding contests and demos once in a while but there didn’t seem to be anything on the horizon. I just worked and rode. Bided my time.

Then I moved to Bristol to work at GT’s warehouse. I was riding for them at the time and it was just the kind of change I needed. I started riding with the whole Bristol crew and we started doing lots of GT demos around the country. Running the demos quickly became my job at GT. I’d work in the warehouse during the week then drive the ramp rig and ride demos at the weekend. I remember working seven days a week for months on end but loving it because it was one hundred percent BMX.

I also met Pippa that year and we got married the following year. Marriage was a big change for sure, but it was just another fun adventure that I was embarking on. Less than a year after leaving Liverpool, I’d got married and bought a house.

The changes were good changes. Big, bold, scary changes but good ones. I was finally on my own two feet, doing my own thing. I was twenty-two and felt like I’d finally started to grow up and have a bit of independence.

"Simon takes time out from touring - But it's still show time!"

"Rail hop, from flat, 99.9% of modern day street riders need not apply!"

J)     With reference purely to the competitive side of your lifestyle – What was your highlight from the 90’s in general?

I think my highlight from the 90’s was getting back into serious contests again and all that it did for me. Suddenly, people were putting on bigger contests with prize money all over Europe. I started going to every event that I could. Then I got a sponsor who paid me enough to quit my job, my first ever real salary from riding – between my sponsors and prize money, I was pretty much keeping my head above water and more importantly, was able to ride every day!

It was around this time that I felt ready to go back to America to compete. I talked to my old friend Mat and we hatched a plan to get me back out there. He wrote a letter to my sponsors, asking them to send me to the X-Games and it worked out perfectly, they were so stoked that I knew Mat and that he would want me to come out and compete that they went with it.

So I went to Virginia Beach for the ‘X-Trials’, a qualifier for the X-Games. I was so damned nervous and rode like crap. I think I crashed in all of my runs but, somehow, still got seventh place and earned an invite to the X-Games in San Diego.

I went home and rode my ass off, I was so bummed at getting seventh place and I wanted to be ready. I knew this was a great opportunity and I didn’t want to waste it.

In the end, I got third place in San Diego, behind Mirra and McCoy and, much to my surprise, ahead of Miron and Bestwick. That, for me, was the complete highlight of the 90’s. The one event that changed everything for me. I literally couldn’t afford to come back and try the next year, it was a kind of ‘all or nothing’ situation that worked out for me. Whatever kind of a ‘career’ I’ve had since, I credit back to that one X-Games. It was a pretty pivotal moment in my life.

From there, I got US sponsors and started coming out for contests all the time. Things continued to go well, I made every final in every contest for the next few years, getting top three at a lot of them. My riding was really starting to progress now that I didn’t have to work a job. Honestly, it felt as though my dreams were coming true. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

"Tabron & Bestwick have been friends and rivals from day one!" (Pic: RideUSA)

In 2001 Activision published the video game Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX. Only a select handful of riders were fortunate enough to become game characters – Simon Tabron was at the front of the pack. The game proved to be very popular, which led to the release of the sequel, again featuring Tabron…

"Mad Mat & Stoked Si"

K)     How does being invited to star in the computer game come about? And what did the process involve for yourself?

It was kind of straight forward, Mat told me about the game and said he’d like me to be in it and I said yes! I’d been playing Tony Hawk’s game, so I knew how good it was going to be, basically the same thing but with bikes. I got pretty involved, I was definitely excited about the project and flattered that Mat had asked me.

For ‘Mat Hoffman 2’ we did a road-trip to film original footage, it was a super fun trip with a big mix of characters – Nate Wessel, Chad Kagy, Mat, Ruben, me and Rooftop. I had a lot of fun filming for the game with those guys.

The whole thing was unexpected and an honor. One of those funny things that just kind of fell in my lap. Thanks Mat!

If your in America this may not play – But you could click here to view!

A unique facet of Simon Tabron’s identity, is the fact that his bike’s have been devoid of breaks and pegs since 2002 – One rider’s restrictive modifications, another rider’s plethora of potential…

L)     You’re noted for being the only competing vert rider to roll both break-less and peg-less… Where did you get the inspiration? And what was the motivation?

It was a long time coming; I’ve always ridden with skateboarders and been influenced by how creative they are, how they can do so much with so little. I started thinking about stripping my bike back, losing the pegs and brakes, in order to force myself to ride differently. Everything seemed so standard and all vert riders were pretty much doing the same things. I wanted to try and explore in my own direction.

The pegs came off first, I think in 2001. My theory was that no one needed to see me doing peg grinds on a vert ramp, I was more interested in being in the air than on the coping. It was weird at first, especially in contests. If I lost my speed, I couldn’t disguise it with lip tricks so it forced me to stay in the air and try to be a bit more creative. I had to come up with different, more fluid ways of doing lip tricks.

I’d been doing ‘body jars’, tyre bonks or whatever for years but they suddenly came into their own, a way to regulate speed, I learnt tricks like barspins and no handers into them. Then came tyre slides. I worked for so long on them, influenced by skater’s tail slides. I knew I could make them work and had tried for years; it wasn’t until I learnt downside icepicks and then took my pegs off, that was the key. I also learnt sprocket grinds and to nose bonk the coping.

Next was supposed to be the brakes but Mat Hoffman took his brakes off and it made me hesitate; I figured people would just think I was copying him so I left it for a while.

Then, in 2003, Zach Shaw was riding my backyard ramp and he got his lever caught in his jeans on a turndown. He landed with his bars still at 180 and ended up breaking his arm.

The next day, he told me he was going to take his brake off when he started riding again and I immediately said I’d do it too. So, that day, I took my brake off then Zach and I went out to my ramp to see how it was. I worked out that I only used my brake on five or six tricks and I never covered my lever with my fingers when I was in the air so it should be okay. Over the next half hour, I did pretty much every vert trick I could do without a brake and it started to feel fine, kind of exciting and liberating. Everything felt new. The only thing that I didn’t do that day was a 900. I’d always ‘brake tagged‘ the landing on 9’s to stop me from looping out or whatever so I figured I would just have to try and nose dive them in more. This was a large part of my motivation, to force me to be more committed and not use my brake as a ‘safety net’.

The day after, I flew to America for a contest, the Gravity Games I think, and was then going on tour for 2 months doing shows for Tony Hawk. I figured the 2 months would force me to get used to no-brakes.

The contest worked out great without brakes and I discovered that 9’s did naturally nose dive more without a brake because I was able to move my cranks and body position in the air more. They were actually easier, it turned out!

I became so comfortable with my new simple set up and, to this day, find it almost impossible to change. Once in a while, I’ll put a peg or a brake on, just to check I’m not missing out or to do a trick that I’ve been missing, but I always end up taking it off after a couple of runs. It just feels weird and horrible and restrictive to me now. Plus, I’ve spent years progressing with no brakes or pegs so it feels like I’m betraying my style to change it.

It’s something that I did out of curiosity, to change the rules for myself, to make everything new again after years of riding with a brake or two brakes or two pegs or four pegs. I’d done all of that and was bored with it. I knew what I liked about my riding, what I liked to do, and I just streamlined, prioritized!

I think it’s cool that so many people ride without brakes or pegs now and that it just seems normal. When I first did it, it was kind of a leap of faith. I had no idea whether it was going to work or whether I was just gonna kill myself. I think, in the end, it came to define my riding.

A skater friend told me recently that he doesn’t think I get enough credit for being brakeless and pegless, but I don’t think it’s about credit, it’s too personal for that. It’s just my thing that I do for me to keep me happy and to keep things interesting!

"No Breaks, No Pegs, No Fear"

M)     Now’s a good time to hear about your frame – What was the story? And was it more about individuality or improved ergonomics?

Well I’d had my own pro model for years and then I started riding for We The People and the frame I was on just didn’t feel right. I knew what I wanted but didn’t want to take a backwards step to my old sponsor and I didn’t want to start a bike company so I asked my friend Eddie from 5050 if he’d be interested in doing a frame with me and selling it through his shop, like a ‘shop frame’. He said yes immediately and talked to S&M the next week at Interbike and they said they could definitely do it for us. So I went to S&M’s factory and told them exactly what I wanted and they made a limited run of 25 frames for us. Five with my geometry, twenty with a more street-friendly geometry. Then we sold them all through 5050. I kept five, gave one to my cousin and one to Brian Blyther.

I felt like the whole thing worked out great for me. I had no interest in starting a bike company but, thanks to S&M and 5050, I got my own custom frames and was able to be involved in a really cool project with those guys.

"Simon's current bike..."

N)     It was also during 2002 that you relocated to Cornwall – What was the motivation?

The vert ramp that I rode in Bristol was going to be torn down. They talked about it for ages and it seemed really uncertain, so I said what the hell, I’m gonna move, get a house with a big yard and build my own ramp. My wife’s family lived in Cornwall and we used to spend a lot of time there. Bristol was feeling old, I had itchy feet and it was time to move. Plus, it was my life long ambition to have my own backyard vert ramp so the timing was right and I threw all of my chips into a new adventure.

"Timeless style"

O)     What was the highlight of the 00’s in general?

I think that the entire 00’s were a highlight. I had ten really crazy years of traveling the world doing the thing that I love. I met so many great people, went to so many great places, had so many amazing experiences.

I guess the biggest thing for me was that my riding kept progressing. With every year that went by, I loved riding more and more and kept learning stuff, kept progressing. To me, the whole being pro and riding contests and having sponsors thing has always just been an honest means to an end. Riding comes first always and I found a way to be able to ride every day that I wanted to and still be able to pay my bills and travel and all that. Considering I never really believed that I could be a real pro, it’s pretty crazy now to look back at that whole decade and realize that I pulled it off. I feel pretty damned lucky, I have to tell you.

"Simon takes time out, to chill with good friend Mr Murray" (Pic:RideUSA)

Fast-forward to 2011 and Simon’s situation has changed again – Simon’s been living in the USA since 2008, has formed new relationships, been given new opportunities and progressed as a rider…

P)     You’ve been commuting back and forth between England and America for time – The move was perhaps inevitable… So why’s it taken so long? And what was the ‘final straw’ which led to the move?

Okay, this is a tough one, just really personal. My life was always in England and I gave up thinking about moving to America years ago. It was just too much of a big deal, like a crazy big upheaval. I really liked bouncing back and forth between America and Europe, it was like the best of both worlds.

Then, in 2008, my wife had this meltdown and decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore. I was in California and she told me over the phone, told me not to come home. It was the beginning of the craziest year of my life.

I flew straight back to see what the hell was going on and she was one hundred percent determined that this was what she wanted. We’d been together for twelve years and I had no idea at all, didn’t see it coming whatsoever. No warning, nothing.

It was the most immature and erratic thing I had ever seen – I just thought ‘fuck it’, time to take care of me. She’d always been such a baby about everything, including breaking up so I just took off and started looking out for number one.

So, long story short, I flew back to America, to Chad Kagy’s house and, half way across the Atlantic, I had an epiphany. My life in England had just imploded, there was no longer anything to keep me there. I could suddenly go anywhere I wanted and do whatever I wanted. I remember being on that plane and saying out loud. “That’s it, I’ll move to America.”

Chad picked me up at the airport and I told him what I had decided. He said I could stay for as long as I wanted. So I moved in with Chad for a while.

Then, everything just started to fall into place. I spent time at Chad’s, spent time in Salt Lake with my friends there. Just kind of found my balance again, rode my bike a lot and started wondering about what to do next.

After a few months, I was dating a girl who lived in California and it occurred to me that I’d always wanted to live in California.

So I rented an apartment.

Then I flew back to England, sold almost everything I owned, shipped seven bags and boxes of my belongings to my new apartment, filed for a divorce, applied for a work visa and moved to America. Zach Shaw came and stayed with me at my house in England, helped me sell stuff and kept my head as straight as possible.

I really found out who my friends were through that whole period. I went to hell and back a few times but it was worth it and it all worked out for the best in the long run. It prompted me to make changes in my life that I’d been thinking of for years and to finally move to America. I’ve never been happier. It was worth all of the craziness and the hell and the upheaval. Life’s kind of great these days!

"You should have moved here earlier, dammit... (POW!) Take that!"

Q)     I read on the internet that you regularly get the opportunity to ride with childhood heroes Brian Blyther and Mike Dominguez… In terms of symbolism; how would you describe riding with them? Is it a sign of self-actualization?..

Haha, I’m still like a little nine year old kid when I ride with those guys but I’ve also become pretty good friends with them. Wilkerson too. It’s surreal, these guys were literally on posters on my wall when I was a little kid and now they’re my friends. Their influence shaped everything that I aspired to be. It’s such an honor to have been able to meet and get to know these guys and explain to them the extent of their collective influence. Truly humbling but fun as well. It’s great to meet your heros and not be disappointed by them. Brian and Ron and Mike are the real deal and the illusion never shattered when I got to know them. I have the utmost respect for those guys.

"Legends of Vert"

R)     You also get to jam with riders like Bestwick, Robinson and Kagy… Has this proven to be the boost you were looking for? And do you act as mentors for one another?

Well, I don’t really ride with those guys any more than I used to, they’re all on the east coast. Always great when I do, though.

In Cali, the only bike rider that I really ride vert with is Coco. I ride with Blyther and Dominguez and John Povah and some other guys but we usually ride cement. For the most part, I just ride with skateboarders. I ride with other bmxers probably every two weeks or something.

"1-hand, invert"

S)     With reference to media coverage; it’s rare to see you ride anything other than vert… Do you get much time nowadays to dabble with any other aspects of BMX? Also, I saw an old photo of you on the Internet busting a mean bunny-hop… How high can you go, without a transition?


I’ll always ride everything. It’s just that sometimes a whole year will go by without me riding dirt or something like that. I just go with whatever but anything away from vert is kind of private. Like I don’t ever think that anyone would be interested in seeing me ride street. I go through phases but, since I moved to America, it been like 70% vert 20% cement and 10% street. It’s just that I’m spoiled with some of the best vert ramps and cement pools in the world now so I ride that all the time.

As far as bunny-hops, I know I have pretty good pop. I can hop handlebar height. About 3 years ago I hopped a 40” height pole in a bunny-hop contest. I guess that’s respectable.

People know me as a vert rider but, really, I’m just a bmxer. At some point, I’ve ridden a bit of everything.

Gap - Bars for good measure...

“… Vert’s a lonely path because it’s a very cruel mistress…” There’s only really one guarantee and that’s that your gonna get your ass kicked…” – Simon Tabron (Interview – RideBMX/Transworld)

T)     Talk us through some of the more serious injuries you’ve had? And, Do you have your own systems/strategies/protocols for overcoming such injuries?

I’ve had some good ones, over the years. One of the worst was fracturing my pelvis in 2000. I hung up on a no handed 540 so hard that I got jettisoned to the floor, landed on the top of my head and flipped over onto my back. When I landed on my head, my helmet exploded open and then, when I landed on my back, I fractured my pelvis and broke a couple of fingers. I managed to get up on my own but was down for about ten minutes. Then I walked into the ambulance but it went downhill from there. It was a few weeks of hell and misery. Everything hurt, it was impossible to move and do anything without being in agony. I wouldn’t recommend it.

The other gnarly one was over-rotating a 900 and shoulder blocking the floor in 2005. I broke rib number one in to four pieces, shunted my spine out of alignment, tore shoulder muscles away from my spine, tore rib cartilage and punctured my lung which then partially collapsed. That took me a few months to get my body working again, I did lots of physio. I rode a contest two months after the crash so it wasn’t too terrible.

Aside from that, I’ve broken lots of fingers, ribs, my ankles at least three times each, separated both shoulders, broken toes, broken both hands a few times and my tailbone. Plus lot’s of stitches and concussions.

I don’t really have any way of getting over it, I just try to ride my bike as much as possible when I’m healing, even if it’s just rolling down the street. Just try to stay connected until it doesn’t hurt too much!

“…the risk is high, but the reward is equally high…” – Simon Tabron

U)     The progression of vert tricks over the last decade has been outstanding: – Robinson (double flair), Kagy (‘540 double-tailwhip’), Parker (the ‘draino’), Hoffman (‘no-hand 900’), Bestwick (everything)… What do you think it is that has kept you at the forefront of vert riding? And how much longer do you think it will last?

I think the straight answer to that is my spinning tricks. My 5’s and 9’s are definitely my strength and I’ve always been obsessed with spinning tricks.

I never really try and force my own progression, I just let ideas come out and then work on things naturally. I normally just pick my moment, like when I’m feeling it and am in the mood to try out an idea or work on something new. I normally figure things out in my head first and don’t try them until they make sense in my head.

A lot of the time, I see progression as improving what I can already do as much as learning something new. I always believe that everything I can do, can be done better so I’m always trying to do my stuff better as well as learning completely new stuff.

I never really think about how far it will go or how far I can go. I’m already way further on than I ever imagined possible so I don’t really question it.

"Alley-oop 540"

“I always try and explain to people there’s only ever supposed to be so many good vert riders, there’s never gonna be a thousand good Vert riders… there’s only ever going to be a few kids from each generation that come through and really contribute and really progress…” – Simon Tabron (previous interview for RideBMX/Transworld)

V)     Who do you see as being the future generation – The future of vert?

There are some ridiculous new vert riders now, Coco and Vince Byron are both amazing. There’s a ton of people who could switch over to vert but they’d have to really want to!

W)    Yes or No answer; Do you see Vert riders as the heavy weights of the sport, above all other disciplines?

No, not at all.

I think bmx sometimes has a hard time relating to vert. I guess that’s why I keep trying to explain the link, I started in the same place as all of you.

Whether you like it or not, we’re all connected, we’re all the same.  We are all bmx.

“Can-can, x-up, 540 – Tabron orginal,(2009)” (RideUSA)

X)     What interests do you have outside of BMX? And have you considered life after BMX (or at least life after competition)?

Outside of riding, I play a lot of music, I play guitar. I’m kind of obsessive with it, the same way I am with riding.

After BMX, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll work in the industry, maybe not. Maybe I’ll just work at Starbucks. Who knows? I try not to stress about it too much, I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. My real ambition is to be happy, to be content. I feel like I’d be pretty happy just working in a coffee shop, riding my bike, playing guitar.

Y)    Generally speaking; What does the future of Vert hold?

I really have no idea. We’re kind of linked in with skateboarding as far as contests and ramps. Maybe a new generation of vert riders will bring the change. I’d love to see more pool contests, vert cement, like the Protec Pool Party in skateboarding. That would open up vert more to real park riders.

“… concrete is probably my first love above and beyond vert; certainly on a par with it…” – Simon Tabron (previous interview for RideBMX/Transworld)

Z) That concludes the question and answer section… Any last thoughts? Shout-outs? Etc?

You know, it’s been a long journey so far and I still have a way to go. There have been so many great people that I’ve met through BMX, so many crazy situations that I’ve gotten into because of it. I’ve been pretty lucky to have always had great sponsors. I’ve experienced so many things; some bad, mostly good.

I want to say a big thank you to Chad Kagy for being a true brother all these years and always going above and beyond for me.

Same for Mat Hoffman, another true brother and friend. Someone who has gone out of his way to help and support me, time and again.

Big thanks to Zach Shaw for all of his help and support when I was moving.

I want to thank my one true partner in eternal crime, Shanna.

Tony Hawk and Kevin Staab and everyone at THI for everything they do for me and for letting me ride the best vert ramp on earth(IMHO). And all of my skateboarder friends who I ride with. Thanks for always letting me be the one biker on the ramp, for never snaking me and for always laughing at me, laughing with me, treating me with respect and picking me up when I eat shit like only a bmxer can. It means a lot.

All my sponsors and hook ups, Steve, Heath and Alesha from Rockstar, Eddie at 5050, Stephen Murray/Stay Strong, Jerry at Vans, Mat for Hoffman parts and a steady supply of tricks and ideas!

Everyone I ride with and everyone who rides. Bless you all.

And thank you, Chris, for this interview! – Simon Tabron.

"It don't get much bigger than this..." (Pic:RideUSA)

  • Thanks for your time Mr Tabron… Before we call this a wrap; we have a final guest quote from the Condor himself…

Closing guest-quote: “There’s one trick for me that demands and challenges my passion for my sport like none other. I’ve done many 900’s over the last 22 years and every time I do one I have to go beyond the 3rd dimension of BMX. When this trick enters my mind, and I can’t shake it, it demands the most aggressive thought to command the respect from my senses, that I then have to subdue with a blind trust that gives me a surreal peace as I roll in, fully committed.

This is a state of mind I’ve learned to trust and accept that it’s most powerful when I let it be free and pure and not try to interpret or intervene. This is BMX at it’s rawest – this is Simon Tabron.

Simon might seem like a mellow reserved English man with good grammar, who loves tea and crumpets and writing songs, but there is something in the water in his hometown of Liverpool that breeds legends. Yeah, he might seem like a normal bloke off his bike, but when he gets on his bike the clouds get darker and lightning lights up the sky as he warms up with a 900, back to back… Simon Tabron is one of a kind. Simon Tabron is BMX!” – Mat Hoffman

"The Condor"

Acknowledgments:

Interview: –

Photography by: Derek Hyamson, Johnny Knoxville, Adrian Cairnes, Shanna Bridges Tabron , Justin Kosman, and Ryan Fudger, Ride Magazine (USA), Chris.W.Smith and the aforementioned.

Links/Sponsors: –

Links/contest profiles: –

Links/personal profiles: –

Links/videos: –

… And remember, as Gerry Marsden would say; “You’ll Never Walk  Alone”!


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