Those who work in the bike industry, especially those involved specifically with the events, can attest to the exhaustion that comes with fitting everything into the short window that we call summer. It can be a challenge to find a moment of solace amongst the double booked weekends and multi-leg travel itineraries. Even harder can be finding time to ride for yourself. Someone who knows this routine better than most is Brett Tippie. Often found in the heart of the chaos at events - thumb wrestling children, tearing t-shirts off at Heckler's Rock, or simply being the entertainment where there is none, Tippie is one of the most hard working professionals in the business.
A question often posed to Brett's wife/Manager, Sarah is, 'does Tippie actually sleep?' His incredible high energy is a force to be reckoned with and definitely not one to be silenced at mountain bike and extreme sports' events around the world. He's made a name for himself being quite at home amidst the chaos, especially during Crankworx. But behind the scenes, a subdued Brett Tippie takes the time to reflect, relax and chill - and of course to learn new jokes! Tagging along on a mini-escape during Crankworx this past month, we had the opportunity to witness the quiet side of the man with the megaphone - and it turns out his laugh is just as loud without it.
We headed a short drive north along the highway for a brief respite before returning to the hectic Whistler Village. Tippie took a nap in his Tepui tent, fixed a flat, and answered some questions. With his natural gift for storytelling, it's hard not to be hanging on his every word - following the twists and turns - and at the same time wondering, 'is this going to end in a punchline?
' What exactly is your job title?
Director of Good Times, one of the Godfathers of Freeride, Brand Ambassador, Product Tester, Pinkbike Video Host, Live Events Announcer, Guide, Coach, and Dad. What do you love about the career you've chosen?
It kind of chose me! I love people, so meeting people and getting them stoked on riding makes me happy. I'm very appreciative and love every moment of my work. I love the variety of tasks and locations and the fact that I'm usually bringing my bike or board to work; the benefits are awesome! Everyone gets to see you at events, having a great time, stoking the crowd, and getting up to all sorts of crazy antics, but how much work goes into you career that people don't see?
There's a lot of research and strategic planning of schedules to maximize my time and value to my clients and sponsors. Definitely lots of travel, airports, sleeping in (hopefully) the window seat, too much time away from my family, and not really having the normal social life to see enough friends and family that I'd like. It also hops over to my wife's life in a way that she single-parents for half the year. Sometimes not enough time in the saddle when there's event after event, but it's not really a complaint, it's just time-wise an impossibility to do it all! After counting the days on the calendar, I realized I am away for over half the year. Away at amazing places with cool people, mind you! I wish I could clone myself sometimes...if I could, I'd be so happy that I'd be beside myself!
What is a career highlight for you?
Oh man, I don't know where to begin! First it was in the snow being on the Canadian National Team racing GS and Snowboardcross on the World Cup snowboard circuit riding for Burton Snowboards in the '90's, retiring as the Canadian Grand National Boardercross Champ in 2000, and most recently getting 3rd place (Bronze Duct Tape) in Masters at the 30th Annual 2016 Mt. Baker Banked Slalom. For mountain biking, it was pioneering some of the first big mountain lines carving turns, doing drops and steeps in the original freeride movies that modern riders are still filming today, being part of the Rocky Mountain Froriders (the world's first professional freeride team), taking mountain biking to the media in a new, exciting way, and shooting in various exotic locations with rad humans. There's also competing in Rampage, winning CWX Deep Summer with photographer Ale di Lullo, and just being one of the first freeriders who's still an active athlete today. On the mic, it's hosting Crankworx, 'Just the Tip' vids at events like Red Bull Rampage, and Sea Otter. A few World Champs are highlights as well, and doing some live announcing at the Canada Cup DH, BC Cup DH, FIS World Cup Snowboardcross, BC Snowboard Slopestyle and SBX Series, UCI BMX World Cup Finals, Red Bull Crashed Ice (World Ice-cross Championships), Red Bull GRC Rally Car Championships, and my first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Downhill and Super-G (Olympic test event) in preparation for the South Korea 2018 Winter Olympics! I feel so lucky to be around so many crazy, talented athletes in many different sports doing their thing! It's inspiring!
What are your favourite things to do in your down time? How do you keep the balance?
What's down time? Just kidding! Catching up with my family is definitely number one. I love taking my girls for a shred in the woods. Next would be carving it up on my snowboard in untouched powder, it is one of the closest things to heaven on earth for me. I love to go for night rides in the quiet local North Shore forest after my kids go to sleep with my trusty Niterider lights and listen to funky owls and other wildlife out there. I'm also always stoked on a wicked frisbee session with anyone who can throw laser beams! If there are any kids out there who want to grow up to be a 'Director of Good Times' what would your advice to them be?
Be on time and be helpful; even if it's just offering to help set up and take down the display or booth. Be positive, professional, and yourself at all times. Do your research ahead of time on whatever you are attending, keep bullet point notes, thank the sponsors, organizers and of course the volunteers. The kids of today are the bosses of tomorrow, you never know who is going where, be nice to everyone because it makes everyone feel good. The majority of the honest-to-goodness real badass ski/sled/moto/board/mountain bike heroes I've met over the years are really positive, friendly, happy people, and that, along with determination, work ethic, talent and some luck, is the magic combination. And, last but not least, enjoy the moment and enjoy being where you are!
From the outside, a career as the self-titled Director of Good Times may seem easy, but the unseen portion is where the hard work comes in. Tippie has stood for hours in the middle of the woods with a racer list in hand calling the individual names of riders during the BC Bike race - just to fuel the stoke that will get them the final 20 kilometres to the finish line. For every event, he has announced, and for every interview that he has conducted, he has spent equal amounts of time preparing, gathering knowledge, and working to make it an entertaining experience that allows every off-the-cuff comment, joke, and question to be delivered effortlessly.
Not to say that working in the event arena of the mountain bike industry doesn't have its perks - it certainly does - but having the opportunity to just go for a ride on a sunny summer day without purpose, without clients, without a motive is a rare opportunity. And so we followed Tippie down Out There, we enjoyed the quiet, and we revelled in the simplicity of the morning. We knew we would have to return to the masses, to the loud speakers, and giveaway scuffles sooner or later, but for a few hours we got to just enjoy riding bikes. And seeing Tippie grinning his signature ear-to-ear smile while riding made us wonder if his natural environment is the chaos or the quiet - or maybe somewhere in between.