Interview: Ray George
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born in Santa Cruz, California, and have lived here for the entire 20 years that I have been alive. I love it here, although less so in the summer because nobody that rides is here, and the tourist traffic really bothers me. Likes:
Intelligent conversation, satire, being active, learning tricks, going fast, inspiring others, making people laugh, those moments you never forget.Dislikes:
Bad and ungrateful attitudes, people choosing not to wear a helmet, scooters, watching team sports, new age country music, sketchy bikes, myself when I pussy out of something I am capable of. How were you introduced to mountain biking?
I still remember the feeling I had when I rode a trail for the first time. A few friends took me up to a local XC loop and I fell in love. From then on I rode DH on my Specialized Rockhopper until I got a dirt jump bike a year later. That’s when riding bikes took me away from my previous hobby of skateboarding. I got hurt less on bikes and dirt is way better than cement. What was the scene like growing up? Who did you ride with?
My main riding buddies when I was really a grom were Andrew Bolton and Oliver Nickell. They were my best friends back then and still are today. Unfortunately, neither of them stuck with riding so I ended up with the Post Office crew once I got more into jumping. It was unfamiliar to me how motivated they were and how seriously they took mountain biking. That really drew me into making biking and made it a bigger part of my life. That crew has shaped who I am as a rider and still continue to today. (R-Dog, Cam, Tyler, Greg, KJ, Jeff, A-Rev, Goldman) The riding scene was big back then, and it’s only getting bigger with the sprouting of young and extremely talented riders. It seems like California is a hotbed for talented dirt jumpers. Why do you think that is?
It may go all the back to how mountain biking started in California with Gary Fisher and Keith Bontrager pinning down fire roads with rigid forks and coaster brakes. But I didn’t major in history. As far as dirt jumpers, I think it just took a few really talented riders to inspire an entire culture and society with mountain biking strongly embedded in its genes. We still have those riders to look up to. Do you have a job or do you ride for a living?
I have a job, I do landscaping part time. And I love it. I already have a background in digging thanks to mountain biking. How do you move from amateur to fulltime paid rider? What does it take to make that jump and make a career out of riding bikes?
Well, I might not be the best person to ask since I haven’t made it there yet. What I think it would take is a balance of riding talent and motivation on one hand, and marketing skills on the other. I’m still learning. It’s hard for me to share my vision of my riding future in an email to a company. So I try and put my riding where my mouth is and show it. You’ve created your own riding series called ‘’Emerging’’ can you tell us more about that?
I have been working with EpicTV on this series to show the internet world what I am doing with mountain biking, where it has taken me, and where I hope to go with it. I have always loved filming and making edits, so it was a great opportunity for me to capitalize and expand on that. You’ve ridden in some contests but we’ve mostly seen your riding through photo and video coverage. Do you enjoy doing media or do you plan to focus more on contests?
I definitely love both for different reasons. I think there is at least one obvious reason for riders to call themselves, "video riders," it’s way easier. Contests are expensive, stressful, and very difficult. That’s why I have lots of respect for riders who are killing it on the contest scene. I have been to some of these contests and have seen what it takes to get up on the podium, and it’s a very tall order. You can’t mess up more than once at a contest if you plan on doing well. I want to hold myself to contest expectations at least somewhat because I enjoy the challenge. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean I would ever give up on contest riding. I plan to keep at it until I see some success and I don’t plan on stopping there. The closer I get to doing well, the more I crave it.
In videos, you can try a trick 100 times before landing it, and nobody that watches the video will know that. There is a huge margin for error in creating videos. That being said, I absolutely love filming because of that. You can really create something that impresses yourself. I have a clear vision of certain things I want to happen in videos and it’s so satisfying when you achieve it. Filming is a bigger opportunity for creativity and putting your own spin on things. Pun intended… What’s your riding goal? Do you hope to ride for a living or is it strictly for fun?
I would love to ride for a living more than anything, but I will never forget that the reason I fell in love with mountain biking was how fun it is. It’s always a conflicting vision though. Part of me regrets stopping going to school, and I often wonder if I’m making the right choice. But, the more that my dream of riding for a living comes true, the less I worry about what else I could be doing with my life. If I love what I am doing, then I consider myself successful. It became harder and harder to concentrate on school because there is enough MTB-related things to do to consume the whole year. At this point, I don’t want to devote my time to anything else. What are your major projects for this season?
The contest season is starting to wind down for me, and since I am not attending college this fall, I am planning on doing nothing else but digging, riding, and filming. What are your long-term riding goals?
To reach for and find out what my true potential is on my bike. I want to shed my fears and achieve all that I can. I think I hold myself back too much, and everyday I’m learning to break that wall down without hurting myself at the same time. You’ve got some of the best 360’s we’ve ever seen, do you have any tips on how to throw those?
I think being goofy-footed has something to do with it. I would say spin whichever way feels the most naturally comfortable. It’s different for some people, but for me, I lean back off the lip before turning, drop my shoulder, and look over my shoulder until I can see the landing. Once you have your eyes on where you want to land, your body will follow from there. Shout out to R-Dog and Cam McCaul because my 360s undoubtedly came from watching them. Any advice for young up-and-coming riders?
Learn how to dig and don’t be such a grom about everything. Less talking, less iPhone-ing, more digging and riding. I notice that being pro is often too much for a young kids’ ego and personality. It consumes them. So I would say don’t try and be a “pro,” just have fun with it while you don’t have to pay bills. What do you do when you’re not riding?
Trolling out on the computer like I am now, being social with non-riding friends, relaxing at the beach, or digging. I really don’t do much else. Is there anything else we should know about you?
I don’t know, is there? Who are your sponsors?
Giro, Five Ten, and Sensus Grips, as well as some new brands which I'll be announcing soon. Do you have anyone you’d like to thank?
Anyone who has ever inspired me, believed in me, or pushed me to do something I was initially scared of. Anyone who has ever helped me make it to contests and events: Jesse Nickell, Aaron Meyer, and most importantly, my Mom. I would never have been able to afford traveling without help. Thanks to my sponsors for all the support I have received thus far.
Videos: Keegan Quiroz and Jamie Ledson
Photos: Jamie Ledson
Interview: Scott Secco
Mentions: @GiroSportDesign @Sensus @FiveTen