Open Gallery10 Images
Photos and intro by Rob Dolecki
Taken from DIG issue 84, September 2011
I could write pages about what itās like to spend a week with Dakota Roche. Everything from sleeping on the living room floor of his small second floor apartment, located just blocks from one of the most famous beaches and surf spots in the world, to the rotating cast of guests like Alex Kennedy and Ryan Navazio (the semi-permanent winter couch resident), to daily sneak peeks at the newest footage compiled for the (then) upcoming Cult video āTalk Is Cheap.ā Not to mention the fact that Dakota was ready to go before ten in the morning every day itching to ride, and at times gets miffed waiting around for hours in Russ Baroneās apartment for late risers to get out the door. Or that he keeps his laptop computer, which is in such bad shape that it can really only be used as a desktop, still going strong. Writing extensively about that week could easily fill up the following pages that are dedicated to Dakās interview.
In the time since Dakota had that split interview with Nathan Williams in DIG issue 60 back in 2007, when they were both relatively unknown up-and-coming shredders on the verge, heās expanded on his ability to bunnyhop over your head, and has a few epic parts under his belt and more on the horizon (I write this after previewing what is already in Dakās āTalk Is Cheapā clip folder on Navazās desktop; take it as a forewarning). Dakota has also become more seasoned and insightful (no pun intended), and less concerned with speaking about his views or issues that are important to him. It seems like it would almost be a waste of space to morph this interview into some long-winded rant based primarily from my perspective. He has a lot of good things to say on his own – real talk. Read on for yourselfā¦ -RD
RD: So, how has your life changed since your split interview with Nathan Williams in DIG issue 60? I think the main thing that sticks out that people are going to try and get me on is the fact that in that interview I said I didnāt drink, and now four years later Iāll socially have a beer or glass of wine here and there, and I donāt have a problem with that. I guess when I was younger I didnāt really understand why people did it. I was judgmental of people that did it, because I felt like it was wrong. I understand now that itās not. If youāre just socially having a beverage, and not getting into crazy bar fights and have control over it, then I donāt understand how anyone could be mad at you. I do have a problem with people who have drinking problems. If you do have a problem with drinking and you know you do, and youāre not doing anything to change it, then I donāt really have much respect for that aspect of it, I guess.
So you may have a problem with a good percentage of the BMX population? (Laughter) If drugs or alcohol are making you less motivated to ride, then I do have a problem with that.Simple as that. For me, I canāt even get myself to drink more than two beers, so I know Iām going to wake up in the morning and feel fine and ride. And itās not often; I only drink a couple times a month at most.
You cuss now? Yeah, I cussed back then, but I kind of tried to keep it in. Now, you know what, Iām going to have meltdowns, and I am going to cuss. Iām not saying itās ok, itās something I definitely need to work on, but thatās how I am now. Itās not something Iām proud of but itās not something Iām going to lie about either; thatās what it is.
Have your rage issues been tamed at all? They come and go, to be honest. Iāll have good control over my rage for a couple of months, like, āCalm down, youāre just riding a bike, youāre trying something new so obviously youāre going to get frustratedā¦ā If I can talk myself out of it, it works. Sometimes I canāt, and Iāll just lose it and freak out.
Like five tries in? Yeah, thatās only on stuff I feel like I should be able to do that isnāt working for some reason, like a rollback or something, and it escalates from there. When I get frustrated, I have other stuff on my mind. So Iām thinking of doing this trick or line, along with ten negative thoughts of whatever is going on in my life. Thatās when my control goes out the window. Not saying itās ok, but thatās how it is right now, and hopefully I get a hold of it one of these days.
Russ: Whatās it like to be one of the top riders? How am I supposed to answer that? (Laughter) āOh, it feels awesome.ā Thatās another thing that stresses me out. Dehart and I were talking about this the other day. Riding has gotten so crazy that you almost feel the need to keep up with everything thatās going on. I know Iāll never be Garrett Reynolds, and Iām ok with that. So I just need to stay focused on what I do. This is me and how I ride. If people like it, cool. If you donāt like how I ride, thatās fine.
…keep your mouth shut if you weren’t involved.
RD: Explain your path from So. Cal. grom to superstar pro. (Laughter) Iām a superstar pro? I didnāt know that, man.
Yeah, youāre in the X-Games. Does being in the X-Games make you a superstar pro?
In some peopleās eyes. Ok. Well, I think the fact that I grew up in California definitely helped with my motivation to continue to ride. The weatherās always good for one, thereās an abundance of spots, I grew up with a lot of friends who loved to ride, so I always had people to ride with. I always had love for BMX and I just stuck with it. I donāt know if itās corny to say it or not, but Iām just psyched on where I am with it, you know? Iām so blessed to be able to keep doing what Iāve always done and have fun with it. I have a big smile on my face right now.
Did you ever send a sponsor-me video to a company? No, I never sent one to anyone, never tried. My friends and I would film stuff, but it was just for fun. Robbie started giving me frames in ā03, when I was sixteen, I think. I had been paying full price for frames until then, so I was tripping out. Here and there the Sheep Hills locals would give me parts. I used to buy parts off of Troy McMurray for super cheap.
Did you buy any War Pig frames? Nope, never got a War Pig from him. After Robbie had been hooking me up for a while he asked me to film some stuff for Fit Life. The summer before Fit Life came out, I started hanging out and riding with Rich Hirsch whenever I was in Portland. I got an IM from Rich one night, but I was all scared typing to him or whatever, and he asked me to ride flow for Lotek. I freaked out; I said, āYeah, obviously.ā He asked me if I wanted to go on the Vancouver trip with the whole Lotek team two weeks later. I ended up going and it was the time of my life. It was just so rad of Rich to go out of his way to get me on without knowing me too well. I appreciate it so much to this day; that helped out so much being in the Lotek video and Fit Life. Also Navaz has played a huge role in where I am today.
Where did you meet Navaz? Through Kurt (Rasmusson) and Dean (Dickinson). I ran into him one day at a concrete park; we were all riding. I was doing hand-plants over a spine. (Laughter) I was asking him about Standpoint 6; Iād always liked the Standpoint videos he made. He asked me if I wanted to film a couple of clips for Left/Right. A lot of stuff happened really fast out of nowhere. Primo put me on flow, and then I went on a trip a few weeks after that; that was a blast.
The Toronto trip? Yeah, that was when I had the split interview, and it was one of my first times hanging out with Nathan. Leviās came along around the same time. I was on flow for everyone, and within a month I went pro for Fit, Primo, and Lotek; it was crazy. A lot of stuff seemed to happen when I moved back to California. I was working for my dad a bunch up in the Northwestā¦
What were you doing? It was a cabinet building company that kind of sucked really bad; they always gave us the wrong parts. I moved back to California in November ā06. I didnāt necessarily move back to try and make it big as a pro rider; I wanted to be back with my friends in Huntington riding every day in the sunshine. California is a BMX Mecca and I just wanted to be where everything was and have a good time with it. It made sense to be there. I worked with my uncle there, even when I was already pro for a few companies. Opportunities to film and travel started coming along. Navaz got the job to film Insight. We were filming for the video a month before he officially had the job, and Ride was cool with me having a part.
Didnāt you also start filming early for Stay Fit? Ā Yeah, I think what happens is that I get super psyched when I hear about a new project Iām involved with, and I just want to start. I have so many ideas rushing through my head.
Some people can interpret it like, āOh, that dude is hungry.ā If people look at me and think Iām hungry, then thatās totally fine, let them think that. But the people that Iām close with know me and my personality and how I go about things. Itās not in an overly eager or hungry way; Iām just psyched to be doing this. I want to be happy with what I put out all the time; I donāt want to put anything out thatās half-assed. Who wants to do that? I want to work on every project whole-heartedly and that means getting started and putting effort into it. When it comes to riding and filming and stuff, Iām notĀ really a procrastinator. Filming for Insight was the most convenient thing I ever filmed for, because Navaz literally lived across the street. Iād go knock on his door and weād hop in my vanā¦
What was the van? Aerostar, I canāt remember. Weāre gonna talk about the van?
Yeah. All right. When I lived in the Northwest my parents bought me a thousand-dollar Ford Taurus, and it blew up on the side of the road on the way home from the skatepark one day. So my dad hooked me up with his work van, since he got a new one. The van was sketchy looking, with no windows in the back. It was a white van that was hollow with no seats, not even a bench seat. It was a legit work van. Thatās what I drove from Olympia, Washington to Huntington Beach in back in ā06.Ā It was rolling ok, no major problems. It was sweet when people would come into town. It easily fit five people, five bikes; everyone would just sit on the floor. Brennan, D-Wats, Jared, everybody would be back there. The van was basically the Insight machine for quite some time. One day I was driving it, and it had complete brake system failure. I had to drive 5 miles to Pep Boys with the e-brake and hazard signals on; people were just honking at me. It was kind of a nightmare. I ended up buying my grandmaās car after that ā rest in peace grandma. She hooked me up, it was a Saturn sedan and only had 25 thousand miles, it was burgundy; straight-up old personās car. Although in the last clip I did have my Dodge Magnum by then.
When you had that interview in issue 60, where had you traveled to at the time?Ā Vancouver and Toronto. That was the longest time I had ever been on a plane at that point.
Since then youāve traveled a shitload, especially when filming for the Leviās video; whatās your favorite place as of right now? Barcelona, but everyone says that. It lives up to the hype; too many spots to list, girls everywhere, architecture, itās on the beach, thereās not much more you could ask for if youāre a BMXāer. I really like all of Spain. Melbourne, Australia also, for the same reasons. I love anywhere thatās warm and has good spots. Thatās why I live in Huntington Beach. Shanghai was unbelievable. I went to Beijing for the Woodward opening in 2010, and just spent the time there at Woodward. I was only there for 72 hoursā¦
Three days? You might have been on the plane for almost as long as you were actually there. Yeah, so I didnāt really like Beijing that much, which meant I didnāt have expectations for Shanghai. I went there for Asian X-Games and roomed with Nathan. Weād get up at like six in the morning and ride the city all day long until we had to go to the contest. We had so much fun; there were spots everywhere and the weather was nice. It left a good impression on me, I could definitely see myself going back. I canāt really pick just one place.
Whatās your take on the street plaza contests? Street contests are definitely getting bigger these days. I have fun riding in them. Thereās obviously a bunch of things I would change because Iām a rider and I know what riders would want in a contest, versus some corporate dude who doesnāt really know too much about the inās and outās of BMX and what weād like to see in the contest, and who weād like to see in them for that matter.
Name three people who youād like to see in one. Alex Kennedy, Dan Lacey and Ben Lewis; it bums me out those UK shredders get overlooked. Itās nothing against the X Games committee, but it just sucks when really progressive riders like that get overlooked. The format could be tweaked. If they invited a group of riders who rode in the street comps, I think the formula could be developed. Contests in general are harsh. I had to go through a metal detector to get food in the athleteās lounge.
Itās a street contest; people are packing heat. Seriously, itās grimy out there. (Laughter) Itās hard to get my family and friends in there to watch; I only get two passes. Parking is nuts, it costs like twenty-five bucks. Itās really inconvenient for the people that it should be convenient for; Iām in the contest.
…but I hope people understand that I already pulled it a few months before he tried it.
I was talking with someone recently and he told me about how when the X-Games invites people to compete, they donāt pay for anything, like hotel or airfare. I never even knew that. Considering the fact that we are the main attraction and we make the X-Games; they should treat us better. Thereās no reason they shouldnāt. Without us competing, they wouldnāt really have anything, would they?
A blank TV screen. Whatās a contest without the contestants? Itās definitely a turn-off. If I get invited to the Asian X-Games, I have to go to my sponsors for the flight and hotel. If I didnāt have sponsors, I wouldnāt even be able to go. Even if I got top five, that wouldnāt cover my expenses. Itās a vicious cycle. Itās an honor to get invited to X-Games, but at the same time there is a lot of b.s. that comes along with it. It is what it is.
When a kid comes up to you and recognizes you from seeing you in the X-Games, what do you think his perception is on how much money you make? The kids probably think Iām a multi-millionaire. But in reality, most BMXāers and myself live check-to-check; thatās how it is. The fact that a huge company is making it look like they are paying us millions of dollars to be in this contest; itās real misleading to the kids. We as riders get the bad end of the bargain to say the least. We look like the heroes to the kids, but in reality theyāre the ones caking off what we do, and weāre just getting by.
What do you think the solution is? Thatās a tough question. I donāt really have a solution. Their whole process needs to change at this point. They need to take care of the riders. That goes for all of BMX. Without the rider there wouldnāt be a business, and they canāt forget that.
Navaz: How did you end up on Vans? After being on Lotek for years, I guess things werenāt progressing the way they were when I first got on. I wanted more opportunities to do things and travel. I had little conversations with Josh Harrington and Chase Hawk about how I was psyched on how Vans does things, keeping everybody doing cool things like traveling and signings. And one day Josh said, āHey man, I talked to Jerry Badders for you. Hope you donāt mind; itād be cool if you were on Vans.ā
RD: It was his idea? In a way, him and Chase really helped the situation. Badders had a chat with me and told me what he could do for me. It seemed like the right choice so I went for it. Itās been a year, and I couldnāt be happier. Been on a bunch of sick trips with them; we got the Vans/Cult collaboration going. Theyāre so psyched with what weāre doing with Cult; it only makes sense to support people that support you. No complaints.
Navaz: How is having Badders as a TM? Itās entertaining, to say the least. Heās definitely crazy in his own way, but heās such a caring, good-hearted dude. Itās definitely fun to hang out with him on trips; heās always the life of the party. He takes care of us. Heās helped me out so much, and I appreciate it.Ā Heās my neighbor; I can see his place from mine. Thereās always communication with each other.
How did the idea for rocket-power day come about? Me and my friends always talked about how when you live in Southern California, āaction sportsā- I hate that term really bad, but thatās the only way to describe it – are really accessible. You could definitely skate, surf, ride and snowboard all in one day. We were talking about how cool it would be to do that sometime. Myself, Cody Levesque and Navaz ended up doing it. We started out surfingā¦
RD: Where did you go? 56th street and Newport; the waves were kind of big when we first got there, then it died down. Then we went to Chino skatepark and rode and skated for like three hours. From there we drove another hour up to the mountain and caught the night session snowboarding for like three hours. It was way more tiring than I ever thought it could be. I didnāt realize how much actually goes into that. It was such a good experience. Iām glad we could say we did that. We had a good time. A fun fact is that was the first time Iād ever been filmed while surfing, and I didnāt realize how much of a tool I look like when Iām surfing. Even though Iām not very good at it, I thought at least I donāt look like āthat guy.ā Turns out I do look like āthat guy.ā Kinda sucks! Just another thing to work on, my surfing steez. (Laughs)
What are your thoughts on the resurgence of the Robbo/Cult – Moeller/Fit drama lately? Iām just real happy with the way our crew is handling it by leaving the bullshit behind and moving forward and continuing on in our own way. It just sucks when the other party is stuck in the past and going on and on about things that happened a long time ago. Thereās always going to be āhe said/she saidā stuff. Iām just psyched our crew is doing it the way we want to be doing it now.
Without us competing, they wouldnāt really have anything, would they?
Has there ever been any tension or issues between you and anyone who rides for Fit? No, there really hasnāt been, other than a couple of things from Moeller. As far as the riders on Fit and everyone that was involved in the situation that went down; everyone seems to be cool. When I hang out with dudes who ride for Fit in person, there really hasnāt been any negative talk. Hopefully everyone sees both sides of the story.
Would you ever put a Cult sticker over a Fit sticker somewhere? No. (Laughter)
How about a F-it sticker in the Cult font? Yeah, probably. Itās funny when a kid that has nothing to do with the split-up and goes behind both companiesā back and makes their own sticker. I donāt even know the kid; he wasnāt even a part of the split, so what makes you feel like you have the right to make a sticker that has nothing to do with you? Thatās kind of my main beef with the split is the outsiders that donāt have anything to do with it putting their two cents in. They donāt know whatās going on; keep your mouth shut if you werenāt involved.
How did you feel when Stay Fit premiered at Interbike and you had the last part, then when the video came out, you didnāt have the last part anymore? (Laughter) I totally understand why it was done; I wasnāt on the team anymore by the time the video made it to a DVD. It kind of bummed me out a little bit. I worked really hard on that part, and itās definitely an honor having last part in a video. That was the first and last time Iāve ever had last part in a video, for one night. (Laughs) And unfortunately I didnāt have it anymore after that. Not taking anything away from Vanās part – his part was ridiculous, and heās obviously always deserving of last part. To have last part waved in your face then taken away, it wasnāt the highlight of my life, by all means. When I filmed the part I was on Fit, itās not like I was riding for a different company while filming for the video and getting pissed for not having the last part. We werenāt planning on leaving Fit until our contracts were up the following January, but a lot of things happened (around Interbike), so we had to move quickly.
Itās been talked about before, so we can move on. So, how about you and the Northwest? Thereās been so much negative stuff to come out of living in the Northwest for my family and me.
Is it because you canāt surf, ride, skate and snowboard in one day? (Laughs) My main problem was that it seemed like I wasnāt accepted there. It changed about halfway through when I met Shad (Johnson) and Rich while hanging out in Portland – the people and the spots there kept me sane. When I moved back to California, my parents decided to stay and move to Oregon City. They were out in California visiting the family, and I was on the Summer Of Fit trip, and I get a call from them when they got back home. It turned out their house flooded with eighteen thousand gallons of sewage. Eighty percent of my belongings were in their basement, since I only bought what I could fit in my van when I moved, along with everything they collected in their fifty-something years of living. They basically got screwed; they lost the lawsuit against the city, even though it was the cityās fault. There have been so many negative circumstances; my mind wonāt stray from the negative and think of the positive there. Obviously I appreciate the few people I did meet that I really like up there. I guess when you live in the same place for seventeen years and have to move away from where you consider home, itās always gonna be hard.
So I take it youāre not going up there anytime soon.Ā After my parentsā lawsuit went sour, I donāt see myself going back up there. No offense to you guys who live there and enjoy it, but it isnāt a place for my family and me.
How about kids getting mad at you for changing sponsors. Talk amongst your friends, have fun, diss on me, whatever, but do it in a manner where youāre not judging someone, do it for fun. If youāre talking shit on someone so blindly when you donāt know anything about it, youāre basically worthless at that point. If all you can do is talk about what other people are doing in a negative fashion, and not even try and look at the positive, your existence is based on negativity. Who would want to live that way? If you have an opportunity that could really change your life in a good way, why wouldnāt you take it? It doesnāt make sense to me.
Whatās your opinion of the term āselling outā? Selling out is when you base all of your ācareer movesā around making more money. When I make moves, money is far from the deciding factor. If I change sponsors, chances are itās because I donāt like certain things that are going on with the brand or something with more opportunities that fit my style came along. Greed, butting heads, different view points on important issues and lack of communication on their end are some of the things that would steer me to another brand. Loyalty is very important to me, but if I feel like things just arenāt working out, itās time to move on.
Navaz: All the photos in this interview will pretty much be clips in your part for āTalk Is Cheapā. Howās it going for that? Filming for this video has been some of the best times, and some of worst times in my life. Iāve had a bunch of things work exactly how I wanted them to; I was so relieved. On every project I always have a mental list of things I need to do for that part. Iāve been fortunate enough to check a lot of those off. There has been just as many breakdowns as there has been made tricks for sure; trying something just a little beyond what Iām able to do, and just losing my mind. Coming ridiculously close to pulling something a hundred times before riding away from it, and getting killed in the process. Overall itās been way more of a positive experience than a negative experience. Getting to film with someone who I trust all the time, and knowing that aspect of it is handled makes it easier to clear my mind and just do the trick and keep going. Iāve seen so much ridiculous stuff go down from everyone else thatās filming. I canāt wait until the video is done so I can watch it.
If drugs or alcohol are making you less motivated to ride, then I do have a problem with that. Simple as that.
Any idea when it will be done yet? If all goes well, weād like to have it out for Christmas, but definitely within a couple of months after that.
Whose part is looking to be your favorite? The stuff Iāve been seeing from Alex Kennedy is on another level. Itās the corniest thing to say, but I donāt know how else to explain it. Everything heās doing is new and refreshing and fun to watch. Everybody thatās been filming for it has been doing such cool stuff; seems like things are going well.
So how about that rail icepick? So Iād seen that rail on a skate mag cover and in a few skate videos. It caught my eye and got my interest up, and I did some research. I ended up finding it; this was late 2010. Itās about 50 miles from my house; close enough to where I wanted to drive out and look at it. My cousin and me took a drive out there to look at it on Thanksgiving night. It was way bigger in person; it was pretty terrifying. I thought about it a lot, and then you (Rob) came into town in early January, and I figured Iād try my luck at it. We drove out that way with a big crew. When the session was winding down and getting dark, we got there. When I was at the top of the stairs, for some reason it was even scarier than I remember it being. I almost backed out. But everybody was there, and I had to at least feel it out. So I got my bike, circled around and grinded it. It was scary. I grinded it again, and (decided to try the icepick). You guys (Navaz and Rob) set up, and it was getting uncomfortably close to dark. I think I hit the rail again a few times, and things ended up working out. (Editor’s note: At this point during the interview Dak had no idea the shot would makeĀ the cover of this issue)
Russ: Second try. First try I dropped, second try I double pegged it again to warm up, then I got it. I was so psyched. It was so sick to have all my friends there to help me clear my head and focus on getting it over with.
Russ: Some people couldnāt even watch. Belcher and Hawk stayed in the van. Belcher was a little scared; I was too.Ā I donāt blame them. So, I didnāt think much else of the ice after that; the clip turned out great, and the photo did too. Thatās it; letās just keep moving forward. Then I found out someone else tried it after me. Dylan (Stark) didnāt know I already did it, so nothing against him for trying it. There are a lot of riders in Southern California, and he came across the spot so he figured heād try it. I did get a little tight when the crash was online, kind of after he knew I’d already done it. I wouldnāt have gone about it that way. Not calling the kid out by any means, just for the record. Obviously itās not a competition or a race to ice the rail, but I hope people understand that I already pulled it a few months before he tried it. I feel bad he went there and tried it and slammed and didnāt get it. But I feel like he could have done without putting the slam online, especially after he already found out I did it.
Navaz: How did you get into filming? I like that question, thatās a good one. I think back in 2004 was when I first had an interest for filming. I started looking at videos a little differently, like when something is filmed right it makes stuff look way better, and it fed my interest. My friends and me were filming for a local video called āGo For Broke.ā Then I moved to the Northwest and I got a Panasonic 3 chip camera and a little Death lens and continued with it. I would go on the computer every single night reading about different cameras and how to make things look right. When something is filmed right it just makes everything so much better, and itās a satisfying feeling. I got a VX2000 from my parents for graduation from high school. I helped film stuff for Insight, and an eighth of āLet āEm Talkā. I filmed a couple of Nathan edits. For Talk Is Cheap, Navaz and I have a routine where he gets his shot and I work around him to get shots that make sense with what he is filming. Navaz has helped me a lot with understanding why certain shots make more sense than others. He taught me how to use a super 8 camera the other day. I enjoy working with cameras, and Iām going to keep doing it.
Will you ever make your own video? At this time no, because Iām so busy with other projects. When things mellow out, maybe eventually, weāll see.
RD: Who would be five people in the dream video you made? Chase Dehart, Nathan Williams, Alex Kennedy, my friend Codyā¦ and Dan Lacey; I love filming with Lacey. The people I like hanging out with are the same people I like filming with.
Final thoughts/thanks? Thanks to God for always providing and allowing me to do what I love. Thanks to my family, mom and dad for backing me 110% – that goes for all my homies too, I donāt even need to list you fools, you know who you are. Robbie Morales, Neil Wood, Joe Vee, and The Cult Crew, Dave Smidt and everyone at Monster Energy, Jerry Badders and everyone at Vans, Will Stroud and everyone at Cinema, Paul Conroy and everyone at Crush sports and Good Fight, Chris Cole, Navi Arm, Jim Bauer, Jeff Z, Dolecki and everyone else that has helped me in any way. Iām Blessed.