Gainesville back in the day; Jason Levy

Twenty years ago, BMX was at an ebb in popularity. It had started when I was in middle school; when all my friends hung up their dirt bikes for cars and high school sports, apparently the whole world was doing the same. Then I went to Gainesville FL for school. The largest school in the Southeast, and you could count the number of BMX riding through campus on one hand. But there was this one guy with dreads that was always jumping stuff or knocking out flatland tricks. Jason Levy. He was like Obi Wan Kenobi; in a world where all the jedi had vanished the Force was strong with him.

Then freestyle BMX came back with a vengeance in the later 90s, as Mountain Dew-addled kids discovered the X-Games. At this point, Jason had become Darth Vader….the most badass rider around, and everyone knew it. Even though my inner circle of friends consisted of slacker roadies and pizza delivery personnel, Jason and I crossed paths throughout my decade in G-ville.

The video above was made sometime after I left Florida, not sure when exactly. I remember Jason working on that trick where he hops the bike, pirouettes 180 in the air, lands facing backwards, and rides out backwards until he J-turns it to return to forward travel. Apparently he got really good at it. I’d never seen Jason actually do the roof top jumps before, but I had seen him limping off the bike countless times. I have always been awed by his utter disregard for self-preservation.

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