Top BMX riders Anthony DeRosa and Nigel Sylvester may rule the streets with their bikes, but it’s their influence on popular culture as a whole that’s really impressive. Both athletes took time off from perfecting their style to talk about what separates them from the rest of the pack.
Pro BMX rider Nigel Sylvester has been riding around and getting it in for years now. Every time he defies logic, gravity and the laws of physics on his bike while grinding ledges and performing bunny hops, barspins and can-cans, the 27-year-old kid from Jamaica, Queens, proudly represents G-Shock and his borough as a cultural icon. Now, as his skills continue to evolve, he’s primed to take over the world one video click at a time.
When it comes to BMX rider Anthony DeRosa, it’s not just about how good he is now — and he’s very good already — but it’s also about how good he’s going to be. The former racer turned street rider has got next, and he’s quickly taking over the BMX world, pedal to the metal. Luckily for die-hard BMX fans, there’s not a trick the 20-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey, won’t try, practice and master, and that’s what makes him the “ride or die” purist the sport’s been waiting for.
You’ve become the face of BMX riding. How did you get there?
It wasn’t overnight, it was a journey that took hard work and dedication. The thing about BMX riding is there are different ways that you can become a professional, whether it’s riding competitions or just being a free rider and doing videos. Either way, the people are the deciding factor about who’s the best and who’s not. I put my content out through the Internet and was able to just bubble up to this global platform, where people all over the world respect what I do and what I have going on. I didn’t take the conventional or traditional way of bike riding; I fell into a lane that was natural for me, and I just took it all the way..
Your lane includes guest appearances in hip-hop music videos. How does BMX riding connect with hip-hop?
I grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and hip-hop was always around. I was friends with artists before they made it big and I made it big, so it’s natural that we just cross-brand with one another, because there’s that respect there. But hip-hop is something that’s always been a part of my life, and I’m proud of how hip-hop has had an influence on my BMX riding.
Your social media videos are seamless and flowing like a freestyle rap. How do you achieve that?
I can see how you can compare my videos to a freestyle rap, but 95 percent of the things I do are so planned out. One of my videos may be two and a half minutes long, but it may have taken us three weeks to plan it out. So while the videos look like I just ride and wild out, each of them are very calculated. We sit down with a whiteboard and decide where to ride and how. And no video is ever the same, so bike riding never gets stale to me. Every time I land a trick, it still feels just as good as the first time I landed it.
What drives you to get better?
I’m always trying to land tricks smoother and to go higher, and to challenge myself every time I ride. I transfer that dedication to my real life. When I’m riding, if I want to learn a trick, I know what I have to do to go and learn that trick. If I’m off the bike and want to accomplish something in my life, I have to apply myself the same exact way. BMX riding has disciplined me so much that I’ve learned and appreciate the importance of planning things out and going out to execute them at the highest level possible.
What does G-Shock mean to you?
G-Shock is one of those brands that I grew up on. I feel that it’s a staple in culture, and at some point, a lot of people have had a personal experience with a G-Shock watch. I just really like what the brand stands for. I’ve been sponsored by them for a few years now, and it’s been incredible. They’re truly one of those brands that has supported me.
Your web edits have really taken off. What makes your style so different?
The cool thing about BMX riding is for what we do, there’s no wrong or right way to do it. You take your style and your creativity, and you portray that in your riding. You really just portray your personality on the bike. What separates me is I kind of have a different style than most of the riders in the industry now. I like to do bigger things; I like to do things that some people wouldn’t even think of doing. I look at spots a different way than the normal rider would, and I like to take music to motivate myself to go along with my riding.
What drives you to become a better rider?
I’ve been riding the bike since a very young age, and it turned into something that I love. What motivates me is to always progress, to get better, to do bigger things. When I’m shooting a video and the final project comes out, there’s no better feeling than seeing all the work you put into it and making things bigger and better.
How do you manage your time compared to traditional athletes?
I think there are similarities and differences. There is practice involved, but it’s not mandatory. We do have to go out and ride our bikes every day trying to get better, trying new tricks and doing the same things over and over so you don’t get rusty, but that’s the beautiful thing about riding: You don’t have to go out and do anything; you can do it whenever you want. Just hop on your bike and ride.
What do you aspire to when you’re out there riding?
I’m still coming up in the industry. There are a lot of things I want to do. I want to branch out and expand myself to more than just the BMX community, like what Nigel Sylvester is doing.
What’s the best part about what you do?
The cool thing about biking is when you’re out with your friends riding. You may have to go film for an hour or practice a new trick, but the whole time, you’re with your friends, so it’s not like you have to separate. When we’re together, we all motivate each other to get better. That’s why I wouldn’t consider riding a bike work. It’s more of a passion and love of mine.
What do you like best about G-Shock watches?
The best thing is the watch fits the street-rider persona. It’s more of a well-built, rough watch that isn’t going to fall apart on you. You can wear it when you’re riding, and at the same time, you can wear it out to a club when you’re not riding. It’s something that’s universal, and you can put your own style with it.