(Welcome a new contributor to the ESPN BMX fold: Brian Kachinsky. We all know about Brian's amazing skills on a bike, as well as his recent Bronze Medal in X Games 16 street, but Brian's also one of the funnier pros on the scene today, and always willing to share his experiences as a pro BMXer with others. So, we put two and two together and decided to get Brian on board as a contributor. Brian recently drove to Ohio to tie up some loose ends with his sponsor DK Bicycles, and decided to relay his experiences throughout the visit, from meetings to photo shoots to sessions in the DK warehouse. And this is his first submission. Welcome aboard BK.)
When you think about the life of a pro BMX rider, you often immediately think about the tricks, the contests, the videos, the travels, etc. One of the things you often don't get to see firsthand is the rider's relationships with the companies they represent. This is something that goes on behind the scenes, but is a necessary part of being a pro.
I'm lucky that I live a (kind of) short drive from one of my main sponsors: DK Bicycles. I get to visit DK a handful of times every year. Visiting always involves a bit of work, a bit of play and of course some laughs. There is much more that goes into a company than one thinks. There are many "unsung heroes" that work every day to make the fun on our bikes possible. Of course for most of these people, it's a labor of love; they all have a background in BMX and share the same passions as those on the front lines.
When I visit DK I can always count on a few things:
Meetings: Whether it's with the team manager to discuss upcoming trips/events, working with the product designer to give input on new products, checking in with the marketing director to see what new ads are coming out and provide feedback, catching up with the boss, etc. etc. "Having the riders visit like this is always exciting. It's almost like Thanksgiving or Christmas time when everyone is together. It's like one big family. Of course there are some funny shenanigans that come with everyone being under one roof but that's who we are and the fun that drives this company. "Bill Danishek, Owner, DK Bicycles/System Cycle
Shopping: A visit to the company headquarters is always a good chance to get your hands on the newest gear, prototype products or just dialing in your bike in general. This is always a blast and is one of the rewards of riding for a company. A misconception might be that it's a free-for-all, allowing you to fill up your car with a dozen new bikes. But in reality, if that was the case, it would probably be your last shopping spree there. Always remember to be thankful for what you get and don't be greedy.
The employee lounge: DK has one of the best employee lounges I've ever seen. There's nothing better than enjoying a few runs around the park on your lunch break with your sandwich and chips.
Photo shoots: Smile, you're on camera! DK has an in-house photo studio where they shoot photos of their new bikes, parts, soft goods, etc. Unfortunately for the camera, sometimes it has to take photos of us pretending that we are good-looking models (which we aren't.) I don't think any of us will be gracing the cover of GQ anytime soon, but at least we can ride a bike right? As awkward as it sometimes is, we always get a good laugh out of it and the product photos always look sweet.
Hanging out with other team riders: At any given moment, one or many of the team riders might be visiting the headquarters at the same time. On this past visit, I was joined by Drew Bezanson, Brian Hunt, Anthony Watkinson, and Nina Buitrago. It's a great time to catch up, talk bikes and maybe once again, enjoy the employee lounge. "Having the team here gives us the chance to collect everyones ideas and put them into motion. It's probably one of the most important, and most fun times of the year." -Trevor Gay, DK marketing director
Catfish, DK TM: Between all this chaos and fun, you can always count on Catfish to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest, mildly-offensive YouTube videos, self-made raps, lazers, train horns, etc. It's always something new and will always leave you laughing and shaking your head.
Thanks DK for another fun visit and thanks all you readers for joining me. For me I'm proud to be a "spoke" in the "wheel" and visiting the "hub" is always a highlight. I hope you all someday get the opportunity to experience this and work with people as passionate as the people here. It's awesome.