Origins: The Tailwhip Nosepick

Terrible still from the Banks, Dave Voelker.

Twenty three years ago, Dyno factory rider Dave Voelker had an idea for a new trick. One that involved a combination of two moves, the nosepick and the tailwhip. The nosepick was still virtually unknown. In those early days, I believe it was the brainchild of lip trick innovator Ron Wilkerson, only he called it a "Hop Drop" and actually pogo'd on the front wheel from start to finish. It was not a quick or stylish in and out move. It was more of a ten-second bouncing ordeal than trick, but the nosepick was beginning to come into its own on kick-turn ramps (which were the latter day equivalent of manmade banks.) Come to think of it, there were riders in the mid '80s doing tailwhips on kick-turn ramps, R.L. Osborn included. It was just a matter of actually hopping into nosepicks that needed to happen.

Around 1986, Voelker started trying his own version of nosepicks. Only he didn't rush to a kick-turn ramp or a transition. He used whatever was around him. According to Voelker, "I was trying to learn nosepicks on a boulder and then I thought of trying a nosepick tailwhip. I learned it in one day. After a while I did it on mini ramps and spines." But Voelker's new creation didn't exactly hit the big time straight away. Maybe some people in his hometown of Santee, California were able to witness the new move, but the magazines and few videos of the day didn't pick up on it.

That all changed on September 2, 1989. The day of the first and only 2-Hip Brooklyn Banks Meet The Street. The jam, organized by Ron Wilkerson and 2-Hip, was run without permission from the city, and for the most part, was allowed to proceed without incident. Check the YouTube footage below for Voelker attempting the first "sub-style" tailwhip nosepick in "practice." The trick caught some attention following the Meet The Street. Not that more and more people were trying it just yet, just that it got its due in the magazines of the time and in video. Here's the footage of Dave trying the first "sub-style" tailwhip nosepick at the 2-Hip Brooklyn Banks Meet The Street. You gotta get in to about 3:16. Please look past the fact that he lands on the frame; take a step back and realize that this trick was never done before him, and that the footage is almost old enough to get served in a bar now.

Fast forward another few years, and the face of the nosepick tailwhip changed, very drastically. Thanks in part to a skatepark in Davenport, Iowa named Rampage, and the likes of a few Midwest riders (including Krt Schmidt and Rick Moliterno) the nosepick tailwhip came into its own as a starting point for modern day lip tricks. This was during the "lean years," a time when bike sales were down, magazines were close to extinction and no one was really sure where BMX was headed. Schmidt and Moliterno had just started their own venture, dubbed Standard Industries, and seemed to toil the night away on a four-foot transition mini ramp, devising new nosepick tailwhip variations, including multiple tailwhip nosepicks, boomerang tailwhip nosepicks and nose wheelie to tailwhip nosepick. I know it's not accurate, but it almost seemed like being able to a pull a nosepick tailwhip was a team requirement for Standard. Fortunately, the early days of Rampage, Standard and both Schmidt and Moliterno's progression with the trick were well documented in both the early Standard videos and the Baco series, which is also where you'd find Standard prodigy Dave Freimuth heading in his own direction with the trick. Here's a Rampage section from Baco 3, complete with a dual nosepick tailwhip from Krt and Rick at just around 1:40.

A handful of years later, front brakes were beginning to wane as a more trails-oriented approach to street and park riding gained in popularity. But the nosepick tailwhip wasn't about to head off into obscurity. In fact, it almost seemed like it wasn't until Terrible One's Paul Buchanan came along and did a footjam version that the trick really took off. There were pockets of riders doing them before hand with front brakes (Dave Osato, Jason Enns, Jay Miron, Clint Millar and Rob Ridge to name a few), but the footjam version helped push the trick out into the open. Although Buchanan was still doing them on six-foot transitions, the move quickly made the jump to streets, and as we all know now that it's been a few years, the nosepick tailwhip is a building block trick for many brakeless street riders.

David Ulrich

Tobias Wicke, Mellowpark, Berlin, Germany.

In many ways, the modern incarnation of the nosepick tailwhip has come full circle. It's gone from a tailwhip on a kick-turn ramp, to small subs in Manhattan, to mini ramps in Iowa, to impossible tech combinations throughout the Midwest, to burly in Germany (see Osato or Wicke) and back again to a simple tailwhip on a bank. And that's pretty damn cool if you think about it. Another reminder that BMX is what any of us make of it, that riding can be interpreted in vastly different ways, and that some things are fun to do no matter what terrain you've got available. I guess a big thanks is due for Dave Voelker. Without him going balls out to AC/DC with no shirt on in the late '80s, none of this would've been possible.

By the way, I know this is a lot of words to sit through about a trick that most of you are probably sick of seeing in every Web video of the past two years, but it's still fun to do. Don't forget that. -Brian Tunney

Edit: One of my favorite people in the world had a little bit to add onto the story. It looks like Jamie McParland is in fact responsible for making the Midwest jump back to the pedals in tailwhip nosepicks. Here's the good word from Jamie: "After Voelker, Krt Schmidt and Rick Moliterno were doing them. Everyone up to that point flew out into a nosepick, did a tailwhip and then went back in. Considering all the nights I spent riding ramps with Rick and Krt, I wanted to learn them. Only problem was I was, and still am, the world's worst flatlander. But I could do tailwhip airs. I started by learning tailwhip drop ins. I couldn't get the bike back under me and in my 17 year-old hucker style, I started to jump for the pedals as the bike was coming around over the transition, ala tailwhip air. I remember feeling stupid that I had to pull it that way. Rick came out and saw me doing this on the 4-foot quarter. He said he actually thought it was a lot cooler looking. So we rode the ramp together and he learned the jump to pedals. The rest is history. Actually, I think I might have come up with the kicking the bike as you're going into the nosepick as well... Not 100% sure on that. But that happened the same session.After I got the tailwhip drop-in, I tried the nosepick part and then tailwhip. I started f*@king around kicking the bike in the air, almost like a joke. Then I realized I could jump on the front tire."

And here's a how-to featuring Eddie Cleveland from a few years back in case you're still learning...

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