My phone lights up with a message from Jackson Bradshaw: “We’re on our way.” SLUG photographer Jake Vivori and I are sipping cans of Miller on the Spedelli’s patio, soaking up the illusory warmth of a spring day in Salt Lake when the FOAD crew arrives, a couple of them on bikes, the others in a Subaru with sturdy-looking bikes mounted on a rack. The four of them—Jackson, Sam Allgood, Parker Thompson, Evan Service, Izik Service (joined by their friend on BMX, Bryson Dallin)—are the foundational members of a fixed gear freestyle crew that stems in Salt Lake, but claims members up through the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been fascinated by them for years for one big reason: They’re still riding.
The plan is to ride together to a “secret spot” not accessible by car, and I’ve been warned that the route includes some rough terrain, which I’m a little wary of—mountain biking isn’t my thing, especially on skinny, 700c tires. I take a last draw from the can in hopes of numbing my nerves a bit. The funny thing about riding a bike is … Well, it’s like riding a bike. Pedaling across Foothill feels like putting on a good pair of jeans, and by the time we get to the pebbles and dirt that mark our off-roading journey, I’m feeling comfortable. The guys even jump off their bikes and walk along with me over the rockier spots, though their 26-inch wheels have no problem with the terrain.
Their spot overlooks I-80, the Wasatch mountains as a backdrop to the East, the cityscape to the West. “This is our spot,” says Jackson with a tinge of pride and belonging, explaining that they hiked 400 pounds of cement up here last fall, along with all the wood to build the DIY features (a launch ramp, rail, box and mini bump jump), and cleared out the tall weeds and big rocks marring the road on either side of us. This is a big deal for them, and I can understand why. Fixed gear freestyle isn’t exactly a respected sport, and its proponents are completely outnumbered by skaters and BMX-ers all vying for the same spots. “There’s not anything in Salt Lake City in fixed gear freestyle except for us,” says Parker. This is their Neverland treehouse, their Dead Poets Society cave, their Goon Docks.
A toothless vagrant with a beer belly and a tall can of Pabst walks from behind some trees and makes light conversation with me as I watch the boys set up while Jake shoots some photos. He tells me that the overgrown asphalt we’re on, which curves around the mountain, is the old I-80, and that he comes up here to drink beer. The boys are amused rather than put off by the stranger—Jackson even asks him to give a shout-out to FOAD for their next edit—and he seems harmless, so I drop my bag in some weeds next to the bleached skull of an unrecognizable animal and make my way over to Sam and Parker, standing over their bikes on the sidelines. I interviewed Sam almost two years ago for SLUG—our first FGFS rider profile. “Sam’s the fuckin’ OG shredder,” says Jackson. Sam was the first of the crew to start riding fixed about seven years ago, when most of them were sophomores in high school. He’s a weird kid—incredibly smart, funny, seemingly introverted, but I constantly have to interrupt him so someone else gets a chance to talk. He’s into metal, studies engineering at the U, and he probably knows more about the actual mechanics of the bikes they’re on than anyone else. Sam’s sitting out on hitting the features, but I’ve seen him ride, and I know he has talent. “Sam has land-everything steeze,” says Jackson. “He’ll try a trick and mess up, but then he’ll continue it into something completely different.”
The crew all attended Highland High School (Izik is still a Junior there), which is how they came together. “We became friends because of [cycling],” says Jackson. “I knew Sam a little bit before, but pretty much our activity when we hang out is to go ride …” When I first ran into them around ‘07, they were Team Terror, shadowed by the muscles and ego of the exclusive BFC, loitering at Disorderly House, and beating out all the Abercrombie-faced fixie heroes in their own trick comps. “We weren’t allowed in [the BFC],” says Sam. “They fell to the wayside because they were too cool.” Hanging out with these guys, it’s pretty clear they’re not going to fall prey to jobs at Goldman Sachs and San Francisco hipster dreams. Jackson faded away to college in Seattle for a minute, but came home to finish up at the U: “I decided I’d rather be in Salt Lake with these dudes,” he says. Riding bikes isn’t just a trendy time passer for the FOAD crew—this is a way of life that their friendships and their adolescence has been built around, and they’re willing to do what it takes to keep it going. “[The goal is] to own property on a side of a volcano with smooth blacktop and three or four miles of downhill for tire-shredding shit—fixed gear paradise,” says Sam. Jokes aside, watching them interact is endearing. They’re close, like brothers, and for every “fuck you,” there’s a genuine cheer when one of them lands a trick and a compliment about their riding style thrown my way.
Parker is the sweet one. He’s eager and fidgety, and when he says, “I like to ride fast—I don’t like to sit around in the parking lot and practice tricks and shit,” it falls in line with his character. Parker works at Jimmy John’s as a delivery rider—the whole crew does, except Sam, who is currently taking a hiatus to focus on school, and Izik, who is still in high school. I can see Parker takes it the most seriously, though, claiming “Main Street, SLC” as his favorite place to ride in town, practicing wheelies and skitching on TRAX in between deliveries. He is the only one on 700c wheels, which allow for the speed he desires, but limit the kind of control required of some of the fixed gear freestyle tricks. Still, he has his own style, and it’s part of what makes the group so fun to watch—especially in their videos.
Check out foadfixed.com and you’ll see what I mean. Jackson started the blog two summers ago as a way to post their edits and connect with the FGFS community outside of Salt Lake, beginning with a video of Evan. That’s when FOAD became official, and Jackson is responsible for the elusive acronym, repurposing it from a group whose members once beat up his dad in high school, though the boys tell me it doesn’t stand for anything specific (Fuck Off And Die, Friends Of The American Dinosaur and Feed Our Adorable Dolphins are some of the options, though). “It was a cool sounding word,” says Jackson, to the chagrin of his father, I’m sure. Jackson is definitely the unsung leader of the group, though they don’t claim to have one. He’s the oldest, at 21, and seems outspoken and temperamental, his style of riding complementing his personality: “I don’t like to do that big of shit—I like to do weird stuff—trying to do stuff in a way that people haven’t seen,” he says. Jackson is the creative director behind the videos, taking notes on spots and tricks for future filming, and he’s also responsible for the graphic design, which helped in starting the blog.
Jackson’s grand aspirations for the site, hoping to build it to Prolly proportions, have since been abandoned, however. “I think our videos are more important than anything else,” he says. “The blog is just a place to source them. Most of where people see our stuff isn’t even on our blog—our videos get posted. That’s what we’re trying to do, get it out to other places.” The videos, mostly filmed and edited by Jackson via a Canon 7D and iPhone, have definitely seen improvement over the past two years. My favorites are the “Sam Sings” series, which are a hilarious mix of landed tricks, people eating shit and excessive personality. “We just film ourselves hanging out,” says Sam.
The “hanging out” is definitely a highlight in my viewing experience, but the fixie-famous blogs reposting their videos (they cite ttvblog.com as one of their main supporters) are looking for more, and that’s where Evan and Izik come in. Evan has also been featured in SLUG, and when it comes to FOAD, he’s “the friend who’s gonna go pro,” says Sam, “but his little brother is better than him.” Unlike the other FOAD members, Evan and Izik’s riding styles completely contradict their personalities. Evan is quiet—in my first interview with him, I had to isolate him so he’d be forced to speak or sit in awkward silence—but he rides big. Sponsored by local company Velo City Bags, CSK and Fixie Factory, Evan has been deemed the “peg master” by his comrades. He says he’s currently working on big handrails, “but I’m really scared,” which hasn’t stopped him in the least. Izik is even more extreme on both sides of the spectrum. I barrage “The Silent Shredder” with questions that receive shrugs as answers until he admits that his biggest inspiration is to look at what Evan is doing, and try to do it bigger. The competition is healthy, though, and it’s landed FOAD with their biggest gig yet: a segment in the extras on the new Can’t Fool The Youth 2 DVD, which features all the “best of the best” in FGFS, says Sam.
It has also inspired them to take on a new project: Their own, underground full-length, which they plan to start once they’ve finished up their part for CFTY. Also on the docket is a trip to the Red Bull Ride + Style this summer, a FGFS competition in San Francisco, though it’s going to be tricky since they all work at the same place and pretty much make up half the delivery staff at Jimmy John’s.
I ask the boys if they have any last words, and I get a “YOLO Swag 420” and “GDFBCD (Get Drunk Fuck Bitches Chase Deer).” What is it with boys and acronyms? Parker says it best, though, and sums up why FOAD is here to stay: “Ride bikes every day.”
Check them out at foadfixed.com, and make sure to pick up the new Can’t Fool The Youth DVD when it drops this month.