When I moved to Santa Cruz ten years ago I didn’t know a single person that rode bikes. Slowly I met people and tagged along and after a while I heard about some trails in Watsonville (a few towns away) that this dude Mike and his buddy Jason ran. Over the next couple years I started riding Watsonville all the time and for me the thing that stood out most about that place was the kind of person Mike was. Mike worked hard there and of course he was ready to defend that place but at the same time they were the most welcoming set of trails I have ever been to. Mike always knew your name, high fived you and was the glue for a set of trails that a lot of people called home.
Watsonville dried up and Mike moved up to Santa Cruz and became one of the main faces in a bmx scene that was growing quickly. Mike’s apartment was a stone’s throw from the new bike park and served as clubhouse, repair shop and international youth hostel. If you come to Santa Cruz there is a decent chance that Mike will be the first person you meet, or at least the first one to ask you where you are from and strike up a conversation.
Mike is happy to drive truck all day for work, get off and head straight to the trails without his bike to dig until the sun goes down. He understands that things don’t improve without work and between sets of trails, quickcrete missions, the warehouse project and his general attitude he has helped make Santa Cruz what it is today. I don’t know anyone who works harder, cares about his friends and family more deeply or loves Santa Cruz and bmx more. FUCK YEAH MIKE!
Name: Mike Hernandez
Age: 27 and 10/12ths
Hometown: Watsonville, California
First thing you remember that made you want to ride bikes?
Wow, gotta dig deep for that one. Definitely my older cousin John. I always looked up to him, we lived together for a good amount of our childhood. I just alway remember tagging along with him and his buddies on bmx bikes, seeing them jump fly outs around town, doin long ass sit down wheelies, and pretty much just being bmx hoodlums…I thought those dudes were cool as hell, needless to say i was psyched on bmx, thanks to good ol’ cousin John.
First bike? Favorite bike rider at the time?
First real bike, I’d have to say the loogie green(I’m pretty sure that was the actual color name) Haro mirra 540 complete, and duh Dave Mirra, bro. What can I say, I was a grom.
Who do you ride with regularly? Anyone you wish you could ride with more?
Regularly? Probably you (Jackson Allen), Andy Mac, Murphy, Anthony, Jordan, Dusty, Eric Zellner and some of the freedom forty locs when we’re out at the trails! Definitely wish I could ride more with my three younger brothers.
How many years have you been digging vs. riding?
Well, like I said i’ve been jumpin’ curbs since I was a just a little grom, but got really into riding at like 15 or 16 and started diggin’ at Watsonville trails at about 16 or 17, so I guess maybe 12 years riding and 10 years digging.
Where did you build your first jump?
Down by the creek, behind some houses on Marigold Ave. in Watsonville…little did I know what I was getting into.
How long did Watsonville trails run and how many versions do you think you guys went through?
I think when it all started to fall apart we were on our ninth year there, and probably the third version with one line that always remained “main line”
What were some of the wildest things you saw go down at Watsonville trails over the years, both riding and non-riding?
Holy hell! I could write a book about the stuff I saw go down there…cops coming out of the bushes looking for some dude that had just shot someone, plenty of people gettin’ fully KO’d, Chris Duncan getting way too sketchy on a mountain bike, sketchy tweekers from around the way (that were waaay too psyched on a couple of kids on bikes), shit dude I got stories all day if you’re tryin’ listen.
Why do you think this area seems to always have trails of some sort going on ? Do you think that changed the way you thought/rode growing up?
I dunno, maybe a lack of other good stuff to ride…as for me, when I started riding, there were no skateparks to ride and I came from the outskirts of town and rode dirt bikes a little when I was young so I guess building wicked shit out of dirt and gettin’ kicked out just felt right to me.
So you grew up racing, do you ever miss it? A memorable race story?
Oh man! I always miss those days, too many stories…ok, so waking up in the passenger seat of “nelly”(the old early 70’s suburban we traveled in) in the middle of nowhere nevada, flying through the desert in the middle of the night, freezing cold, windows down, music blaring,and Carolyn driving wrapped in a blanket and determined to get us to whatever hokey ass town we were headed to race in, you better believe we were there on time to catch some sleep in a hotel and get to the track in time for a.m. practice.
Why Santa Cruz?
Why not? Beautiful mountains, killer beaches, great mexican food, awesome friends, all within a five minute ride from my doorstep. need i say more?
What would your ideal day be like?
Wake up next to my girl and get a little a.m. delight, head to the gym to get loosened up, hit up the concrete bowl to get my carve on, drive out to the trails for some digging, bbq’n, and a super mellow session ‘˜til the sun goes down… yea, thats whats up.
What would your ideal trip be like?
All the boys, on the road, no stragglers/scavengers, riding all day, raging every night, good spots, good food, good friends.
If you were in a hair metal band what would your name be? How long would your hair be?
Easiest question by far… skid savage and the longer the better.
I know you like old things and restoring old things. What’s the appeal?
I’m not sure, it might be in my blood. I’m just very fascinated by old stuff, maybe its the look or the thought of what these things have seen and been through, i usually just appreciate the craftsmanship that went into building stuff.
Why do you like building things so much? Couldn’t you just go ride the skatepark?
Why don’t YOU just go ride a skatepark? Just kidding, uh I guess cause nothing feels better than finishing something that you started and put so much effort into, or that feeling you get when you first send it off a fresh lip not knowing how well its gonna go, and the freedom to create almost anything you can imagine…nothing better.
What’s your favorite shovel?
Tuff series flat head, $12 at OSH, lifetime warranty.
If you had 3 acres of your own, would you try to keep the trails you would inevitably build separate from the massive junk pile you would undoubtedly collect?
Shit no! you know I’d be rampin’ off of something I brought home from work.
Winter beer? Summer beer?
Winter: Newcastle or Blue Moon, Summer: Corona or Pacifico with some lemon and salt!
What do you love most about bmx?
The simplicity of it, all you need is your bike, some open space, and an open mind. Add in some good friends and…BOOYAA!! enjoy.
What do you love least about bmx?
How cliquey and segregated it has become… figure it out barnies, we’re all just dorks on kids bikes. You’re no cooler than me just cause you can do tailwhips six inches off the ground.
I know you have been injured a lot during the years you have ridden. Has that changed the way you thought about riding or life?
Damn dude, too much. Serious injuries definitely take a toll both mentally and physically, but you know what? Every time we step foot on our bikes we know what the consequences could be. So if your not ready for that, you could probably get a few bucks for your bike on E-bay.
Family and friends, my boss Nathan Lewis, Travis Hill and Matt Mardesich for teaching me what trails are all about, anyone who’s trying to make something out of nothing, anyone who has made a life out of doing what they love, people that don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of all people that have struggled, fought, and overcame to succeed rather than just give in and roll into the gutter.
Damn where do I start? Sasquatch Canyon a.k.a Jackson Allen, Least Most, all the santa cruz locals, all the Watsonville locals i used to dig and ride with, Carolyn Flores hands down the best bmx mom ever, my girl Syd for being the raddest chick i’ll ever know, Eric Zellner cause he’s the man, Brandon York and Chris Reisner(when you movin to s.c?!), Crazy Chris YEA BROTHER!, and anyone that has done their part to better bmx in general.