Photos and Words by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Last weekend in Las Vegas it was finally Tyler Bereman's turn to stand at the top of the podium at a major whip contest, and many would argue that it's long overdue. The stylish racer turned free rider has been turning heads for years with his whips and charismatic personality, and right now he's been on a tear. We sat down with TB653 to reflect on his first win and the work that goes into it…
Tyler, you finally did it man –you won! I think I speak for a lot of people when I say this is long overdue.
Yeah, I finally got one. Obviously, it felt great. The thing is, I've always kind of done the whip thing in Supercross and racing and all that and I've always had fun going into the hills and freeriding. I've never really made it a point to hit people up to get into contests like the X Games —I wanted to earn my way in there if you will. Last year the Dirt Shark Biggest Whip was an X Games Qualifier, so I ended up getting my invite straight to X Games from that last year. I finally got my shot, went to X Games and did my thing and came out with a third in Best Whip. I think I made an impression there, and then came into Vegas with a good feeling. I got through practice, and I was feeling good. I was just stoked to get through to the finals and everyone was cracking 'em. I was throwing every whip as big as I could because everyone was going so big – I didn't even know if I'd make the top three. I made it, and put all of my heart into those last two jumps! I definitely want to give a big shout out to all the riders, along with Jared McNeil and Edgar Torronteras that made that final with me. We all thought we had it easy because Jarryd had a torn ACL. He wrapped that thing up and he came out and threw them as big as he ever has. He toughed it out, and was such a good sport –I got him by 0.01 so I barely squeaked by for the win!
That was a good contest. You guys were sending it deep on that landing – was it a 75 foot gap?
Yeah, a normal contest whip ramp that we do is 75 feet and that thing was actually set at 76 feet so we had one more foot. We had a gnarly wind all day, and outside the stadium we were going north and the wind was basically northeast. When we went inside we had a straight tailwind, so the slightest crack of the throttle would give you that extra feet so we were going a little long! For me, I personally like it bigger that way I have a little more time. Going long and barely bringing it back can get scary sometimes.
So it's more wind than excitement then? I think when people are watching and see you guys land deep they just take it as a full send! (Laughs)
I mean, I think it can be a combination of both –I went longer than I had the whole time at the end because I just gave it that extra little juice. That happened at X Games too, the harder you yank I feel like it's going to give you a few more feet, too. Those last two I gave her the yank, and she still came back! (Laughs)
That's all hype for the fans –it's good stuff.
Yeah, and it is a whip contest. We're going out there to get judged, but at the end of the day we are all friends out there and we're all having fun. We're able to go out and throw whips and have fun on our dirt bikes on that stage, on live TV. We're all trying to hype each other and have fun together, but at the same time we are trying to one-up each other. It's a good friendly rivalry, and it's cool to go out and have fun with everyone.
Whip contests are tough to judge, explain that to the people who don't understand.
That's the hardest thing with contests. If you're talking about X Games, they have been doing a fan vote and a lot of fans don't understand the technique and how hard it is to do each kind of different whip. I think having it judged by people that understand it and have been there and realize the technique to do the three different kinds of whips is huge. There are some dudes that have one really big whip one way, but can't do a turn down or a turn up or whatever it may be. It has progressed now, and there are really three different kinds of whips and every person has their signature but we get judged on them all. My signature whip would probably be a Supercross-style whip that I can get underneath, and I just started learning turndowns right before X Games. I started to get those really good, and scared myself along the way because they don't want to come back sometimes! (Laughs)
Break down the three main styles of whips for the readers who don't understand.
So basically there's a Supercross whip, a turn down whip, and a turn up whip. The Supercross whip is the traditional sit down, get under the bike and throw it upside down whip. A turn down whip is where you come in standing up, turn the bars down to bring the bike into a full 180 while you're looking backwards and then you bring it back. A turn up is basically doing an opposite whip, where you pull your front end up and drop your inside hip. There is a lot of technique involved and it's hard to wrap your head around it, but once you get the feeling it starts to click!
How do you prepare for a contest?
The biggest thing with me is the fact that you can hit a ramp as many times as you want and it's never going to change. You can only throw a whip so many times, so I personally try to just get a few days on the bike going into it and get all three whips practiced. I think it's easy to get burned out because you can hit a ramp 50 times in 20 minutes, so my biggest thing is making sure everything else is ready and I go in with a positive attitude. I want to know in my head that I have the technique down, and then I take a deep breath and focus on what I need to do, which is basically yanking and hoping it comes back! (Laughs)
It seems like you've been competing for a while, but you haven't actually been in that many whip contests.
I haven't been in too many, a few local ones but maybe four Dirt Shark Biggest Whip Contests and X Games for the first time this year. I was always just out creating content and trying to be a part of things like Twitch's Chasing The Storm movies. I was just trying to have fun and ride on a daily basis and I guess I just caught the eye of some people and got through. Every year people are whipping bigger and bigger, and I work on my technique all the time.
You had some special things for Las Vegas to pay homage to the victims of the attack. Talk about that a little bit.
Las Vegas is a place I hold close to my heart, I've been going there for a long time with family and friends and I haven't missed a Supercross there in I couldn't tell you how long. To see that tragedy happen and all that, it's a huge shame. I went the weekend before Monster Cup and attended a charity event there and the vibes in Vegas were definitely heavy. I knew I had to do a little something for the city, and #VEGASSTRONG. I did the "Viva Las Vegas" on my jersey with the praying hands with #VEGASSTRONG on it. That's the least I could do to dedicate it to everyone affected by the tragedy. Then I came out into the stadium with an American Flag and rode up on the landing, waved the flag and held up my jersey. The crowd went nuts, and it was right about at that point where I had goose bumps and knew I had Vegas on my side. I knew I was going to go out there and do whatever it took to win, and I pulled it out for them. I thought a lot about what I could do for the victims after the contest, and I am going to set up an eBay auction for my gear that I wore there and hopefully we can get some good money for that. All the proceeds I will donate to the victims fund and that is the least I can do to give back. Keep an eye out for that.
That's awesome. We will get that posted when you get the auction live. What's next on your agenda?
Just working on some stunt stuff, I've been doing quite a lot of that over the past year. I am going to Red Bull Rampage next week, and I'll be hanging out with all my mountain bike homies and try to help them out if I can. Those guys are gnarly building their lines, and I look forward to going out there to hang out and watch the mayhem go down. They get me motivated for winter, what they do is inspiring to say the least. When I come back from there Twitch and I are going to do a little road trip through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona I'm pretty sure. I'll do that, create a little bit of content, and then Red Bull Day in the Dirt is coming up at Thanksgiving time. After that it's just chill mode until Supercross time, and I'll definitely be there hanging out and maybe even pop into one and race if I can and I'm feeling it. Yeah, just cruising and riding my dirt bike –soaking it all in as much as I can because it ain't gonna last forever!
Who do you want to thank?
Man, everyone involved in my program that get me where I am. My mechanic Robbie Brown kills it with my bike all the time –R and C Motorsports –hit him up for bike work. Then we have my sponsors –DC Shoes, Fasthouse, Weedmaps, 805 Beer, Gen X, VonZipper, Gaerne, Shoei, Stance, FMF, Works Connection, Evans Cooling, BC Fit Meals, Acerbis, Dunlop, No Toil, Asterisk, Airtrix, and anyone else who has helped my along the way. I also want to give a big thanks to Dirt Shark for throwing the contest, and Eric Peronnard and Miki Keller for always taking care of us athletes.