His approach for riding, influenced by the skateboarding and BMX culture, passion, hard work and dedication from his early Rocky days, has made Wink the rider that is today, one of the most creative and talented in the Dirt Jump and Slopestyle scene.
With videos like, About Time and his OnlyMTB X Chromag collab project, you can tell that he has always been one step ahead. And then it was Insight, his latest creation with filmmaker Rupert Walker. Again, they brought something different to our computer screens.
It has been almost two years and a half now since that video came out. No new video projects have been made, yet.
Where is Wink now? What is he up to? Does he still ride an MTB? All these questions and much, much more have been answered.
I am honored to present you the Wink Grant interview.
Where do you come from?
Victoria, BC – Currently residing in East Vancouver.
How did you start riding and why?
My older brother Kyle was super into it with his friends. The shore was just getting going, so we were all hyped on ladder bridges and drops to flat. My first bike was a Diamondback BMX that my brother/parents got for me for Christmas. They sent me downstairs to get a loaf of bread from the freezer and yeah, surprise, it was just in the garage. It was insane, I think I was 10, it was funny though ’cause even though it was a 20, the sickest thing to me back then was like, Wade and this local dude Colin Macdonald who were just nailing it super hard. Such a contradiction, I was full MTB: camelback, roach shins, elbow pads… Riding a 20 with four pegs.
What were the things that make you stoked to go out with your bike back then?
Pretty much the same things that get me stoked now, being out of the house with my friends cruzin’ around finding new spots and trying to get tricks. It was a nice change of pace from playing team sports where there were always restrictions and guidelines for what you could and couldn’t do. The best shit ever to me back then was just cruzin’ in a posse skidding on people’s front lawns, kickin’ garbage cans over, hawkin’ loogs at mailboxes, you know, just being a shit head 12-year-old building jumps. Learning tricks was just kind of a by-product of that.
Have your love or motivation for riding changed through the years?
Not really, it’s still just as fun as it was when I was 12. I wouldn’t have devoted nearly half my life to bikes if I didn’t love this shit.
Why did you have a 4-year riding hiatus?
It was more like three, but yeah, I don’t know. I can blame it on trying to be with the “in” crowd in High School, or the pressure to pursue baseball, but it all comes down to just me being psyched on being a shithead kid getting into trouble smoking weed and getting drunk with my friends. I didn’t really have any friends that were into riding at the time, I had “riding friends” that I would just go ride bikes with, then I had friends who played basketball and chased girls, and then the homies who dropped out or were dropping out that I kicked it with.
It wasn’t like now, where Jarrett is one of my best friends and we can just hang regardless if were riding or not, back then it was super separate like riding friends and “normal friends”. Over the past 4-5 years all my “riding friends” kind of anamorphed into friends to who happen to be really into riding, you know? Like all the fools I kick it with now like Reece or Tingren or Rupert or Andrew or Bob, for example, they are like my homies you know? I would chill with them regardless if I rode bikes or not, just so happens that we’re psyched on bikes and like to try to get better. Basically, what I’m getting at is that I never had a legit squad of friends that I went to school with, where riding was our “chilling”, so when Jarrett finished High School and the homies my age I went to school with quit riding, I kinda phased it out. It just like, wasn’t something I did.
Do you regret anything? Or do you miss something from those days?
Nah I don’t regret anything, you’re a sucker if you live with regret.
How important is family and friends to you?
Very important. Moving away from Victoria where my family lives, definitely made me understand how important they are. My Mom and Dad are more like my best friends now, they know everything about me and I tell them everything. I lived with my pops when I was living in Vic and my mom lived a five-minute skate away so it was super easy to see them. My homie Dan lived a few blocks from my pops so we’ve been kickin’ it for like 12-13 years now. My brother put me into riding and taught me how to swing a hammer and build stuff, he’s the handiest dude I know. He and his wife just had a baby girl and I couldn’t be happier for them. I’m fortunate enough to have met some genuine people from riding. I try to surround myself with positive, creative people, and riding bikes made that easy.
What do you do for a living?
I work as a project manager for a printing company in downtown Vancouver. I talk on the phone and write emails all day, it’s funny cause I hate people but I deal with them all day. Ironic really. It’s rad though, my coworkers are the shit, like, my job could be collecting used needles by hand but if I worked with them and I’d still be psyched. Plus we get free coffee and I’m not breaking my back working construction or some gnarly labor job. Desk jobs aren’t the best, but I make decent money considering I have no post-secondary education and I’d rather be able to ride every day than have my body be clapped out from manual labor.
Do you live on your own, and have obligations and all that stuff?
Yeah, I live on my own with a roommate on the top floor of a house, our place is ill. And yeah man, rent, cell bill, hydro bill, gas bill, bus pass. The works.
What do you do in your free time?
I’ve been pretty up on arcade lately. Galaga and Tekken are mad fun, pop a couple of quarters in, get some music goin’ and just session. Super relaxing, just focusing on shooting little bugs and duckin’ bombs. Tekken, on the other hand, is fuckin’ intense.
I work a good ol’ 9-5 so I’m home around 5.30pm, and cruz to Atlantis for 6ish. Hang out for a bit, wait for people to show up then go ride street. If it’s not that, I’ll ride my road bike over to Value village to hunt for some gear. If it’s not bikes, I’ll go out for beers/food/kick it with my girlfriend. At the weekends, I try to get a solid day with Reece dogger and whoever else on my hardtail, hit up Burlington during the winter or ride his setup with the weather being better. I try and get to shows as well, there are a bunch of local bands that I’m up on, so there’s usually something to check out every week or so. Other than that, shooting photos here and there. I got surgery on my wrist a couple of weeks ago so I’ve just been chillin’ with my lady and tryin’ to eat right to get this bone heal.
Tingren said that you are the OG of film photography, what do you like about shooting film?
Tingren is mistaken. I may have started shooting film before a lot of people that are taking it up now, but I am certainly not the “OG” of film photography. One of the main things that I like about it is that it doesn’t ruin moments. You shoot a photo with a film camera, and no one is like, “Yoo let me see that? Yo take another!” You know? It’s just like, whatever, it’s done and we are still just kickin’ it talkin’ shit. With digital, a lot of people, including myself, are so consumed with looking at their LCD to get the best shot or composure or whatever it may be, and it just kills any vibe at all when taking “lifestyle” pictures.
I also like riding to the lab, dropping a roll off then doing the same thing to pick it up. You tend to try a little harder and think twice about taking a picture, which isn’t necessarily a good thing sometimes, but the pictures you do take are often better. Which also leads into this weird artsy thing where you take a very average, poorly composed, blurry photo with a film camera, and it somehow is credible and still worth putting on your Facebook album titled “Film”. I think Paul had a tweet or Facebook status a while back along the lines of “A blurry photo is a blurry photo, regardless of what method you used to take it.” You can’t polish shit. If your photos are only “notable” and worth mentioning because you shot them on an old film camera, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. There is nothing less “film” than going through the effort of producing images with a film camera all to just have them scaled down to a two-inch square for Instagram likes. I would like to get a handful of people to contribute to a zine or collab on a small gallery show or something. Keep it tactile. I’ve seen a lot of rad stuff coming out lately and it’d be sick to have prints or a zine to look back on, instead of me digging through a Tumblr to show my grandpa something.
Do you consider yourself an artist?
What equipment do you use?
I have a few cameras I use for different types of shooting I guess. Two Minolta SLR’s that I got from the thrift store I used to work in Victoria. Those are for wrapping in a toque and throwing in my backpack to have a camera on me. I was fortunate enough to have my grandpa give me his old Leica M6 which I use the rare times I actually go out, “shooting”. I’ve been working on this project for a little while taking portraits of the people I run into in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which I’ve only shot on the Leica. My parents bought me a Canon 7D when I was attending photo school and I’ll use that if I go to shoot photos at a show the odd times I’ll shoot riding stuff or if I’m going on a trip and plan on shooting more than a handful of photos. Lastly, I have a Leica Mini-zoom point and shoot which is rad for bringing out drinking or whenever I’m over having a camera on my shoulder, just quick and easy with a bunch of in-camera settings. Most recently, my homie Brad gave me a Canon A2 SLR. It is compatible with my 7D’s glass, which is rad ’cause now I can use them to their full potential, as the 7D is a crop sensor. I’ve been using that the most lately.
Do you collect cameras or other stuff?
To an extent, I’m pretty happy with what I have camera wise so far, however, there are a few cameras that I’m looking at buying. I recently bought a GL2 from the Hastings market for $5 and just a couple weeks ago, a Sony VX2000 off Craigslist. Other than camera related stuff, I collect certain VHS and cassettes, color magazines (when they were still in production) and Grizzlies memorabilia.
What is your inspiration and/or influences for riding? And photography?
John Cardiel and Jason Williams. Cardiel is just the best dude ever, it doesn’t take much convincing after you watch his “Epicly Later’d” part.
J-Will has the best style ever. From his high, unconventional ball handling, the way he dishes, his quick release and ability to see the court and know where his team-mates are at all times are insane. Most people see him play or watch highlights and just think he is some style baller that is just super flashy with no real substance and is quick to brush him off. He is so fundamentally sound at the game of basketball that he adds that flare and personality to keep it fun, which I think, translates a lot to riding. You need to develop a core skill set and muscle memory before you can start trying all these wild tricks or forcing style.
Photographers: Grady Mitchell, Brad Hill, Casey Bennett, Ted Grant, Berkley Vopnfjörð, Brain Van Wyk, Kynan Tait, Jason Headley, Mike Zinger, Andrew Volk, Donovan Mahoney and last but definitely not least, Khalik Allah, that dude is seriously so good.
If I am not wrong, your latest web-video was Insight, in 2013, and I didn’t see much of you on the Internet last year… What have you been up to lately?
I moved to North Vancouver in November 2013 and lived with Reece and his lady. The idea was to ride a bunch. Jarrett, Rupert, and Luke all left Vic and I didn’t really have any homies to ride with. It was dope, strictly semi-pro lifestyle, then I was like, oh yeah, rent, groceries, insurance, bills… Life. I had to choose between like working evenings in a kitchen, SCRAPING by, hating every bit, not being able to afford anything just so I could dig and ride during the day to continue living the life of a semi-pro. I was working 8 hours a week as an intern at the printing place I’m working now, obviously not making enough money. Then I went home for Christmas. I was waiting for Dan to go get coffee, and stacked 180ing a parking block and fucked my wrist up again. When I got back to Van, I couldn’t ride but luckily enough I started working full time so I could afford to live. I just took it easy, for the most part, hoping my wrist would get better but it never did. It turned out that half the bone (scaphoid) had been dead and was more or less just crumbling away in my wrist. I didn’t know this ’till about two months ago.
Eventually, I got super over the commute, living on a hill, not being able to skate to a corner store and $25 cab rides, so when our lease was up I moved to the city. That’s where I’m at now. I work in the city and I like doing stuff in the city, so it made sense to move to the city. Plus I love riding street so it’s a good fit. There have been a few anon comments to onlyMTB like, hating ’cause I’ve been ridin’ 20’s a bunch, but it’s like man, anyone who knows me knows I love riding street, I love jumping dirt too but you can’t do that when its dark. And I get off work when it’s dark five days a week, so yeah I’m gonna ride street five days a week.
Before I got surgery, I’ve been clippin’, then sippin’. It’s a simple process really. I meet a bunch of the guys at Atlantis on Friday night and go ride street. You get a clip, you get to sip. And if you don’t get a clip… well, fuck it, it’s Friday and Hango did some crazy shit so you sip anyway.
What would you like to do this year, do you have any plans?
I went to Santa Cruz a month or two ago which was dope, a nice little trip, got to get sketchy, a few new spots and hang out with Ryan and Logan. It was insane how sketch I was. I had like, no touch, no finesse if you will. Riding jumps is pretty straight-forward, but it was the little things that heat me out now. Like the squirrel catch at the Deer Camp had me stressin’ and it showed. You go from dirt jumping like 5 days a week to like 1 on some basic jumps, your touch is off, tricks come back quick, it’s the little stuff that takes time.
For the rest of the year, I don’t know really, a bunch of little trips. I went to Portland for May long which was a lot of fun. Definitely going back. I had surgery on my wrist so I’ll be chillin extra hard for 6 to 8 weeks. I just got back from Tofino. I drove up there with my girlfriend for the long weekend and camped in my friend Sam’s backyard. It was dope to watch him surf and just hang-out. I also wanna’ film some stuff at The Spot again. I’ve been lucky enough to have Ben Beyers maintaining and riding the jumps. Rupert and I always chat about putting something together but it is tough getting out schedules to line up. Same shit I guess, but a lot more road bike city cruzin’ and beers in parks and bike park this summer.
If someone asks you “Are you Pro?”, what do you say? What does “Pro” mean for you?
“Hahaha, no, no, definitely not pro… Just for fun… I have a lot of friends who do it” That’s usually my go to. If someone is asking you if you’re pro they’re drunk at a bar or have no idea what mountain biking is. Pro means you make enough from your mountain bike sponsors to pay rent, your bills, food, and travel to and from events. I feel like some people like the status of being pro and telling their friends from High School that they’re pro, but are just broke as fuck and only get free shit. It’s funny, ’cause in mountain biking, you don’t really, go pro.
Contests or Videos?
Both are equally impressive. Dudes are nailing it and the features are fuckin’ gnarly. I’m not going to front like I wasn’t scared rolling up to events and there’s a feature that I’ve ridden a handful of times in my life and I’m supposed to get down on it. I have the utmost respect for guys who can pop off at events, I find watching live streamed events and seeing the few homies I know all kitted out with huge cameras in their grill ’bout to go off. That shit is so tight. It’s just not for me. With my trick repertoire, in a perfect world where I did all my hammers in a run, I would get like 15th, if that.
Videos get me stoked, it’s just completely different than contest riding. You can take your time and film something over and over until you’re satisfied with how it looks. You can bitch out or slam as much as you want until you finally get it. The riding in a video should be beyond your skill level. I don’t watch a ton of MTB videos and the ones I watch, I usually don’t watch them more than once, but a few that I’ve been up on lately are Oszkar’s Chromag video, that kid is easily the most under-rated dude in the Slopestyle scene right now; the coast dudes had a sick web-video out not too long ago that I watched a bunch; Bobby’s Mindspark flick; Paul’s video is fire; Rupert chopped up some raw edit of Don for that feature on Red Bull that I watched it like every hour until he took the link down; Matt MacDuff just put out an insane video at Joy Ride that had me like yo… AND HIS BUILDER PART. I know I give riding street on a mountain bike a bunch of grief but for real, Matt MacDuff is dope. Also, SRAM (Mindspark) with that “Steps to the Top” series at Crankworx NZ, I really enjoyed those.
Style or Tricks?
Do your tricks stylish and you’ve got it all figured out.
FMB or FEST?
They’re both rad in their own way. FMB has been pretty wack as far as parking lot Slopestyle events, suspect judging and dumb features go but I think that they’re starting to take some steps in the right direction with the diamond series and more consistent judging. I think that in a few years we will see some serious changes and have a much better experience for the riders as well as the viewers. I feel like the FMB means well, but they still have a bunch of fine-tuning to do.
FEST series is dope, it’s a breath of fresh air from 1foot x-ups to grab points, but it’s not really comparable to a Slopestyle FMB contest. I may be wrong, but FEST is more like a jam, a demo if you will, where a group of riders travels around to these insane courses to put on a show, and there is a rider voted for best whip, trick, slam and what have you. I think that’s tight as hell, but It’s not an event based off a few runs where the riders have to link together tricks which are judged to determine a winner. It’s a format that is more geared towards “Freeride” type of riders that aren’t into tech tricks and that weird contest vibe. All the CruzFest content that came out was wild, I hope to see more courses like that.
What is the best trip that you have ever been into?
Tough call. My first trip to Colorado for Teva Games in ’09 with Alan and Jarrett was pretty monumental for me. It was my first contest and chance to meet all the dudes I looked up to. Highlights were smokin’ weed with R-Dog, B-Mills, LP and Ebbet, T-Mac inviting us to Aptos (but only if we stopped pronouncing it Ap-toes, “Guys its fucking AP-TOSS, not AP-TOES, you can’t come if you keep saying it like that”) and Zink calling Howey and I chodes before he ripped the ringing fire alarm out of the wall in the hallway of the hotel and told us “Shut up groms, you guys didn’t see anything!” and staggered back into his room.
The BR trip a couple of years ago was really fun. RV livin’, gettin’ clips and drinkin’ High Life’s, it doesn’t get much better than that. It was cool to go on a “filming” trip. Not like, pin to a contest, ride, pin home. We saw some cool shit on our way to Santa Cruz, Paul did a flair in a full pipe that we had to access via dingy, which was one of the raddest things that I’ve seen go down. A lot of shit talking in the RV, wicked Post Office sessions, it was sick.
More recently, I went to Tofino last summer for Canada along with my friends Dan, Dave, Jon, and Tingren. We crammed into my Volvo and rode Nanaimo and Port Alberni park on the way there. We slept in my friend Sam’s backyard, well except Tingren, he skirked the couch within 10 minutes of being there… Never even met my homie Sam and scored the couch. The first night Dan and I woke up spooning in our tent surrounded by a moat of water, it was tight. It was the first “non-riding” trip I’d gone on in a while and it couldn’t have gone any better. Tingren got 4th in the AM section of a skate contest and did a bunch of flairs. We skated and rode tuff park every day, ate fish tacos, drank beer and went to a house party on Canada day with a mini-ramp on the second floor. Then I ate shit hill bombing on the way home and completely yard-saled all my shit. Both shoes blew off as well as my hat, lost two beers and a half bag of jalapeño cheddar chips too (RIP). Took us like 20 minutes of looting through bushes with our cell phone lights to find my skate. I ended up with a gnarly road rash on my knee that was not fun peeling off my sleeping bag hung over in a sweaty tent the next morning.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where will you go?
Right this second? NYC for two weeks with Jon, Dan, David, Sam, and Harry. Go straight to 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, then just skate everywhere.
You are one of the main guys that run OnlyMTB, right? What was the reason to create it?
Yeah, Jarrett and I are the two dudes who started it. He hit his head and was all fucked up at his house and I went over to whoop his ass at skate and he came up with the idea. He bought the domain name and I bought a box of cinnamon toast crunch for my half. It’s basically a bite of The Come Up. Posting the videos we think are rad that don’t get much coverage or the ones that do get coverage but get buried real quick. Especially now on Pinkbike, the turn over on the front page is insane so a lot of dope videos either don’t make it to the front page or just get buried by a post for a new AtomLab cassette or mountain bike training camps.
Pinkbike is awesome, I’ve been down since when they had max 100 photos uploaded a day. My bro and I would click through them all the time. My POD count is mad high, just from lack of photos being uploaded back in the day. Now it is massive, you can put out a video and have it get 40-50 thousand views if they post it on the front page. They just understandably cater to a different crowd so we started Only to have just Freeride/Dirt Jump/Slopestyle stuff.
Initially, I wanted to do interviews, which I did do a couple, but being friends with someone and knowing all this stuff about them, then doing an interview and they acting all stock and “professional” its just weird to me. I’d rather just not even do it ’cause the stuff I want to talk about they probably don’t being made public. I don’t want to my friends who are pro be all worried like I’m going to just put whatever they say online. I’d rather just hang out. I also started to feel weird piggybacking off other’s people content to try and gain a following.
I really like what you are doing with the photo series and text interviews, I think it is a great angle to work and I can see Bicycle Nightmares having a successful future.
There are a few comments in the inbox now like, “Only is wack without shit talking” and it makes me feel like such a dumbass. Like, all the videos I’ve ragged on are free and no one is forcing me to press play. I said a bunch of shit about Matt Dennis’ latest video, which wasn’t even about the riding, more the style of editing, and he got understandably bummed out. I could have just of been like, “Huh, I don’t like this” and moved on, but instead I kind of chopped someone down for no reason. There is certain things that deserve shit talking, but free videos that people worked hard on isn’t really one of them. I’ve just been turning videos off halfway through that I’m not into now and moving on to the next one.
Does someone support the site, running ads or things like that?
Negative, those “ad’s” we have are strictly for making it seem legit. Plus two of the three Jarrett and I ride for. Cariboo not anymore, man that was a good summer.
What are your thoughts on the bike industry in general? Is it going in a good direction?
With getting a bit older and understanding the industry more, it’s making a lot more sense to me. I used to think the Slopestyle/Dirt Jump scene was massive and get all bent when I see dudes killing it that aren’t hooked up or whatever, but the bottom line is that Slopestyle and Dirt Jump is a very small portion of the majority of companies. Reece had a good write up about it on Only, but basically, no one REALLY gives a fuck about you if you’re not top-3 at several Slopestyle events throughout the season. I don’t remember who came 6th at Joyride last year and I’m sure the parents buying their kid a bike doesn’t remember either. Basically what I’m saying is, Slopestyle or Dirt Jumping doesn’t make money, selling 4k carbon trail bikes does. So it makes sense when companies drop their Slopestyle athletes/program to focus on sections of their business that actually make money. I’m obviously not super familiar with the industry outside of the small Slopestyle/Dirt Jump scene but it seems to be doing well. More and more people are getting into mountain biking which is pretty sweet, it would be cool if that transitioned into more Slopestyle athletes exposure. Unfortunately, even with Slopestyle getting bigger and bigger, I can’t see Slopestyle products really taking off. Mountain biking is not cheap, chances are that if you’re 18 you can’t afford a Remedy SS frame that retails at $1,700. And if you can, you probably don’t have anything big enough to ride it on to make it worthwhile. Slopestyle bikes are the most unpractical bikes for anyone who isn’t consistently riding events. Even the majority of riders just run their hardtails. By the time the average person is old enough to afford a Slopestyle bike, they are getting over doing tricks and would rather buy a trail bike.
I do wish there were more Slopestyle/Freerider owned companies similar to what Zink is doing with The Sensus. But, I guess that is a bit of a contradiction as I just mentioned there’s not a big market for that style of riding so why would anyone start a Slopestyle/Dirt Jump/Freeride specific company?. I guess that it is just frustrating being a huge fan of skating and riding 20’s where all the main dudes don’t have to hide who they are because all the companies are supported by are skater or rider owned. It’s funny seeing videos of guys wasted after an event palming the camera like, “Yo I’m gonna’ lose my sponsors man!” all serious or the homies that smoke weed when they go dig or ride but act all covert about it. I get it, and it makes sense to keep that stuff low key, it would just be rad for fans to see what their favorite rider is actually like, you know?
Honestly, I think Slopestyle is going to turn into Nascar or Motocross for mountain biking. Jerseys with all the riders sponsor logos plastered all over it, huge rowdy crowds, exciting finishes, unfortunate crashes, packed living rooms with beer and pizza… It sounds too familiar. I think that will help grow the sport, not necessarily directly for Slopestyle, but as a whole.
Last words, shout outs, etc.
Shout out to the kids splittin’ bags of chips and 2 liters of pop for lunch while they are out riding.
Click here to see more of Wink.
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Photos by Nick Tingren, Rupert Walker, Mike Zinger & Wink Grant.