Jimmy Riha: Professional Fun Maker

In this super candid interview, the Rad Train conductor tells us about his 2013 experiences, racing without sponsors, winning whistler and having fun. CHoo CHoo.Rad Train Hey Jimmy, how are you?
I’m doing pretty good, hanging in there skating when I can and working a bit. Saving up so I can try and do more cool things this year. I’m back in school as well, which makes the skate life a bit more difficult. Still getting out and forgetting to study. But I think I should be able to pass my 4 classes this semester.

I didn’t know you were in college!
I didn’t know I was in college either! I show up, sit down, usually drift off into skate land (an area in my mind where I think of skating and nothing but skating) then it’s back home. I find myself looking at my syllabus a lot and completely finishing papers and projects the day before they are due. Oh and it’s always a blast telling your teacher what you do and trying to tell them why you’re not going to be showing up to class next week.

What’s your major?
What’s a major? I have been in junior college for the last 3 years and I am still struggling to find something I would like to pursue. Realistically something I would find myself enjoying… so far it’s over my head.

“…would you wanna be the guy behind the desk or the guy who gets to skate?… In a perfect world we would all have what we want, but it’s gotta be earned.

Something skate related?
Industry jobs would be something along the lines of a skate related job i.e. being part of a company and doing more than just riding for said company. You could fit a few more things in that category, but would you wanna be the guy behind the desk or the guy who gets to skate… In a perfect world we would all have what we want, but it’s all gotta be earned.

Ali Mehraban photo

Ali Mehraban photo

What guy would you wanna be?
I would like to learn more about the industry than I know now and see where I would fit in. Our industry might look big… shoot it’s probably pretty big. But I think there are small openings, not that many jobs unless you like putting boards together all day. If you can find out what you do best and progress your skill in that, you will find a place to call your own some day. Become a master; if you like cameras work on that, if you like filming and editing; shoot and do more edits. To be a sponsored skater these days, you have to be able to not only win, but promote yourself with videos photos and such. I find myself trying to progress my videography skills, not just for Rad Train, but other purposes like bettering my skating. Always trying to win haha.

If you can find out what you do best and progress your skill in that, you will find a place to call your own some day.

Where are you working now?
I’m working anywhere from a ditch to a roof; big buildings, small ones, houses and maybe something in-between. Pops is a contractor so he knows how to put people to work. Been playing in the wrong type of ditches though. Nonetheless, still working on making the site I run come alive. RAD TRAIN… and trying to get a spot in the top 10 IDF this year.

Mark Golter photo

Mark Golter photo

How close were you last year?
IDF points? Yeah… I wanted em, after Whistler and Maryhill I was pretty close to getting into the top 10. I have wanted top 10 for a minute! I wouldn’t mind being 10th but being 1st would be better. If I had the cream to get over to Europe, I think I could have been able to give the guys a run for their money again! But hey, sometimes you just can’t make it to every race.

Is it possible to do all the NorAm races and Europe without big sponsors?
If you don’t have a sponsor, I’m not sure how you’re doing it but I would like to find out! I have to throw some love out to the people that have helped me in the past and are helping me today.
Back in 2012, Arbor Skateboards, Gullwing Trucks, RAD wheels. It was a rad time and a good ride, thanks for the opportunities. (I do not ride for said companies any longer as of early 2013).
I find myself now hanging on to my dream of winning another big race, kinda have that adrenaline junkie feeling… I’m gonna be out there to do my best! That’s for sure.

Khaleeq Alfred photo

Khaleeq Alfred photo

Was Whistler your biggest career win?
Whistler was for sure my biggest career win. I could not be more stoked on whistler, racing my old team mate James Kelly and the rest of the guys who have been in the top to for the past year or so.

How is your relationship with all your former team mates?
Good, we kick it and skate time to time. Keep it skateboarding.

What was the most fun heat of that weekend?
The most badass heat was the finals.
The homie homie run was with G-Mac, we raced in the first heat and second heat.

The gnarliest heat was just getting into the finals, the semi! I made a crazy pass on everyone to get that #2 position and make it on to the finals.

You wanna be good at something? Do it more! Have drive and the willingness to complete what you think you can do!

What did it take to win?
I could sit here and tell you what they usually say on the ESPN post-game report when they interview the football players, but I’m just going to keep it simple. You wanna be good at something? Do it more! Have drive and the willingness to complete what you think you can do! I had a huge fire under my feet after my mishaps with some sponsors, I wanted to win, I had been skating none stop for the past couple years and gave it my all.

How would getting in the top 10 change life for you?
I’m not sure haha. I don’t think fireworks would go off in real life, but they would be going off in my head! I skate because it makes me happy, I would be really happy if I made top 10 haha. You don’t see any of us getting sponsored by Pepsi for winning races.

CHoo CHoo

CHoo CHoo

What’s the coolest thing you did last year?
Last year was crazy. I had a lot going for me and then didn’t. It’s almost like it just slipped away. I took what I did have and made the best of it. I learned a lot and found out more about myself than I knew. By far the coolest thing I did in 2013 in my eyes was as simple as just getting out and skating, and meeting more new people skating. Whistler was definitely the icing on the cake.

How did you keep your stoke up during the down periods?
I kept and still keep my stoke up by going back to the early days of mobbing down hills. Some say it’s ”going back to your roots”, whatever it is, just remember why you started skating in the first place!

Did you lose your roots while you were sponsored?
Nope, never lost my roots haha. I was always stoked and staying stoked, I just wanted change and I guess I got change but not in the right way if you know what I mean.

I am always trying to tell kids ‘just skate’ when they start asking me questions about set-ups or sponsors. I had them and when I didn’t it wasn’t stopping me from skating.

What do you believe?
In having fun! I am always trying to tell kids, “ just skate” when they start asking me questions about set-ups or sponsors. I had them and when I didn’t it wasn’t stopping me from skating. It’s kinda like what my Math teacher would tell me: the more you do it, the better you will get, I shoulda listened to her in math class. I can’t do many calculations but I sure can skate. I took a lot of what I learned from school as far as repetition and used it on skating. TRY HARDER LIFE IS RIGGED!

Phil Baker photo

Phil Baker photo

Is racing rigged?
No, racing is not rigged haha. It’s you, a board and other riders. Sometimes different wheels affect how you perform, or different boards, at the end of the day it’s gravity and that shit is as real as it gets haha.

What are the funniest questions you get from kids?
”Are you sponsored?” The perception that kids have of “sponsored riders”… I just don’t understand it, I guess they think you’re not good unless you have sponsors?

What keeps you skating?
What keeps me skating, who keeps me skating, why do I skate… I skate because my friends skate, because it’s something we can all agree on going out and doing. Thanks god! At the same time that I have friends who do this with me, I have seen some people get into it and then stop. I met A.J. Haiby at one of the SDDRL races Tye Donelly holds in San Diego like 3 or so years ago and we have been mobbing around hills stacking the miles on our boards and racing each other at events.

Ali Mehraban photo

Ali Mehraban photo

Who are your favourite people to skate with?
My favourite people to skate with is for sure a crowd that can go fast, not do stupid shit on the road and still have a good time. Josh Hunt is for sure someone who I would love to see skating again. He can pass you flipping you off… crash into a bush, do a backflip (still flipping you off) and catch back up with you to crash again. A.J. Haiby will race you if you bet him $100 down any hill… or he will just dust you. Tim Del Rosario, a GMR local, he pretty much grew up on that road and skates the mountains in that area, it’s always a pleasure mobbing and trying to run away from the cops with him.

Who is A.J?
WHO IS A.J! A.J. Haiby along with a couple other skaters could possibly be some of the best and most underrated people you haven’t ever heard of. A.J. Haiby is a local to San Diego like myself and has been skating down hills ever scene I met him at one of the local SDDRL races. Stoked to have been friends with A.J. for so long now.
MAX photo

Why hasn’t the world heard about him?
He isn’t a fan of social media, I can’t blame him though… who is really. If you keep up with Sector 9 or Gullwing Trucks you might have seen him in a view videos… He also is the 3x bonelli Nor Am champ.

What is the SDDRL?
San Diego Downhill Racing League. It’s been around ever scene I started skating. Tye Donnelly and Darron Niner.

How important are Tye and 9er to who you are today?
They are pretty important, they did what no one was doing and what no one did. I mean there was the CALI OUT-LAW/ CALI-STAND UP-SERIES. A cali race circuit that had 4 races, but other than that, they were gathering a crowds from all around to race random hills they found. Sometimes it was a bust, other times it was bad ass. Racing is racing, we worked with what we had.

What are the races like?
The races started off bad ass! We had a sick crew that would gather once a month or so at locations and or hills. Sometimes meeting everyone at a gas station then the same locations got boring and trying to find/hit new hills was usually a bust.
CHoo CHoo

It’s been a year with no sponsors, how is life different?
I have been helped out by a few companies and wanna say thanks again for the opportunities. Sometimes stuff again just does not work out. Nothing too serious was going on over the last year, just flow opportunities. Now I find myself still working with Ronin Trucks, G-Form, Timeship Racing, Magic Bearings, The Red Raccoons, Rad Train and most recently RDVX grip… maybe something else soon.

What were you riding last year? 
Last year I was riding a board that Josh Hunt made me and other random setups.
So, setup would be something like this

board: Old Bessy

Trucks: Ronin 174mm 40/40 free ride, 45/40 downhill

Wheels: Hawgs, Abec, RAD…

Thanks to all the wheels companies I was able to actually compete in races… 4 new sets of wheels is not cheap.

What wheels did you win whistler on?
I won whistler on RAD Advantages, the white ones… 78a. I was in need of grippy wheels and I had ridden for rad before and knew how grippy the thane is, so I scrounged the riders area at the top of the hill for a couple sets. I was using my friends scrubbed wheels or was nabbing wheels from friends who just got out of the race.

Scott Wippermann photo

Scott Wippermann photo

Does the win feel better knowing how hard you had to hustle to get there?
Kinda, no? Haha life will throw curve balls at you, just be prepared to smash em.

When the chance comes again to ride for big companies – what will you do?
I am hyped and thankful to have the companies support that I have ridden for in the past. I am in the process of building/forging and regaining my status with some new and old companies. I will have an announcement soon if all goes well.

What races do you have the most fun at?
The races I have the most fun at are the ones you actually get to skate at, I would have to choose Whistler, it brought out the best of the best and some old school faces at that! I got to take a run with Noah Sakamoto!
Are you loving racing under the IDF?
I am not a big fan of the money game aka who has the most money to get to every race and be in top 10… But hey, they have sick race locations.

How is the Rad Train?
Rad Train is rolling on, I am getting help now with posts and projects from some of the crew down in San Diego like Ali Mehraban and Daniel Luna.

When you first met, did you ever think little Ali would turn out to be such a close friend?
Good question! Ali was part of the elite grom crew we had in San Diego, he seemed to be the leader of them all without ever really using his skateboard. Now we end up hanging out, skating a little, drinking tallboys with the boys… aka TBWTB and talking random shit… No I never thought we would be chilling like we do but I am stoked on this kid, that’s for sure.

Hair Train - Don Sheffler photo

Hair Train – Don Sheffler photo

Who is Daniel Luna?
Daniel Luna is a homie coming out of Temecula San Diego. He has been around for a min, I remember running into him at one of his first outlaw races… A night race somewhere in San Diego. He was mad stoked to race and try and beat some people. Now when time allows, we try and get sessions in and mob some fast hills. 

What’s new for the rad train this year ?
Rad Train is still going along, I am having a lot of fun with the people who also help me out and are apart of Rad Train; Ali Mehraban, Max CAPPS, Bin Wester and a few others. We try to post sick stuff, but we skate a lot so… you know what happens. Any who, the site gets updated with something new from someone every day. Still making shirts and hats! Got a couple things on the side coming as well! Nothing can stop the rad train!

Are you still doing camera work?
Yeah, I still really like breaking out a camera and trying to capture some good times on the road or at a session spot. I try and encourage other to get out and go film with the homies. Rad Train Productions is coming along, we have been putting out random quick clips – product reviews for the last year… I think we have like over 100 videos on the YouTube.

Brad Miller photo

Brad Miller photo

What have you been up to this week?
This week or I should say the past month I have been running around like a headless chicken. From shooting a new documentary with the crew; Side Walk Surfing… A crew from Canada who wanted to shoot a documentary on skateboarding in California. School, taking tests and trying to cram in some studying then working with RDVX Grip-Tape.

First time hanging with Axel?
First time ever hanging out with Axel yes! The guy is got nothing but positive things to say and kills it with a skate. Love the style and the fact that yes, he will try and skate anything. Can’t wait to kick it more with this guy.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Shoots, I guess it just started 2 months ago… Work, Pass classes, make money, win races and have fun while doing it.

As always bro, this has been a trip. Hope our paths cross soon. Stay rad and keep the beard!
I hope they do as well, I could see us doing something in the next year haha or maybe seeing you at an event. Thanks again for doing what you do you have a rad collection of interviews!

Any last words?
Life is rigged, try harder and have fun.

Beards - Scott Wippermann photo

Beards – Scott Wippermann photo