Imagine for a minute what it must have been like growing up as Tyler. His dad was a flat track motorbike racer and captain of the fire department. His mom was a wedding singer and his older brother Cam was an extreme extrovert and always playing on his bike. His earliest memory of riding is the day his dad removed the training wheels and he pedaled his bike up the street to prove to Cam that he could ride on his own. When he saw Cam, he attempted to turn around and crashed. In true big brother fashion, Cam and his friend made fun of Tyler while he cried.
Many people probably have a similar memory of their first time riding a bike, but the difference with Tyler is that from that moment on, he wanted to figure out a way to be different than Cam on the bike. He found comfort in speed and began an early career as a downhill racer. His successes in DH racing were impressive, but not well documented. He won numerous races as a junior and even made the world championships team in 2007 where he finished in a very respectable 18th place at Fort William. In 2010 he competed at the US Open and finished 25th among 131 racers in a pro DH field that still holds the top steps of the podium during most major events.
While Tyler was focusing on racing, Cam’s star was rising in the slopestyle scene. As important as it was to Tyler to be his own rider and set himself apart from Cam, he couldn’t deny the creativity that came from throwing tricks to be alluring. He began to take dirt jumping a bit more seriously and while having Cam as a mentor, brother, and friend undoubtedly helped Tyler find his way into a new discipline, it also cast a long shadow over his ability to be anything other than Cam’s little brother. “Instead of being scored for what I was doing, it felt like I was being scored against what Cam was doing.” One year during Red Bull Joyride, Tyler got bumped out of competing in the finals because Cam hadn’t been able to take a qualifying run. Cam was such a crowd favorite that the event organizers put him in the final in lieu of the lowest qualified finals rider: his brother.
A healthy sibling rivalry can be a good thing, though. Tyler and Cam have managed to build a strong relationship that has transcended the drama that comes from being competitive with each other throughout their lives. “Cam has helped me a lot along the way,” he says. Though it has taken a long time, Tyler finally feels like the playing field is level and he gets scored as he should. “We’re to a point now where even though we ride the same jumps, we have totally different styles. We can pick out tricks for each other to do in a contest and help each other out because we both understand how the other rides and what our strengths are.”
We’re at a point now where even though we ride the same jumps, we have totally different styles. We can pick out tricks for each other to do in a contest and help each other out because we both understand how the other rides and what our strengths are
Tyler’s primary focus this year was to be on the Diamond Series events in the FMB, but a recent crash at the Colorado Freeride Festival left him with a broken leg and a little more spare time than he had originally planned. His prognosis is still unclear, but he’s hoping to be back on the bike in time for Rampage. While injuries are not ideal, they do allow for some unexpected benefits. “I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, girlfriend, and friends back home, as that’s something I don’t normally get to do too much in the summer time.” Call it a silver lining, but his current injured reserve status will allow him a total refresh on things that may sometimes get taken for granted. “I’ve been fully pinned with training and riding for a while now, and have been so preoccupied that I haven’t had much time to sit back and smell the roses. I guess, in a way, I’m looking forward to the down time. I think every athlete needs that. Sometimes injuries are good to help you sit back, and really realize how much fun it is to ride,” he says.
On the evening we’re in town, Kyle Jamison, Ray George, Jeff Herbertson, Alex Reveles and a few others come over to session until the sun goes down. It’s awesome to watch the camaraderie. Ray finally pulls a massive 720 and is met with hugs and high fives. Everyone is cheering for each other as they take their turns dropping in. The evening sun has left golden wisps of dust hovering just above the jumps and the last rays of light poke through the trees and scatter across the field. Everything seems to be in slow motion. It’s the type of setting filmers dream about. There is a tangible sentiment of happiness that hangs in the air and I find myself feeling grateful to get to experience this moment with these guys, even though this is a routine evening for this crew. They live for this, and their energy and passion is contagious.
The sun finally dips below the horizon. Cans of PBR are cracked to signal the end of another good evening at The Deer Camp. Taking a look around I notice a few things missing: egos, drama, and competition. These jumps aren’t here to one up your buddies. Over the course of the last few hours, I witnessed Tyler consistently encouraging his friends to try new tricks, tweak a shoulder just a little bit more, or lean the bike just the perfect way. His yard has become a place to learn, share and push his friends in the best way possible. It’s a metaphor for what Tyler’s really all about. Winning contests is always a goal, but he never loses sight of why he rides in the first place: quite simply, because it’s fun.