I was incredibly fortunate to work alongside some of the world’s most well respected companies over the course of my career, from industry powerhouses like Fox Racing, Oakley and Red Bull to mainstream companies like Target and Nike. Together, we got to experience everything the sport has to offer and collected a lot of championships and trophies along the way. I’m forever grateful for their support and belief in my talents, and I feel fortunate that we accomplished so much.
One of the most unique opportunities of the many initiatives I was a part of throughout my career was helping Nike make its foray into the world of motocross with the development of the Nike AirMX boot. Looking back on it, the whole experience was both surreal and wild in how it all happened. Even though this endeavor took place over a pretty brief period, from 2010 to 2013, it certainly made some waves within the industry and garnered a lot of attention. It was a groundbreaking moment for our sport and I found myself at the center of it all.
My connection with Nike first came about at the tail end of my amateur career. Eager to build on their presence in action sports beyond skateboarding, I was selected to be the first Nike 6.0 athlete for motocross. At the time it centered on the clothes and shoes I wore off the bike, either casually or when I worked out, but to know I was on the same team as action sports stars like Paul Rodriguez, Nigel Sylvester, Garrett Reynolds, Kolohe Andino, and soon enough my old friend James Stewart, was an honor.
One of the great things about working with the Nike 6.0 team was their desire to learn about the sport. They were always interested in what I do and how I do it because they genuinely had a passion for sports and athletes of all kinds. Every conversation was casual and easygoing, and soon enough our professional relationship started to feel more like a friendship. It’s that level of comfort with one another that ultimately allowed for the concept of a motocross boot to even get brought up. Knowing I was going to be in search of a boot deal at the conclusion of the 2009 season my agent at the time half-jokingly told the Nike guys that they should consider making a motocross boot. It wasn’t something we expected to be taken seriously, but before we knew it we were squeezing in a trip to the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon, before the Seattle Supercross to discuss what would become the Nike AirMX.
To be honest, the entire process was kind of a blur because it happened so fast. Essentially, from the tail end of the 2009 Supercross season to the tail end of that summer’s Pro Motocross Championship the boot went from concept to reality. Before the end of that year, right when I was ready to begin testing and training for my move into the 450cc class, I had a brand new, prototype Nike AirMX that officially made its debut at the 2010 Anaheim Supercross opener.
The entire development process was a testament to why Nike is the global juggernaut that they are. I learned first hand how meticulous they are in engineering not just my boot, but any performance shoe. The resources that they poured into this project was as significant as what they do for LeBron James, Tiger Woods, or any one of their superstar athletes. I was in awe of the commitment and the innovation that went into every single aspect of the boot. I was hooked up to machines that look like they belong in a sci-fi movie and soon enough Nike knew more about my foot and my body mechanics than I could possibly ever know about myself.
The end product was a personalized, purpose-built boot for motocross, and by purpose-built I mean they weren’t meant to last more than a race. The most important aspect of the AirMX was that it was never intended to be mass produced, so it was made for performance, not longevity. In fact, the boot was designed to form fit my foot, and my foot alone. Nike wanted to make sure that the boot maximized comfort, flexibility, feel, and weight, so it was as streamlined as possible and wasn’t made to withstand more than a few rigorous rides. In fact, Nike sent Chip Jones, its Senior Director of Footwear Innovation and the man primarily responsible for the design of the AirMX boot, to every round that first season to take care of whatever I needed. Chip knows a thing or two about motocross boots, having designed them for Fox Racing for a decade before his move to Nike, so I had every bit of confidence knowing that I was riding in the best boot ever made.
We ultimately went on to win both the Supercross and Pro Motocross titles that first season in the boot and Nike continued to refine it over the course of the next two seasons. Over that stretch I easily went through hundreds of pairs, and as wild as that sounds to say out loud, it was the exact purpose the AirMX was intended to serve. This boot was a prototype, from its inception to its untimely end when Nike 6.0 was eliminated and their action sports efforts were dramatically scaled back.
Now, with a growing coffee business of my own, I’m able to appreciate Nike’s approach to the development of the AirMX boot. They didn’t stop at anything in their pursuit to make the best motocross boot possible, and I’m equally as committed to crafting the highest quality and best tasting coffee I can possibly source from around the world. Passion drove the Nike AirMX into reality, and passion is what drives me to provide customers with the best coffee they’ve ever had.