Fearless Dennis Enarson follows his own rules to BMX success
Dennis Enarson is competing in Chicago at the Nike 6.0 BMX Open this weekend
Just 18, he's one of the youngest and most fearless stars on the BMX scene
Enarson became legendary after his appearance in BMX movie Writing on the Wall
CHICAGO -- Dennis Enarson is the kind of athlete that makes his sport look too easy. The kind of athlete that does something few could do if they constantly practiced it while smiling and eating a Twizzler at the same time. Even when Enarson, talks about riding he looks at you as he simultaneously fixes his bike with the ease of a teenager holding a conversation while texting someone else with both hands.
With his bruised elbows, scuffed up hands and blonde curly locks peaking outside of his cap, he looks every bit like an 18-year-old who graduated from high school three weeks ago. But when he's done talking and gets on his bike he looks twice the age of many of the older tatted up riders that stop and watch Enarson effortlessly do one crazy trick after another.
At the Nike 6.0 BMX Open, the first stop of the Dew Tour this weekend in Chicago, Enarson will be competing on every course except for vert, making him arguably the most well versed rider on tour despite being one of the youngest.
There isn't a surface that Enarson won't ride on or a trick he won't attempt. While some riders prefer to specialize in certain BMX disciplines like park, street or dirt, Enarson rides them all.
What separates Enarson from most riders is his fearlessness and innovativeness when he's on his bike. What makes him a draw on tour is exactly what has made him a viral sensation online with highlights that defy gravity if not all logic and reason.
"That's the ender of all enders, that's what everyone says," said Mark Losey, the Nike 6.0 BMX team manager. "How do you top that?"
Enarson stumbled upon the ditch with fellow riders Garrett Reynolds and Mike Spinner after taking teammate Nigel Sylvester, who was injured while shooting the film in Phoenix, to a nearby hospital. As they waited for Sylvester to be released, they found a death-defying ditch that would haunt Enarson for nearly four months until he returned to the desert last September.
"He kept calling me and saying that he had to go back to Phoenix and tail whip into it," said Losey. "I kept saying, 'Sure you are.' Then one day he calls me and says I'm getting on a plane to Phoenix right now. When he got there the sun was in his eyes so he bought these $4 sunglasses before he jumped. The guy has no fear."
Sitting outside his hotel in Chicago, Enarson struggles to pinpoint something that he is afraid to try. After all, in the same highlight video as his "Deadman Walking" jump, Enarson is shown carrying his bike atop a busy freeway overpass in San Diego and doing tricks above cars whizzing by below.
"I like to push myself. I'm not scared to take a fall. I've always been like that," he said. "That builds character. You can't be that kid who has no scars. If you're that kid you probably had parents that kept you in the house all day. You have to be a boy and go out and have fun and do whatever."
Although Enarson has an obligation to his bevy of sponsors that want to capture and compensate him for every one of his highlights, he is often willing to risk himself simply for the challenge of it. A few years ago he attempted a tail whip from the top of a 20-step stairway at a local high school three times before breaking his foot. But even that injury couldn't keep him from taking risks for long.
"Two years ago we were in practice for the final Dew Tour and he started doing 360 triple tail whips over the box jump," said Losey. "That's a trick that people don't do until it's your final run [of the competition.] I said, 'What are you doing? It's only practice' and he said, 'I don't know, I just want to do it.' So he did it a couple more times."
For Enarson, it's always been about fun. While he took in the courses set up around Grant Park before the opening of the BMX Open, he said he chose to be a BMX rider after his BMX racing coach yelled at him for not being prepared enough at an event when he was 13.
"I'll never forget the day I quit racing," said Enarson. "My mom picked me up and I never went back again. I just rode with my friends. I like that BMX isn't a team sport and you don't have a coach that bosses you are around and tells you what to do. I do this because it's fun. There's no training for me. I'm not out here because I have to be. This is fun. I want to be here."
As Enarson follows his own unique path to success in BMX, the riders whose posters he used to hang on his walls when he was a kid have gone from being his heroes to his fans as he ushers in a new era of BMX.
"Dennis breaks all the barriers," said BMX legend Ryan Nyquist. "I was picking him as the guy who was going to be the future of the sport when I first saw him and he hasn't proven me wrong."