Shooting the Breeze: With Scott Shepherd Reading Grom Spotlight: Jack Le Page 16 minutes

GROM SPOTLIGHT: Jack Le Page

LUXBMX is super excited to present the latest series to hit The Journal, 'Grom Spotlight'.


While we seek to cover some of the biggest and most legendary names in BMX on The Journal, we think it's equally important to feature budding talent from the underground, the up and coming bikers that thrive BMX and ultimately represent the future. 


All of the staff at LUXBMX have ourselves, once been a grom and can understand how incredible it feels to see yourself (or one of your homies) getting some love from the scene. We see this as a way to encourage and support the younger crew, as well as offer an insight into the different cliques around the country.


As part of our mission to grow and nurture BMX in Australia (and internationally), we are now able to offer 'Grom Spotlight' and even more excitingly, unveil our first episode with Sunshine Coast biker Jack Le Page

Run at me, photo by Brok Overell

BIKE NIGHT

Bike night.


We find ourselves linked in with Jack Le Page, a 17 year old Victorian who now calls Palmview (Sunshine Coast) home. It's a weekday night and the dude has finished off another day at TAFE, working towards his carpentry ticket after leaving high school in 2023.


Weekday nights have their own flavour, generally low-key in comparison to the end of the week and the forthcoming weekend. For those who bike on the Sunshine Coast, Wednesday nights are your ticket to an improved weekday atmosphere and a chance to be part of a growing crew of locals and a magnificent beachside skatepark.


For our boy Jack, as he coincidentally prepares for a Wednesday bike night, he details how this helped to ingratiate him into BMX in his newfound home.


"As soon as I moved up here from Melbourne, I quickly met all the guys through Wednesday bike nights at Alex Heads, and instantly felt welcome. 


Bike nights at Alex is a cluster of all the bikers on the coast getting together to do some stunts and have a beer, or 10. This usually includes the continual presence of Guy Perrett, Ben Winter, Ryan Rostirolla, Josh Dove, Jaxon Philp, Jay Loennekar, Jared Witheyman, Lachlan Strid and Jake Ryan just to name a few heads. Always sick to see different people from other places stop by as well. The most memorable person that’s made an appearance in my opinion would be Catfish, he’s the loosest."


The way Jack speaks about bike night shows how its influence extends beyond the surface and demonstrates how BMX helps connect with people in such a simple way, as well as keep some of these mates for a long time. 


"Growing up over the last couple years around all the older heads has been super beneficial for figuring out how I aspire to ride and grasping an understanding of the culture of BMX, rather than the sport. I feel so blessed to have such a tight knit group of blokes that always look out for each other and are supportive. They’re some of the maddest ridahs around!"

Bike night at Alexandra Headland, perfect spot to watch a pastel sunrise
Same scene as above, from the reverse angle. It's an incredible atmosphere to be at this spot, adjacent to the beauty of one of the coast's best beaches

A GOOD KID

A good kid at bike night.


Agree, there are a bunch of deadly biker boys on the Sunshine Coast, including Ben Winter who gave me the tip on Jack as a 'good kid' and someone who deserves some love. In fact, the more people I speak to about Jack, the more it becomes clear that the kid knows how to carry himself, is humble, reliable and generous.


I don't know about you, but my experience of young kids at skateparks these days is characterised by a chronic over-confidence, something which always surprises me in comparison to how I (and my friends) approached older dudes when we were young.


It is then encouraging to hear of a biker like Jack and the wider crew coming out of the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, embodying the more traditional values of a core BMXer.


From all accounts, Jack has been solid since buying a BMX and getting hooked on freestyle at the age of 13. With a year of BMX racing under his belt in his earlier youth, it was this decision that put him on his current path and in many ways, was a fortuitous moment.


As Guy Perrett (one of Jack's close biker mates) notes:


"Good ol' Jack, the once little kid coming down to Alex Heads skate park on our Wednesday night sessions and being influenced by us older riders, has been pumped up on his own puberty and has evolved into a huge toey human being that is fuelled on the BMX lifestyle. 


I started hanging out with Jack consistently at the start of 2023 because all the other local Sunny Coast dudes had their riding to drinking ratio all wrong. So hanging out with Jack just eliminated the drinking entirely simply because he was only 16 which meant riding both days on the weekend would become a regular thing again. 


Even though he still attends the Wednesday night sessions to this day, a lot more of his character has developed. After a few years of each of us taking him under our wings and guiding him in the right direction to learn the ways of riding, he has come pretty far. The kid was like a younger brother to us all until he just shot up and towered over us."

A highly identifiable coast spot, Ocean Street up/down rail. Love to see this rail still taking its licks. Photo by Jack Cooke
Levi, GP, Dovey and Ben Winter at gods chateau, the 'spiritual' epicentre of the world, Byron Bay
A biker in a white van, how strange

Funnily enough, in speaking with another one of Jack's close mates, Xavier Jirava, it came to light that this was another relationship which was birthed out of the bike night tradition, as well as a confirmation of the dudes character. 


"I've only known Jack for about 6 months, as soon as I met him he was always keen for a ride. I met him at bike night at Alex skatepark. He showed me all the best spots and parks on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane area and introduced me to heaps of the boys which was sick since I didn't really know anyone.


As someone who grew up riding by myself, it was so good to have someone to ride with who had a similar skill set, pushing me out of my comfort zone and learning heaps of tricks I hadn't even thought about.


Jack has helped me out heaps over the last few months, when my car broke down, Jack drove me to and from work  for like a week straight, driving 30 minutes out of his way in each direction."

I want to say 'mean' again, but I won't. Let's go with 'killer' - fastplant at a generous coast spot. Again for the lens of Jack Cooke

A GREAT ATTITUDE

A good kid with a great attitude at bike night!


After speaking with Jack on a range of different topics, the dude consistently offered up insightful and mature responses, indicating a well-formed approach to BMX and life more broadly. For example, Jack describing what BMX means to him:


"BMX to me is all about feeling and originality man. I love how the same spot can be seen and interpreted completely different from person to person, and that they can uniquely choose from their quiver of tricks what they think would feel/look good. If the feeling you were chasing is there and you think it looks dope, then that’s all that matters, your own validation is key. “Gotta put the free in freestyle BMX” as GP would say."


I love trying to understand how a person becomes who they are, what has worked to shape and mould them and why? For Jack, he mentions:


"I’d say my outlook on BMX is fairly common among my mates and other bikers across the country. I really admire riders that have a good attitude and whose riding really reflects a mindset that they just ride to feed their soul, and not to just fit in with the “norm”. The trick selection and overall vibe of people like Kris Fox, Mike Mastroni and Cody Pollard are on a pedestal in my opinion."


Some highly respectable names mentioned above, through which you can start to draw links around what connects with Jack and where his future might lie. I also love the dynamic he has going on with GP, another person who is helping to shape the kids future, as outlined by Jack below:


"I was having a cruise with Dovey down at Beerwah one morning. So I dropped in, aired the hip, and I’m heading towards the vert wall. When I’m rolling over the roller I noticed out the side of my eye a grey SUV is coming into the gravel carpark hauling ass but didn’t think much of it and remained focused on this vert wall I was about to air. Whilst in the air I glanced at the car and it started turning as if it was about to do a skid (a common occurrence in the beerwah skatepark carpark), but nah this car came flying into the skatepark and as I rolled back over the roller I came within a foot of getting t-boned. I roll back up the quarter to Dovey and we’re both freaking out. The car parked once it’d done its lap around the park and out stepped GP. Absolutely losing it is an understatement. We all thought it was hilarious because he wasn’t in his own car and Dovey and I had no clue who this deviant was that almost killed me haha.


I feel like GP and myself have an understanding and solid friendship that is not taken for granted. We’ve been on enough filming missions together that we both know what each of us has to do to get each other amped up to try something. He knows that when I’m faced with something intimidating and struggling to pull the trigger on sending something to just let me sit there and think. I can’t force myself to pull the trigger unless I feel good and ready to commit. His understanding nature as a filmer and a mate has made me a better rider."

GP, hyped. This time for a successful bike tetris
Jack with a mean turndown at his nominated local, Beerwah

As a final example of the dudes considerate and thoughtful approach to BMX, I asked him about his motivation to constantly be exploring - given he seems to be at a different SEQ location every weekend (as well as travelling inter-state a number of times over the last year). 


"Yeah getting out to explore new parks and spots keeps me hooked. Without variety I can get bored pretty easily. I’ve been getting around a heap the last couple months especially having got my license in April. I can go wherever I want whenever I want, and I'm absolutely abusing this independency.


Finding objects that weren’t designed to be ridden and then being able to put your own touch on them is special. Every spot is unique and can be interpreted differently by everyone. It’s your choice what you decide to bring to it. Sharing the experience of finding a new spot or new line at a park with someone that has a similar outlook as myself gets me stoked."

Naughty table over a garden and down a good 5-6 foot drop in the pure and true township of Nambour. Photo by Jack Cooke

INFLUENTIAL

A good kid with a great attitude at bike night, sporting a fair set of influences!


I checked in with Jack to see which riders (and which video) get him going and why? Again, I think it's interesting to try and understand a person through the people, places and things around them, of most significance.


"Julian Arteaga, Raph Jeroma Williams and Preston Okert. I love the trick selection all these guys have and how they look at spots a bit differently than most people usually would. They make BMX look the sickest.


Thinking of my favourite videos, the Cult down under video and Chase Hawks section from 'Bad Idea' come to mind. I just admire the energy these videos have with the music choice and the way they were edited. The Cult video just makes me wanna go on a road trip with heaps of mates. They looked like they were just having fun with the riding just being an outcome of that."


Picking up on the Raph shout-out, I asked Jack to further explain this choice.


"Yeah I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Raph a good amount of times, he’s a legend! My favourite part of his is the recent split video with Jerry, 'Curvature'. This part really embodies a strong sense of wisdom that a couple of riders have put to use, using their time and effort to create something unique. A full street transition part is a challenge that I don’t think anyone had taken on until now. BMX as F!


My favourite clip of Raph would be either the loosey to duster from 'Coppin It Sweet', or the loosey easy 1 lookback in his LUX 'You Good' part. They’re both unreal." 


Perhaps its the Raph influence which has led the kid to valuing a full-length style BMX video (as oppose to social media one bangs), what with Jack and his mates putting in the work to make their own project 'Disconnected' as part of the 2023 ACT Jam video submission comp. 

"...when the backbone video comp came up we all pulled the trigger on making it happen."


"We filmed for 7 months on the video, mostly touring in the 4pegz mobile. GP absolutely held it down! He drove all of us around every weekend to film and have a good time, so grateful for him. Had so much fun learning how to film and edit whilst also trying to push myself for the clips. We were all really stoked on how it came out, with it being premiered in front of everyone down there (ACT Jam) and also getting featured on the 'Unclicked' podcast was awesome. Much love to Jaxon Philp, Ryan L’homme, Sunay Pubathi, Kobi Rogerson and Will Green!"

Will, Jack, Sunay and Kobi at the 2023 ACT Jam
Hold onto errr! Photo by Jack Cooke

Very cool to work on this project and to bring more and more of Jack's mates in as contributors. This is a huge sign of a kids integrity - when you get dudes who are not only lining up with interest, but have a similarly positive take. 


Let's wrap this up with just that, an assured take from a Sunshine Coast photographer and one of the homies, Jack Cooke.


"It’s hard to find a kid like Jack. He’s focused, he knows what he wants, his limitations, and his interests outside of riding itself are in the people who make up his community and his friends. A lot of kids get lost in the bullshit and burnout culture that frequently plagues BMX and skateboarding. Jack isn’t one of them. His riding speaks for itself and shows how switched on he is on his bike but also as a person. He’s technical, he can go big, and he radiates a style that is both calm and collected, bridging these two aspects effortlessly. 


As a photographer, it's great to work with Jack. He takes feedback, creatively contributes to the concept, and, most importantly, is a joy to be around. Trying to take photos or film can frequently feel like herding cats, but Jack makes it easy and keeps you smiling the whole time. I think everyone is excited to see where he goes from here."


Cheers to Jack, Jack Cooke and Brok Overell for the photos as well as Xavier, Jack and GP for their contributions. 


"Shouts to Ben Winter for getting the ball rolling on this. All the sunny coast bulldogs, especially GP! And thanks to yourself and LUX for the support and opportunity to have a yarn."