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Interview with Jeff Dein, AA Pro Racer for Dingo BMX
The following interview was conducted January 6-7, 1999
BMXtreme: Give us a brief history of your life in BMX...you know, when and why did you start, etc.
Jeff Dein: I was a big skate rat from 11 to 13. Then I borrowed a friend's stack of Freestylin' and BMX Action mags and was hooked. Less than a month later I swapped a kid down the street all of my skate stuff for his old nickel-plated Mongoose. I was just a run-of-the-mill racer till around '94 when I started making most of my expert mains at nationals. I turned Superclass/A pro in '95 but dicked around til the summer of '97 when I decided to get serious. That season I won five nationals, including the NBL Grands. I turned AA Pro at the '97 NBL Christmas race and finished 17th out of around 40 for the '98 NBL season. '99 will be my first full year of ABA racing.
BMXtreme: You mean clean-cut Deinabolic was a skate punk?
Jeff Dein: Hell, clean-cut Deinabolic looked like Patrick Swayze in Point Break most of his BMX career. I was a charter Sweet Brother -- a group of guys who were notorious for sleeping in parking lots and mooching food at the races. Skating was cool until the cops started cracking down on us and I got my ass kicked by an older kid at a ramp one day. I figured I'd attract twice the ladies at half the hassle if I got into BMX.
BMXtreme: What was it that made you decide to stop dicking around and to take BMX seriously?
Jeff Dein: I opened up a copy of the BMXer which had a feature on Pro training as I was fed up with losing to myself. I blew a lot of mains in '96 due to lack of confidence. When I saw quotes from other single-a's on training in print I was like "those guys suck! What do their fat butts know about training?" So, six weeks out from the NBL Grands, I dedicated myself solely to the goal of winning the Grands and turning AA. I'll admit that I have a big head at times and it grates on me to see guys who are not very good athletes glorified in print. To hell with drug testing, break out the body fat calipers and we'll see who the athletes are.
BMXtreme: Were you surprised you achieved that goal?
Jeff Dein: Uh, no. I had envisioned myself winning for six weeks straight so when I did it was like deja vu. I did experience a weird sensation, a numbness, when I crossed the line in the main. I got that same feeling when I received my AA card in the mail. To this day it still marvels me that a guy, myself or anybody else, can accomplish so much if he can get his confidence and self-belief in order.
BMXtreme: Being an athlete is one thing, but being a pro BMXer is a lot more. It's a mental game too. How do you rate in that department?
Jeff Dein: Jeez, pretty poorly. I felt like I was part of the game this summer when I was making mains but I've subsequently lost that feeling and am just now digging myself out of a psychological hole. You're right that athleticism is only one of many variables. Look at Shaun Palmer -- the guy excels at so many sports on pure heart -- a rare but priceless commodity.
BMXtreme: And how about your skills?
Jeff Dein: Gates -- way above average. Jumping -- average. Turns -- below average. Rhythm -- uh, next question please (lol). I think skill at the AA level is also a product of confidence. I can go to a local at any track and ride as smooth as Leveque but show up the next week at a national and ride like shit because my head's screwed up.
BMXtreme: Is being a AA Pro what you expected?
Jeff Dein: I never had any expectations until late summer of '97. Up until then I just rode and raced for fun. I did a lot of weightlifting and mountain biking in college and those activities served as a valuable cross-training base over the past few years but I never trained specifically for BMX nor cared about much other than how I could get to the next race until recently. I was, and still am, in it for the buffets. Pro racing is only an excuse to tour all the fine buffets this glorious country has to offer.
BMXtreme: LOL. How do you feel you've been accepted by your peers?
Jeff Dein: Uh, for the most part yes. Some guys, Pohlkamp, Yoquelet and Romero, for instance, were immediately cool and welcomed me to the class. Most guys respect me now that I've beaten them but a few guys still give me funny looks. I think being from Georgia and never having been a big-time amateur doesn't help -- I don't exactly fit "the mold," whatever that is. Hey, if we could all just break bread at the buffet, couldn't we then all just get along?
BMXtreme: Speaking of beating guys, how does it feel to cross the line in front of the likes of Leveque, Purse, Romero, etc.
Jeff Dein: Man, if I think about it, it still blows me away. I had pics of Townsend and Ellis hanging on my wall when I was a 14 year old beginner so you can imagine the surreality (that's a word, isn't it?) of beating those guys now. I even got cussed out by Chuck at the ABA race here in Atlanta. Fast times in the ATL!
BMXtreme: You joke about buffets, but I know you're pretty serious about training and diet. Can you tell us a little about that?
Jeff Dein: I'll have to kill you after I disclose my secrets! I follow what could be described as a bodybuilding-type diet -- high protein, moderate carbs and moderate fat. I eat five or six small meals a day. I'm pretty strict most of the time but indulge when I want to -- being paranoid about diet, or any other aspect of preparation, can only undermine you're psyche. I'm a big believer in "good fats" -- mono- and poly-unsaturates. I consume a lot of olive and canola oil as well as sunflower seeds. Food is paramount to recovery from training. Nuff said. As far as training, I've been a big gym head for years but have come to realize I need to spend more time on my bike, both at the trails and doing sprints. I think a base of weight training is invaluable and urge every serious BMXer to hit the gym hard for a year if they're serious about building a career out of BMX. But, as I've learned this fall, too much cross-training can undermine your racing. They're just no substitute for spending time on your bike.
BMXtreme: You mentioned you were a charter member of the Sweet Brothers. Can you tell us more about that?
Jeff Dein: Man, we were just a bunch of guys who wanted to start a team and stink things up. The original crew was Brad and Chris Sweet (hence the name...), myself and Rob Potter. We printed up some cheapass jerseys and hit the road. I remember our first team race, it was NBL Memphis of '93. We popped out of the car and John Kovachi, who didn't care for us at all at the time, dropped his jaw and asked "you gotta team!!!???" (LOL). We used to hand out this satirical 'zine called the Greaserag. We we're all about having fun. Rob could make this horse noise and it made him a hit with all the little kids. We were huge. At the '94 Grands Rob and I were having a T-shirt toss at the same time Ellis, who was just crowned national champ, was signing autographs. We had twice as many people wanting our goods than he had in line for his Hancock. Nasty thing was, we hadn't bathed in four days and took the jerseys off our backs, rubbed them in our pits and tossed them into the crowd. (Ed. Note: Jeff Dein can sweat buckets at a time will the slightest exersion.) People went apeshit -- one woman got her fingernail ripped off in the confusion. Immodest as this may sound, we were the biggest team in the NBL in '94.
BMXtreme: Will you forever be part of that family?
Jeff Dein: Yeah, brotherhood is thicker than the mac & cheese at the buffet, or something like that. Those days will always be in my blood -- being "rootsy" or "keeping it real" or whatever. We've all gone our separate ways but stay in touch. Brad does screen printing for a lot of big East Coast BMX companies. Chris is in the Coast Guard and races MTB's in Cali. Rob still rides and races Superclass and hits the trails hard. And here I am...
BMXtreme: Tell us about East Coast Pull...
Jeff Dein: ECP is about taking pride in what we've got here in our backyard. Open up any of the glossy mags and you see Cali riders, Sheep Hills, etc...I understand that out West is where the industry is but I don't like getting that "yeah whatever" vibe from people from the West Coast.
BMXtreme: Do you like racing for Dingo BMX?
Jeff Dein: Yeah, I like being the (no pun intended) underdog. People probably see me on the gate and blow me off and that only motivates me to hole shot even more. The frame's way stiff, which is a nice change from the chromo bikes I've ridden in the past. As much as I hate getting condescending looks from some of the big names in staging, I like feeling like the wild card of the class. It's a Sweet Brothers' thing... not that getting 100K and a brand new Corvette from a big company wouldn't be nice...
BMXtreme: What can we expect from Jeff Dein in 1999? 2000?
Jeff Dein: I'm going to ride a lot smoother in '99 thanks to spending more time at the trails. I'm going to probably run a 44 at most tracks, down a tooth from last year, and focus a lot more on sprint training and less on weights. I'm going to win a national this year.
BMXtreme: Well, I'll end the interview here. Good luck in Reno at the Silver Dollar Nationals this week. Thanks for taking the time to talk to BMXtreme.com. Is there anyone you'd like to thank?
Jeff Dein: Hell yeah, whoever decided to franchise out Old Country Buffet restaurants. Nah, seriously? First and foremost my parents. They gave me a better ride than any factory ever could have. My girlfriend Mallie who is the love of my life and my new number one fan. All of the Sweet Bros. Gang, Tim Huff, everybody who e-mails me w/questions of well wishes. All of my web-accomplices, you, Jerry, et al. Jeez, there's just not enough room here. Suffice it to say I've had a lot of support and met a lot of great folks over the years. And last, but certainly not least, Bill Young of Dingo and Shag at Cyclecraft -- two guys who've believed in me when no other sponsors would.
Jeff Dein: Thanks for interviewing me. I'm flattered.
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.