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became Brian’s way into mainstream road cycling, he doesn’t want to be known only for blazing down Strava segments.
Whatever the case, Brian’s films can sometimes touch a nerve. Scroll through comments on YouTube, Instagram, or various subreddits, and amid all the praise—calling his riding “epic” and “amazing” and “mind-blowing”—you’ll find detractors who label Brian “moronic,” “lunatic,” “sketchy AF,” and a “public menace” who is “the main reason cyclists have a bad rep” and who might “very likely die doing what he does.”
Brian’s heard all the hypotheticals. How his videos might inspire riders who are less skilled to attempt similar stunts. How his descent speeds, or the fact that he sometimes disregards yellow lines or stop signs, give cyclists a bad name, or worse, tarnishes them as risk takers whose disregard for their own lives means they also deserve to be disregarded by drivers. One critic, Brian tells me with a bemused laugh, even suggested a scenario in which he could crash through the windshield of an oncoming car and kill half the family inside.
Some of these gripes Brian accepts, understanding that they come with the territory. Others seem outlandish, even death-obsessed, which he thinks says more about his critics than about him. It’s one reason he was apprehensive to sit down for this interview: How would he be portrayed? How would what he does be scrutinized? What would online commenters squabble over this time?
Though Brian has far more fans than detractors, some of the criticism is particularly hard to take, especially from the self-appointed cycling gatekeepers who tend to be the most vocal critics. In the subset of road cycling where coffee shops and matching kits and bespoke training plans prevail, tradition is paramount, with riders new and old expected to adhere to a set of unspoken rules that can feel as precise and robotic as a paceline. Veer outside those narrow lanes, say in a T-shirt and jeans, long hair flowing, bike drifting from one side of the road to the other while cutting a corner’s apex at speeds approaching 50 mph, and you can expect to catch some heat.
“It’s annoying because I see so many other sports where people are free to do what they want and to show their talent and skills,” Brian says, his voice measured—and sometimes so low it’s a mumble—but the irritation palpable. He rattles off edgy brands embraced by the mainstream (X Games, Red Bull), pointing out that their content doesn’t come with disclaimers. “But as soon as you do something on skinny tires, the audience is a totally different audience with a different mindset and this constant need to criticize.”