2011? What the fuck? Bear with me here. It’s Jeff Martin‘s birthday and it’s probably no coincidence that this throwback popped up in my Vimeo feed. Although I find it hard to believe, there are easily one or two people in this world who aren’t a fan of Martin’s riding. How can this be? Some people might have something against precision rail tricks or a style as relaxed as it is buttery. Some people might not like the way he fires out huge gaps while also lacing locked-in crooked grinds in the same video parts (the way he powers though the kinked crook @ 2:38 is second-to-none). Others may have a hard time comprehending that although you may not hear from him for months on end, any time that Jeff Martin footage is made public it makes a huge splash. To me, his style embodies the East Coast and companies like Skavenger recognize that. The only thing I don’t like about Martin is that I hear that Naughty by Nature track in my head anytime I see him ride (and frankly, I can deal with that).
I may have met him at some point earlier in the years but a Sunday in May 2010 is the time I won’t soon forget meeting Jeff Martin. My memories of those days are quite blurred but I think it unfolded as such: Adam had some of the Peg Leg guys from New England in town staying at his place for the weekend and it had either rained or plans fell through but we couldn’t link up to ride until Sunday afternoon. It was my first time meeting Devin Feil and he didn’t have dreadlocks. Jeff was smoking a Marlboro Red (I just took a smoke break to gather my thoughts) and was mumblingly quiet upon introduction. It appeared that an infant had gone to town with colored markers on his arms and I think he had diamond (looking?) studs in his ears.
We sat at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza and Jeff smoked at least three cigarettes in a 30-minute period. He calmly grabbed his bike and placed himself at the top of the renowned gap to rail while Devin got the video camera from his bag and put on the fisheye. I inquired as to what was about to go down.
“Gap to tires”
What!? I asked Jeff if it was cool if I shot it and he had no problems and lit another cigarette as I set up my flashes. From what I remember, he didn’t really warm up with a gap to pegs and went straight for gold. He did manage to snag (albeit on accident) the NBD gap to feeble on his way, which he didn’t seem to care much about. In a short number of tries, sure enough he gapped the three stairs and flat and landed perfectly with both tires and rode two bike lengths across the mellow rail of average diameter. I think Mastroni manned the second angle shot.
After receiving daps and praises from everyone witnessing (including a pioneer of the spot, Edwin himself) he sat down with an idle smile, lit another Red and announced that he was finally ready to head back to Connecticut.
Since that day, Jeff Martin has always stood out in my mind as an incredible bike rider whose laid-back attitude and humble personality add to his illustrious persona. Following him on Instagram or checking out his portfolio, you’ll see that he’s also a very talented artist with an obvious skill for translating emotions into visuals. I’m looking forward to seeing any new footage from him- just as we all are. Happy Birthday Jeff!