Words by Brett Smith | Photos & Video by Sebastien Zanella
They were thinking exactly what he thought they might be thinking: “Who the f#ck is this guy?” It was the fall of 2010, and a group of freestyle riders were at Ocotillo Wells, a popular Southern California riding spot filled with cliffs, hips and ledges. The group was led by Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, who is now a 16-time X Games medalist. He was shooting for 420%: All Natural, a movie composed entirely of riding natural terrain.
Tyler Bereman, a blond-headed teenager, showed up with Andy Bakken, then a representative for Answer Racing. Bereman had #653 on his number plates and was still riding the high from a college boy title at the Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s that summer. Although he’d grown up as the son of a flat-track racer and didn’t race motocross until he was 10, all he’d ever wanted to do was jump. He’d never, however, ridden anything like this, and that became painfully obvious when he took his first crack at an 85-foot gap known as the Pole Line Step Up.
“He came up so short,” Twitch says. “He cased the step up so hard, and I remember thinking, ‘This kid is going to kill himself!’”
Shortly after, the crew migrated to a different, more technical gap jump. While they were scoping it out, Bereman rolled up and claimed he was going to hit it backwards. “I don’t even want to watch this go down,” Twitch says he said to himself. There was no safety deck around the landing, and if he came up short this time, a price would be paid. After a half dozen runs at it to gauge speed, he committed and landed perfectly.
“He absolutely greased it. I was a fan of the kid from then on,” Twitch says. Bereman made the film, and subsequently, many more. Still, the question lingers for most people: Who the f#ck is Tyler Bereman?