Before BMX rider Jamie Bestwick could hop on his bike and spend time doing what he loves most, he had to go to work.
Starting at 16, Bestwick spent 12 years working various jobs to earn his living. He was a ceramic tiler, then worked at a chocolate factory and then at an airplane engine repair company. Back then, BMX was just a hobby — a part-time job, at best — that he couldn't get off his mind.
"Every day, I would go to work and I would work this job, but all I would sit there thinking about was riding my bike," said Bestwick, who will compete today at the Dew Tour Beach Championships in Ocean City.
Since those years of labor, Bestwick has become one of the most decorated athletes in BMX and the Dew Tour. Since the tour started in 2005, he has won every BMX Vert event, and the 42-year-old is vying for his 10th title in the competition's 10th year. Plus, Bestwick hasn't had to work a day job in 14 years, earning a comfortable living through his BMX career.
"To be helping BMX grow and go to these events and progress the sport, that's mission accomplished, as far as I'm concerned," Bestwick said. "There's never a day that goes by that I'm not grateful."
Bestwick still was working at the engine repair company when he won a bronze medal during his first X Games, in 1996. At the time, BMX wasn't enough to pay the bills. In 2000, when he was 28, he quit his job, devoting more time to his passion. That year, he won his first XGames gold medal, which began his dominance in BMX.
This month in Austin, Texas, Bestwick won his ninth straight BMX Vert gold medal in the X Games, his 14th medal of the competition. He has been unrivaled on the Dew Tour, with his success helping him become one of the faces of the event.
"Jamie Bestwick is a big part of the brand's heritage," Alli Sports president Eric Grilly, who leads the company that organizes the Dew Tour, said in an email. "His presence year after year sets a precedent that the Dew Tour attracts the world's best athletes."
The BMX Vert final will take place today as the last event of the weekend. Bestwick will be the oldest athlete competing in the Dew Tour as he faces and gets a chance to watch a younger generation of riders.
The youngest BMX athlete of the Dew Tour is 17-year-old BMX Park contestant Michael Varga. Bestwick said a part of him wants to see this new crop of riders become the face of the sport, but that doesn't diminish his desire for his 10th Dew Tour title.