Meet Mongoose Ambassador Brandon Hopkins – Q&A with a Lifelong Cyclist
Brandon Hopkins is what you would easily call a lifelong cyclist. He started at a young age and took his passion for bikes and ran with it! Well, rode with it is more like it. His love for bikes started with BMX and evolved into just about every bike you can think of. This makes Brandon a perfect person to represent a brand like Mongoose to give him a chance to show off our complete line of bikes. Plus, Brandon is one of the most genuine and nicest people you will meet! Now read on to learn a little more about Brandon Hopkins!
When and how did you start riding?
BRANDON HOPKINS: Well, I always was riding from a young age. My cousin Thomas and I would set up ramps and jumped curbs all over the place. When I was 11, I found a BMX book at a book fair at school and took it home. I was a kid who was into everything and when my dad got home that same day from work, I was just talking his ear off about it. He said to me, "But Brandon you are into everything so if it’s in Raleigh I will take you." He should not of said that because I looked in the back of this BMX book and it had a directory in the back and Capital City BMX in Raleigh NC was right there. We went that following weekend and my competitive career started!
Was your dad a major influence on your riding?
BRANDON: My dad was a huge influence in my riding. He and my mom were both very supportive of me, but it was more me and my dad's thing. He would take my cousin and I all over to local BMX races and when I started riding at a higher level. He always was there to support me and encourage me to go for it and really allowed me to train and go to races all over the world and country.
Who else did you look up to riding?
BRANDON: I looked up to mix of racer/freestyle riders like Mario Soto, Kyle Bennett, Danny Caluag, Neal Wood, Robbie Miranda, The Foster Brothers, Chris Doyle, Taj, Joe Rich, Kris Bennett, Mike Aitken, Brian Castillo, Jimmy Levan, and several I am not mentioning.
How did you get your nickname Butterman?
BRANDON: Ha-ha great question... One night at the local track I was practicing and at the same time my dad had been trying to come up with a good nickname for me. I can just hear him now "Brandon everyone in BMX racing has a good nickname we need to find you one!" I did some jump manual line at the track and a lady said "Otis did you see that? Brandon was smooth as butter when he just did that move!" And that was when I was 11, my first year racing and it just STUCK!! When I was racing a ton I don’t think some people knew my name was Brandon...Butterman is what everyone called me back then. Those were really fun times!
How did you make the transition from BMX bikes to other types of bikes?
BRANDON: Well for the longest time I had people trying to get me to ride other bikes, but I was just so all about BMX I didn't want to hear it. But now looking back I wish I would have started way earlier. I have a good friend Joe Haley who always ripped MTB and a few other friends at the time that rode MTB. One of my buddies at the time gave me an MTB and I started racing dual slalom and jumping stuff on the MTB that was too rough for my BMX and it was so fun! Shortly after that Joe had been telling me about a college that gave scholarships for riding bikes and had a cycling team. That's really how I got into more slalom, 4x and racing downhill at Lindsey Wilson College. It was such an amazing experience going to college and getting school paid for by riding a bike in multiple disciplines. I still can't believe that a bike opened the door for me to earn a college degree!
What are some of your proudest moments on a bike?
BRANDON: There are a ton of moments but I will just mention two. Winning USAC BMX national championship in Nashville back in 2013. It was such a good race. I almost didn't even go to the race and at the last minute some friends talked me into it. I made the main and holeshot and beat the current world champ in that class at the time. It was so cool, and my dad was in the first turn. (He was a corner Marshall for USA BMX). Another amazing moment for me was when they had USAC MTB National Championships in Beech Mountain NC. That was such a special race for me as my dad came and pushed my bike up the hill each time I got done with a heat racing slalom. I got on the podium and finished 3rd and just had a blast racing at that level on such an amazing course.
How do you make time for riding with a large family?
BRANDON: To be honest its very challenging to ride like I used to and rightfully so because priorities have changed. It's easiest and so fun to just take all of our little ones riding. They are riding pedal bikes and I have them on the greenway, pumptrack, or MTB trails. It's a blast and they really enjoy riding and it's really special to share my passion for bikes with them and to see the joy it brings them.
What bike has been your favorite lately?
BRANDON: They are all so fun but lately I have really enjoyed my Legion L500 for BMX and Teocali for MTB. I just don’t want to hop off them once I start.
What are your favorite trails to ride?
BRANDON: I really enjoy my buddy Kurt’s place as he has some fun jumping MTB lines that are a blast to ride. My good friend Matt who lives in Kentucky has some really stellar MTB trails that he built, and his farm has a little bit of everything to ride. It's where I really grew my skills on the MTB. Then there is a place about an hour away that's more jump/flow lines DJ style called the Farm. That place is really fun and its good group of people that keep it going. And of course, I like our trail systems in Western NC along with the bike parks. NC is poppin!
Tell us a little about your trail building job and how you got into that?
BRANDON: At the time I was working a really tough office job and my friend David got me an interview with the owner at Nature Trails and the rest is history! They do amazing work and are great to work for. I have the opportunity to build pump tracks, single track MTB trails, and hiking trails. I work with an awesome crew and the owners are great people to work for. All of my coworkers ride some type of bike, and we all enjoy testing the products we create as I must say is a great and fun perk of the job.
Brandon is supported by Mongoose, WTB and Cane Creek.
All photos by Joel Caldwell.