Ed Pollio might not be a household name, but without him, there might not be a house in which to hold anything, especially in New York City. For those of you who know Ed already, there’s no need to read this first paragraph- you already know he’s the friendliest guy, maybe ever, anywhere. He’s never not smiling and always willing to lend a helping hand. He is constantly building something, tinkering, laughing or talking up anyone who is around for a good conversation. He knows what he loves and he loves what he does. The things that Ed has done for BMX in New York City are pivotal and important (e.g. creating the only indoor skatepark in NYC) but go largely unnoticed because of Staten Island’s physical disconnection from the mainland boroughs.
If there’s one thing that Ed is truly passionate about, it’s passion. He wants to see people enjoying what they’re doing at all times and building 5050 Skatepark from the ground up was a great way to assure that he’d always be surrounded by fun and progression. When he’s not at the helm there, his wife Angelica- and Jasper the dog- are the ones greeting you at the door with a gregarious attitude which, when combined with Ed’s, makes 5050 feel like a home away from home (but sometimes a bustling daycare center). You’d be hard pressed to find a more welcoming place in Staten Island. And speaking of combining Ed and Angelica, they just added a healthy baby girl to their family…
When/where were you born?
I was born February 8th, 1982 in Staten Island, NY.
When did you get into riding?
When I was 15- I used to hang out at the gas station near my house. The attendant, Seneca, let me pump gas sometimes for tips. I saved up those tips to buy my first pair of pegs for my GT Performer. There was a little curb gap at the gas station, the neighborhood kids and I would session it. The first time I jumped the curb and cleared the gap I was hooked.
What was the BMX scene like in Staten Island when you started riding?
Very small- everybody knew each other. It was really tight and everyone respected each other to a certain extent. The only 2 people from Staten Island that I used to ride with that are still riding on Staten Island are Augie Simoncini and Marc Kachtan.
Everybody else is a Loser. They got a girl and a car and gave up on their life. There is no reason for giving up on this. I will always be on a bike. Maybe I will grow up and get a bigger bike someday- but I will always ride a bike.
What were some of your favorite things/spots to ride?
My favorite spot to ride is the Banks. I remember the first time I rode there- it was with Tyrone Williams and Wormz when I was 16. I hope I will get to ride there again.
When did you start to travel so much?
When I was 6 my mom and stepfather moved us to Florida until they ran out of money and we had to move. When I was 18 I moved to PA and then I lived in Ohio for a summer and helped out at Chenga 1. RIP Chenga.
What is most important to you- why do you love BMX?
I grew up in a messed up home. My real dad left when I was a baby. My mom was on all kinds drugs or drunk all the time. My stepfather died when I was 15, and that is when I started riding. It gave me something to do to escape from reality that was positive.
I learned from my parent’s mistakes to not do any drugs. They told me when they were kids it started out they would get high on Saturdays, then Friday and Saturday. Then Thursday, Friday and Saturday- until it was everyday.
When did you start building things/construction/design and all that?
When I was a kid I used to take the TV apart like all kids. I remember getting yelled at by my cokehead aunt when she caught me using the jigsaw on a tree stump when I was five. I always played with Legos. That kind of trains you to build in a way. When my stepfather died I had to help my mom pay the rent so I started working for my uncle who was a contractor. He molded me into who I am today. He taught me that if you work hard enough you can do anything you want.
Do you have any traditional artistic background?
Graffiti is my artistic background. I used to write with Tom Grunwald, the old Graphic Designer from Animal Bikes. I met Ryan Humphrey about six years ago when I helped him setup his art show at the Queens Museum of Art. I couldn’t believe there was an entire exhibit for BMX art. He has been a big mentor to me as far as art goes. They are both like brothers to me.
When did you start working with Red Bull?
I started working for Red Bull in 2007. They asked Animal Bikes to do an event with them. It was the Red Bull “Down and Dirty” which later evolved to the “Trick or Treat” event.
How did NYDAC come about? Do you have any formal business education?
After I built all the ramps for Animal in the warehouse, Bob Scerbo and Shane Rossi told Red Bull to hire me to build out more events. I didn’t have a company. I was just a dirtbag BMX rider/ ramp builder. The Red Bull rep said if you don’t have a company we can’t hire you. So I made New York Design and Construction. I just winged it. I had no business education. I just interviewed other business owners and really learned from the streets.
What’s it like to produce a large-scale event?
Creating an event is extremely stressful. People think its easy- just build a ramp and make a flier… There’s so much legwork that needs to be done beforehand. Planning, getting media coverage, getting pros to show up, pre building, building out everything in a short timeframe. There are so many little things that can go wrong. It’s madness, but for some reason I really love it. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing everyone riding and enjoying themselves.
How do you feel about being a father?
The idea of being a father is weird because I still ride a little kid’s bike. But she is due any day now and I can’t wait to meet her.
Any big plans in the near future?
I’m always looking to make 5050 Skatepark better. We have a lot of plans for new setups, new events, and all new clothing. Kids need to wake up and stop buying clothes from companies that don’t help their culture. We plan to make our clothing better and hit the price points our culture can afford.
Is there anything you’d like to ask the readers?
I want to ask the new generation their opinion on how we can help BMX become more popular. Instead of wasting time putting down other up and coming extreme sports, there has to be more positive ways we can come together to keep BMX relevant. What can we do to get the sport away from the drugs and the BS and back to being about the love of riding?