Last month, I pointed an emerald-green S63 AMG across the California desert separating Pasadena from Apple Valley. My purpose: to meet up with my old pal Bill Ryan, owner of Supercross BMX. I hadn’t seen Bill for more than a decade and a half, although we had kept up a sporadic conversation via email and social media. My plan was to order a new race frame to replace the 2001-vintage Supercross UL that Bill had custom-built for me and maybe to make some plans for my son’s next race bike.
Bill was in fine fettle when I arrived and we chatted for the better part of two hours. “Let me give you the tour,” he said. We walked through a series of warehouses. “This is where the fabrication line was… this was where we painted the frames… Right there was where we did all the machining and drilling for the stems.” And as we walked it dawned on me that every single drill, every single jig, and every single fixture I saw was coated with the thick dust of long neglect.
We returned to his office, where a massive whiteboard detailed every incoming shipment of frames and parts along with cost, supplier, and various conditions regarding delivery. Almost without exception, the names of the contractors were established Taiwanese OEM cycle suppliers.
“Bill,” I said, “I don’t understand it. Fifteen years ago you were making a ton of stuff here. Regular production, custom builds, small parts. What happened?”
“Well,” he exhaled, and some of his infamous manic energy seemed to evaporate, “…we’re in California.”