Recall – Jimmy Levan and the Austin Church Gap


Certain things live on in the collective memory of BMX. Defining moments that instantly change things, pushing the sport a little bit more forward whether with a small nudge or huge lurch. When I saw James Menard Levan jump the Austin Church Gap I knew something had changed forever. This event happened near the end of the first Road Fools trip in the final months of 1998. You can re-live this by checking out the Church Gap Redux above, which is a brand new extended edit containing some never-seen-before clips I pulled from the Road Fools 1 source tapes specifically for this post. Below in the post you’ll find the Church Gap segment snipped from RF1 in it’s original edited form. If you haven’t seen RF1 you can check it out here in it’s entirety which we uploaded not too long ago. Dig Magazine has it’s Issue 8 coverage from the trip online as well with a rad little write-up about doing the story.

I had a chance to catch up with Jimmy and ask him about the gap and what he’s been up to lately.

The moment “Levangelism” was born. Photo from Issue 8 of Dig Magazine, 1998. Photo Large Ed.

Jimmy, where are you living these days, how old are you now?
I’m living in Seattle, Washington and I’m 36.

What have you been up to as of late?
Finally back to being able to ride again after a multitude of injuries! Stoked to travel and ride old spots again.

You were injured pretty bad not long ago, tell us what happened. Are you back 100% now, or is the injury still taking a toll?
Well, I guess that makes me ask…which one? The shattered femur, or the head bash? The leg bothered me waaaaaaaaaay more than the skull fracture 15 day coma incident. I was sitting down coasting down a hill like a 55 year old lady in a bike lane, and some dude cuts across 2 double yellow stripe lanes and monster trucks over me and drags me under his Jeep into a 7 eleven parking lot!

The 15 day coma was sooooo different…I couldn’t describe it English words. It was weird…and I came out crazy as shit for awhile, but what I saw and lived through over there was a whole new dimension basically! I walked into white light and ran out and saw something very different, so it was almost worth it to have seen these things. Then Empire, Odyssey, Dan’s Comp, Eastern, Fore Castle, friends around the whole world etc. etc. pitched in as well as raised money to pay my bills for me before I even remembered my name! Thanks again everyone! I lived 6 years in my coma…I’m not 36, I’m 42. Ha ha! I was living back in Huntington Beach then N.Y.C. in my dream state. Too long of a story for this question, but think of this: the average person has 250 to 300 dreams a night, dreams only last 2 to 3 seconds. I was asleep for 15 days straight, therefore six years is actually shorter than I would guess, but it was weird, and real??

To answer back to the 100% question? It took a long time to heal from one after another, but you do get better, and muscle memory is real. Your body already knows how to ride your bike. I wouldn’t say back to 100%, but I’m stoked on riding as of late.

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One Comment

  1. first in freestyle

    Jimmy, it’s so cool to see you’re back on your bike again…wish I had the guts to pull gaps like this….but no way….I am a sissy….(well I got style to make up for the cowardness…)..thx for pushing this sport and being an all true bmx-all-american guy!
    Steve from Germany

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