Jim, Bigsby and the motorcycle
If this guy looks familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen him on our website many times over the years. We’ve been lucky enough to work with Jim on several photo shoots and couldn’t ask for a better Horny Toad ambassador. Not only does he wear our clothes well, he’s adventurous, kind and a genuinely stellar human being.
Case in point: this bike belongs to Jim’s father who retired it to the corner of the garage when Jim and his siblings were born. Recently Jim refurbished the bike on the sly as a gift to his dad. Now that he’s all grown up, Jim and his dad ride their motorcycles together. How great is that?
Without further ado, please enjoy our interview with the man behind the motorbike.
HT: Who are you?
I’m Jim. I’m pretty much a normal guy, with slightly more body hair. I consider myself pretty laid back and easy going, but I like a healthy dose of adventure daily.
HT: Congratulations on deciding to become a firefighter. What’s the most challenging part of the process?
The most challenging thing about becoming a firefighter is actually BECOMING a firefighter. I’m still waiting to start academy after a 2+ year application process. It’s been crazy taking all of the tests. Physically, you have to be in the best shape of your life. This took me about a year, working out ’til you pass out/throw up. Then more running (with weights!) than is recommended for healthy living. Psychologically, you have to not be crazy and be able to prove it. You have to be smart enough to pass the multiple written tests, and not have any background issues, like a record or even bad credit. Finally, you have to shave your beard and explain to multiple panels why you are the person for the job. In the end you must have a passion to help people and be willing to put anyone in your community before yourself.
HT: Is there any correlation between the Horny Toad photo where you’re drinking a beer while pouring lighter fluid on the barbecue and your desire to become a fireman?
Ha… Good one. That was a fun shoot for sure. I’ve always been amazed by fire, really the only difference now is that I have to wait until the fire is out before cracking a cold one.
HT: When did you start jumping out of airplanes… and why?
I made my first skydive when I was 18 because it was as early as I could do it. I was hooked immediately and soon started packing parachutes as a college job. I worked my way through jump school and now here I am with 600+ jumps and coaching first time jumpers. It is truly an amazing sport! Every jump gets better.
HT: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen anyone do while they were skydiving?
Wow, really good question, and I’m not sure I can legally answer that. Let’s just say I’ve seen it all. I am on a skydiving team called the “Electric Toasters,” and we do what’s called freeflying. It’s basically freestyle skydiving, so we go head down or in a stand or sit position.
I did a stunt once for commercial. I had to leave the plane doing flips while carrying a big duffel bag. I lost my goggles and had to still hang on to this bag while spinning out of control because I couldn’t use my hands. It was nuts but turned out well on film. I’ve also had to use my reserve parachute before, which is another crazy story. Basically, most days skydiving involve some sort of crazy stuff… especially with the Electric Toasters!
HT: What makes you laugh?
I am a contagious laugher, so I really like to make other people laugh and then I get going with them. I like situational comedy, like when someone trips down the stairs and makes a spectacle while doing it. I used to do this in college a lot at the library. They finally told me to stop tripping down the stairs. Also, streaking makes me laugh. I wish I would see more people running naked in my daily life, but it seems like I am always the one with my clothes off…which is actually pretty hilarious!
HT: Ideal vacation. Describe it.
I love vacations! Next up on my list is Patagonia, Argentina! I would do a New Zealand trip though if it came up first. I love to hike and see new things, so to me those places are ideal. If I can combine a couple of my favorite activities – like snowboarding, skydiving, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, fly fishing, surfing, camping, motorcycling or hiking – then it would be ideal!
HT: What’s it like to be on a Horny Toad photo shoot?
It’s a lot like hanging out with my friends. We always do fun stuff. It’s great for me because I’ve become friends with a lot of the Horny Toad family, so it’s like a reunion. We typically go somewhere cool outdoors, get dressed in clothes that look good and feel better and have fun. Everyone is really creative and open-minded so the shoots are always a blast. That’s it. Well, we are getting our pictures taken while hanging out. I would model full time if my nose wasn’t so big.
HT: What are you grateful for?
I have so much to be grateful for. My amazing family, who has always been there for me no matter what. My friends, who become more like family as the years go by. My girlfriend, who has become a real partner and enjoys living life to the fullest. She won’t have it any other way, and I love that about her. And of course, my dog Bigsby. I guess I am more thankful for the people in my life than anything else. I am also grateful for the life I’ve been able to live. I’ve had countless adventures, traveled a lot, loved a lot, laughed a lot and tried not to take life too seriously. I’m grateful that everyday I’m given another opportunity to squeeze as much out of life as I can.
HT: Tell us about Bigsby.
Bigsby the incredible! He’s a six-year-old Jack Russell terrier that loves to do anything fun outdoors that we do. He loves to hike, kayak, canoe, motorcycle and pretty much anything else we can take him along for. He’s like our son – we take him everywhere and he’s a great travel dog. When it comes to his tennis ball he will play fetch until his muscles shut down. We’ve found that a constant six hours of throwing will about do it. Then he needs to take a break for about 10minutes and he’s ready to go again. He reminds me a lot of the Energizer Bunny, with worse breath.
HT: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to be doing a lot of the things that I am doing now. Having fun with friends and family. I’m not as concerned about how I will be making a living as I am about how I’m living. You can’t put a dollar amount on happiness, so if I’m smiling in 10 years and still having a good time, I will consider myself a success. I used to think “in 10 years I’ll be here or there, or doing this or that,” but now I just think that if I’m happy and healthy and have the people that I love the most around me then I’m ahead of the game.