Tough As Nails: Troy McMurray

Troy McMurray, March 2010. Ted Van Orman

In the mid '90s, a rider by the name of Troy McMurray emerged from the Denver, Colorado scene. Troy rode everything and rode it good. But he wasn't about to fall in line, cover his shirt in corporate sponsors or do whatever tricks would earn him the top spot at a Bicycle Stunt contest.

In simpler terms, Troy was (and still is) as raw they come. With dreadlocks and the name McMurray tattooed across his stomach, Troy was seen by many as a more versatile version of S&M legend Dave Clymer, so it made sense when Troy joined the S&M Bikes team in the mid '90s. Riding a 19" top tube S&M Sabbath in pro park and dirt comps in between filming video parts for Graveyard and Jinx Clothing, people took notice of Troy's legendary riding and antics.

Troy went on to get a signature frame from S&M (the Warpig), along with signature shoes from Puma. He was also part of the first generation of brakeless (and sometimes pegless) street riders, innovating moves such as truckdriver fakies and 360s to smith grinds, throwing barspins over insane gaps and even riding to Lionel Richie in pro street comps.

In the early '00s, Troy moved from California back to Colorado, and faded from the BMX spotlight. He went back to work building houses (his original trade) and tried in earnest to remain creative in life.

Meanwhile (although he kept a quiet profile) the legend and mystery of Troy McMurray continued to grow to Chuck Norris proportions throughout BMX. It had been a few years since BMX had heard anything from Troy, but that changed last year when FBM flowed Troy a frame. And in the time since, we've been treated to a few photos and video of Troy riding throughout the Denver area. But now he's back with a new band, a project he calls Sludge Hammer.

Things may have changed since Troy's heyday as a pro (bikes weigh half as much, no joke), but it's always nice to know when key figures in the evolution of riding are still at it and still creating. Here's Troy McMurray, circa 2010.

ESPN.com: Can you elaborate on your career as a full-time BMX pro?
Troy: Sean McKinney hooked me up with Primo, so I really want to give him props first. Without Sean having my back, who knows what would have happened. Big ups to [Chris] Moeller from S&M bikes for helping me achieve my dream. Life as a pro was good, and the parties were even better. I turned pro in '95, then moved to California in '97. But I traded the beach for mountains in 2002.

You rode in a few X Games, right? What was that experience like?
I'm not sure if you will remember the one-handed 360 while flying the bird in San Diego. (1998 X Games) It was fun riding for millions worldwide though. Thanks for the opportunity.

When and why did you leave the full-time pro BMX lifestyle?
I got old and got into too much partying. Sometimes, you just got to get out of the way of somebody else's dreams. I feel that I had my time in the sun and that it was time for someone else to shine and achieve their dreams.

Where have you been the past few years?
In Denver riding my bike and playing music in a few different bands: IDFC and Sludge Hammer. It's a lot of fun to get up on stage and scream.

Didn't you start your own bike company at one point? Evolution?
Drugs will take all the motivation out of anything. But I'm happy to report that I'm going on 18 months of complete sobriety.

Do you still ride as much as you used to, or have you developed new interests in your life?
I still ride three to four days a week. We have a mini ramp here at the house. I'm still busting out any 360 I want to at the Morrison trails. I'm also singing for Sludge Hammer two nights a week and playing live fills all the time now, in addition to trails and rails.

Compare your life now to when you were a BMX pro living in Huntington Beach, CA.
Now I work. If you need any home improvements, call me at 555-4130.

Did you really fight the Metal Mulisha?
That was all a marketing ploy. I wish those guys all the best. It was fun. A good story is when they sent a UFC meathead after me. He learned real fast never to tell me to kiss his shoe. I'm still not convinced he was a UFC fighter.

Are you down with the light bike trend, or would you rather be riding a 45 lb. Warpig?
Right now, I'm on a super-light, made in America, FBM Maneater. I would like to thank John Paul Rogers and all of the FBM guys for hooking me up with good strong bikes to ride.

What are your thoughts on the current BMX scene?
I think these kids should get jeans that fit: great riding but horrible fashion.

Tell us about your new band, and what purpose it serves in your life.
Creativity is a huge part in my life. If it's riding or panting or singing for Sludge Hammer, I always try to stay creative. All these things help me to stay sober.

How did the band start? How often do you guys play out?
My roommate used to play drums for a local punk band and I used to sing for IDFC. We built a mini-ramp and then a music studio, called in a few other BMX and skateboard rippers that knew how to play and now, the full-length album is due to come out in May. Right now we play out twice a month, and the response in Denver is good. Thanks for your support.

What does the future of Sludge Hammer hold?
More shows.

Any last words?
I want to thank my roommate Kevin Wylie for the financial support of our band, and for killing the drums. Check us out at myspace.com/sludgehammerdenver or facebook.com/denversludgehammer. Big thanks to Chris Moeller at S&M bikes for giving me parts when needed. I'm totally stoked on FBM bikes for giving me bikes when needed. I'm glad I've got my sweet angel. I'm glad I've found sobriety. Special thanks from all the members of Sludge Hammer for giving us this time.