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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Updated: June 14, 11:53 AM ET
Meeting Greg Hartman

Only real men pull double can flips and grow beards...

With nearly a decade of experience shooting freestyle motocross under my belt, I've had the pleasure of taking pictures of the best of the best: from Carey Hart and Brian Deegan to Travis Pastrana and Nate Adams, and everyone in between. But there's always been one guy I have never had an opportunity to hook up with for an afternoon of fun...

I had heard all about Greg Hartman from various people, some telling me I'd like his style on the bike because he's so tall (like myself), and others telling me that he's the absolute funniest guy in freestyle, and that I just had to meet him. So I put Hartman on my small list of "must-shoots," and waited patiently until the day I could bug Greg with my typical "Can you do that trick one more time man, my flash didn't pop?" requests until he was ready to kill me like the others.

But between his horrific injury, both of our crazy travel schedules, and this, that and the other, I really started to think that the Pennsylvania native and I might never get the chance to meet... Then, out of the blue, Greg called me to let me know he'd be in California for a week, staying/riding with Kyle Loza and the R.IV.C. crew... finally! —More after the jump.

And all of that hype I had heard about Greg? All understatements: Hartman absolutely killed it, throwing down all sorts of flip tricks with style and extension that can only be reminiscent of the other great tall guy in FMX; the one and only Travis Pastrana. The things I had heard about his personality were spot-on too; Greg holds on to that nice-guy, East Coast personality, never once trying to be someone he's not.

Greg's extension is reminiscent of his taller counterpart, Travis Pastrana.

Okay, I just proofread my article, and it really sounds like I'm starting to develop a major man-crush on poor Greg Hartman (who happens to be happily married, I might add). So, instead of carrying on like I'm writing about some heartthrob for Teen Beat Magazine, I thought I'd just list the five coolest things I learned about Greg during our photo shoot instead:

1. Greg loves old-school country (Not the absolute crap on the radio now, but real stuff like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, etc.). This reminded me of good times my dad and I shared when I was a boy, cruising the farm in his old International pickup truck...

2. He absolutely loves beards, so we naturally hit it off. Before Greg even said hello or shook my hand, he told me how bitchin' my beard was... Yeah!

3. When done with freestyle motocross, Greg's goal is to become a truck driver (seriously). He plans on getting his license later this summer.

4. Greg likes the simple things in life, like hanging out with his wife and playing Halo 3, getting a fountain soda at a gas station, and chilling out at the local VFW.

5. During the course of the last year, Greg had to completely relearn how to walk and talk due to the brain injury he suffered, and didn't even know who he was for several weeks. Now, just a few months later, he somehow remembers how to do ruler flips. Yes, he is amazing!

It was only a year ago that Greg had to re-learn how to walk and talk... now he's pulling ruler flips. Gnarly!