Bestwick: Never Too Old for Change

Jamie Bestwick wins a silver medal in the BMX Vert final at X Games Austin 2015.

When does a silver medalist remain the king? When he's Jamie Bestwick. The master of BMX Vert won a record-breaking 9 consecutive events at X Games before Vince Byron beat him at Austin 2015. Though he's obviously a fierce competitor, he claims to be a benevolent ruler.

"I really wanted someone else to win," the 16-time X Games medalist says. "I wasn't going to just hand it over, though, so I'm glad Vince came and grabbed it. It needed to happen!" Jamie remembers breathing a sigh of relief as he watched Byron cap a nearly flawless run with a 540 flair, an X Games first.

"After watching Vince do his thing -- it was a great run -- I knew he had me," Bestwick says. "And, to be honest, it felt good."

Bestwick says his win streak had become a burden, that it was stunting his riding. Now, the 44-year-old says he feels rejuvenated. He expects X Games Austin 2016 to be the decade's best BMX Vert showdown.

"I think you ride differently when you're the defending champion than when you're chasing him," Bestwick says. "It's lit a fire under me, because I have nothing to lose anymore. Defending the title is about being consistent. Now, instead of 'Can he make it 10 in a row?' it's going to be, 'Who throws caution to the wind and tries the trick that makes or breaks this thing?'"

X Games Austin 2015 marked the beginning of a big year of change for Bestwick, who spent most of it in pursuit of another longtime passion: coffee. In January, he opened Rothrock Coffee in State College, Pennsylvania, next door to PYP Studio, his wife, Kerry's, thriving fitness and life coaching center. Always an early riser, he now starts his days roasting beans in the cafe while Kerry prepares for her morning Pilates, yoga and spin classes.

Trevor Brown, Jr./ESPN

Jamie Bestwick says his win streak had become a burden, that it was stunting his riding. Now, the 44-year-old says he feels rejuvenated.

Bestwick still rides vert frequently at nearby Camp Woodward, but now he spends as much time mountain biking in Rothrock State Forest, touring on his road bike and working out at PYP, which recently expanded. PYP stands for Power Your Possibilities; Bestwick credits the studio with extending his BMX career ("well, that and the coffee"), even as he approaches his 45th birthday in July.

A win in Austin would extend his own record as the oldest gold medalist in any BMX discipline. "It's impolite to speak of one's old age at 44," he jokes, when asked how long he might continue his career. "Especially when Dennis McCoy is almost 50 and still competing."

In April, Bestwick parted ways with longtime bike sponsor DK Bicycles and unveiled a new custom colorway of the Trail Boss frame from Standard Byke Co. He's working to break it in, and he knows besting Byron will be a new challenge. He can't wait.

"I worried that I'd been stagnating, winning all those years," Jamie says. "This time there's no predictions and no expectations, so I'm just going to go for it. I feel like a new man."

Follow Bestwick on Instagram.

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