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Timmy Reyes: Going Solo

Timmy Reyes is a professional surfer. BFGoodrich does not encourage anyone to go surfing in dangerous conditions alone or ones that are beyond their ability.

Imagine you’ve just reached the top of your field. Decades of dedication finally paid off. You’re highly regarded, sought after, and your name is known. But most importantly: you get paid to do what you love.

Would you walk away from that?

Could you?

In 2008, at the height of his aquatic prowess, Timmy Reyes walked away from pro surfing to hunt big waves in his truck in remote locations. No cheering crowd. No flashing cameras. Just Timmy and his board, going solo.

Timmy Reyes: Going Solo | BFGoodrich Garage

The Early Years

Like many surfers, Timmy grew up near the coast in California. He started surfing at four years old, recalling day-long trips to the beach from his home in San Bernardino, just to hit the water.

“We would make the big trip down to the beach and I would just remember every time I would get to the coast, what the smell was like. You never forget that smell.” said Timmy.

At the age of 9, he relocated to Huntington Beach.

At 13, he was featured in Surfer Magazine.

“When you first see a photo of yourself in a magazine, you kinda just stare at it. You're like, ‘Yup. That's the real one. That's me.’ And it's somewhere you wanted to always be -- it's kind of nerve-wracking.”

That’s when casually riding waves became chasing down a dream.

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Timmy Turns Pro

At age eighteen, Timmy started travelling to qualifying events. Typically, this event season runs nine to ten months out of the year, with an event every two weeks in a different country.

“You're eighteen years old, you're in a foreign country, you have no money, you have enough just to rent a car to just get from place to place, and you probably sleep in it. You sleep on the beach a lot. You can't afford a hotel room”

Aside from the lodging, qualifying for the tour is a nightmare. The waves are small and difficult to catch. On top of that, you get just a few chances on those subpar waves to showcase your life’s work. It’s better to be lucky than good. On the tour, you’ve got to be both.

Timmy scratched and clawed his way through qualifying, eventually becoming a mainstay on the tour. He continued his ascent, carving his path to the top, swell after swell. Until 2007.

It all came crashing down on his left knee. Timmy wiped out on a particularly rough wave and the searing pain that knifed through his leg immediately signaled that his season was finished.

“I was having the best year of my life. I was top five in the world. I was beating the best guys. And I hurt myself terribly bad, mid-season. I couldn't walk so I knew I couldn't compete.”

After shredding his left knee, he started piecing himself back together. As he reshaped his body, he reshaped his vision for his future.

“Why I really love to surf isn't necessarily just the surfing part. It's the traveling part and seeing all these beautiful places. I just went like full roots and just started surfing waves that I've wanted to go see.”

Leaving the Tour

Timmy competed the year after his injury, placing 16th, and cementing the fact that he was back and could surf at a high level. But his heart wasn’t with the professional waves. He would find himself tracking storms halfway around the world while preparing to surf an event. Big storms bring big waves and too often Timmy found himself in the sunshine, wishing for rain.

“I've surfed so many of these events. I just want to do something different. I want to be able to see the world in my truck and go surf crazy waves. I just kind of wanted to be left alone.”

Often in life, you repeat what you don’t repair. So Timmy walked away. Then, everything changed.

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Built for the Chase

After spending his early years honing his surfing skills, Timmy has now become an amatuer meteorologist. Since storms produce the best waves, and they can appear in a matter of hours, Timmy tracks the weather across the country to find his best chance at a big swell.

The thing about storms is that they don’t adhere to the Department of Transportation’s rules. They don’t follow roads. So to get where he needs to go, Timmy has to have a capable rig. He owns a 2006 Toyota Tundra SR5, complete with all the aftermarket modifications you could dream of. His truck has:

  • Bilstien 6100 Shocks
  • Deaver Leafs
  • Overall 3-inch lift kit
  • Air compressor
  • BFGoodrich® All Terrain T/A® KO2 Tires
  • A rooftop tent and awning

The right tire is enabling the adventure of a lifetime. That’s why Timmy rides on BFGoodrich® All Terrain T/A® KO2 tires. They give him a solid foundation that he relies on to face any obstacle in his path.

“I love this thing. It's 240,000 miles of the truck. It's a Toyota, so it drives, it purrs like a kitten every single time you start it.”

Getting to hidden waves requires navigating hidden roads. Driving up steep grades. Slogging through ice, and miles of mud and rock. Driving for hours on end, Timmy routinely plunges himself into rugged isolation. He’s not building for any specific set of conditions. He’s building for everything.

The perfect wave is always hard to find, but now it’s not hard to reach.

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Pro Surfer, Amateur Meteorologist

Timmy routinely tracks pressure systems through apps on his phone, often finding himself with five to seven days to put himself in position. With a slim margin for error, and the notoriously low accuracy of trained professionals, sometimes, he blows it.

“I have to be my own forecaster for a lot of reasons; you have to have a low pressure [system]. You're looking at big, big waves with offshore conditions. And that's basically what I chase whether it's going to be in the winter or the summer.”

The bigger the low pressure system, and the faster it arrives, the bigger the waves. And bigger means danger.

“I've been on boats that’ve almost capsized. I've been to spots in Mexico where I didn't think I would actually come back because it was so crazy with storms and hurricanes. The roads were being covered by rain and we were basically in salt flats. Just plowing through mud up to the doors and going, ‘We're gonna bury the truck here.’”

It's experiences like this that make Timmy grateful for his KO2 tires, time and again, they've gotten him through diverse situations and challenging terrain, giving Timmy the confidence he needs to go anywhere to catch big waves. Through rain and sludge, downed trees, and even roadside shrapnel, Timmy won't chase waves on anything other than BFGoodrich KO2 tires.

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A Life Built On Uncertainty

Timmy isn’t built like the rest of us. The waves he likes to surf are six to eight feet tall, breaking in shallow water against cliffs and jagged rocks with sharks circling underneath. Typically they follow a shallow reef, and explode in a moment of harrowing opportunity that he tries to seize.

“You know, when you're out in the ocean, the ocean is in charge of you. You have to submit to the ocean.” said Timmy.

Even when you submit, even if you do everything right, you’re still at the mercy of nature.

Timmy made it his life’s mission to stare down the unknown, and sometimes that means a lack of closure. But for the most part, it means forcing himself to live in the moment -- both alone and with the people he loves. That’s why he keeps coming back.

“We throw our lives out there because we really enjoy doing what we do and no one's gonna tell us not to do it because we love it. It's just second nature for people like us.”

Through the hellacious storms, the unsafe roads and the harrowing waves that follow, Timmy will stay in the chase. Home will always be there, waiting. And he knows, if he makes it back to the beach, if he can reach his truck, then he can always get back.

To Timmy, the beauty in life -- and the only certainty he needs -- is there will always be another wave to catch. If he doesn’t, someone else might.

And he just can’t take that chance.

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