Smith stall fakie during Zac’s Philadelphia stay
© Rob Dolecki
BMX

How to travel the world and ride your BMX

Zac Costa’s ecology work takes him and his BMX around the world.
Written by Rob Dolecki
3 min readPublished on
For anyone who knows him, it’s obvious that Zac Costa is not your normal BMX rider. From his notorious wild riding clips in various Animal and Solid videos over the past decade to a non-stop quest to explore obscure Latin American countries, to fearlessly and casually grabbing and handling random cold-blooded vertebrae from the floor of tropical jungles, Zac is one of a kind.
What is even more unique is that Zac actively pursues a career as a fresh water ecologist, taking up stretches of his time in various locales across the globe while studying various toads and insects.
Zac with a feeble to ledge ride in Lima, Peru

Zac with a feeble to ledge ride in Lima, Peru

© Rob Dolecki

Those studies have given him the opportunity to live throughout the US and beyond: “I’ve lived in Richmond, Virgina; it was a cool place. I lived in Panama for six months, Japan, Philadelphia, and currently Houston, Texas indefinitely.”
And with this immersion in the local culture also comes the opportunity to explore what the architecture and beyond has to offer for his two wheels: “I get to ride wild shit that most people have never been to.”
Bus stations, a second home for Zac on his travels

Bus stations, a second home for Zac on his travels

© Rob Dolecki

Some of the finds have been incredible: “There was a parking garage in Panama that was amazing. Same with this bobsled course in Sapporo, Japan, as well as a lost skatepark in Japan.” Not a bad job bonus at all.
Smith stall fakie during Zac’s Philadelphia stay

Smith stall fakie during Zac’s Philadelphia stay

© Rob Dolecki

Urban jungle exploration in Philadelphia

Urban jungle exploration in Philadelphia

© Rob Dolecki

Zac also has quite a solid grasp of the Spanish tongue, and I’ve personally benefited from this when we've travelled together: “When I graduated high school I went to Latin America with my dad. In northern California, where I grew up, it was very Latino. Plus, when you live somewhere, you get to really learn the language. When I lived in Panama, I would mostly hang out with the Panamanians on my off-time. ”
Despite lacking many funding opportunities due to the recession, Zac plans to continue his quest for living in new places while doing his ecology studies and exploring the terrain on his bike, particularly in Latin America: “I’m trying to go back to Latin America any way I can. The best thing about it is freedom. Biology-wise its very biodiverse; more than the United States. We don’t really know much about how the tropics work compared to temperate zones. If you only study New Jersey, how are you going to know how Colombia works?”
Being both an ecologist and BMXer might seem like an unlikely combo; yet for Zac Costa, it's just another prime example of symbiosis.
Two of Zac’s study subjects in Panama

Two of Zac’s study subjects in Panama

© Rob Dolecki

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