Text: Effraim. Photos: Effraim + Dub + Marcin Biegunajtys – Manmade Media Studio.
On the last day for many of us we all got experience the Rockies for real. James took us up Pikes Peak, crazy good time with this crew! Photo: Dub.
Sometimes in riding you need an extra spark to spur yourself to the next level, I feel like the Battle in the Rockies event was just the tonic I needed with winter amongst us and perhaps you if you attended the event. When you see a flatlander put his heart into what he loves, it speaks volumes. From the very moment I got to Denver with Thomas Noyer who was on the same flight as me, the flatland community vibe that set the tone for the week was in embudance as myself and Thomas met James, Dub, Jason Plourde in the airport before we embarked on an hour journey that took four hours due to the heavy snow to get to Colorado Springs. When you have 5-6 flatlanders altogether once again even four hours goes quickly, plus as was Thomas Noyer’s first time to the US, we took him to as American a restaurant as we could find on the road, “Five Guys”.
As I sit here reflecting on 6 years of running FlatmattersOnline, I just dropped the second annual year end awards yesterday and Simon O’Brien’s amazing new edit, the site has come along way, taking journeys of ups and downs. I wondered what kind of influence Flatmatters has had on the flatland community over those 6 years? Click here to read more »
Intro/Interview: Effraim. Photographs: Provided by James McGraw.
There’s a lot of work that goes into organising a contest that you truly cannot comprehend, unless you are inside of it and have experienced that responsibility for yourself. James McGraw just stepped up to the plate, and in a big way! He had a vision, and rather than just talking about it, he knuckled down with the help of Reklamation Bikes and made Battle in the Rockies happen.
At the age of 44, James’ passion and drive to compete shines brighter than ever, finishing a very respectable 11th place in the 2014 World Circuit year end ranking.
When an individual gives something extra to give back to the sport that’s not just for him, that to me something special, and something that helps flatland grow. As I travel to Denver, Colorado today for the first time, I am excited by the unknown with this event. How will everyone deal with the 6000ft above sea level altitude, what’s the warehouse riding spot like, who’s deejaying? What riders are going to show up and throw down? What is Denver like? It is an exciting time! I wanted to catch up with James before I arrive in Denver to find out what’s going on his mind, read on!
Battle in the Rockies is fast approaching, you are just back from the last two rounds of the World Circuit in Brazil and japan. Did you learn anything from those events that you will bring to your event?
Well I would say I have always had a dream of how I would do a contest. Yes basic format is there, but what I saw at the last two stops on World Circuit was the passion that the rider who put the contest together had. Everyone brings a little different flavor on how things run and the intensity the event builds. Brazil was so fun and you feel confident, because you get a chance to ride the spot and find your line. Japan has always created epic events with a turn out of riders that is unparalleled, but for me and many riders I talk with the stress level in Japan is high and confidence level is low due to very little time on contest surface. The areas are always small and crowded and there is no warm up area. So you stand around for hours and then you go, it is the hardest place to ride, but it separates the men from the boys so to speak. But the after parties and lifestyle is great!!!!
For me contests are no longer about winning or losing it is an excuse to ride with my friends I have all over the world. I know many guys make a living from it like I use to and because of that they take it way more serious, but when all is said and done they reflect on the fun and sessions with everyone. My goal is to have a fairly judged event that is low stress and lots of fun. There are two qualification runs so you can relax if you hit your first, push it in the second you have nothing to lose if you miss you can try again, this helps to really allow riders to shine. So what I will bring to my event that I see in other contest is the passion and love for flatland with a little McGraw twist!
Gerator body varial at the warehouse where Prelims will take place.
Who is sponsoring the contest and for the record how much prize money are you throwing down for this contest?
Well the sponsors are Reklamation bikes, Redbull, Deco, Flatlandfuel, LLumar window films (product I sell in my auto tint business) Westside tattoo, Cedar Springs Hospital, Quest Bmx, Cemant face clothing, Touch of Shade tint, Colorado Flat Jams, AmFlatland Circuit, some crappy web site called Flatmattersonline, Denver electric, The Mansion night club, London bikes, Sequence, The one and only Terradome where dreams come true, Yellow designs, Pedal action bmx, Sanchos mexican food and Louies pizza, with help from everyone we have great prize packages as well as a large pro purse. Thanks mostly to Fred and Robert as well as my self we have $10’000 for the purse. As it stands we will be paying some out of pocket due to unforeseen expenses that have arose but we are hope full that ticket sales for the finals and t shirts sales will help offset that. No matter what we will deliver in CASH to be clear though this would not be possible to have done the video contest with airfare and everything else if it was not for Reklamation bikes. Fred and Robert have put up alot of money not only to help bring recognition to Reklamation bikes, but truly for their deep rooted love of the sport. I am forever grateful that they have allowed me to run with my somewhat crazy idea.
The location looks amazing, can you tell me about the building, the surface and the work you are doing behind the scenes?
The location was a challenge we had initially had a convention hall that was being donated to the event. The Hall somehow closed up and sold to a church towards the end of the summer leaving us in a very stressful bind. I worked out a deal with my friend who owns almost every bar in Colorado Springs to use space in his bars. He told me sizes and it seemed really good. I waited for a few weeks feeling good about the space to go get photos and upon doing so I discovered that yes the size was good, but the freakin polls in the middle of the floor suck ass. I personally spent the next two weeks trying to secure a spot with no luck. As it turns out due to the fact that Marijuana is now legal here in Colorado warehouse space is simply not available.
In the past two years this town went from a 50 percent vacancy on warehouse space to a 1% vacancy. Every place I looked was rented to weed growers. So after hyping this event up putting my name out there I really was stressed. I drove by a spot on the way to lunch after damn near giving up and saw this spot. I called the number on the building and got the guy listed turns out he was in fact the owner I more or less begged him and explained my situation he then agreed , but I had to rent the space for at least two months so I did, hence unforeseen expense. Is the floor perfect? No nothing is, but I have personally patched any and all chips and holes to make it better. I also scraped by hand spots that had paint to make sure that the surface was the same thru out. I have power washed the floor three times to make sure it is clean and I have no soda on the floor and I can not slip the floor has a smooth finish yet I have yet to slip or slide out. There are a few uneven spots at the seams that as it turns out I have a friend who does cement resurfacing and he is coming down this week to help me even those out. I have rode it and like anything I have found my line and it is really good. I cant see anyone hating this floor. No matter what I know that I have put everything I can into making sure the spot is the best It can be. The actual contest floor measures out at 70-40 foot leaving room for staging and spectators.
James has been killing the back wheel this year, dump truck xft ice cream pivot.
Can riders practise at the venue the week before the event?
Because I have rented the spot for several months It will be open the whole time. Riders are welcome to ride all day and night thru out the week leading up to the contest. My only stipulation is respect in the day Monday thru Thursday the surrounding business need to be able to work so music will have to be turned down some and we have to respect other businesses and not congregate being loud. After 5pm all is good. It’s real simple thou I rented this place in my name if someone trashes the place I will have to pay for it. We can ride, have fun, party a little, but we need to respect the obvious boundaries.
Behind the scenes organising a contest, there is a hell of a lot that goes on. Shuttle pick ups, hotel bookings, picking judges, working out format, paperwork, organising the venue logistics, are you offering any of those shuttle type services, riders might not know about?
Yeah as I just said so much goes in to organizing an event like this. We have arranged a couple cars and drivers to try and help pick up riders flying into Denver, because it is 50 minutes north of the springs. If we are unable to get some one rental cars are easily available as well Coloradoshuttle.com who specializes in transportation to and from Denver airport to Colorado Springs. As for the Hotel we listed it several times on the Battle Facebook page, it’s the Holiday Inn Suites, Central Colorado springs discount code is BIT this is located a few blocks from the bar district where after party’s are as well pro finals. The venue address is 3208 N Nevada, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80907, there is alot of surrounding hotels everything is with in a few miles of all aspects of the event and parties.
What contest format are you using?
We will go with standard Amflat format 2 runs best one counts finals for pro and expert. However we will for pro finals have 12 riders and we will do the same battle format as seen in Flatark this format is alot of work, but very fun to watch.
How you going about getting a big crowd at the event additional to the riders that don’t ride flatland?
The town has really got behind me on this event. I am lucky to know the guy who owns all the bars in town and he is helping me out with radio and Tv ads leading up to the event as well as interviews in local papers and on radio and tv. Because I perform alot around town I am well known and have alot of followers that will show up and with the finals being in one of the largest bars in town on a Saturday night with public able to come in for 10 dollars, which is the normal cover charge anyways we will have a big crowd.
James can ride the front wheel too! Xft hitch in Kobe, Japan! Photo: Bobby Carter.
Of course, BITR is the AM FLT finals, what are your thoughts on who is going to take the crown in each class?
well AMFlat has had a good year with Real City Spin by Dub this year alot of riders have made the journey to these events. Mine is bring alot of international riders that otherwise have not competed in AMFlat so they will not have a chance to get year end placings. So the year end is the usual suspects I really have no predictions because anything can happen. But I do know that who ever wins expert will be in pro finals.
Anything final I may have missed James that you want to say to all the flatlanders entering and reading this?
I have to say to those of you who have not been to high altitude places before, it is not a joke you will feel the difference. First and for most Drink alot of water it helps and know that when drinking alcohol you will get drunk quicker. Sometimes if you are not use to altitude alot of caffeine like sodas and energy drinks can be bad it is best to really take it easy on the first day until you know how it affects you. I really want to thank everyone who has helped me do this. It has always been a dream of mine to hold a big event and now it is a reality I have brought flatland to my home town. I have to thank my wife for putting up with me on this event there has been allot of extra stress due to this event and all my traveling I am thankful she has reluctantly (lol) put up with me. This event will be hosted by me and my family meaning all of us show up and have a good time my goal is for everyone to maybe not care or remember how they rode when is all over but too remember how much fun this event was and how great it was to be able to ride with everyone no matter if they are one of the best in the world or simply just starting out. See you soon!!!!!
Thank you James, I’m getting ready to board this plane, I will see you and everyone else really soon!
I caught up with a jet lagged Viki Gomez when he arrived back home from the long flight home from Brazil, just before he flew out to Japan for the Flatark contest, and asked him to come up with 20 Bullet points about his trip to Brazil for Round 4 of the World Circuit. Viki played a big part in helping this Round of the World Circuit take place in Brazil. So it’s great that Viki translated his words in english and spanish for more riders to read!
Viki placed 2nd at Round 4 of the World Circuit, check out his amazing run right here! Thanks to Lisias Tabarelli for the upload!
Mateus learning new tricks during a photoshoot with Viki, One handed kick flip hitch. Photo by Pedro Amora.
1-Brazilian people are super friendly!
1-La gente en Brasil es muy simpática!
2-Portuguese language is so similar to spanish, so I can understand almost everything!
2-El portugués es muy parecido al castellano, por lo que puedo comprender casi todo!
3-When I met Mateus Beckmann it was as if I knew him already. Internet Magic I guess!
3-Cuando me encontré con Mateus era como si ya le conociese. La magia del internet supongo!
4-Mateus Beckmann only does hard tricks even to warm up. He landed for the first time 1 hand hitchhiker kick flip just for the photo!
4-Mateus Beckmann solo hace trucos difíciles, incluso para calentar – Cayo por primera vez y para la foto 1 hand hitchhiker kick flip!
5-Sao Paulo is a super big city! Traffic is terrible!
5-Sao Paulo es una super ciudad! El trafico es horrible!
Owen Bohn, gliding junkyard on the pedal grabbing the cross bar is no joke! Photo: Koty Flat.
Tsutomu Kitayama! Look at the crazy balance point of this signature move! Photo: willi Flat.
6-MUF organitation of Overground are very professional and put their heart in what they do!
6-MUF Organización de Overground son muy profesionales y ponen todo su empeño y corazón en lo que hacen.
7-Event location was in a city called Itapevi, 40 km from downtown Sao Paulo. Itapevi is a very local city.
7-La localización del evento fue en una ciudad llamada Itapevi, situada a 40 km de distancia de Sao Paulo. Itapevi es una ciudad muy local.
8-The japanese crew were in a shock about Itapevi city. Quiet different from downtown Tokyo I guess.
8-La crew de japoneses estaba en shock en la ciudad de Itapevi. Supongo que era un poco diferente al centro de Tokyo.
9-The latin riders a super kind! They asked for so many photos and autographs. They appreciated the visiting pros competing.
9-Los riders latinos son super simpáticos! Me preguntaron por muchos autógrafos y fotos. Realmente apreciaron nuestra visita.
10-The floor of the event was perfect! It was a bit slippery and it was solved by cleaning the floor with some soda. The japanese cleaned it several times in the área where they rode.
10-El suelo del evento era perfecto! Resbalaba un poco y se soluciono limpiándolo con algo de soda. Los japoneses lo limpiaron varias veces en la zona donde ellos montaban.
Takahiro Ikeda getting some love. Photo: Ederson Ferreira.
Viki was instrumental in helping the Overground event be a part of the World Circuit, great shot of Viki translating during the riders meeting with James McGraw and others. Photo by Ederson Ferreira.
11-The level of the latin riders is amazing! None follows the new trend of McCircle, steam roller and McCircle. It felt like the good old freestyle days where everyone was doing their own business.
11-El nivel de los riders latinos es increíble! Todo el mundo es original y nadie sigue las nuevas modas de steam roller, mccircle y time machines. Me recordó a los buenos viejos tiempos donde cada uno hacia lo suyo.
12-Mateus has so many tricks! He always looks so serious, but it s wrong! He is focus! He landed for the first time 1 hand hitchhiker kick flip just for the photo!
12-Mateus tiene muchos trucos! Siempre parece muy serio, pero esto no es verdad. Siempre esta concentrado! Cayo por primera vez y para la foto 1 hand hitchhiker kick flip.
13-Ucchie made the best run I ever saw him doing in a contest. Well deserved to be World Champion!
13-Ucchie hizo la mejor ronda que jamas le haya visto hacer en un campeonato. Bien merecido el campeonato mundial!
14-In Sao Paulo you party until the sun comes up at 6:00 am.
14-En Sao Paulo sales de fiesta hasta que sale el sol a las 06:00 am.
15-Making this contest in Brazil will change the future of Flatland! Everyone is so motivated!
15-EL haber hecho este campeonato en Brazil cambiara el futuro del Flatland! Todo el mundo esta muy motivado!
Bruni Zebu kills it! Mid half packer pivot to xft hitch, photo by Willi Flat.
16-The trophy is the biggest and heaviest I ever got! Luckily I had a extra bag to pack it right!
16-El trofeo es el mas grande y pesado que jamas he tenido! Por suerte tenia una maleta extra donde lo pude meter!
17-Sometimes I wish people in the first world would be as friendly, thankful and genuine as they are in less advanced countries. Big lesson to learn everytime!
17-A veces me gustaría que la gente del primer mundo fuese tan amable, agradecia y genuina como lo son en países menos avanzados. Siempre es un importante lección que aprender!
18-Next year I will be back to Brazil and the contest will be held in the city center. Most convinient for everybody!
18-El próximo año regresare a Brasil y el campeonato será en el centro de la ciudad. Mas conveniente para todo el mundo!
19- I went to swim at the beach in front of Neymar´s house in Guaruja. Good waves for Surfing!
19-Tuve la oportunidad de nadar en la playa en frente de la casa de Neymar en Guaruja. Buenas olas para surfear!
20-Thank you everyone who made this epic trip and contest possible! GG.M, Red Bull Brazil, G Shock Brazil, Tenga, Freegun, Sony, MUF, ESPN Brazil, Fox Sports,etc! All the international riders from Japan and US! All the latin riders who were several days in a bus to come to the contest! Big respect for that! Let’s make a better contest next year!
20-Gracias a todo el mundo que hizo posible este viaje y campeonato! GG.M, Red Bull Brasil, G Shock Brasil, Tenga, Freegun, Sony, MUF, ESPN Brasil, Fox Sports, etc! Gracias a todos los riders internacionales que vinieron desde Japon, EEUU y sobre todo a los riders latinos que viajaron desde tan lejos, alguno estando mas de 2 dias en un autobús! RESPETO!!! Hagamos entre todos un mejor evento el próximos año!
Riders meeting, photo by Ederson Ferreira.
A pensive Bekko waits for his run, photo by Ederson Ferreira.
Mateus Beckmann, Suicide Bunnyhop, photo by Pedro Amora.
BMX brings us together to ride, but it also brings us together to experience life. Aloha Jam is not a contest, but it is more than just a jam, it’s a BMX Holiday. Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. Aloha Spirit flows through this community and even with the island itself. With Hawaii as the backdrop, we all got to experience the Aloha Spirit!
Todd Carter, Photo by Jeff Cox Photography.
“I decided to go to Aloha jam mainly to experience the Hawaiian Bmx community. I had heard stories about what a tight knit group of riders exists there, and I wanted to check it out. Honestly, the community completely blew my expectations out of the water. I experienced riders who seem to support each other no matter what kind of setup they ride. The group supports riders across all bmx disciplines, and they genuinely want to hang out with each other. New school and old school co-exist. I was inspired and refreshed with a true experience of Aloha. And a renewed hope, that our bmx communities, though we have work to do, can more tightly support each other. ”
“I think the Aloha Jam showed the people here in Hawaii how something so different & out of the ordinary can make such a positive impact. Also how cool this sport is and how it is growing across the world…and to reach places like Hawaii, it’s simply amazing.”
Derek and Bobby, dual xft mega spins.
“It was amazing. The jam was great. The spot was out of this world. Beautiful aesthetics combined with a smooth flat surface made for a great riding day. My wife and I went on a shark cage dive where we saw a bunch of galapagos sharks. We went to Waimea Valley and swam in a natural swim hole under a waterfall. We went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay and saw sea turtles, coral reefs and all kinds of fish. We made a failed attempt at body boarding in the North Shore. We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center for an authentic Hawaiian luau and saw a great show. The island has so much to offer. We had a blast. A trip/BMX Holiday we’ll never forget.”
Christina Lapsley (Steve’s Wife)
“I really enjoyed spending the day at Hanauma Bay with the group who came. We don’t normally get to hang out that much at contests while everyone is focused on riding & competing. Additionally, I was welcomed with open arms by the other riders and their families while in Hawaii and they made a point to get to know me. I felt included & hope more wives and families will come in the future!”
Photo: Steve Lapsley.
“Aloha jam has given me clarity. bringing together the heart of BMX, like when Eaton said something to the effect of “just wanting to create that feeling of riding”, I know I am sure that I want to continue in the journey of BMX, its not about the wave, its the journey. We had all factions of BMX present. In the evolution of BMX style it would seem the ‘new ways’ are not segregated and the physics are all blending into each other as if there were no separate disciplines. As a child I never knew ‘this’ riding or ‘that’ riding. We may have joked about what a ‘true’ biker is, but freestyle is just that, and has no boundaries”
“The most memorable thing, well its hard to pick one for there were so many amazing adventures. Let’s start with the overall vacation. First I was blown away by the landscape especially the majestic mountains and the turquoise ocean which includes the marine life. Second was going out with Adam Jung for the early morning photoshoot and seeing all the rainbows and then traveling to the north shore that day (that entire day was overall the best day for me). Third was meeting all the riders who were just super friendly and seeing how tight the BMX community really is over there. In terms of Aloha Jam day, it was the vibe, the BMX community getting together. seeing everyone and meeting new folks. riding, eating all day, and being on TV.”
Dennis Toyoda (Dennis is on the left in the photo recovering from back surgery, in the photo above he’s with the first generation of flatland riders in Hawaii.)
“Da jam wuz awesome! Good seeing everyone from old skool to new skool! Hopefully I can ride da next Aloha Jam! Shoots, Brah!”.
“I am absolutely, positively, certain, that I want more of this type of travel in my life. It was a nonstop adventure and discovery on all levels. The Aloha Jam event itself was awesome, but it was everything else we did and all the new friends we made that made me certain I was living life to the fullest in a meaningful kind of way. I definitely want more of this.”
“It was an amazing sight. I started riding in 1984 and quit around 1989 so I missed the whole forward rolling, brakeless era. I started riding again back in 2011 and have been trying to get uma bay shot here???
“I really enjoyed spending the day at Hanauma Bay with the group who came. We don’t normally get to hang out that much at contests while everyone is focused on riding & competing. Additionally, I was welcomed with open arms by the other riders and their families while in Hawaii and they made a point to get to know me. I felt included & hope more wives and families will come in the future!”.
“I love the scene here and the riding spots. I’ve been coming out here to ride and surf for about ten years. So, I finally bought a one way ticket to stay and it’s worked out better than I could have imagined. Aloha Jam was a lot of fun, but I was kinda buss from doing it big the night before. Definitely got me stoked to ride my new Intrikat set-up! Let’s do it again. Shoots brah!”
“The jam was great! Positive vibes all day! The news coverage definitely helped BMX get noticed more! Can’t wait till next year!”
With 10 years of the Voodoo Jam going down this weekend in New Orleans, Scott just wrote this article about what it means to him, the friendships he has made, & a whole lot more. If you can’t make it to the Voodoo Jam, you can celebrate with them by watching the lifestream. Read on!
In 2004 I had an idea about having a contest in a club with spectators being close to the riders so everyone could feel the energy and create a special experience. The idea was to highlight my love for riding with my friends and show the world that Flatland can be highly entertaining. I wanted people to feel the love that Flatland BMX has for life. Flatland is about friendships, hard work, artistic values, athletic abilities, mental strength and most of all its amazing life experiences. Red Bull believed in the passion I had so they stood behind me to create The Voodoo Jam.!
There was a problem with the 2004 Voodoo Jam, we could not find an MC for the event and I could not trust just anyone with my vision. We had some names, but I was so afraid that my vision would not be brought to life the way I wanted it to be. So I ended up just taking control of this part of the contest even though I was the organizer. I never MC’ed for an event before in my life. I had no idea my passion for riding could just come out like that and I am so honored for the life experiences since that day.!
So, here I am 10 years later reflecting on these past Voodoo Jams. I think about the impact it has had on Flatland and many riders in this world fueling my sport in so many ways. My friendships have grown strong because of Voodoo Jam. Most of all, Terry Adams and I have something together with Voodoo Jam that you can’t put a price on in life. The impact that Voodoo Jam has had on my life is hard to put into words, but since that day,in 2004, I would not have these friends, I would not have these experiences and most of all, I would not have this amazing outlook on life. Voodoo Jam has given my family a global view of life and for that I am forever grateful. !
Life can be what you want it to be, go out there and get it. Flatland BMX is one of the most amazing things on earth and if you truly believe in that, you will get so much back from it. Get out there and experience it!!!
Thanks to all the riders, sponsors, friends and family that have made Voodoo Jam possible.!
Much Love, !
Some of you have been waiting for TSB14 for some time, but do you know who´s the brain behind it? We (Sietse and Navid) stayed in Helsinki for the video premiere of TSB14 and for the legendary Flatstyles jam the day after. Julius, the maker of the TSB series, was our host for these days. During our stay, before the premiere, he was VERY busy with the last things for TSB14. Who is this guy who makes one of the best web videos for years? A small interview with Julius Salo, creator of the TSB series:
Tell us about yourself please? Who are you, what do you do?
J: I’ m Julius, I’m living in flatland capital of Finland: Helsinki.
25 years old, started get into BMX around 2003. I work at a local bike shop and I’m doing some video projects besides that.
Can you tell us about the video projects you did? Where did you get the inspiration from to make TSB14?
J: My first flatland video was about showing the scene we having fun, nothing serious. I did a couple of movies like ’SCuFF THaT SHiT’ and ’I Don’t Quite Get It’. I see many small clips like progression clips on the internet. I didn’t want to get my videos got lost on the internet. That’s why I choose to make bigger edits.
When i made some courses in film school i got more inspiration from Finnish cool looking snowboard videos like ’Elekrep’ . I wanted to try something with the same kind of style, then I started ’ Too Small Bikes’ around 2010. It was a success among the riders, and I developed an addiction for making more videos. After the second and third one, which are kind of mixtape with different riders and styles i wanted to make something new.
TSB14 is a little bit different compared to previous TSB videos. Riders have their own part. I tried to make each part look like the rider by the music and way of editing & color grading. For TSB14 I had the help of the sound designer Tomi Hyyppä. He did an amazing job with the sounds!
Talking about web video’s, what’s your favorite video on the web?
J: Church of Pedro Melo.
You put a lot of work in TSB14. How much exactly?
J: First clips were filmed in 2012 and last 2014.
But how much time i used exactly… I don’t want to even think about it
What is your future plans regarding the TSB series?
J: I don’t know yet, but definitely something different. You will see!
Thank you Julius! Any shout outs?
J: I would like to thank :
All flatland riders worldwide for the support!!!
All the music maker who let me use their awesome sounds!
Super thanks to Tomi Hyyppä!
All the riders in the video!
My lovely girlfriend who has let me sit all the time in front of my computer!
Everyone who has helped me in anyway with this project!
Thanks to all my riding buddies for being such a good friends!!
Thanks to Sietse and Navid for this interview and being so great guys!
Thanks to Flatmatters!
This year marked 30 years of BMX events in Cologne, so for this years repo why not have 30 points about the contest I thought. I hope you enjoy this break down of what went on this year in Cologne.
Dominik Nekolny, xft juggler combo. Photo: Peter Steffen.
1) Cologne – one of the best cities in the world to visit with a huge tradition in BMX. 30 years of contests is an amazing achievement, moving with the times the whole way along the way trying to new things each year to keep the event fresh is a tough task. The beautiful architecture of the city is something to be experienced, whether the iconic Cathedral just across the river. Or the laid-back culture, the art in the city (parking lot on building -see photo is one of my favourites.) The bridge with padlocks all the way along is a must see if you ever in this city. So much to see, and despite being there so many times, always new things to see and experience.
2) Jugendpark – you really would be hard pushed to find a venue as suitable for such a big contest. The ride down the spiralled walkway still gives me goosebumps as all the memories come flooding back as you approach the park. Argueably the biggest contest of the year, there is something about the atmosphere there that cannot be explained unless you are there. The Wimbledon of BMX.
3) BMX- flatland right in the mix with the BMX family is a beautiful thing and a huge part of why this contest is so well respected. BMX is so much stronger, when we are altogether.
4)Bumper Cars- I am sure everyone was curious, will the bumper car flatland area work? If you weren’t there, I will tell you now it was the best floor yet in Cologne. Solid foundation for the wooden floor + really good size floor, room for spectators without losing contest area space, tight dj set up, this was as dialled as I have seen in Cologne!
5)Judging – As always judging can be tough, especially with 54 riders to look at in the prelims. Stretching over 5 hours, of course not everyone can be happy with judging decisions that is the nature of the subjective beast. Scott O’Brien to his credit did make it well known in his press release the judges were looking for originality, difficulty, and progression, so the philosophy was clear.
6)New format- Scott and Alex Jumelin set about a new format to try and push more progressive riding in contests. Linking the traditional 3 minute run that Cologne is known for with a bonus round to determine your final score. It was interesting to see how this format unfolded, with a lil’ tweaking this format can work a lot better I am sure. Perhaps holding the 1 minute bonus round right after each riders run, so that it is directly obvious for the audience?
7) Rayk Hahne is a beast. Qualifying first with an amazing no touch run switching front to back wheel and vice versa with so much power in the Am class, right before his finals run he suffered a flat tyre which knocked him off tune a lil’ bit, regardless of that he managed to take the third place spot. Congratulations Rayk.
8- Wow! Michele Maiolani!!!! Qualifying second in the Am class, Michele had an amazing flawless final run to take the win! He dropped one of the tricks of the contest in his run, a bar grab pedal one handed 5 coasted across the contest floor with ease, jaw dropping! Search his name on the sidebar of the site if you are unsure who he is. This guy is the real deal, such a calm rolling style! This guy could make the jump to Pro Class with ease. Check his run above.
9) Pro Qualifying was stacked with 54 riders, Alex Jumelin taking the top spot with one of the best runs of his life touching once. Starting out with his spinning scuffing pedal picker was a brave mood, and that worked from him! Qualifying lasted 5 hours, it was so great to see so many pro riders in attendance and also considering quite a few heavy hitters not in attendance (Adam Kun, Matthias Dandois, Viki Gomez, Yohei Uchino, Hiroya Morizaki, I could go on…) Some said it was the easiest year to win in Cologne, but first you had to get past 53 others, great turnout!
10) The spanish army were in full effect this year! If there were an award for a nation dominating the event, this years would have gone to the Spanish. Five riders making into the Am final, Mario Garcia Correas had the run of his life to take a well deserved second place and send all his friends into a frenzy, it was a beautiful moment. Alberto Moya and Guelo Monzon both killed it in prelims to earn a well deserved spot in the pro finals. The spanish army made so much noise, giving a lot of support to all the riders. Much respect to these guys and the energy they bring to flatland!
11) The ritual premiere on friday night documented 30 years of BMX Cologne contests was an amazing touch to the contest. So much history, so many faces in attendance from all generations of BMX. If you can get hold of a copy, I suggest you do so, it is a great story. Definitely one for the collection.
Amazing crowds every year in Cologne!
12) Raphael Chiquet – Raph had an awesome qualifying run stomping an awesome spinning caboose body varial directly into xft gerator body varial with so much style. Great to see the former world champion back on his bike and having so much fun too.
13) James White – Had the run of his life to take a well earned fourth place, James came out to the “Don’t call it a comeback” and it really set the tone of his run jamming to LL Cool J “Mama said knock you out” and brought the house down when he rode out of his flawless routine in his legendary slow controlled style. The man is a total legend, and did it all with a smile on his face. What an amazing advert James is for flatland! Performance of the weekend? James really brought the heat up in the final.
14) George Manos – It seems everyone loves to talk about George, I lost count how many times people asked me what do you think about George? Well, when you are so different than everyone else you stand out so much more, whether it was it his choice of music, or the short hard links. The xft foot ride to front and back no footed crackpacker during the finals was a beautiful moment. I respect George for being brave enough, to say “here is MY riding”. How many people can say its there riding?
15) Alex Jumelin – Qualifying first at the last two big contests, it didn’t quite happen for Alex during the finals. he did finish strong with rollback boomerang to pedals keeping the rollback going to stem boomerang to pedals. He also dropped a double brakeless pinky right on the buzzer in the bonus round to earn him a 5th place spot.
16) Dominik Nekolny – I said this many times over the last two years, you beat Dominik and win the contest. Dom threw down an amazing 3 minute run and nailed his bonus round combo to a well deserved win that I am sure he has been dreaming about for a long time! Congratulations Dom!
Moya, all tweaked out! So stylish!
17) Moto Sasaki arrived Friday for the contest, and like all the top riders threw it down when it mattered. Moto is so dialled, it has been quite a year for him already. Getting on Monster, three amazing video parts, and a second place finish at BMX Cologne to add to his contest resume.
18) I met Shintaro Misawa right as I got off the plane at Koln airport on Thursday. I wondered if he could translate his incredible videos this year to the contest floor, the answer this time was no. It wasn’t to be his day, the around the world halfpacker he nailed in qualifying was absolutely beautiful, one of my favourite tricks from the whole contest, for now he got 14th place. But he will be back!
19) Scott O’Brien worked his ass off to make sure everything ran on time, and killing it on the mic throughout the three days in such hot weather is not an easy job! During the finals Scott’s energy somehow went up a gear despite all the partying and his voice beginning to go. When the bonus round was threatening to be cancelled due to an electrical storm on its way, Scott continued on and got the job done! And helped make this one of the best contests I have ever been to! Thank you Scott!
Moto Sasaki, spinning hang 10 during qualifying warm up.
20) Bumping into old/new faces is one of my favourite things about the Cologne event, from all walks of BMX throughout the four days of being there. You see people you might not see for another year, great this year to see OG Marton, Frank Lucas, Mike S very briefly (he was helping organise a street event in Munich), Bram Verhallen, great to see the japanese contingent,
21) Lajos Sinko has like a cult status in Cologne. Every year he brings his carpet to be signed by all the riders, he has 15 years worth of these to his collection. This year he drove to the contest with James McGraw and Dave Szabo, the 2013 expert world champion to compete in the expert class, and add to his collection.
22) Ah yes, James McGraw as always was a barrel of laughs. Whether its pointing at me as he was about to do a backwards grip ride mid run, or his fake hungarian hollering at Lajos Sinko, it’s always a good time hanging out with this guy. And I didn’t get snaked once! And he almost lost his hair to James Whites scissors. (Check that photo)
23) The tension at this contest is nothing like I have experienced, I think its the reason this contest has so much draw to it. Many a rider have crumbled around the pressure, its something you really have to experience to know truly what I am talking about.
24) Phil Dolan made his comeback to the contest scene and it wasn’t quite the return he was hoping for. But it was great for all to see Phil back in the contest arena where he belongs, I hope we see Phil sooner rather than later back out there. And of course the non stop banter that goes with that.
Your host for the event, Scott O’Brien.
25) Vapianos was the place to go and hang out for food and drinks most of the nights, any time you get together with your flatland friends you don’t see everyday is a good day!
26) Hector Garcia helped a ton behind the scenes with the contest, and we had non stop laughs with this guy especially when he mistook Shintaro for Moto. But all the work behind the scenes tabulating scores, bringing food and drink for the judges was greatly appreciated. Thank you Hector.
27) The two small bikes crew were in full effect once again in Cologne, Aleksi Ritsilla narrowly missing the cut with a nice ET nose manual combo, Aapo Airas went for some of the hardest tricks in the Am class, it wasn’t the best run but he did hit a hang 10 360 flip to halfpacker pivot to opposite xft hitch right at the end of his run. The finnish guys always have a blast!
This shot captures the feel of practise, Martin Drazil busting out.
28) Tanja Michelinchen deserves a hefty pat on the back, this lady for me is part of the main reason the BMX Cologne contests work so well. Working tirelessly behind the scenes, whether it’s booking flights, hotels, food and drinks, shuttles to and from the airport, liasing back and forth with riders, judges, this lady does it so well! Thank you Tanja for everything once again!
29) The weather this year was perfect, it was so hot everyday! The event almost got shutdown during the dramatic bonus round of Pro Flat finals which is why the livestream went off. But Scott pulled through and kept going to get it done. And even then the weather changed and came out nice again, we left to pouring rain on the Monday so I think we timed it well this time.
30) 30 years more of BMX Cologne events would be great, but one thing is for sure these guys who are involved year to year running the contest have made their mark on BMX and flatland forever. Thank you to everyone who is involved with the event, from Stephan at the top to bottom. Hope to be back next year for another amazing time in the Jugendpark.
Maybe you were at the contest, what was your highlight? Let us know in the comments.
Todd Carter, pedal death truck on his way to 5th in the Bad Ass class.
Sunday July 20th was a great day for the flatland scene.
The 5th annual Flatland Fracas went down just outside of Boston Massachusetts. I have been a fan of the New England flatland scene for decades, so I was honored to be a small part of it for a day.
The location was a super smooth street hockey rink in East Bridgewater.
Some really nice basketball courts directly next to the rink, made it a great location for families to come and hang out. It was great to see some New England flatland legends in attendance like Tommy Simpson.
We dodged some light raindrops first thing in the morning, but made it through the whole day with a dry surface!
First up was the “Pretty Good Class” (beginner). It was encouraging to see 8 riders from three different states battling it out. Colin Carter pulled a whiplash rebate on his way to first place. Camden Carter brought out his Miami Hopper spin variation and locked down a solid second place. Massachusetts’ own Ian Hicks has mega-spins dialed! He took third place.
Special shout out to Mike Reynolds, who went down hard in his first run. Mike ended up with a broken ankle. Heal up quickly Mike!
Jim Cavanaugh killed it at Fracas 2014, 7th place in Bad Ass.
Next up was the “Real Good Class” (intermediate). 13 riders took the floor with a ton of trick diversity and style. New Hampshire’s Scott Denocourt took home the win, with a smooth style. Scott Duszlak of Massachusetts rolled into second place, and Freddy Brown also of Massachusetts spun his way to a well earned third place, while also celebrating his 30th birthday! One highlight for me, was seeing Mike Nogueira riding in this class, while watching his son Mannie getting ready to ride in the next class. Mannie was all smiles during his Dad’s run, and it was a joy to see them celebrate together, after his Dad rolled off the contest floor.
After the intermediate class finished, the event organizers brought in 28 large pizzas for lunch! Wow!
The “Bad Ass Class” (expert / pro) got underway shortly after lunch, and as the temperature began to increase, so did the level of riding. Quest BMX’s Danny Sirkin set the tone for the class of 13, with a nearly perfect run. New York’s Masashi Itani has some incredible back wheel pivot flow. He took first place. Massachusetts’ Rich Upjohn brought back some impressive undertaker combos, with a snappy, effortless style. Rich got second place. California’s Gabe Kadmiri is such a joy to watch. His aggressive, and original style blends power and technical flow. Gabe got a solid third place. Some other highlights for me included, Brian Chapman pulling a hitchhiker kickflip in his run! Jim Cavanaugh having so much back wheel style and flow, he just keeps going! Sunny Singh and his insane time machine variations.
The Best Trick contest followed quickly after the third class, and it was uniquely judged by the crowd reaction. Pretty cool! Riders pooled together the cash, and in the end Masashi Itani rode away with the $130 US Dollars.
It’s important to note that Flatland Fracas 5 was a completely free event. No entry fees, free lunch, free water and other drinks, and some of the best prize packs that I have seen at contests in recent memory. It is clear that Rick MacDonald (and others) puts in an amazing amount of time on this contest each year. At last count, I noticed more than 40 sponsors! That is incredibly generous and encouraging to me. So please let me speak from a riders perspective, thank you sponsors for all each of you have done. It truly makes a difference in our lives, and the lives of the next generation of riders. I am humbled and grateful for your generosity. Thank you Flatland Fracas for a great experience. See you next year.
1. Colin Carter (OH)
2. Camden Carter (OH)
3. Ian Hicks (MA)
4. Mike Fink (MA)
5. Luke Hammerquist (MA)
6. Max Bowes (MA)
7. Stephen Toomey (MA)
8. Mike Reynolds (ME)
1. Scott Denoncourt (NH)
2. Scott Duszlak (MA)
3. Freddy Brown (MA)
4. Rick MacDonald (MA)
5. David Alden (MA)
6. Shane Reed (MA)
7. Trent Chavez (CT)
8. Andrew Duszlak (MA)
9. Andrew Parrish (CT)
10. Tommy Williams (MA)
11. Jesse Hicks (MA)
12. Jim Bowes (MA)
13. Mike Nogueira (MA)
1. Masashi Itani (Japan/NY)
2. Rich Upjohn (MA)
3. Gabe Kadmiri (VT/CA)
4. Brian Chapman (RI)
5. Todd Carter (CA)
6. Danny Sirkin (OH)
7. Jim Cavanaugh (MA)
8. Seongtaek Kwon (MA)
9. Mannie Nogueira (MA)
9. Sunny Singh (MA)
11. Steve Jordan (MA)
12. John Simmons (GA/NY)
Best Trick: Masashi Itani (Japan/NY)
Thanks to all the sponsors for their support!
QuestBMX, PorkchopBMX, DK, Freegun, Flatlandfuel, St Martin, Bizhouse, Cheap goods BMX, Bhoodwear, Deco, Animal, Planet Airin, Boston Bikeguy, Profile,, Vita Coco, EC BMX, G-form, Colony, Tables and fables, Port Jeff Bike Dr, Primo, FBM, Remorse, Skizz, Reklamation Bikes, Daily Grind, Southbridge, east Coast Threads, DMBS, Odyssey, S&M, Tyrant, Etnies and Joe Cicman!
I first met Simon O’Brien back in 2012 at the Red Bull Circle of Balance. As one of the main photographers for the event I was asked to take portraits of all the riders, and I was able to use this time to get to know Simon. As we are both interested in Japan we hit it off right away and had a great time during the competition.
Fast forward to present day, and imaging my surprise (and excitement) when Simon e-mails me and lets me know he is in Tokyo for a bit and looking to get some shots in. Great! Having just quit my day job to be a pro-photog I jumped at the chance to shoot with Simon in Tokyo, and headed up from my home in Kyoto as soon as our schedules matched up. As it turned out we would only have 2 days to meet up and shoot, but this was enough to get some cool shots in the can that we were both happy with.
The first day had us meeting in Tokyo’s Asakusa, an older area of Tokyo that still has the old school flavour from decades ago. With zero spots in mind and no real plan at all we started to wander, but it didn’t really take too long to come across some cool streets with that old school flavour. I was even able to get the new Tokyo Skytree in the background of a shot! After a couple spots and hours of shooting, some foul weather started rolling in, and it started to thunder and rain. Perfect time for lunch!
Finding a local udon shop we sat and chatted while waiting out the rain. Of course actually shooting photos is the best part of these rider sessions, but sitting and enjoying some hot udon with an X-Games gold medalist is a nice was to spend a day too. Simon is really interested in learning more Japanese, and since I have lived here for over 10 years and am pretty fluent, it was fun giving him pointers and teaching a little of what I know.
Once we were done the streets had dried so we were out shooting again. Things pretty much went like this for the rest of the day, ducking the rain, finding random spots, having a quick beer, chatting with locals (who were really enthusiastic with Simon’s riding) and generally having a great time. We even got some great weather in the end to finish off an amazing day.
A couple days later we were able to meet up again and headed into Shibuya, Tokyo’s shopping district for young people, to see what we could find. After getting kicked out of our first spot we decided to head over to Yoyogi Park, and were lucky enough to find some pretty sweet spots there. Although Simon may not have been riding full time this last year as he was in the Navy, he is super professional and was always willing to try for “one more shot.” And even if we had to wait for people to walk by and that it was never a problem.
After shooting a few spots in Yoyogi Park we wandered through Harajuku (TOO MANY POEPLE TO SHOOT!) and ended up at the famous BMX shop Decade Tokyo. This is a mecca for flat land BMX in Japan so it was great to visit and meet the owner. If you ever visit Tokyo you must visit this place and say hi! I know I will be stopping by the next time I’m in the city.
After getting a late lunch with the owner of Decade we decided to change areas and headed over to Kita Senju where Simon was going to be staying with some local BMX riders. After chatting with the riders it sounded like there were a couple local spots where we could get the lit-up Skytree in the background, so we headed out into the night, this time on bikes! My legs were happy we were not walking, that’s for sure.
Our first spot had us shooting on this really wide pedestrian bridge just up river from the Skytree. This was a great spot as the bridge was crazy wide, and pedestrians rather few. Using a slow shutter with my speed lights we were able to capture some really cool shots that I have never really taken before, but as the clouds were coming in and we wanted to try one more location that night we decided to ride on. Through Simon’s friend’s suggestion we actually ended up riding back all the way to Asakusa to try and hit up the temple at night. There are several areas of the temple that would have been great to shoot, but we could only get two spots due to the rain, and the local police finally kicking us out, just after I got my favourite shot from the two days of shooting too!
With the shoot done we decided to try our luck with getting our bikes on the train home (as it was raining pretty good by then), but let me tell you, garbage bags are NOT a replacement for proper BMX bike bags, and there is no way you can get a regular bike on the train. Trust me, we tried, and failed, hahaha.
In the end I am super happy with the two days of shooting, and glad that I was able to get to know Simon even better than when we first met at the Red Bull Circle of Balance. He is a super nice guy and I really hope we can shoot again while he is still in Japan.