Category Archive: Lifestyle

Repo: 30 Years of BMX Cologne

Intro/Text: Effraim.
Photos: Peter Steffen.

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.


Dub – One in a Billion Music Video

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Alex Jumelin – Biarritz Photo Gallery

Alex hooked up with photographer Brice Daraut whilst he was travelling through Biarritz, France. Check out a few of the shots he kindly sent in. Hit up Alex’s blog for more nice photographs!

FVM #08 -The summer is in

The summer is in, and FVM celebrate with episode #08 featuring a ton of great riding from Japan from the likes of Yohei Uchino, York Uno, Takayuki Iwate, Yuichi Ill Tamiya and many more. Enjoy!

SpaceArk BMX School

Kenshiro Ojima just put together this nice edit from the SpaceArk BMX School in Kobe, Japan! These are always fun to watch!

Team SpaceArk – Okayama Trip

Team SpaceArk not only put on flatland workshops in Kobe, Japan. They also go on roadtrips to session and meet new riders, check out this great edit that not only shows you plenty of amazing riding from the Okayama locals, but also a lil’ lifestyle feel as well! Japan!!

Decade of Voodoo

Decade of Voodoo from Erik Otto on Vimeo.

Erik Otto did a great job capturing the Voodoo jam vibe from Generations Hall to Bourbon Street in this “Decade of Voodoo” hype edit! Ten years of Voodoo jam is approaching fast, who’s ready?

C3 Jam Osaka Japan

Nothing but good times at the C3 jam in Osaka, Japan with the next generation of young kids coming through the ranks!

Ucchie in LA – FREEGUN x

Check out this dope lifestyle edit with Freegun’s Yohei Uchino, the back wheel switch around 00:50/00:52 is so good!

Simon O’Brien in Tokyo by Jason Halayko

Text/Photos: Jason Halayko

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.

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