Photos: Effraim, Michael King, Joe Cicman.
As I begin this repo somewhere above Ohio airspace on route to New York returning from my week long Guru jam experience. I’m filled with nothing, but positive thoughts. The week I was out in Columbus Ohio flew by, the stress of forgetting to renew my esta at London Heathrow the previous week was far in the back of my mind.
For all of those that do not know, this contest came about a result of Texas Toast dropping flatland this year. The am flat circuit needed a final round to complete the series, Joe Cicman stepped up to the plate at his own personal riding facility in Columbus, Ohio. I almost want to thank Texas Toast for dropping flatland, otherwise the Guru jam might not have been born. Anyone else feel that?
When Joe came to the King of Concrete contest back In August, we talked about his event and the underlying thing I took out of it was this was truly an independent flatland contest, personal touches to almost everything from practise sessions, contest structure, music, trophies, prizes and of course it’s Joe’s personal riding spot which is the icing on the cake. The guru jam was a coming together of his close knit friends, his girlfriend Angie, Todd Carter, Scott Nagy, Danny Sirkin, Steve Lapsley and the AM Flat crew, Catfish. Then you have judges such as Bryan Huffman, Art Thomason, myself, Chad Degroot, and last but not least DJ Mark Eaton blazing the Dorkin’ soundtracks all day! This is what can happen when good friends get together for the love of flatland and having a good time. A crew of friends making it happen, each bringing a skill or more than one to the table.
From Todd Carter with the Guru jam logo, Angie with day to day decisions back and forth with Joe, Scott Nagy with the livestream, Danny Sirkin working on sponsors and arranging Mark Eaton to DJ, Steve Lapsley and the AM Flat Circuit crew with their behind the scenes help prior/during/after the contest, and of course Catfish blazing on the mic.
The daily hype tweets from Joe, memes on instagram, and general social media building up to the event, during, and after, the incense sticks burning throughout, this was all Joe’s personal take on how-to run a contest. And this was great to see, a rider putting his own personal touches to his own event. It’s a brave move, and one I respect a lot having run a lot my own contests too. If you aren’t in Joe’s circle of friends, you might be puzzled with all the memes. I was amazed that there’s a story behind each one.
If you followed the Guru jam diaries I posted on the site leading up to and during the event, you will have a general feel for what went down day to day. If not I’lll briefly go into it. From Tuesday onwards riders were arriving daily from all across the United States and Canada, whilst this was all going on Joe was off working his normal 9-5 job with good friend Scott Nagy manning the Terradome so riders could session. The vibe was growing everyday, by Friday it was electric in the building. Non stop sessions all day everyday, plenty of snaking going down, yeah I’m calling you out McGraw? In fact I might now call it doing a “McGraw”. Or as Joe would meme, “your doing a McGraw bro?” It was all fun, it was all banter and all added to the event.
On the Friday I teamed up with Joe and Danny to talk all things guru jam for the latest Flat Web TV live from the Terradome. It was exciting to drop the Deco news on the show. Good times!
One of the highlights of the event for me was watching Todd Carter’s kids bust out, but also ride with respect for other flatlanders “space”, something that many older flatlanders could learn something from and definitely James McGraw could. Sorry McGraw,I couldn’t resist. Let’s call it flatland etiquette. These kids, Camden, T-bone, and Colin all had it. Beautiful to see! I hooked the kids up with Deco grips and some stickers, these kids are awesome! And with a father figure like Todd to look up to, the future is looking bright! Really psyched to see what comes from these kids, Camden lit up the Terradome with emotion, two flawless runs in Novice and took a well deserved third place podium finish. I say Emotion because if you were watching the livestream at home I hope you could see riders cheering for each other, the warmth I felt from the flatland community during this event was almost tear worthy. In fact I hear a few came close to shedding a tear or two during Camden’s runs particularly..
This event made me think about the importance of a contest series in your country, seeing all the riders chasing year end points but maintaining respect for each other I must say touched me. It was humbling to see. Four girls competed in the Novice class, Kim Klisiak who runs the WOF website brought some smooth squeakers to her runs, Liberty Armstrong pumped barhops a’la frontyard position on her nice white Junglerider bike, Lona Adams from York, PA was psyched ending up 5th, and even rolling hitchhikers and backwards backpackers in practise, you gotta get into them now Lona! , and Paula Callery.
The real story of the Novice class were the young kids riding, Tyler Daum did clean front wheel to backwards bar hops in both runs, hard not to say “Dammmmmnnnn”. No pun intended I promise, but very impressive! Colin Carter had super smooth runs but a couple of touches held him back, I have a feeling the Carter kids will be back! Alex Kornowski made the 8-10 hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin with his dad, this kid had super smooth runs, linking up nicely and taking a well earned 4th place. Third place went to Camden Carter who I already mentioned had two flawless runs, and actually he was the only rider to have two clean runs all day! So much style from someone so young on his swivel boomerangs!
Paula Callery came all the way from Vancouver for the event, and kicked ass with a really smooth rolling style. I especially liked her backwards hang five swing round to fork wheelie without scuffing. Stomped with proper style, so dope! A well deserved second place for Paula. First place to Kevin Washington from Cary, North Carolina who had a flawless second run, smooth controlled hang tens, and steezie hop 3’s. Kevin also took the year end title in the Novice class. Congratulations Kevin!
Vet Class was up next and a good turnout for the old timers at 17 riders deep! Catfish put down the mic, and passed it over to his good friend, Dane Beardsley whilst borrowing Dane’s bike he hit a sick brakeless rolaid and screamed “Go Michigan!” to the bemused crowd in Columbus. Yellow came all the Colorado and may be the only flatlander I know that can go ten feet on a quarter and roll no foot cliffs around the whole contest area, so good! Much respect Yellow!! One of my favourite moments of the day was Mark Eaton on the decks whilst Brett Downs was out on the contest floor, “The Plywood Hoods” do I need to say more? Brett tore it up and considering this was his first contest in ten years, I was amazed at his composure. It is also worth mentioning that Brett had some of the best rideouts of the entire day to not to mention very little deadtime between each combo! Hope to see much more of Brett at future contests. So stoked to see him ride. The Vet class was all about the smith decade as I think back, Jake Umberger, Derek Callendar, Danny Sirkin and many more all threw them in their runs! Classic move and these guys had them down pat.
The top 2 in Vet class were Mark McGrade and Quest BMX’s Danny Sirkin, who both had amazing runs, Mark has a really nice rolling inside circles style lacing together a great second run, whereas Danny has a more compact link everything together kind of style that reminded of DMC back in the day complete with a lil’ raditude to boot. I’ve heard a lot of debate about the Vet class, and now from first hand experience I can definitely say it has its place at contests like this. It for sure catered for a lot of the older riders, that might not have entered which is surely a good thing.
(Lil intermission from writing on the plane- back in the UK now).
The day was well and truly hotting up and the Expert class was up next. If you were watching live stream you will know that the atmosphere was electric. Great turnout of 21 riders plus the support for each rider from rider to rider continued, such a good vibe. A lot of faces were new to me, so thats always interesting as I truly didn’t know what to expect. And case in point with the winner, Austin Luberda, he tore it up with some of the biggest bars of the day to the sounds of Fugazi with a flawless run full of front and back wheel turbines with great style, this guy has a bright future. I heard plenty of discussion about Austin being pro soon, I hope Austin gives it some time and doesn’t feel too pressured. I think in a year or two you could be looking at a new legit American pro on the contest circuit!
In the second spot, a rider I’ve seen for years on video but never met, Ivan Adamiec from York, PA. I’m not exactly sure how tall Ivan is, but he pulled off riding a BSD street frame with ease. One of my favourite moves was his backwards wheelie flip to forwards ice cream to forward rope to decade out, stomped! Really stoked to see Ivan bust out in person.
In the third place spot, Mr Guru jam himself Joe Cicman, the Terradome erupted with love and praise as he took to the floor for his first run. There was a great line from Catfish “this is your contest you’re not supposed to be riding this good” mid way through his first run, Joe embraced the love and had an amazing first run hitting inside circle steam to no handed crackpacker jump to two footed backyard half turbine out, two footed death trucks, and no handed backpackers. Great to see all Joe’s hard work training at the Terradome paying off for him, not easy when the pressure is on at your own contest. I can speak with experience on that one. Well done Joe!
Mr Purple, Bryan Huffman has been on the contest circuit for years, now doing it for Reklamation Bikes, much respect to Bryan still out there busting, he hit a really nice steam to opposite inside circle k on pedals, and steam bar flip jump to gliding greater for fourth place and second spot in the year end rankings. In fifth place a steezie Steve Jordan, hop 3s both ways, smooth messiah links, and hop turndowns on lock, Steve was full energy all weekend and perhaps a lil’ too much by the end of the day. In the 6th spot, Mr Smooth Todd Carter, Todd spends half his month in Ohio with his kids, half back in LA. His smooth riding is so impressive to see in person, no footed death trucks and no footed forward death trucks on lock across the whole floor but sadly on this day it didn’t quite happen for him. He did pick up enough points to take the overall title for the year end. Congratulations Todd!
Young gun, Mannie Nogueira tore up the floor with both handed pedalling ice creams a’la Dane Beardsley for the 7th place spot, and dialled backwards manuals. This kid has a bright future, great to see new talent coming through the Am Flat Circuit. Ron Monis didn’t quite hold it together as he normally does, but did hit a super long last link to take the 8th place spot. The level of riding was super high in the expert class, one of the best I’ve seen rider for rider in a long time. The highest seatpost of the day award would have gone to this guy, Micah Murray, Micah has a super smooth long rolling style, one of my favourites was his xft pedal five line, which in practise he was hitting into juggler and back into xft pedal five, a’la Phil Dolan. It didn’t quite happen for him in his runs, but dope to see nevertheless.
One of the highlights of the Guru jam for me in tenth place, Lincoln Harbeger. This guys riding is a breath of fresh air, and on his day he could easily win the expert class. Super unique halflash combos, and an amazing xft ankledeath steam/karl combo that I can’t wait to see pulled clean, flowing around the bike, this guy looks like he was born to ride flatland. I’ll definitely be looking out for a lot more from this guy.
Between 10th and 21th was super tight, as it was in the top ten actually. Josh Hansen took the 11th place spot on board Jaffa’s Focus frame, and came out of one of his links in a super unique way to bar ride, I’ll have to see that one again, super creative. The 12th place spot went Shauny Meme Lapsley, aka the Jamie Bestwick of flatland sorry bro I had to tell Catfish to call that one out. Shauny has a really smooth style and great original rideouts. In the 13th spot, Morgan Peckosh didn’t have the cleanest run, but the xft steam flip to right hand halfpacker was dope!!!
In the 14th place spot, the man who set up the livestream, so you have Scott Nagy to thank for that! Scott put together two nice runs full of front and back wheel, nice hitch to whiplash out, switch foot gerators and with the Terradome now his home riding spot I look forward to much more from him. No pressure Scott! In the 15th place spot, Mr AM Flat himself, Shaun Lapsley, like his bro, really smooth styles and creative exits as well as dialled backwards hitchhikers, good job Shaun.
York PA local, Jeff Brown took the 16th place, he had a bit of trouble with his back brake during his run. He did hit a smooth whiplash to hitchhiker carved across across the whole floor in his second run, that i’m sure Kevin would have been proud of.
The Reklamation crew were in full force, Jason Rideout dropped halfhikers, turbine mega spins and looked like he had a blast doing so, great to see all these fresh faces loving flatland. Terradome local Phil Brunet hit one of the smoothest links of the class, forward rope to two footed backyard with no scuffs, had so much fun riding with Phil and Scott Nagy during my time in Columbus. Like I am with Scott I’m excited to see where Phil goes with his riding with this fantastic facility to utilise. Keep busting guys! Chris Armstrong tied with Phil for the 18th spot, a few crashes hooding him back, but the support of his daughter Libby jumping up and down overtime he hit a combo summed up the guru jam nicely. The community spirit shone bright, I told you I would mention it again… and again..
Jim McKay put down the camera and busted out super fast hop rocket 3’s into megaspins reppin’ the OSS cat t-shirt, and came super close to no footed steams grabbing both back pegs. Great to meet finally meet Jim! 19th place for one of the most hardest working people in flatland. Big ups Jim! The 21st spot, but no means least went to Alan Young. I haven’t seen Alan ride in person before, but now after this showing I’m expecting a lot out of him even though he had a bad day, super controlled inside no handed karls. The two run format worked really well for the expert class, it held the tension with the crowd throughout. One of the many highlights of the Guru jam for sure, such a positive vibe! Congratulations to all, but particularly Austin, Ivan and Joe for the top 3 podium finish in such a stacked class.
Whilst all this was going on, DJ Mark Eaton tore up the decks, with new tracks mixed in with old Dorkin’ classics all day! Catfish and Degroot goofed off with Guru jam inspiration Scott Powell at every opportunity, lord knows what you saw at home! These guys are a riot, good times!!! There were so many legends from all generations in the building, some I haven’t mentioned till now AFA killer back in the day Danny Meng, Scott Powell I just mentioned, Brian Rybak, Bll Keaggy from ACC ‘zine frame, Krys Dauchy, street shredder Stevie Hamilton and many more.
The two run format worked amazingly well at the Guru jam. By now you all know that Jean William Prevost, Jason Plourde and Dane Beardsley took the top 3 spots. But let’s start from the bottom and work way back up. Joe Miller took the 13th place spot and had a tough time, and didn’t take his second run, but was happy to make his contribution to the prize purse by entering. I thought that was awesome gesture. Chicago’s Tod Gully is super fun to watch, loved his junkyard perverted decade to switch foot greater. An oldie but a classic that no ones does anymore, 12th place. In the 11th place spot, Prasheel Gopal turned up late, so much so, that I assumed he wasn’t coming. Making it just in time for a lil’ of the expert class and the pro of course, Prasheel strung together a nice jumplash to plasticman xft steam pivot to crackpacker, love that move and he nailed it with ease, 11th place spot to one of the most dedicated riders on the contest scene.
Ok, now we get into the top ten and Joel Schallhorn made a big impression on me, not only for his nude fine art modelling which you know Joe had to stick drawings around the building of course, but for his unique approach to riding, one of the highlights for me was his under hand manual to regular manual. Real good to see someone taking a different path, interesting to see where Joel goes with his riding and modelling in the future.
9th place went to James McGraw, he maybe old by most our standards, but boy can he snake a practise session. James turned in a nice second run, lacing bar spin gliding inside switch-b’s, rocket hang five to time machine on the pedals, the banter with this guy is great. So much energy, long may it continue James. You pumped me up for sure.
8th place went to one of the underrated riders in the contest scene, Andy Cooper. Multiple g-strings to backwards hitches are no joke, not to mention his ice cream to backwards straddle brakeless, that is tough. Big up Andy for busting out for so many years, much respect due.
In practise in the days leading up to the event, a lot of the talk was that Tyler Gilliard could podium if he hits his stuff. Tyler’s trip to China has done his riding the world of good, stripping his combos down to the bear essentials, nothing but hammers. It looked like he was so in the zone he exhausted himself in the warm up and didn’t realise he was first up in his group. Nevertheless Tyler hit whoppers, half cab whoopers, half cab to steams as well as a really nice x over steam whip to halfpacker combo. A few too many crashes and touches held him back on this day, looking forward to seeing what Tyler brings in the future. 7th place for the man behind the new profile freecoaster.
6th place went to one of the biggest characters in flatland, if you have ever met Percy Marshall you will know what I am talking about. Percy is on the verge of being a top 5 heavy hitter in the pro class, loved his no handed death trucks step up no handed blender, and a massive final combo with hitch to darkside caboose mid way through.
5th place went to Hoffman Bikes Art Thomason, Art had a clean first run, so good to see Art still out there killing it after all these years. He seemed to grow in confidence after every trick pulled in his first run, loved his whip no handed halfhiker swing back round one handed step to messiah, and also his pumping hitchhikers mid combos not only gave him so many options for long combos, but also made Art stand out! A well deserved fifth place for Art.
Now Matt Wilhelm in fourth place is a rarity on the US contest circuit, such was the level at the contest and the fact Matt hadn’t got any real flatland practise in since August. Daily shows and being parent, but it’s a measure of the guy that still came out swinging. And what he did pull what absolutely amazing, still without a doubt in my eyes one of the best flatlanders on the planet, his spinning greater locked into spinning forward death truck stood out for me. But there’s so much more from one of the only riders rocking both brakes, keeping it true.
The top three rode at an amazing standard, some of the best contest riding I’ve seen in person in a long time. Watching Dane Beardsley ride I got the feeling you could have blindfold the man and still get the same results, Dane is so dialled, the highlight for me was the x-ft gliding dump truck to backwards ice-cream to backwards 2ft backward pivot xft lawn shove it regular lawn one kick to xft forwards ice cream one kick backwards x-handed rope into two handed cranking rope-a-roni and out with so much steez, it was flatland buttery! Catfish once took shower with Dane, he wanted you all to know. Third place for Mr Same Thing Daily!
Second place went to the explosive Jason Plourde, who else does foot jam decades mid combo into x-ft mega spin pivot spinning greater to brakeless stubble duck shove it mega spin foot jam decade out! Amazing moments in the Terradome! Great to see Jason red in person.
Dub’s first run was something special, something you don’t witness every contest for sure. Like a tiger straight out the gate, if you missed his run, check it out below if you missed it! The save as he 540 pivoted into pumping inside switch-b, just screamed “bike control!”. Dub’s run was action packed from the moment the clock started. Dub was crowned the Guru jam Champion for the first time. Congratulations Dub!
At this point I must thank Joe for not only flying me out to the Guru jam, but also his and Angie’s hospitality during my stay. Joe had a few shoutouts to add here: Danny Sirkin for hooking up all the prepayments for the contest as well as the sponsors and DJ Mark Eaton, Mark smashed it on the decks all day! So rad to see Mark at Guru! Big ups!! Behind the scenes Angie and Amy for all their hard work running the registration desk, and Andy Johnson for the the website! The Guru jam was all about friends getting together and helping the cause, just an amazing contribution to the flatland scene, I can’t say enough good things about it!
Joe is living the dream with the Terradome, and I’m so stoked that he was able to implement his ideas into a contest and share them with the flatland world! Truly one of the best and most fun contests I’ve ever been to, the independent feel about it, no rush to leave the building, loads of practise time, dope floor, the riding level, so much going for this event. There’s already talk of the second Guru jam. The feeling of the event truly being his, you don’t see that often in flatland, it added to the event. Not to mention the non stop banter with Joe, Scott, Chad D, Catfish, Danny, and everyone involved. The after party was great to catch up with everyone out of the contest setting, and to top off the next day Joe and Angie laid on a meal for everyone left at the Terradome. Like I said earlier so much thought, and hospitality went into this event. I’m sitting here two weeks after the event getting ready to post this, still smiling at what went down in Columbus, Ohio.
Thanks for everything Joe, Angie and everyone that made Guru jam what it was!
Guru jam was a blast, when’s the next one bro?