Photography: Jean-Francois Bouilanne.
Imagine being on the road for months at a time, not knowing where you will sleep, eat, where you will ride, the list goes on? The daily things we take for granted. Jean-Francois Bouilanne is a free spirit, and lives his life to the fullest. I caught up with him recently to talk about this trip across the states. Read on…
How did you plan for the BMXPLORATION TOUR related to the summer video?
After my two weeks quarantine from the previous trip with Steve Bergeron last year, I already had decided I wanted to do this again. An endless summer has always been something I was chasing. I knew this one was gonna be all by myself. The show season was quite slow in Montréal compared to the usual, but I made enough to be able to focus on my riding and I must say that simple living in the van is great for saving money. I worked all summer on some “monkey flip” variation especially to Hitchhaker and from Crackpacker (3rd combo of the Made in Québec vidéo). At the end of the summer, I bought a drone for the BMXPLORATION TOUR and decided to film my hardest tricks before leaving. The goal was to relieve the pressure of pulling your new stuff while traveling and riding different spots all the time.
Who helps finance your trip?
About mid-summer I prepared a .pdf with some photos and information about the last tour (PANDEMIC TOUR) and what were my goals for this one. I started talking with riders and friends about who would be willing to help in exchange of promotion on instagram, mentions in videos and jams. Last year, REKLAMATION BIKES was our only sponsor, they were the first I contacted and happily jump onboard again. During the PANDEMIC TOUR, Steve and I stopped in Arizona and met Sean Porter from the FLAT SOCIETY, I sent my .pdf and they decided to join too. Theses two are our mains sponsors this year. Dub at IGI BMX was also excited by the idea, he is from Montréal and creating the best Flatland specific product out there, IGI BMX was truly a brand I wanted to represent with the van. James McGraw AFABMX and TOUCHOFSHADE also jumped in and helped out with the huge stylish sticker banner, we both have the same goal, grow Flatland and get riders together. This summer I meet some new friends in Montréal, XACT NUTRITION, I am so happy to finally have a premium quality protein sponsor, it is a product I have been taking for over 15 years, they are also making their debut in the USA shortly. Last but not least, one of my favourite out there OSO COFFEE from Texas, Hector Garcia, the owner is also a Flatland rider and I wouldn’t be having all theses hardcore sessions here in Long Beach without his awesome caffeine in my vain. MUCH LOVE to all of you guys and for making my dreams come true.
Where have you been to on your travels? And where have you met the most Flatlanders and had the best session? Perhaps a favourite spot?
This year, I took a similar way than the previous one. I did change part of my route, instead of driving trough Las Vegas, I went visit North California, stopped in San Francisco and got the chance to ride the Clocktower and be inspired by the legendary Pete Brandt. Part of the deal I made with the sponsors is to organize Jams, so far we had one in North Indiana and Colorado. I had a really good session with Matt Wihelm at Flatopia in Chicago. I was also very eager to come back to the Marina spot in Long Beach, last year I injured my hamstring and couldn’t ride for 6 weeks. It was very difficult mentally to be at a location where you can progress but not be able to ride. I have been riding this lot for two months now, it does literally eat your tire but you know what if the sessions are great I’ll spend the money. I am really happy to be calling this magical parking lot my winter training facility.
How is BMX with #VANLIFE related with the first stop video?
Obviously, I am not the first rider doing it but we are few. Since my young age, my trips to South America and Asia, I have always felt like a Nomad. Steve and I built a bed in the first version of the van the summer before the PANDEMIC TOUR. In the middle of that tour, I was like “ok I am comfortable here, I have all I need, I can do this for a while”. When the BMXPLORATION TOUR begun, I was very in ease with the #VANLIFE system, I already knew some spots and already made deeper connections with the riders in the USA. This video is not even 1% of all the fun and special moments I shared with this amazing community.
I’m curious about your daily diet whilst on road. Are you cooking out of the van? Is it a case of bear essentials or do you eat well?
If you know me very well, health is one of my priority. I would never neglect it for the reason of being on the road. Just like when I had my apartment, I cook daily. For breakfast, I usually prepare eggs and green with peanut butter/banana toast(Steve’s favourite). I wait two hours and go ride. I am currently doing 4 hours session so I drink my first and only coffee from OSO as I am starting. Mid-session, when I take a short break, I snack on an XACT NUTRITION protein bar. When the session is done, I am usually exhausted, I go to the beach, stretch and eat a black beans burrito. At night, I either cook some pasta, make a salads with veggies, salmon or tuna. Then it’s not over, I am usually starving before going to bed so I make my special Oatmeal (chia, flax seed, hemp seed, oatmeal, cranberry, almond milk, fruit and granola). So to answer your question Effraim, we could call this diet, healthy bear essentials diet LOL.
That is great! However, You recently got your Instagram account hacked! And manage to recover it which is amazing!!! Tell us about it…
OMG, I usually manage to have a drama-less life. On Sunday, 29 of January, a rider I was currently talking with approached me with “hey I need 2 friends to confirm my ID to regain access to an old account”. I am always willing to help my peers and especially in my community. I sent my phone number, got a link from Instagram, resent the link to that user and “BOOM” I can’t login anymore. It took me a bit before I find out I got hacked, the rider account was hacked too. In 24 hours this hacker manage to gain control of 5 of my contacts profile(some riders). First what I did is to relax and tell myself, your van is ok, your health is ok, your not injured. Some of my friends told me Instagram is gonna fix this but after 2 days, I understood Instagram is not gonna do shit, they have one billion accounts. I wasn’t feeling comfortable at all having this shady individual using everything I built to scam people. I got on the problem with a Flatlander’s mindset, don’t give up, you can do this, this is what you have been training for. Once a day, I was having the chance to go in but the hacker kept kicking me out. Everytime, I learned about the system and what he what step he was taking. One night, I got control for 3 hours, he tried to connect over 30 times, I tough I was safe, went to bed and when I woke up, he logged me out. The next night, I got in on my computer, I was gonna delete the account because honestly yes all this following is good for the sponsor and everything but protecting my peers was more important, he kicked me out again. Omari Cato was also hacked by the same guy, I had to make it right. We talked for one hour, I told him every step I did, we brainstormed and one night when I woke up at 3 am, he is like “check this I found where they are hiding”. That night, I gain access to my profile and kick the hacker out of there. I was still stressed for 2 days and eventually realize that this worked. I had to make a video, to show people how to regain access to their account so here it is… I did lost a couple of followers from that drama but here I am, still on Instagram sharing my love for Flatland @jfbmx_artecycle
How was your experience at the One Love jam?
“Freaking EPIC” So I was riding at the Marina pretty intensively for 6 weeks prior to the jam, I was on fire. It all started 3 days before when I pick up my friend Jerry Milborn from the airport. He stayed in Huntington Beach so, I stayed there too. Every day we were on the bike, everyday more people joined the session, you could feel a crazy energy was building up. Every night we were doing tacos at Sancho’s with different riders. Every morning coffee and açai from 602 (Sorry Hector). Different faces kept popping up, until the big day. That morning it rained a little bit but we knew the afternoon was gonna be rideable. When we got there the parking was full already, riders were excited and the energy was peaking. I took an easy morning, doing yoga, cooking my usual eggs and when I got to the spot, the jam was in full effect. I was very very excited to ride, so instead of choosing a spot, I looked at where was Pete Brandt riding, “ok if he choose that spot, that mean that’s the spot”. I rode a lot, with different people, I was in the zone, in focus mode, being proud of my tricks and the hard work I put to dial them. We were blessed with a crazy fire sunset, the group was so big we all went eating in smaller groups. Then as everything just started, it ended but smoothly riders lefts, sessions were still on, until 3 days later, when I was at the Marina by myself missing everyone.
What are your plans when you go home?
Now that the Instagram bullshit is over, I can get back to working on some tricks. I got 5 more weeks here in Long Beach, lots of filming to do and Flatland classes to teach. I am organizing a Jam on the 27 of February at my training facility(parking lot). I hope a lot of riders will come and say goodbye because after this I am slowly driving back to the east coast and it won’t be without emotions. We also have a jam in Arizona, Texas and Florida planned and I wanna stop in Louisiana ride with Terry and Mickey. If you wanna join the rest of the tour follow me here @jfbmx_artecycle
Also I know I did mentioned a lot of names, if your name is not there, it is here in my mind and in my heart. Thank you all for your support!!
Good catching up Jean, it’s been fun watching your journey on social media…