Today we have a special treat from the flatland archives that changed modern day flatland forever. Courtesy of Mike Daily and the Plywood Hoods, Kevin Jones and his amazing run from AFA Masters in Austin, Texas, 1987. Miker invited me to write a little something about his influential moment.
Effraim Catlow / Flatmattersonline.
Kevin Jones, 19 & Over Expert, AFA Masters, Austin, TX (May 2, 1987).
Mike Daily, Editor of the Plywood Hoods Trick Team zine Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag! has reached out to Flatmatters for this exclusive world premiere of the flatland run that got York, Pennyslvania’s Kevin Jones sponsored by Skyway. There are so many thoughts that rush into my brain, as (thanks to the Raybo/Dellavalle tapes that Mike was entrusted with to make the Aggro Rag book in 2013), we now get to watch Kevin’s breakthrough run from the 1987 AFA Masters in Austin Texas.
Why do I say Breakthrough?
During this period of time, there were a lot of rumours about Kevin Jones, coming from across the pond. All we had was whatever text was written in the magazines. Most likely that was either Freestylin’ or BMX Plus! at the time–if we were lucky, maybe a photo or sequence.
This is the contest that proved that Kevin Jones was the real deal. Can you ponder entering a contest with tricks that have never been done or seen before? Think about that for a moment…
Then think, Kevin was unsponsored. In my mind, that isn’t a big point but at the time it was, and it turns out it was for Kevin. The video description reads:
“Skyway rushed to sponsor Kevin Jones after his second place finish in 19 & Over Expert at Round 3 of the AFA Masters series held May 2, 1987, in Austin, Texas.
“Kevin pulled stall lawnmower to backwards peg picker into trolley (his head tube-straddling, no-handed scuff); and uptight wheelie (his upside down backwards wheelie while turning the cranks by hand) into straddle.
“Kevin also premiered standing room only (his standing-upright backwards infinity roll); elephant glide (his sitting-on-the-crossbar while letting-the-back-end-of-the-bike-swing-around foot-drag scuff); and then–after he had run out of time, unfortunately–locomotive (his backyard-like progression of his tag sanity hops). Kev actually coasted the locomotive a few seconds without scuffing (locomotive glide), then pulled it off.
“Lew reported in the September ’87 issue of FREESTYLIN’ Magazine:
‘Kevin Jones got the crowd louder during his run than anyone else the whole weekend, including the pros. Every trick he did looked impossible yet was wired. He had a style so fresh it’s gonna take even the best guys a few months to catch up. He did one of those runs that left every man, woman, and child in the arena stunned. He got second place.’
“Haro’s Rick Moliterno–ever the man to beat in 19 & Over Expert–got first. Kevin later told Spike Jonze for FREESTYLIN’ (August ’89): ‘I would have been satisfied if I’d have made the top ten, and then I got second. I didn’t know why there was all the controversy about it…[Rick] beating me. I was just glad to get second, plus I got sponsored. That’s all I really wanted to do anyways was get sponsored. I never really cared about getting first.’”
A couple of things stood out to me about this run besides the originality of the tricks Kevin is doing, that’s a given!
I commented to Mike Daily, it’s like Kevin is battle riding. And what I mean by that, is not battle contest riding. But it’s almost like he’s at a Deejay contest, and he’s gesturing to the crowd mid-trick: “Hey, what do you think?”
And being that the BMX Freestyle world had never seen these tricks before, it makes total sense. Then my thought changed to: “How would you judge this?” I imagine back in 1987, the AFA was largely judged by riders’ parents. This new approach to flatland wasn’t anything that really could be measured. Watch the run again and notice the techniques on show: boomerangs, hopping, scuffing, there’s even a body varial (stubble duck-type move out of the trolley), and rolling tricks, but also the way he connected was very new. The deadtime between the tricks was something that made me think about deejaying, and bboy culture. The gestures! Raditude for a genuine reason is the best. I can imagine this was as heartfelt as it gets.
In the end, the result is not important. The whole world of flatland got to witness this gem and now in 2019 we finally get to see the run that changed the game for us all. Realistically, all we can do is thank Kevin for his vision, and his humbleness.
Let me leave you with a thought: Is this the most important moment in the history of the progression of modern day flatland?