On the brink: Percy Marshall

Interview by Joe Miller.

Name, age, and hometown?
Percy Marshall, 25, Edmonton, AB.

How long have you been riding?
11 Years now!!!

You just recently won the Master class @ FU6, I watched your flawless run, and you kicked major arse! Was that your first win?
This is my third win in a row in top Am class in Toronto.

You’ve already been to Indy for FWF and FU6. Are you planning to attend Jomo and the DK comp in Ohio?
I have some monetary issues to settle.  2 days before I left for Toronto, I got layed off from work; so I’m trying to find a job right now.  I am undecided about going – I want to of course – but I’m unsure of the severity of the repercussions that my choice in leaving will have when I return.  If I do go, it will be a huge step for me, so I don’t expect riding well because it’ll be my first time travelling alone.  I can anticipate it’ll be really scary and I’ll be nervous as ever, NICE!

If you do well at the remaining events of the Am Circuit you should be in the running for the year end title. Is that a personal goal?
Yes Sir!  I think it would be great to do well in the circuit, and I’ve always dreamed of being “forced” into the pro class by means of riding well.

If you were to finish the circuit in first, will you be making the jump to Pro?
Yes deffinitely.  I can hope that by that time, if it does happen, I will have new tricks that can compete with pro; because – as it stands – my tricks can be alot better.  Especially when compared to pro level!

People who ride with you frequently say that you are an incredibly fast learner. Do you have a specific method for attempting new tricks, or do you just go where the session takes you?
Thankyou all.  I used to sit there for months on end, 10 hours a day, and get blisters on my hands and feet so I could learn what trick I wanted to.  Eventually, I decided riding was supposed to be fun, so now I will try something for max. 2 hours in one day; then I have to give it up, and perhaps resume another day if my body lets me.  I understand now all too well the importance of not getting injured.  In the olden days I would hurt my back and this would render my trick learning process impossible.  I’m a little matured now, I suppose.  I want to learn the trick – it’ll happen – I just gotta be patient.  Throwing myself into it rarely constitutes progress anymore, so I ease off and leave it to the God’s to decide on when exactly the trick will come to me.
I’ve had some requests from the global-flat community for short bike checks, so what is your setup, and are you running any custom modifications?
Yaman, I got tons of little nippies here and there.

Frame: Quamen G8
Bars: Chase BS 8″ cut to 24″ Wide
Forks: Odyssey Classic 0 offset
Cranks: Profile Flatland w GDH Ti Spindle
Pedals: Odyssey Twisted PC
Sprocket: Tree 18t spline-drive
Seatpost: Thomson Elite
Seat: KHE Watanabe
ClampRNC Ti
Barends: Bluesix Ti
Chain: KHE Tanga Light
Front Wheel: Odyssey 7KA Rim, 36 3x Primo Forged Spokes, Profile Mini SS w Ti 14mm Axle
Rear Wheel: Alienation Deviant Rim, 36 3x Primo Forged Spokes, KHE Geisha Light Freecoaster w 14mm Axles
Pegs: Sequence Pirate Peg Legs
Grips: Bizhouse Gym Grips

– I shaved off my sprocket hole bosses on my crank arms cuz I don’t need them and they stick out and put pressure of my sprocket.  Any bolted on sprocket will inevitably tear right apart so I ride only spline-drive now.
– I shaved all pedal pins except 4 per side so my shin guards will last longer.
– I have titanium pedal pedal spindles!!!  There awesome cuz they have these custom machined plastic poly rings to fit them into the regular odyssey pedal body.  They absorb most of the shock from impacts so I no longer break my pedal bodys; and if I was to, I could just replace the pedal body and still use the ti spindle on my new pedal.  Thanks Julio from USA for selling me this genious system.  Before him, I broke pedals about every week or two, and it was always rare for me to be riding pedals; I would just be riding the spindles cuz the pedal body would be long busted off.  I needed pedals to learn my favorite tricks.
– I have ti hardware pretty much everywhere it can be found, all bolts and nuts.  The reason is because I ride sometimes it’ll start raining and I have to ride through it cuz I’m addicted.  A week later, my bolts/nuts will have rusted, and a month later, they will snap.  With ti, though, it doesn’t rust and it is very nearly as strong.  I can not use aluminum because it will strip.  Ti is worth it even if it needs ti-prep on it, small price to pay in the long run.  Seat gut bolts, washers, nuts.  Axle nuts, rear axle spacers (I had some washers left-over from an order), stem bolts.  Ti barends, front axle, crank spindle.
– I have a Zion stem, with chromoly inserts for the bolts so they won’t strip.  Also, I had to shave the top area so I could fit my compression bolt on.  The stem has a Specialized Mobius front plate, from a MTB stem, made for 1 inch bars.  I have about 11 layers of hockey stick tape taking up the 1/8″ difference.  The tape also holds the bars really well for tricks like darksides, where, previously, the bars would always slip under the pressure.  My Zion stem also has Bluesix Ti bolts.  I broke the OG frontplate, but I needed to get this stem to work.  All other stems kill my legs and I have to put up with them going into my arse for blenders and other tricks but Zion is perfect for me, with these mods.

When did you first see flatland, and what/who got you started?
Ray Blais at the exhibition in Edmonton, around 1995, I was ten years old.  I watched him do incredible things on the bike.  I interrogated him after his performance and asked him things like “What kind of shoes do you wear?” and “Is that a special bike?”  He was so kind, he gave me a freecoaster for $40.00 that my uncle bought for me.  It was an old stainless steel taska, and weighed a ton.  I never even heard of freecoasters before, but it was a massive hunk of metal, and I slept with it next to me for many weeks to come.  I would to do this trick, but the pedals would spin and kick me off the bike after one revolution every time, so I could never keep doing it.  I had to take my chain off to do the trick, but than I couldn’t get around.  After I got the freecoaster put on, all of the sudden I could do it even with my chain on and everything.  Greatest feeling ever.  People were like, “Hey, how come your not falling off everytime now; did you finally get better at the trick?”  And I was like “No, my bike finally will do it”.

Your positive energy is both fun to watch, as well as contagious as hell. Any secrets to being so upbeat?
Yes deffinitely.  I purposely put myself in uncomfortable situations to make the comfortable moments all that much better.  Everything is relative, and that includes human emotions.  In a contest, for example, I will laugh when I fall because it’s funny to me that I was so comfortable doing the trick earlier and then can’t do it at all because of nerves.  So I will purposely fall really hard as terrifying or as embarassing as I can.  Whatever is bothering me at that time I will manifest until it is revlieved.  If I fear looking stupid by falling on easy tricks, let’s say, than I will attempt to fall really bad on the easiest trick I can think of, like a barspin or something.  After that, I no longer fear it because I have already experienced it; and that is the nature of anxiety.  I fear what hasn’t happened yet.  The fears are usually over-done by the mind.  If I fear something, I go out and face it.  I can’t fear something that I’ve already conquered.
I had my worst contest performance ever in Indi’s Fight w Flight contest this year.  I was so nervous that I was physically sick.  I wasn’t able to control or to relax my nerves.  It was my first “outside of Canada” contest and my first time meeting alot of pros.  I could never have imagined in all my years, that I would ever ride as bad as I did during that contest run.  I couldn’t even do the easiest tricks like megaspin.  The moment my run was over, though, I was finally relaxed.  I couldn’t fear it anymore cuz it had happened and was in the past.  That’s when I learned that I could alleviate all things mental by overcoming them physically to put them in my past – and my suffering is only temporary – and that is only until I face it.

Do you ride alone or do you have a crew?
I ride alone, but on occasion, I will travel to a neighboring village to ride with friends like Cory Fester, or Rob Shaw.  Rob lives in the closest city outside of Edmonton to the West, and Cory lives in the closest city outside of Edmonton to the East.  When I ride too much with them, than even when I go to ride “with” them, I will notice myself riding alone anyway, hahahaha.  It’s just the nature of flatland I guess, it’s an escape.

Name your favorite food, movie, and recording artist.
I like popcorn, and I pronounce it “Pap-korn” because it starts off so small and miniscule, but explodes violently like a fire extinguisher in a furnace to become something much larger and consumable.  Each piece tells a story about how it came to be.  If I’m feeling healthy, I won’t even put butter on it, and I can eat it without feeling guilty about it.  Movie would have to be “The Basketball Diaries,” it’s not about Basketball but it does tell an amazing story.  My favorite songs are rap without words.  If rap artists stopped talking, I would buy their music, it would be incredible.

Who are your top five riders and why?
Mike Steingraber!, because he is so exciting to watch, and he does the funniest little things during his contest runs like shooting people with his fingers, etc.  Marttii Kuoppa because he’s the greatest flatlander ever and he’s still doing impossible tricks today!  Chase Gouin for mastering so many flatland tricks.  Kevin Jones for doing the tricks for the first time.  Cory Fester.  I would not want to fight him, cuz the guy just never gives up.  It’s like a freaking freight train; he has no ankles, and he killed his knees long time ago, but he just keeps on going, forever, he rides more than me when I was 13 years old.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to let us know a little about you and your riding. Anyone you would like to thank?
YES!  Thankyou.  I thank all riders from everywhere.  BlueSix Bikes and Oblivion for all the stuff!  Thanks to contest organizers and people who make flatland fun.  Thanks to all the glum peeps who chill at my riding spot and snarl at me when I ride by; their the REAL ones who are pushing me do what I do every day.  Also, to the cops who arrest me for riding flatland; somehow, I am more motivated to ride when there’s an army of people who disagree with it.  BRING IT ON.  Thanks JOE!

Any last words of advice for someone who wants to start riding flat?
“Never say never.”
Everything is possible, until a human declares it not to be.  There’s a sort of repulsive quality about saying things like “That’s not possible” or “I can’t do it.”  I’m sure alot of you already know this, but the universe curves itself around our beliefs to accomodate them.  Either you understand this statement or you don’t.  I know many people who do, and many who don’t.  It makes for an infinitely more interesting life to say “It IS possible.”

9 thoughts on “On the brink: Percy Marshall

  1. Love Percy…such a nice guy! Very very few guys like him are out there…
    Effraim, have a question? I would like to translate this interview to the czech and put it on my web. And put link for english version here. It is ok for you?


  2. Thanks Bro, I really am trying to make these something the readers will enjoy, and gain inspiration from. L8r, Joe

  3. WOW… my new go-to video for pre-session psyche-up. Video couldn't have been better! My god, the music was so.. CANADIAN. I about died at the time-machine climax. So glad Percy is on the scene!

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