Photos: Matthew Dyer, Matti Hemmings, Effraim, Flatism.
A few months prior to the UK Flatland Championships, Matti Hemmings asked me if I wanted to get involved and helping him with the promotion and organisation of the event, re:Judging also. As many of you will have noticed there hasn’t been many flatland events in the UK since the King of Concrete two years ago, so it was time to put that right and get things popping off again here in the UK. With Matti’s contacts and my experience running events we made a good team going back and forth with ideas for what would work best. We felt it would be better for the scene, to work together rather than solo projects.
Uk Flatland Championships this year was part of the annual Cycle Show that takes place at the Birmingham NEC, a huge venue and great opportunity for us to showcase flatland to the general public and also of which many are already interested in bikes as they are at the cycle show.
When we arrived the area looked great, just a lot of dirt on the floor, so a few mops of the floor were required. Mark Noble was on hand to help out with four BMX bikes to hold some flatland workshops on the Saturday. We branded the area with banners from all the sponsors, Matti worked really hard throughout the previous two months or so collecting prizes and arranging trophies and so on. The area looked super dialled with all the branding in place, the only negative really is we were right at the back of the cycle show. We wondered how many spectators we would get.
On the Friday we got to have a little session once we had the area dialled, Oner signs kindly made us up a floor sticker, with also a slip free sticker to go over the top, dialled! Matthias Dandois emailed and said he was coming with Alex Jumelin, the excitement was building. The floor was smooth and super fast. We were in place and set for the weekend, the extra day to set up was definitely a good idea!
As we went in this UK Champs contest, I felt with the lack of events in the UK we have literally start again, so I think we went into this with no expectations at all. And everything was a bonus to what we had before. The organisers of the contest, Chris Holman it turns out used to help run the Backyard Jams back in the early 2000 era, small world! He was a big help all weekend with anything we asked for, whether the floor to be machine washed, barriers, marshals, the whole set up was dialled! Mark Noble who used to run UK Ride Magazine was at the show working for CSG and helped us out with Bikes courtesy of Hoffman Bikes to hold flatland workshops, and helped us also set up the area.
Friday night rolled around and we were out of the hall sooner than we expected, so we started getting prizes into their bags, the whole hotel room was pretty full of prizes. Martti Kuoppa liked one of the statuses put up, Matti said lets give him a last minute call as Pro was on Sunday and see if he will come. Martti said he would sleep on it. We had a nice piub next door and get food, and bumped into MTB legend, Martyn Ashton who was paralysed in a bike accident a while back, great to see him again and also see him in such good spirits….
6am Saturday morning, I am woken up by the sound of a Facebook message “ding……..” and Matti shot up “he’s coming!” I knew immediately even tho half asleep who he was referring to, after a few riders dropping out (Dez, Waldemar, Dustyn, David Hoffmann) we were stoked Martti was able to make it over to the event. And also to my amusement, Matti’s “special guest” was sorted.
We were at the venue by 8:45, Saturday was scheduled for Novice qualifiers and finals, and Expert qualifiers and finals. Judges sheets ready, nice couch donated by Recreo was set up and ready to go for the judges, contest area ready, no riders yet, so we got a solid 2-3 hours session in before most of the am riders started to arrive. Due to our scene having to start again as I mentioned before there were no novice riders (something we have to build over time), so we just ran Expert qualifiers and finals, and the flatland workshops on the Saturday.
Pinoski, a rider from Costa Rica now living in London arrived along with Reese Thompson were the first riders to show up, a 17 year old Scottish rider who was entering his first contest, so good to see two fresh faces be the first at the spot. It almost felt worthwhile putting on the event for just this to be honest. Ashley Adams rocked up with his run taped to his top tube, which brought back a lot of memories to my under 12’s competing days on the UKBFA circuit. More riders started showing up, Andy Wood on a bronze Haro La Bastille frame, Dino Jeffers, Aran Gillian came all the way from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Kevin Brown, Johann Chan, Kris Dub and a last minute entry from another new face to me, Nathan Dean.
Kris Dub had bike troubles and rocked up with possibly the most bent wheel I’ve seen in flatland history, not quite sure what happened to it but needless to say he needed a new one. And Matti was on hand to help him fix his bike before his qualifying run. Kris took the tenth place spot going into finals. Andy Wood had a lil trouble in qualifying and a few uncharacteristic touches and crashes left him in 9th place. Reese Thompson doing it for Cool Flo made the trip from Glasgow, pulled off x-ft backwards spinning lawnmowers, and tweaked his front wheel roiling balancing moves so his back peg hit the floor. So rad to see a young fresh face in the mix in the UK flatland scene, Reese tied for 8th with Ashley Adams from manchester, Ashley had his run taped to his top tube. And went through his run smoothly, mega spin turbines, time machines, turbine steams, and foot jam decades dropped with authority.
Kevin Brown also had bike troubles, his stem kept moving after almost every trick, but he did manage a smooth multiple dark side whip to ice cream, I looked forward to more from him in the finals, sixth place.
Contest veteran, Dino Jeffers wasn’t planning on entering, but we talked him into it, and Dino had bit of trouble lacing his normally flawless routine and qualified in a low spot for him. 5th place.
Pinoski, pulled off xft backwards spinning steams a’la yammer, two fronted front yards, carved pedal 5’s smoothly to take the fourth place spot going into the finals.
The top three, Johann Chan went through his run effortlessly, nailing hang nothings across the floor, half hiker to spinning ck, backwards spinning lawn on opposite side to spinning lawn bar flip out for the third place spot and was looking goof for finals. New face, Nathan Dean had a really good qualifying run, the highlight was a really nice x handed hang ten to messiah to whiplash out, and considering he wasn’t going to enter…
Aran Gillian was on fire, and powered his way to first place with pedal and rocket 5’s, hang 5 to half packers, superman peg grab steams, and a whole lot more. Finals were scheduled for a few hours later, myself and Matti held flatland workshops for an hour with new kids, teaching front wheel balancing, really good response from the kids. Hopefully we can continue this at future events.
A few hours quickly flew by and soon enough we were starting out with AM Finals, yours truly on the mic. Pretty big crowd in attendance, always interested in how many positions can change from qualifying to finals. Kris Dub had a tough time in finals, and stayed in the tenth spot. Nathan Dean from Birmingham qualified 2nd and dropped to ninth, on this occasion unable to match his qualifying run. I was stoked to see Nathan get in the mix, sadly hit his messiah to whiplash combo out of time. 8th place went to the man with his run sellotaped to his top tube, Ashley Adams, and he went through his run with his signature style. Time machines, mega spin turbines, good to see Ashley has stuck with it. 7th place went to Reese Thompson, this young kid out of Glasgow Scotland has lil’ speak to him, excited to see what he has going on in the future. nailed his xft backwards spinning lawn, and his tweaked front wheel balance line, hell yeah!
Andy Wood stepped up from his qualifying, going from 9th spot up to 6th, and thats what finals is all about. Hitchikers, steam to crackpacker to half packer backpacker half packer and out, working his La Bastille nicely!
Top 5, Kevin Brown seemed to sort out the problems he was having with his stem during practise. and improved on his qualifying run. Kevin nailed, lard yards to ice creams, multiple hang 5 turbines, and might have placed higher if he included the multiple dark side whips into his finals run but wasn’t to be. He seemed stoked enough with 4th place, good job Kevin!
Johann Chan dropped a spot from his 3rd place qualifying run. Kept it smooth, long smooth hang nothing carved across the whole arena. Halfhikers, cliff-hangers, few touches out of spinning cks, and his back wheel opposite spinning lawn to regular spinning lawn kept him in 4th spot.
Pinoski improved on his qualifying run, nailing his turbine into xft backwards spinning steam, mega spin turbines, two footed front yards, Pinoski is definitely one to look out for in the future. Be interesting to see what he drops at Level Vibes in a couple of months time.
Dino Jeffers got it together as I expected he would from his qualifying run, nailing a nice inside xft lard yard to inside rolling xft ice cream back to xft lard yard shove it to regular lard yard to body varial out, so great to see this UK contest legend is still in the mix and still progressing. 2nd place on the podium for Dino, the man has quick feet for a 44 year old.
And the Expert UK Flatland Champion holding it down from the qualifying to the finals was Aran Gillian, making the trip over from Belfast. Aran killed the rolling style with power and style, nailing his superman peg grab steam, rocket 5’s, pedal 5’s, hang 5 to half packer hang 5 xft esqueak ride out, no handed crackpackers to steam and squeak out. Aran was a cut above, we invited Dino and Aran into the Pro Class for the following day! Congratulations once again to Aran, Dino and Pinoski, your top three in the Expert Class.
We went back to hotel to get dinner, and wait to pick Martti Kuoppa from the airport. Throughout the weekend myself and Matti discussed what was working, what could be better, continually going back and forth as a team. Good vibes, we both were excited for the next day!
Early start to the Sunday, and myself, Martti and Matti were at the spot around 9am to get set up for the day. Martti started his warm up with a double stem lash, “I don’t do easy tricks anymore”. It felt like a few hours went by until anyone else showed up, we delayed qualifying from 11;30 to 12 so the late arrivals a lil’ warm up before we started the contest.
11 riders in pro qualifying, a healthy number, top eight making it to the finals later on in the day. Bodean Marrsen literally rocked up to the contest as we were starting the contest with Josh Briars. So we split the qualifying group into two so they could get a short 5 min practise/warm up in, good call there Johann!
Bodean Maarsen took the eleventh spot and if he keeps at it, he will climbing the pro rankings like his brother, Dez, Bodean has a nice nose manual on him, but on this day couldn’t keep the consistency levels up to make the top eight. 1Wm’s Jason Forde also fell foul to the contest jitters, and I still wait for the day when Jason can replicate his riding down the Green Mile, Jay may not have won the contest, but he definitely won best Facebook status of the day with toilet banter. i’ll lave that one off here. If you are following him on Fb you will know what I’m talking about.
We had a tie in qualifying, so we took 9 riders into the final. The first of which in ninth place was the Expert Uk Flatland Champion Aran Gillian who made the step up from the previous day. Making the cut on his first attempt is good going, nailing his powerful pedal 5’s and rocket 5’s. His good friend, Dino Jeffers nailed a consistent run, front and back wheel scuffing combos all dialled as you like. More like the Dino we all know, 8th place for the man from Belfast!
7th place went to Steve Green, Steve has been in the shadows for a while now and it was great to see him put his run together, messiah turbines, whoppers, pedal manual to foot jam decade, real good stuff from Steve!
Josh Briars nailed a real nice opposite side xft pedal to half fire hydrant whopper out to qualify in sixth place, not too bad at all for a guy that rocked up not even 5 minutes before we started.
In fifth place spot, Keelan Phillips had bit of tough time in his qualifying run getting caught up on his forward karl front wheel boomerang to steam, but did nail 6-7 explosive hitchhiker turbines to start his run. Roll on finals.
James White and Alex Jumelin tied for third place in qualifying, James signature rolling style was a big hit with the crowd, pulling off a sweet multiple whiplash line to xft ankle death whiplash to begin his run, signature multiple back wheel xft ice cream dump truck flip out to the sounds of KRS One “i’m still Number 1”. Alex Jumelin dropped back to back signature half cab nose, backwards boomerangs and backwards to foot jam decade pedals to pedal, warming up nicely for the finals.
Matthias Dandois and Martti Kuoppa, phew how do you compare these two. Matthias drops long combos using front and back, Martti short original bangers, and one move the stem rebate pulled for the first time in a contest. Matthias took a close second, Martti the top spot.
What happened next was probably the best moment of the weekend, Alex Jumelin, Matthias Dandois and Martti Kuoppa started jamming like back in the day, smiles all round, laughter and bangers from all! A fun of game of bike went down, it was really nice to watch this happen naturally as the guys warmed up for finals.
We had to wait for the MTB dirt finals to finish right next to us before we could start finals. The crowd made their over, and we got the the pro finals started. Format: 2 x 2.5 mins we threw in a last trick for the crowd on run 2.
Expert UK Flatland Champion Aran Gillian got us started nailing his power moves, really extending his rocket and pedal 5’s across the smooth floor. Great to see Aran make the move up to the Pro Class and not look out of place at all, his good friend and UK Flatland legend, Dino Jeffers nailed his xft inside ice cream to gerator xft shove it body varial out clean in the finals and tied with Aran for eighth place.
Steve Green and Josh Briars took the 7th place and sixth place spots, Steve with for his messiah turbines to whiplash out, and Josh xft opposite pedal 5 to half fire hydrant whopper out. Good to see these guys in the mix at the Uk Champs!
We are onto the Top five, and we start getting heated.
Keelan Phillips normally drops a flawless runs, which I expected for the finals, but sadly didn’t happen. Nevertheless, multiple hitch turbines, and signature no handed crack turbines, as well as a 720 nose nailed got him the fifth place spot.
James White was the top UK rider at the UK Champs, classic whiteski multiple whiplashes to open his run followed into his double xft ice cream dump truck, slow xft spinning lawn flip to g-roll gliding switch foot dump out, and a nice multiple whiplash to ankle death whiplash into xft hitch juggler, not the classic Whiteski I’m used to seeing but still enough to get 4th place. Look out Level Vibes, I have a feeling!
Top 3 was super close, Alex Jumelin’s first run was definitely his best of the day. Throwing down nose manual to xft inside steam, rollback boomerangs, rollback foot jam decade pedal to pedal, backwards spinning cherry picker scuff jump to front pegs and out, xft nose manual just to front scuff nose, all relatively clean, and third place on the podium.
The top 2 was the same as qualifying, Matthias Dandois as you know is an absolute contest machine. When I announced the Red Bull Circle of Balance I called him the best contest rider of all time, and I’m sticking with that, always in the mix and of course solid runs. In the first run, he missed the ride out on his signature no handed spinning half packer, second run he came back to nail the whole line clean, as always his signature half cab 540 to open the run, backwards xft spinning ice cream holding the head tube back to pumping xft ice cream into gliding junkyard and out to pedals, and his long carved plastic man with aeroplane like extension of the hands, amazing to see his level of consistency live!
Martti Kuoppa crashed his first run on a stem fire hydrant turbine, but came back with a banger of a second run, opening with a triple stem lash, stem jump lash, stem5 to peg manual stem foot jam decade out, xft half hiker holding tyre pivot half packer on tyre to opposite xft hitch, all holding the tyre, really nice detail and execution, not to mention an amazing stem rebate and he sealed the deal. A one touch run just looping out on a rolaid. Martti crashed out of time, but it didn’t matter, Martti is the guy to beat next year if you want the UK flatland title! Great to see him back on the contest scene, watching his practise preparation was enough motivation.
We held a quick presentation as the Cycle show was packing up and everyone wanted to get home. Bringing the Uk Champs back and to a big event like the Cycle Show was a great move, and a huge positive for the UK flatland. Great to see new faces, and old faces as well. Level Vibes is up next and we are all buzzing about that, over to you Whiteski!
Big thanks to all the sponsors: Oner Designs, Gumball 3000, Drift Cameras, Flatland Fuel, FlatmattersOnline, Sili, Hoffman Bikes, We The People, Dephect, Infinity, Minirig, Recreo, Up&Go, Storm London, Rubena, CrucialBMX, Stay Strong, Cool Flo.
Matti Hemmings for inviting me to help out, DJ Bunjy courtesy of Recreo UK on the decks, all the riders that supported us, Mark Noble at CSG, all the judges, Kieran at Oner Designs for his help time keeping all weekend, Chris Holman at the Cycle Show, Denny for filming and photos. What a great weekend for the Uk flatland scene, stay tuned for more updates from the UK contest scene! Hope you all enjoyed my run down of the UK Flatland Champs!