Photos by Robby Klein.http://robbyklein.com
Flatland can bring you many things, highs and lows, travel, memories, accomplishment, fun, anger, and of course a whole lot more, what I begin to value most is the friendship you can make as a result of travelling with your bike. In the April 1999 I travelled to the Louisville X trials to try and get a spot in the X Games and i’m stoked to say I did, qualifying in first place finishing third. This is also where I met Terry Adams for the first time, he was competing in the expert class,finishing up second, he was one of the first people to congratulate me on winning that spot to the x games, memories like this are something money can’t buy, and I won’t ever forget. Forward on ten years later, and I’ve stayed at Terry and Vanessa’s house in Hammond, Louisanna, i’ve rode with Terry in his backyard and all over the world, and now Terry is at the top of the sport, he’s living what you might say is the “bmx dream”, he’s got it all, the house, the bike, the sponsors, a beautiful wife, without further a due lets get this interview started…
My questions to you Terry may differ than previous interviews you’ve done,there’s a big scope for questions here to challenge you and make an insightful interesting interview, you’ve been interviewed by pretty much every magazine out there, but they almost all ask the same run of the mill questions.. for almost 99 percent of flatlanders reading this, riding flat is not a job, for you it is, what steps firstly did you take to get to this point and “make your dreams a reality”?
SPONSORS : Odyssey, Flatware, Red Bull, Lotek, Dans Comp, and Raising Canes.
From the moment I started riding bikes I always had the Goal in my head that I wanted to be a professional BMX rider. As a kid I really did not understand what that would intel. At first I thought it meant just being a great rider, winning contest, and getting in the magazines. After I was fortunate enough to link my self up with companies that would pay me salary, I started to realize what being a professional was all about. It was about presenting myself as a professional. If a company wanted to support me financially I took it into my own hands to do everything I could to not take that for granted. I wrote down idea’s every week on ways I could help promote their products. Magazine Ideas, Web ideas, and TV ideas were always on my goal list. I made sure I did everything I could to create value to my name in the industry. Everything I did was a very planned process that I wanted to happen. To this very day I still have the same self-promoting attitude as I did from the beginning. I treat my career as a job and that is how I have made it work. I actually enjoy getting all the media coverage for my sponsors.. It makes me feel like I am doing my job to be a part of a company that believes in me my riding.
You mentioned in a previous conversation on ichat, your priorities in riding have changed, dealing with sponsors i would presume takes priority … How in turn do you think thats effected your riding?
Yes.. I would say its not that they have changed.. Its more of what works best for me. These days I feel I can get more promotion for my sponsors by working on a web video than going to a contest and hoping to land a photo in a magazine or on the internet. Its also the simple fact that I have been competing since 1996. I still enjoy preparing for contest, enjoy seeing everyone, and god knows I still love this feeling of winning. But to answer your question.. Yes, all the promoting, contest training, and having flatland as my job has of course slowed down my progression in new tricks. But it has also gave me the opportunity to live a life as a professional athlete. So I have enjoyed every second of it.
Are you surprised in some ways that other pro riders don’t follow your example with dealing with sponsorships? I guess the real question is do you think flatlanders are lazy?
In terms of riding as a job, theres of course the promotional side, what are the percentages for you this right now.
I guess this all depends on what a rider wants. Do they only want be a bad ass rider, Or do they want to make a living from flatland?
If they want to look at flatland as a personal hobby that they love and would never want to make money from.. I can respect that for sure.Flatland can be a very personal thing so that makes perfect sense. I also believe if someone wants something bad enough there is a way to make it happen.. Think about it. If a person wants a job there is a way to get it. If someone wants a million dollars there is a way to get it. If someone wants to go around the world , there is a way to do that as well. All it takes is wanting something bad enough. I really can’t say if anyone is lazy or not. All I can say is that I have learned that anything is possible. The percentages for me have been 50% riding & 50% promoting for a very long time.
Tell me about a typical day for you on the road?
Typical day on the road for me is normally a 3 day trip. I will fly into a city, meet up with some Red Bull people, and spend the rest of the 3 days riding, hanging out, and maybe doing some club demos at night.
And also a typical day at home?
Checking some e-mails, some phones meeting, some brain storming, and then some riding.. I am normally done by the time my wife gets home and then I enjoy a movie or two with her.
What was your travel iternary like this year? I know you are away a lot, does that put any kind of pressure on your marriage? And also must bother you that you don’t get to ride at home?
My travel itinerary consist of about 50 trips a year. 35 of the trips are demos and the rest are contest and photo/video shoots. My wife is used to all the traveling so our marriage has never been stronger. I take very short trips so I still get to ride at home quite a bit.
I got the feeling in 2009, you weren’t as up for it at the contests? What i mean is, I feel like you were happy to just get top three which is of course hard but a few years ago you were pushing for the win. Are you as concerned with contests as you were maybe three years ago? And do your sponsors even care how you do? Could you not go to contests and retain all your paychecks i guess is the endpoint?
I spent 7 years of my riding career doing my combos 5 times in a row. The plus to that strategy for me was I was almost always guaranteed a win. After 7 years of training all year to stay consistent for contest my focus shifted to working on new tricks, having fun, and trying to stay in that top 3. My sponsors do not only pay me for my contest results, so I feel they were still pleased with my placing’s.
Has your life changed much since you got married to Vanessa?
It has changed for sure. I went to only thinking about my future to thinking about our future together. But other than that. Everything is pretty much the same. She is super rad and loves everything about what I do.. I could never complain. She is the best.
Flatland has shifted almost totally in the last few years, it seems the top guys are less concerned with originality and more with promoting themselves, for me I think this isn’t positive for the beginner rider in terms of growing the sport this seems just about the individual getting a paycheck, and is showing newcomers the wrong way into this artform, for me originality inspires if i see a great video i want to go riding, it helps gets more riders into it, what are your feelings on this?
Flatland has changed so much since I started its really hard for me to really stand back understand whats going on. The internet has grown so much that riders can get over looked or noticed at a blink of an eye. I also feel we are at a turning point for tricks and it might take a while to start seeing super original tricks coming out again. It will happen though. Flatland will keep evolving one way or another.
Do you miss Justin Miller competing, you guys were back and forth 1 and 2 in all the US contests pretty much, this maybe relates to my question about you pushing for the win three years ago?
When me and Justin were going back and fourth it was super motivating for me to have such a close friend to want the same things as me. To win. We actually started our friend from traveling around the world competing together so yes I miss that very much.
Tell me what you love about flatland and also on the flipside what you dislike about it?
I love everything about flatland. I love the beautiful feeling I get from learning a new trick. I love the fact that it is such an individual form of art. I also love the freedom of being able to do whatever I want. As far as things I do not like. I like everything about it. To sit here and complain about people, tricks, or anything would just not be me. I listen to people complain about flatland and never say anything. I have nothing bad to say. Flatland is awesome. It is what it is…
Does it bother you at all, like all the stuff online “Terry hasnt learnt shit in ages” all that kinda stuff? I know your concerned yourself that you need new tricks, can you expand on that…
Those comments mean nothing to me. The older tricks I do today still feel as good as the day I learned them. That is the honest truth. The day they are not fun to me then thats when I will stop doing them. When I go out and learn and new trick it is not to please any of the haters on the internet. It is to please myself. Like I mentioned before.. Staying consistent in comps did slow down my progression but I enjoyed every minute of it. Being able to pull my shit in contest felt way better to me than having 10 new tricks a month. That was my personal preference.
Your riding for the most part is based around using the brakes, why did you feel need to take them off? And what made you put them back on so soon?
I loved how it felt to not worry about having to work on a brake. Like Ed Nussbaum said in Diversion, “It felt like a skateboard” and I loved that. To be honest I was also trying to fit in with the trend. I soon realized I have way to many tricks that I was not ready to give up just yet. I have a ton of demos every year and I like having my brakes for them as well.
What goes into your preparation for contests? Are you doing five in a row every day? Are you strict on the five in a row?
I used to be strict on five and a row all year round. Now I wait until the event/contest is coming close and then I crack the whip down on myself.
Who is the most inspirational flatlander for you, what do they do that inspires you?
Martti inspires me for his creativity drive to always learn new moves.
Justin inspires me for his consistency perfection in his riding.
Matthias inspires me because he makes flatland look so rad and marketable.
Tell me about your backyard spot, you’ve said before you hardly ever ride there, you just had the Cribs video drop, instead you go to the rough surface at Hobby Lobby lot which isnt as flat?
I grew up riding in the Hobby Lobby lot so I just feel comfortable there. I tend to pick the place I know I will have the best session at. Most days I pick Hobby Lobby because I love having a ton of space and feeling free.
You mentioned your really inspired by Martti, and all his new videos? Both yourself and Martti in some ways are totally opposites from each other sport, hes an artist, creating everyday, and your going down a more corporate direction, almost like yin and yang of flatland?
Yeah I see what you mean. haha.. I guess a big reason for that is I started looking up to Martti at a very young age. Nothing has changed. I still look up to him as one of my idols. The man is a legend.
What’s going on with your frame with Flatware?
The frame has been in the testing stages for a while now. Its just about ready and should be available sometime this year!
Just recently you’ve got into real estate, seems wise, with the current state of flatland, how long can you continue this “pro life”?
I have recently become really interested in becoming financially free. This way when the “pro life” is over I can continue to keep living my life the same way. That was a big reason I started to invest my money in that market. I feel I have many years of “Pro Life” ahead of me though so I have not even thinking of that.. I prefer to think about tomorrows session……