What do you expect from your surfaces?
A philosophy of Bicycle MotoCross (BMX) and everything.
All I see is a demonstration of patterns in flow within these lines. I know you don’t understand. I don’t expect it at all. It’s a philosophy, I guess, as you have to practice it and then you understand the whole idea of flatland as a discipline with the sport of bicycle motocross. AKA BMX. I guess you mostly famously you know this extreme sport from the famous scene from Spielberg’s 1982 classic ‘ET’, as a couple of the professionals of that era (as they are dressed up as hooded youth) jump in front of the moon. But as Viki Gomez, current world champion in this BMX discipline describes it “Flatland is an art form where imagination, a bike and a smooth flat ground are needed in order for the artist to create tricks and express their self”. Things like surface become extremely important to how you see the idea of movement. As just like in other disciplines: like Floor in gymnastics and in contemporary terms Break dancing. But you don’t need to wear any fetishistic lycra garments, just ride a child-size bicycle that turns into an obsession in various different areas of your life. Especially when it I come to finding ‘spots”, aka areas land to ride within. Carparks are always a good choice but there is always a piece of derelict asphalt to be found. I also would call it a psychogeographical adventure that all of the professional BMXers, which are quoted in this text, have plunged into all their lives without knowing. Well, finding empty, perfectly smooth surfaces can be seen in that way. Oh, and as the title of the activity suggests, a piece of flat ground, flatland if you don’t get it yet. Not bumpy, not rough, perfectly flat.
We generally walk on any surface. Thinking nothing of it. In cycling, the idea of traveling over a terrain becomes a challenge. But there is nothing like just rolling on a piece of level concrete, heaven on earth that you can lose your self within for a couple of hours in order of thinking of the purgatory that we call this dogmatic society. Or as Alexis Desolneux puts it, this art form is “To reveal potential pre-existing universal motion and to give it a human representation. Physics meeting aesthetics, Nature positively affected by the human will to express.” The concrete surface is a focus point for the meaning of life in this discipline. Forgetting the hours in empty carparks, with its smooth tarmac and the illusion of space that it brings in order just to learn a new balancing point. Just ignoring the world around you, taking note of the passing traffic that gets caught in your personal space along with your personal thought. As Jay Forbe explains “I normally describe it as my distraction from destruction”. Just a distraction is a bit of an underestimation of this reality in which we live in, but a humbling experience all the same. As, in this existence nothing is perfect and practice is everything just for that one perfect moment.
The Gymnasium floor is a luxury in this respect, a calm environment with the supplement of heating, within the security of four walls and the added extra of a roof. As you can see in the images of this smooth & shinny floor is not truly perfect riding condition for a competition, but is controllable for setting an event. Usually, a couple of gallons of cola are sprayed onto the floor, to create a temporary sticky surface. Rather the opposite than Northern Soul dancers use talc powder to be able to slide on the dance floor, the tires need to stick to the floor P.S. this works especially well as the screw-on sprayer caps (such as hair dressers and florists use) fit perfectly onto two litter bottles of sugary carbonated drinks! As the location featured as the backdrop for this series of floor photographed at level Vibes Jam 2015, Crayford, UK. This location and many others were designed for competition in general as well as comradely in many Olympic disciplines. The lines on the floor have a sense of being a Zen garden in my eyes. Showing a ridged structure of a variety of sports of coloured lines. Outlining rules out of this work. But rules are there to be broken? How can you advance in life if you have silly little things holding you back? As is the philosophy of BMX, where there is only one idea that comes to mind: an ideal called freestyle. Rules are there only there for your imagination to break them. As James Whites believes: “An open mind and a BMX taking you where ever you want to go, that’s Flatland.” As there are no rules, this opens up the possibility that anything is possible. As there is no rulebook to this reality, I should add here, apart from the laws of physics. I should add a little point here; yes gravity does act like a limitation to this sport, anyway, but also helps with the act of balance and the momentum of the bicycle while it’s in flow. so why playing a game within the configuration of regulations that constricts you from finding yourself as human being? Sadly the only thing stopping us is ourselves is our lack of imagination, as this is the hardest obstacle to overcome.
These ideas can be translated into the feeling of freedom in to our personal life. Understanding that control is needed in order to be happy in the moment, to make sure that there is flow in your existence. Martti Koppa explains, “Flatland BMX is the way I move and the air I breathe. It is something I sit still with. It´s in my blood. In my tears. In my joy. Under my skin wandering around.” These patterns are not by chance on these pages. Hundreds of hours have been put into practicing the same trick in mostly isolated patches of concrete to produce these tire marks. Being in peace with oneself so that within a couple of minutes, within a timed completion run, each balancing point looks like child’s play. Sadly I wish it was, but it’s not. As in life, it takes practice and the acceptance of failure in order to achieve a position in which you are happy being in. This also involves a lot of thinking with your creativity. Playing its part to actively engaging in a balancing act of happiness, along with practical mathematics. Seeing what works out between your imagination and reality, then coming to some compromise within an empty flat space that should be you see in front of you.
However, anyone will tell you that the simplest things in life are the most enjoyable. Chad Degroot mentions “Flatland is my happy place to grow and love it after this many years is unreal. Just simply rolling around circles has always put a smile on my face”. This is what I would foresee heaven to be, as mentioned before. Just rolling at a comfortable speed, without any brakes and just freewheeling through empty space in thoughtless control. Ideas of Zen metaphysics come to completion. With every simple movement controlled by you and no external forces undermining your being. As these ideas of free movement can be translated into other areas of avant-guard forms to a broader idea of everyday living from a subjective viewpoint. As we fact have full control over our bodies, with a little concentration and involving more training. That we are in full reign of every part of the fluidity of our bodies and minds. Able to control our physical embodiment with just an idea of what is possible within our imagination. It’s just a case of thinking where to put your foot before it touches the ground. Yes, as your brain seeing before the body acts. Then the thyme of muscle memory takes over and yeah, I know that’s when the magic happens. Fluidity in the idea of just “Being’ in perfect synchronicity with the world you inhabit. But I’m rambling on, forgive me, reading these words is not going to improve your life more that you practicing these things in the real world. A physical world with surfaces and textures. So let’s end by simply putting it like this; every action to be thought about and completed with perfection with the world that you believe in. As in the art of flatland, as in life, I’ve personally realized that the key is not overthinking the situation but just to relax, that everything matters, but all is important if you wish to believe in it. Just like these anarchic marks on a dogmatic floor. But I can personally just see and think the following: just repeat; don’t panic and repeat. Always repeat.