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My friend Jake…a crazy bike he will make

Sorry if you don’t like rhymes. So my friend Jake Wheeler and I do stunt shows occasionally. He’s a really good ramp rider. For his day job(s) he does all kinds of things, including making crazy bikes, art pieces and even fun shaped bike racks for store fronts. Give him a mig welder and stand back.

His friend made this sweet little documentary about him, featuring a new project he’s unveiling for a high profile client. Have a look.

October 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm | bikes, friends, inspiration, tools | No comment

Flatland Competition Run – Anarchy In Anderson Competition

Went to Indiana with my friends Tim, Austin and Zunwu to compete in the AMFlat  Anarchy in Anderson competition. It was a pretty good day. Rain ruined the end but it was beautiful otherwise.

My run went ok, but compared to my favorite riders who go a lot faster, I look a bit lethargic.  I need to work on that. Still I placed 2nd in Vet Class.

August 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm | bikes, flatland, freestyle, friends | No comment

Summer 2012 Flatland Riding in New Orleans

I went to a BMX flatland competition called Voodoo Jam. My friend Tim and I drove down to New Orleans on a work trip for him. I tagged along to see the sights and ride in the competition.

We bother entered. I got 2nd place in Vet class. Vet class is for riders who have been in the scene a long time, over 30 but may or may not have polished or modern skills for the expert class.

From the trip, I made a video of my riding, thanks to Tim for shooting with my camera.

June 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm | bikes, flatland, freestyle | No comment

Beautiful flatland riding from Taiko Kaneta in Tokyo

Great form here.  As I watched it I thought that any kid wanting to get into flatland these days has a pretty big workload ahead of him. Even so, this sport must continue. You can see by these types of moves just how fun and mesmerizing flatland can be. These kinds of edits can just keep coming. I’m NOT getting tired of them one bit. The second music clip is very dope. Wish there were more of it.

September 27, 2011 at 8:56 am | bikes, flatland, freestyle | No comment

Red Bull Battle at the Bricks Indianapolis Flatland Comp

What a weekend. I missed a beautiful family wedding, which I regret but had an insanely good time out of town. My good friend Sherrid and I drove to Indy, stayed at my friend Tim’s place in Lafayette, and then attended the Red Bull Flatland Jam and contest the following 2 days. I’d wanted to visit Tim forever and this was the perfect excuse. He’s got the most comfortable sofa in Indiana. As payment, I pumped up the flat tires of his road bike so he could commute the 3 blocks to his job.

Since I did pretty well in Joplin last month in the intermediate flatland class, I decided to move up to expert. There’s a lot of talent in that pool, certainly guys worlds better than me, but I have a few stable tricks I can pull off.  I thought I could manage.  I got 19th of 22.  Could have been better. Nervousness kind of got me. And this is the 2nd time the DJ had technical difficulties and my run was silent. But I think what really gets me is I go too slow. In flatland its a personal preference, but at a contest your speed matters. In some cases the speed will help your stability, as well as it looks good to the crowd and probably the judges.

A friend Joe Cicman shot my run.

A few videos and photos came out of the weekend. I know all the riders agree with me that for flatland, there is no better location and surface than the one we had in Indy. It was inside the racetrack of the Indianapolis speedway on the weekend of the 500. The surface for both the comp and just for practicing was massive, clean and flat. Everyone who wanted to ride around had enough space to spread out. We had free Red Bull the whole time.

Since I lost my memory card from the last contest I made it my mission to get another picture with pro flatlander Terry Adams. Look for his qualifying run below on video. See what you can accomplish when the DJ has your back!

Couple photos from my trip.

If you want to see a couple winners from the expert class, peep Joe Cicman and Mitch Hall below. And lastly, I made it into the Ride BMX magazine website, which was the perfect endcap to an amazing weekend.

I learned quite a few things this trip. It’s a good thing to not try to have expectations for things. Instead just let the situation pull you into the moment to enjoy.  As much as I wanted to score better, that really didn’t matter. And I can see how hard a job it would be to judge this sport, because riding style, the person all create a sort of impression that you must subjectively and objectively rank. I think I maybe did better than a couple people above me, but I’m sure others would have the same feeling about themselves vs my run.  I see it as an opportunity to share what I do, grow, learn and express myself.  The universe really doesn’t care about bicycles, so it’s up to you to create the enjoyment riding ground and find your own reasons why riding is important.

I’m really appreciative of how the weekend went down. It will always be a great memory for me, meeting some new friends, and more conversations with guys I wanted to know better. It’s special being around great and talented people who share your passions, and of course riding 2 days just like I was 16 again.  So happy my friend went with me to share that time, that was a huge thing for me. I’m also lucky we were able to stay with Tim and getting put up at Jake Jackson’s apartment at the last minute.

May 31, 2011 at 4:58 am | bikes, freestyle | 1 comment

e-clips 2000 Flatland that withstands time

It seems that the brakeless decade work that is done in this two-part video will be  untouched for a while. And it’s eleven years old. Some people are professionals at what they do, a few people are gurus and then the very rare passionate fearless become legends.

 

May 21, 2011 at 4:43 am | bikes, freestyle | No comment

Stop watching stupid crap

Another reason why the collective in society aren’t to be trusted, believed or followed without extreme caution.

This video below has less than a thousand views. That’s on the high end for the content it contains as compared to similar. It represents a vast array of human skills applied to bicycle stunt riding in the discipline of flatland. It takes place in a contest format  in Japan where riders meet up, share their skills and technique maybe win a little money. A little showing off, creative expression. As awesome and difficult as flatland is, it’s quite unknown and barely seen. But it takes a lot of energy and persistence to learn and requires a level of commitment most people just don’t have. In short, these people are more skilled and talented and peristent than 99.999% of the rest of the world.

And then we have THIS video below, featured on the front page of youtube giving it has 1.5 MILLION views. What can I say about this video other than it’s absolute crap. You can tell that in about 7 seconds or less.

Here’s where I was encouraged to write about this.  I ran some numbers. If everyone of those viewers of the second video watched it all the way through, that’s 7.5 million minutes spent or 125000 hours, OR 5,208 days, OR if you like, spread out it’s 14 years wasted on that talentless clown in the second youtube video.

It’s really hard to try to make a point about this without getting into the useless argument that one form of entertainment or expression is better than another. So I’m going to just be the alpha male and pounce on this. The bike video is better than the Ray William Johnson video in absolutely every way without question. There’s nothing good about the 2nd video at all. Nothing funny or worth remembering. I’m not enjoying it during the experience and after it’s a big pile of regret. After analysis and discovering the 14 wasted years thing, it’s another nice kick in the balls too.

To compare it to something else, let’s say you need a house built. 20 guys working 8 hour days for three months can handle that easily. At that count you’re looking at 14400 man hours, all together 600 twenty-four hour days.  That’s less than 2 years stretched out.

It doesn’t matter what I say people should do, but the question remains, why does crap get so much attention when we all claim to care about quality? I realize it’s just 2 videos but it’s enough to offer a warning to all of us. We should be seeking out things even in our mindless entertainment that will create an impression that bursts open our imagination. Demand the good stuff and we won’t be as vulnerable to the pull of all the crap begging for our attention. And those people making crap will be less encouraged to do so.

With that out of the way, I’d like to happily report (as a BMX flatland fanatic) that the following 2 videos have 9 million and 1.5 million views. Bravo people. I think the music helped both of these videos a lot though. Without the music, the views would be dramatically different.  That speaks to where content creators can be putting a lot of emphasis on.

May 8, 2011 at 2:16 am | bikes, freestyle, media, music, rants | No comment

Flatland Bike Check – Flatware Waltz

This post will be longer than you will care. But I’m putting it all in. I’ve built a new bike. My first bike change since 1999. Been riding flatland on a tank (Hoffman E.P) forever. I won’t give the impression that I’m some kind of pro, but even as an amateur I still want to share it. Part of the fun of Flatland is the equipment and the variety right?

I’ll get this out of the way quick…YES I ride back brakes. Nobody does anymore hardly but I like having them for all kinds of reasons. Sure they can get in the way and may even provide too much of a crutch, but right now, those don’t outweigh the positives (for me). I can understand the freedom of getting rid of brakes entirely, but I’m not quite done with them yet. I know I’m not alone but I’m in the minority in flatland certainly.

Mike Smick Bike Check - Flatland Flatware Waltz

I realize now just how much I’ve been missing out on the lighter modern frames. Lighter is better. That’s one of the things I like about the Waltz. It’s definitely on the lighter side, even of the newer frames. The heavier bike you’re swinging around you’re definitely expending more energy per hour.  I can tell right now I can maneuver this thing in ways that would have been too strenuous on the other bike.  I have been able to recover mishaps easier. It’s nice to feel like I’m working on the combo more than just straining to hold the bike up. A heavy bike is demotivating. Flatland is all about repetition, so there you go.

So how does the new bike work out for me? I dig it BUT there’s room for improvement. Here’s my full photo gallery and then I’ll give a few more thoughts.

The Flatware Waltz frame designed by Odyssey and Terry Adams is constructed well. I like the tubing. I’ve gotten used to the new setup and geometry in just one session. A couple more I will have tried nearly all the stuff I normally do. It’s all so smooth.

I made the right choice going with the taller and wider Flatware Chase Gouin bars. The shape and design is so right. Wider for me means more leverage in maneuvering. Too narrow and your balance can get thrown off (my opinion). I know my comfort zone and with longer arms, it makes sense.

Problems with my choices?

I’m glad you asked. The Flatware Waltz is right on the edge of being too short for my height.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m keeping it and I’ll enjoy it to the max, but I’d bet adding a half inch to the front and then to the back would work well.  I’m 5’10” and I’d argue anyone my height with a shoe size 10 or over should get a longer bike.

I’ll be looking at a something between 19 and 19.2 next time. You’re going to want to go with 165 cranks for this setup, unless you like your heels hitting the back pegs. If you like longer cranks, this is gonna be a noticeable thing for you.  I jam up back there and my pegs aren’t even that fat.  That tells me the back or the entire bike is too short (at least for somebody with size 11 shoes. Let me make the only other strong criticism. The dropouts on this thing are done wrong. They are notched for grinding for larger axels but once grinded are way too thinned out. Best to just have the larger axel

I’m giving the Waltz a rating of 7.5 / 10.  If it also came in a longer size like 19.2 with proper dropouts it would easily be a 9.5 / 10

I learned a lot from shopping, making a couple mistakes not knowing what to get. I’m better prepared now. Expensive lessons though.

After reading a lot of bike checks, I knew I wanted to show my full parts sheet and prices in the table below. That way you know what’s up. Plus EVERY time kids see me ride they ALWAYS ask,  “How much was your bike?” Now I can tell them to go here and see how ridiculous we all are for loving this expensive sport. I thought about including links to online stores but I don’t want to recommend one retailer over another (unless somebody wants to give me a gift card kickback for promoting them!) Prices should be pretty similar online everywhere.

Part Name Description Price Per piece
Odyssey Flatware Waltz Flatland Bike Frame $344.99
Colony Dejavu Fork $134.99
Demolition Zero Rim Rims x2 $131.98 $65.99
Demolition Bulimia Hub Front $43.99
KHE Reverse Hub Rear (Freecoaster) $149.99
Odyssey Flatware Chase bars 8″ High 6 degree back and upsweep 26″ w $85
Fit Cranks Fit Spline Drive 3pc Crankset $144.99
Eastern Plastic Red Pedals Plastic $11.99
Animal Jump Off Remix Stem Anodized Red $69.99
Tree OG 48 Spline 19mm 22T Sprocket $59.99
Animal Stitched Pivotal Seat $19.99
ODI Longneck Red Grips $19.99
Colony Transformer U-Brake Front and Rear Brakes $119.98 $59.99
Mechanik Hollow-Trac Chain Chain White $29.99
Snafu Moebius Detangler Detangler (gyro piece) $25.99
Quamen Gyro Plate Gyro Plate $11.99
Animal Integrated Headset Headset $27.99
Tech 77 Brake Levers x2 $29.98 $14.99
Oryg SST Cables (top = shorty) Detangler Cables top & bottom $19.98 $9.99
Wheel build labor Danscomp building bike wheels $0.01
Powdercoating frame (white) Custom Paint Powdercoating service $100
Wasted money (in mistakes) Odyssey Chase fork, + $30 powdercoating on unused fork, astroglide detangler cables $185
Odyssey Frequency-G Chase Gouin tires 20×1.85 x2 (NOT soft cp) $47.98 $23.99
Macneil Valve cap (red) Tire Valve cap / cover – anodized red alum 3.99
Colony Jam Circle Pegs Front and Rear pegs (anodized alum red) x2 $89.98 $44.99
Dans Tubes Shrader Valve Tube $7.98 $3.99
Unused Tree Big Balsa Pegs x2 $113.98 $56.99
Demolition Chain Tensioners Chain Tensioners (unused) $19.98 $9.99
TOTAL COST $2052.68

April 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm | bikes, design, general | 1 comment

He’s almost 40 and rides a kid’s bike

At fifteen, when I starting riding bikes seriously, learning tricks and enjoying those times with my friends, we’d watch a lot of bike videos together before and after we’d go riding. On a typical bright Saturday morning after a sleepover, we’d wake up and have some cereal. We’d go to the sofa and shove a VHS tape into the player. Some of the pro riders on the videos would eventually become heroes for me.

Someone performs a stunt on camera, the video is edited into a montage with music. You sit and stare at this imagery and it gives you satisfaction, often making you want to perform the trick yourself.

A bike trick is a very interesting human construct. Let me try to convey this as best I can, and maybe you have your own interpretation as to why it has evolved this way. You take the normal state of riding a bike. But then you alter it. You create a position or maneuver in which you are doing something unique with the bike. For example, you stand on the front peg with one foot and twirl the back end of the bike around. Now you are still in the same position behind the handlebars, but the rest of the bike is in front of you. You coast behind the bike and use your free foot to assist with balance on this one wheel. From this position, you either continue with another transitional stunt, or do the reverse and bring the bike back to a normal state. You “pull” the trick when you know that you have performed the maneuver and returned to normal riding without touching on the ground.

To simplify it into steps:

1. Riding normally (relaxed state)
2. Create difficult situation for yourself where you are likely to fall down.
3. Return to normal riding without breaking your balance

I’d say there are two reasons why we call a bike stunt a ‘trick’. One is again how unique it looks to the viewer. The more strange the position, or the more perceived complexity, the more magical it is. This includes aerial stunts. When someone flies twelve feet over spinning the handlebars in mid-air, people describe a sense of awe. They imagine what it would be like to fly that high and maybe the adrenaline rush and risk of landing safely The second reason we say they are tricks is more with sensations the rider experiences.? There are many sensations during a trick ranging from fear and urgency to relaxation and there is a process where you learn to fit yourself in that perfect position where minimal force is required to maintain balance. ? Maybe it’s the sensation of a perfect spinning motion where your mind and body are so dialed into the move that your focus turns inward. Over the course of learning the maneuver people have described creating a muscle memory, where performing it becomes easier and consistency can be achieved and easily returned to even between long periods without practice.

When you walk around the block, you don’t think to yourself that it is an amazing act of balance and performance of the nervous system. But there was a time when you were learning to walk that you might have had to cross a distance of five or ten feet to reach your mothers arms as you were encouraged by her to go a little bit further. ? The excitement has faded with walking for most people just as the trickiness of a bike stunt wears off once it can be achieved too easily. To the rider it ceases to be a trick although a new viewer might be impressed by it.

This raises several questions with me. What force would encourage a person to perform a non standard riding maneuver just to see if they could pull out of it successfully?? Why would we create a self-induced difficulty through non-standard use of a bicycle? We almost take this for granted, but it’s actually quite strange. Try to pretend being an alien observing this type of behavior in humans. Can you come up with a theory??? I draw from Joseph Campbell’s writing on cross cultural heroes in mythology and try to imagine how this behavior might be part of us innately.

Tonight I was reading an interview with one of my heroes from the bike videos I watched over and over. Hero might be the wrong word, as I don’t really want to be like him in any way, but there are certain aspects of his riding that I would like to experience for myself.? Wait though. Maybe he truly is a hero then. If I would like to experience some of the things he’s done, if he’s become part of my memory, if he is a subject of the stories I tell, then doesn’t that make him a hero?

Chase Gouin is his name. Read what Chase Gouin says about flatland freestyle that goes a little deeper than you might expect from a 35 year old who rides a kids bike.

About why I got into bikes and stayed with it for so long? Camradarie is one thing. But I enjoy riding alone too. My reasons have changed over time too. There has always been the narcissism that goes with completing a stunt successfully. But now I think of the enormous range of emotion and tactile experience in biking. I suppose I could describe it, but if you’ve skied down a mountain or swam in a lake, then you can fill that in yourself.

July 22, 2007 at 4:37 am | bikes, freestyle, philosophy | No comment

images from the past

When I was a junior back in Missouri State University, I spent a lot of time in the basketball courts between classes. On warm days you’d find me out there a couple times of week on my bike riding flatland. It was a great surface to ride on. A couple tricks I have only landed once in my life and that was the place it happened. One day in early spring, a photographer was there shooting around the area. He happened to come by my favorite spot while I was riding flatland and snapped a few pics from afar. I remember the nice photographer waving to me.

The next morning I woke up to find a surprising email. A fraternity brother sent out a group email congratulating me for getting my picture in the Springfield News-Leader. It was a pretty cool shot. I didn’t want to buy a paper, but I was able to grab some tossed copies in the lobby of the dorm. Pretty nice shot I thought.

Tonight I was googling my name. I always like to see what pops up. Crazy I know, but I don’t feel guilty about it or anything, it’s just curiosity. The News-Leader used the old photo again for a story just a few days ago. I’m glad I found stumbled across it. I’ll see if I can actualy get a print this time. Flatland freestyle frozen in time.

May 28, 2006 at 4:01 am | bikes, freestyle, nostalgia, photography | No comment