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A peek into Portland’s BMX flatland scene

Posted by on January 17th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Portland Winter Flatland Jam-1
Group shot
Slideshow below
(Photos © J. Maus)

On Saturday, I got a glimpse into another vibrant part of our local bike scene at the Portland Winter Classic Flatland Jam. The annual event was held inside a non-descript warehouse in inner Northeast, just north of E. Burnside. There was a two-sided vert ramp for the jumpers and a large open space where the trick riders could do their thing. Fans and friends stood around the edges of the action, erupting into cheers whenever someone landed a tough trick.

Portland Winter Flatland Jam-17 Portland Winter Flatland Jam-7 Portland Winter Flatland Jam-20 Portland Winter Flatland Jam-14

The Jam was put together by a few guys who just love the sport and want to see it thrive. Justin Hoey is one of them. In between tricks of his own, I asked him what type of people had shown up. “It’s a mix of local street kids, to established pros, to the “gurus” who started riding back in the ’80s.” Hoey says BMX was at its peak in the 1980s, but by the mid-1990s it had “died out.”

Portland Winter Flatland Jam-13
Portland Winter Flatland Jam-16
Blake Hicks.

Today, the sport looks to be alive and well. The warehouse was buzzing with energy. Local professional photographer Jared Souney was snapping photos for ESPN (check out his amazing shots), event organizer Joe Loumena was passing out prizes and keeping everyone happy, and there was a steady stream of jumpers and trick riders.

Other faces in the crowd included local pro flatlander Blake Hicks, X-Games street riding champ Bruce Crisman, and Bret Hadly (one of the “gurus” according to Hoey).

Check out more photos from the event in the slideshow below…

For more, check out these local BMX links:

  • Goods BMX BlogThe local BMX shop. See their blog for more photos of the Flatland Jam and other updates on the local scene.
  • Enjoy The Trick – Website for local group who puts on the Flatland James (stay tuned for a larger event this summer).
  • Everyday Paradise – The online home for Justin Hoey’s action sports media projects which includes the monthly BMX/flatland/freestyle web TV show, FlatwebTV.
  • BMXMuseum.com – Portlander Gary Sansom’s world-renowned site with classifieds, forums, and much more.

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Comments
  • RWL1776 January 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Nice story and all, but what about the fact that only TWO of the riders were wearing a helmet? Excellent example for young kids who may check out this story.

    And yes, I am a survivor of a wicked crash on my BMX bike, 1981, and I wish I had been smart enough to be wearing my helmet that day. It was a painful lesson.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for mentioning that. Now, when kids read this story they’ll see your comment and it will remind them of the importance of wearing a helmet.

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      • jim January 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

        its probably a hard sell since the skateboarders dont wear helmets and there is little push for that, some of these may be the same group…

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    • Blake Hicks January 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Yeah the wearing no helmets is a issue within our bmx community. On that people go back and fourth with the topic & learn from their lessons. Although just to add to it, when i do ramps & vert I have a whole set of pads & a full-face that I ride with. When approaching Flatland BMX ( the love of my life & career ) I have always approached the sport with the phrase ” Learn to fall “. You cant avoid it, your going to fall 90% of the time. Before every new trick I attempt I intentionally ditch the bikes hundreds/ thousands of times in every aspect possibly. The biggest injury/awareness that is always in my mind is me snapping my ankle or wrist. For this, every time I ride I wear ankle guards. For the last 2 years I’ve spent at minimum 5 to 10 hours a day riding in circles, It is hard to comprehend / express how much time I invest in one trick. ( average time spent learning a 4 second trick is prob 80 hours of solid on a bike practice ). Ha the running joke with flatlanders vs street riders is u cant get hurt doing flatland cause your never more then 2 feet from the ground. In all just remember the biggest lesson of all ” Learn to Fall “

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      • RWL1776 January 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm

        Blake,

        the leaders of the flatlanders need to lead by example, not ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Even a crash at 10 mph can cause significant injuries.

        I remember an old saying: “If you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet!”. I guess that means if you are wearing no helmet, your noggin must not be worth much at all.

        Check the link above, for .pdf copies of BMXA. They had a policy of NEVER depicting a rider without a helmet on. Why? “Because all the cool kids were doing it!”….they were wearing helmets.

        Starting in 1981 or so is when RL Osborn of BMXA started the BMX trick riding. Cool old school photos.

        Keep riding, be safe!

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  • Justin Hoey January 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Your right we should all follow the rules of the road and where a helmet. As we were learning these tricks we had our helmets on, and have participated in bike safety events for kids. Were your helmets kids!

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  • Skid January 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you Jonathan for going outside the cycling norm and covering the nearly underground activity of flatland BMX. It has developed into something that is just amazing to watch.

    And on to the helmet zealot….This is Flatland BMX, it does not involve getting air. It’s a bunch of rolling balance tricks, unless you wore the helmet on your buttocks it would be very unlikely that you would use it. Whatever you do, don’t go to Vimeo, almost all the BMX vids have helmetless riders, and they are going big, way bigger than we did back in the 80′s.

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  • shannon January 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    A warehouse full of flatland champs were in town and we didn’t know about it beforehand? !!!! Devastating. NO, really: devastating. My whole saturday was wasted.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm

      I hear you shannon! I just learned about it on Friday and put it in our Weekend Event Guide ASAP. The good news is that I’ll have more warning before the next one. I hope to do more flatland coverage in the days/weeks/months ahead… starting with a profile of Blake coming soon!

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  • Matt January 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Joe Loumina and Brett “The Groundhog” Hadley are the real deal. I rode with those guys back in the mid 80′s!

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  • Brian Johnson January 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

    This was a cool feature. However, I’d like to point out that BMX is NOT freestyle riding. BMX is much more than just that. BMX encompasses several disciplines, including BMX racing. BMX racing is alive and well in this area– from spring to fall, races are held weekly at Salem, Molalla, and Newberg tracks. There’s an indoor track down in Eugene. You’re missing out on a sizable segment of cycling. BMX racing introduces kids at a young age to REAL racing– not “kiddie races”. My son discovered BMX racing last summer and now we’re both big fans (I’ve already learned a lot from BMX racing that I can apply to other types.)

    Start here: http://capitolcitybmx.com/Capitol_City_BMX/Welcome.html

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Hey Brian,

      Thanks for the comment. I hear you and I realize there’s much more to BMX than just flatland. I felt like I had to use the term “BMX” because I think a lot of folks don’t know what flatland is but everyone knows what BMX is. Let’s not get hung up on the wording… I’m just happy to learn more about the BMX scene in Portland and the entire state. Thanks for the info and I hope to share more BMX coverage in the future. Feel free to contact us with info on big events and other related news anytime.

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      • Bret Hadley January 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm

        Thanks for the great article and exposure, I thought it was very well done. Interesting discussion as well! See you guys at the summer event!

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  • Brad Ross January 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I am bummed to have missed this event. I got my start on BMX bikes way back in the late ’70′s and am now getting interested in it again.

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