Jim McKay supports the flatland scene in so many ways. He always seems to be there to give encouraging words and support to anyone that rides. Jim is a legit guy who in many ways does a lot for flatland: with his Flatstyle site, his continued dedication to flatland, the help he gives the OG Crew in filming and of course his and Josh’s – Team McDuff. I met Jim first over Facebook and then in person at JoMo Pro. I could tell then that he would be a friend for life and a great supporter of Flatland. He is one of the most genuinely nice guys you will ever meet and if you ever get the chance to ride with him you will too get to see the dedication he puts into BMX and helping others. His energy is contagious, and his riding style is definitely his one of a kind personality. For all that he does he deserves some recognition, so let’s dive into his interview!
Letīs start simple first
Name: jm mckay.
I got my start in bmx about 10 or 11 years ago as a street rider. After about 3 years of that, I discovered flatland through a flyer for an Elevation contest. I went to it as a spectator, by myself, and have been riding flatland ever since.
There are a lot of tricks I love for various reasons, but lately in general I like pivots and tricks that get the bike off the ground the most.
Every time Iīve tried to name names, I end up with such a long list. This handful of riders are guys that have both inspired me, and influenced my viewpoint on what I love about flatland: Dane Beardsley, Jody Temple, Shintaro Misawa, Lee Musselwhite, David Weathersby, and Adam DiClaudio.
Favorite riding spot:
I have two favorite riding spots. One is an empty basketball court by my house that Iīve been riding at for a couple years. I have my best sessions there. When I ride with people, the OG is the best.
So as we all know you and Josh started Team McDuff; I also noticed you had been selling McDuff gear online, so how did that start and how is it going?
Honestly, I started designing shirts because I thought it would be funny. Most of the designs are based on jokes between me and my friends. I didnīt want to make typical flatland shirts that were completely literal; a bike and a guy doing a trick...that type of thing. I wanted designs that anyone would wear, and have people react to them. So far Iīve sold one shirt- after Charlie Sheenīs crash and burn, I made a shirt that just said "#tigerblood" and it sold immediately. I would love to find a good local screen printer and have some of the better designs made tho. The online shops charge so much per shirt that itīs no wonder I havenīt sold more.
Why did you start Team McDuff?
It all started with the French guys. They were the first real flatland "team" in recent years. They travelled together, competed together, and seemed to be having a great time. At that time they were also dominating the contest scene around the world. About that time, good friends Alex Poirier and Prasheel Gopal started īPralexī. Josh and I thought it would be funny to make our own team of flatland blackīs sheep. We contacted our favorite riders from around the world and added them, along with our favorite local riders. Team McDuff is officially the largest flatland team in the world now. Some of the riders include: Seongtaek Kwon, Effraim Caitlow, George Manos, Ciaran Perry, Sean Burns, Shintaro Misawa, Eric Wright, Tim Knoll, Diego Tejada, Matthias Dandois, and Hideki Kawai. Right now there are around 25 riders on the team.
I know personally how hard you ride and it is great to see how fast you are progressing. When did you start riding and why?
I started riding pretty late in life compared to most riders. At the time, I was a carpenter and I was living in a 150 square foot efficiency apartment with my new wife, located on the side of my new in-law’s house; who I also worked for. I really needed something to do that got me out of there in the evenings, and gave me freedom and a sense of accomplishment. I chose BMX. My first bike was a camouflage aluminum Redline dirt jump bike that I found at a flea market. It was dreadful. I scabbed it together and frequently replaced broken parts with parts off other junk bikes. After about 6 months I realized that I needed a real bike, something that wouldnīt break every week. My first build weighed almost 40 pounds brakeless, but it had good wheels and never failed me. I was stoked. I rode street every day for hours. At that point, I felt I was becoming a rider.
After witnessing the Elevation flatland contest I was inspired in a way that I had previously not known. Steve Mulder blew my mind! That night I went home, ready to learn flatland. It didnīt go well. I learned very slowly and was tempted to just give up more than once. I decided to get a credit card and buy a flatland frame. I got the Sick Child Badda Bling that had just come out, after seeing some pictures of Ed in a magazine showing how to do a hitch hiker. At this time I didnīt have internet, tv, or friends who rode. I made a lot of dumb mistakes my first 2 years and didnīt progress much. At some point I bought a pump with a gage and saw that Iīd been running a laughably low pressure in my tires from the start. My riding got better after that.
You do a lot for flatland in my eyes. You started Flatstyle and post videos and photos all the time, I have to thank you for that. How did you come up with the idea for the site and the name?
Thank you. When I started Flatstyle, there were already well established blogs out there, namely Flatmatters and Lisiasī blog from Brasil. I checked those out a lot, and found that a lot of videos that I thought were awesome were not being shared- a lot of AM level riders are very inspiring to me and I thought they should also have a place to be featured and honored; in the same light that the pros were in other sites. I have great admiration for a lot of Japanese riders and I also wanted a place to feature videos from them, for myself as well as for others. The name was easy; flatland with style. I am interested in beauty, and I cater to that. From the beginning Iīve tried to include art made by riders, and continue to do so; providing some additional exposure for their work. Iīve begun to feature and promote musicians within flatland also, AF THE NAYSAYER being at the top of the list right now.
I think am correct in saying that you help out the OG Crew by filming a lot. Any new projects in sight?
I tend to drop hints about upcoming projects periodically, but there is a lot more going on behind the scenes right now than ever before. The best is yet to come. Please stay tuned!
I met you at JoMo Pro a few years ago and I hope to see you there again this year. Are you planning on entering and what level?
I will be there again this year, and hopefully every year this contest takes place. Iīm coming to terms with the fact that Iīm not a great rider, and even more so, not a great contest rider. Iīm finally ok with that. If I enter, it will be just as a personal challenge. Iīm at ease with not competing and will enjoy myself either way among the good people there.
Are you planning on riding at any other events this year? And is the OG planning any of their rad jams yet?
This year Iīll be at Jomopro, Voodoo Jam, and Texas Flatland Roundup. If Iīm not on the contest floor, check the parking lot. A jam this spring or summer at the OG is already in the works. Iīll keep you posted!
What are your motivations?
This is going to sound odd, but a big motivator right now is not turning into a fat couch potato like my neighbors my age. I like to get soaked with sweat, wake up sore, feel the freedom of an empty lot with just me and my bike and pushing myself to be MY best. I used to catch myself comparing my riding to others, or using it as a motivator, but I donīt do that anymore. I set personal goals and try to reach them. Thatīs it. I am always motivated.
What tricks are you working on now?
I am working on learning things on the opposite side of the bike now, something that has intimidated me for too long. I want to be more ambidextrous. Even tho I really donīt have a lot of tricks that I do, I strive to be distinct, with my own tiny bit of style. Iīve started landing on the pegs and rolling the backwards hiker jump to backpacker, so at the moment my goal is to land with enough speed to ride out.
I know you have two little girls and you work, so how do you make time to ride?
Iīm not sure. haha. I mean I need to ride. When my first daughter was born, I worked crazy hours and rode in the middle of the night instead of sleeping. That was literally my only free time. It was extremely hard, but Iīd do it all over again. I think if a person wants something badly enough, theyīll find a way to make it happen.
Do you have any advice for riders out there?
Itīs ok to not be cool. Donīt be afraid to ride for yourself and cut your own path. Find what you love most about riding and dive in head first. Keep it rubber side down.
Who would you like to thank for your motivation and support?
First and foremost thanks go to my lovely wife Mary for understanding that I canīt help the way I am, and for both believing in me and supporting me in all I do. Iīd like to thank Mark Dandridge for welcoming me into the world of flatland, and into Austin when I moved here to ride with everyone. Iīd like to thank Josh Duffek for being my first riding buddy, and for being there from the start. I give thanks to the riders in Austin for keeping flatland alive in my life. I donīt know what my life would be like without the OG family and friends here, so I want you guys to know that you mean the world to me.
Iīd like to extend thanks to everyone Iīve met and ridden with in my time here, and everyone who has shown support and helped me out. Thank you Luis at ART BMX Magazine for allowing us the chance to share our little scene with the rest of the world and making one of my lifelong dreams a reality. Thank you Hector Garcia and Fiksd/The Byke Project for your continued support. Finally thank you Lea for this opportunity to say a few words about my life.
I would like to thank Jim for all his inspiration and all the hard work he put’s in to not only progress but to recognize other riders. See you at JoMo McKay!
Feel free to once again send me videos and the name of any rider that you think deserves some recognition!
Hope to see some of you at Toronto! I will be riding and taking some pictures for Global!