Odyssey BMX Summercomp

     Odyssey BMXSummerComp 2005

Were you ever watching a certain flatland school video (the original one), in particular the old school section, and been wondering to yourself “wouldn’t it be great to ride in such beautiful surroundings?” If you were far too absorbed with the riding to watch the credits (or like me, just plain lazy) you may have missed the location; Portimao, Portugal. This was the setting for this year’s Odyssey BMX Summer Comp, and if you had made the trip, you would have discovered a secret flatland heaven…but more on this later. The competition itself was held at the Parque da Juventude, about 10 minutes from Portimao town centre. As you walked through the entrance, across the pond via the miniature bridge, along the edge of the street course, you are reminded of the location of the 2003 BMX world championships, by artwork on the ground. Just beyond the street course was the flatland/ breakdance area, which has as its backdrop more artwork, graffiti this time and some virtuoso pieces on display too. And I didn’t even mention the warm, welcoming atmosphere which surrounded the Parque throughout the weekend. You could say it was the perfect setting for a flatland contest, with a dj and mc in effect to complete the scene. And you would be right – it was perfect.

The flatland competition was divided up into amateur and professional categories and included some well-known riders like OG Marton, Valter and the currently untouchable (in Flatground) Viki. The amateur riders would be known as ‘Stunt Boys’ and the pros, ‘Stunt Men’; this good humour of the organizers carried itself throughout the entire event. The plan was to arrive early on the Saturday to watch as much of the qualifying/ practice riding as possible. As your writer considers himself an amateur, it was important to monitor the level considered as amateur at competition level, but most importantly to find both motivation and inspiration. Before the event there had been talk of the organizers preparing a wood floor for the flatland which didn’t materialize and was not missed; the area itself was similar in size and quality to a standard outdoor basketball court – plenty of grip and apart from a few longitudinal grooves, nice and flat. My friend the ‘Concierge’ at the gate told me that there had been minor problems with the supplier of the wood flooring; the fact that it never happened didn’t appear to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

And we, the spectators, were treated to some great displays of flatland. In truth it was difficult to imagine anyone not qualifying, as in total for both classes there could only have been around 20 entrants. It would have been nice to see the flatland part of this comp better supported, particularly the pros who were outnumbered 2-1 by the amateurs, however those that were there put on a great show. Amongst the amateur riders, one was practicing long, solid hitchhikers; I have never witnessed hitchhikers this smooth or this long, maybe even at pro level. The same rider punctuated his session with the occasional rollade, while another was pulling clean halflash-to-ashtray-to-gerator/ caboose combos. And yet another brakeless ‘Stunt Boy’ was working on hang-5-to-turbine-to-squeakers-to…let’s not get into the standard trick naming situation. Plain and simple these guy were giving it their all; the effort and concentration was visible. You could sense that for some of them it was their first ever comp, and they intended to make the most of the opportunity to share their talent and express themselves. If you looked closely enough, you could sense and feel the sheer joy at having pulled something a trick at its umpteenth attempt, and you would notice the corners of your mouth curl upwards slightly, imperceptibly sometimes, in sync with the rider. This is what real audience participation is all about. It was also nice to see both amateurs and pros jamming together, practicing together; all in all the atmosphere and conditions were conducive to riding.

If interesting flatland bikes are your thing, as they are mine, there was plenty to feast you eyes. Let’s just say the future looks very bright for flatland’s European producers, and of course the riders. No doubt you have already seen the OG Dadan prototype elsewhere on these pages. Wait until you see it in the flesh, built up as a complete bike – it’s the kind of frame that has you looking at it while simultaneously inventing new links in you mind. The new KGB offering, in that subtle baby blue shade that Viki was rocking also looks tidy. Both the designers put their wares to good use – we were treated to textbook pedalling time machines and upside-down megaspin combos from Marton, and those familiar but highly impressive spinning frontwheel varials from Viki.

Click the image to see more ..

As a rider you are aware how much time it takes to perfect moves like these, but when you see them being performed by two of the finest, well they make it look effortless…thankfully no-one witnessed any major crashes in the flatland comp; mobile medical facilities were on hand throughout the day just in case. Also very interesting was the bike ridden by one of the Stunt Boy finalists – a black old-school Robbie Morales frame. (Picture posted by Valter on Global-Flat homepage). It reminded me of a cross between a late 80’s Haro Master and and even older-school Torker, with those double top tubes and raised ‘caboose’ chain stays. You see, what goes around comes around…anyhow this bike was put to very good use by its owner the following day in the finals.

Sunday – finals day. Proceedings began with a breakdance display that had the crown cheering and rocking to those vibrant hip-hop beats (‘even heard a touch of breakbeat/ drum ‘n’ bass later which was refreshing) then on to the Stunt Boy final. Personally, from watching endless videos of contests, I always imagined it being quite difficult to concentrate on a run when both an mc and a dj are in full swing – what if you aren’t even into hip hop? (Difficult to imagine but its true, some people simply don’t like it). Perhaps it was distracting for the riders, as this fan certainly noticed a slight difference in the riding from Saturday. It’s difficult, especially if you ride, not to feel a certain kinship with your flatland Brethren, which probably explains the knot I felt in my stomach when virtually each and every amateur competitor began his run. No doubt it’s a combination of nerves, the sounds, the atmosphere, and lets face it, at this level its not about money or status, its all about the riding, about doing your best, about showing your peers, the spectators, your family and friends, and yourself, what you can do on a bike. All the riders impressed me with their commitment and style. It takes a lot to put yourself on the line like that – ask any professional athlete from any other discipline. This humble flatlander salutes you all.

Stunt Boy highlights? For me it had to be that rider on the Morales who, despite appearing not to know anybody there, and who travelled with his Lady and little girl, despite being obviously nervous, pulled nearly every trick he tried. Those gerator/ caboose/ whiplash combos referred to earlier – this is your man. We got to see one of those clean, tight hitchhikers for the entire length of the flatland area too; man I was studying the technique hard! The crowd got behind everyone too and really added to the ambience. Stunt Man highlights? No doubt many reading this will have already downloaded and rinsed the Braun Flatground video. If you think it’s difficult to describe Viki’s links or even understand what is going on – it isn’t any easier seeing this style in real time…highly impressive. OG Marton pulled a Phil Dolan – style nose wheelie, in that inimitable OG style of course, straight in and tight as hell, and apart from the Stunt Boy I mentioned earlier who was doing rollades for fun, was the only other rider pulling those crowd-pleasing decades. Best trick – you may have read elsewhere Pedro Melo’s best trick winner described as a 260 to manual to tailwhip. This is what really went down - a 360 bunnyhop to rear manual. A circular rear manual of about 3metre radius, being cranked at times for momentum a la Chad Cagy, followed by a whopper, or flatland tailwhip. Trust me you haven’t seen this trick on any video…yet.

Your friendly webmaster will hopefully post some of the pictures I took from the event – they say far more than my words ever could. Something even a photo can’t capture however is the wealth of inspiration and motivation to ride attending a flatland competition can give you. I would thoroughly recommend, no I insist that we all do our part and support these events, whatever the rider line up and wherever the location. Do what I did and make it into a summer holiday – you won’t regret it, I promise. Porimao, Portugal. Such a beautiful place, wonderful climate, beautiful scenery and acres upon acres of mirror smooth concrete. Thanks to Odyssey, the organizers, the riders, the fans, everyone who made this event so special. See you next year!


Stunt Boy
Stunt Man

1. Daniel Fuentes (Spain)
2. Manuel Zamudio (Spain)
3. Bento Galado (Portugal)
4. Wilson Mendes (Portugal)
5. Alejandro Arroyo (Spain)

1. Viki Gomez (Spain)
2. Marton Szilagyi (Hungary)
3. Pedro Melo (Portugal)
4. Fernando Bayona (Spain)
5. Valter Guerreiro (Portugal)

2nd of October 2005 - Carl Bourne