BMX Freestyler - Interview with Adam DiClaudio

Source: BMX Freestyler
URL of the article: http://www.bmxfreestyler.com/2011/09/interview-with-adam-diclaudio.html
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An Interview with Adam DiClaudio
Interview by Bmxfreestyler.com

B:  What’s your age?
 A:  27

B:  How long have you been riding flatland?
A:  Since about 1996

B:  Where do you live?
A:  ATX ***Austin Texas ***512 J

B:  What’s your current occupation?
A:  I’m a Lead Production Coordinator at FedEx Office in Downtown Austin and I started the OG Flatland Stunt Team.

B: Tell us more about that.
A:  Last year I was contacted to do a few shows for another stunt team.  I began to think that with so many flat riders in Austin, I should start my own company. I decided to call it “OG Flatland Stunt Team” (OG meaning Oltorf Garage).  I saved up and bought a Fender PA system, talked to different people in the business to figure out what was best, and am now working on promoting. The website is OGFST.com   We are starting to get inquiries about demos and it’s a lot more fun than going to “work”.  I hope that in a few years the business will be successful enough to go part time at my other job or maybe even do shows full time. (Ride my bike for a living)
B:  Do you think more flatlanders should do shows or make show teams?
A:  I think if you’re into that kind of riding, then yes. It can only help awareness of the sport, especially to people who have never actually seen flatland; which by show of hands at our demos is almost everyone.  New opportunities present themselves every time we ride so it can put flatland into really cool and unusual situations that you wouldn’t normally find it in. Some riders I know just aren’t into doing shows and I can respect that. From both perspectives, you don’t want flatlanders to come off like circus show monkeys, yet shows may be the best way for the sport to be noticed and to help riders get paid for doing what they love. I guess the way I see it is as long as you feel what you’re doing in your shows is tasteful, allowing the art of flatland to show through and being true to how much your comfortable with then it’s healthy to do demos for the public. Another thing I’d like to say is if you start a team, don’t sell yourself short. You spend years mastering your tricks in one of the (if not the hardest) sports on the planet. Your skills are few and far between. If you can land links that can impress the crowds, don’t sell yourself for a very low amount. Flatland should be a pricy entertainment option.

B:  You have your own custom frame and handlebars from London Bikes. Tell us the process of how you figured out what you wanted and why you designed the parts the way you did.
A:  I designed the frame off the front end of the KHE Tantra, and the backend of the KGB Superpower. The Tantra had a 75 degree head tube and seat tube. This brought the seat much closer to me when I was on the front wheel so it felt better than leaning really far over the front to reach the seat. Since there’s less back and forth body leaning balance between tricks while on the front wheel, it takes less time to get correctly stood up before switches and less back strain. Having the seat farther foreword also gives you more room above the back tire to get your leg and foot in. The backend is designed at the length of the Superpower. (The Tantra just had a little too short of a back end). That’s the positives. The downsides is that there is less room above the top tube, and having a 75/75 makes it a little harder to pump since you have less area to “get off” your balance point and “return” to create a pump. The custom bars are ugly as sin, (The overall look of my design, but not the fabrication) although they are very functional for flat. I wanted more room, so that’s what I did. I got sick of hitting my knees. Upsides are I have plenty of room to get around the front without hitting anything. Downsides are it makes tomahawk tricks a little harder because of the height of the mini crossbar, and plastic mans are extremely hard when you don’t have anything to rest your leg on. Everything I designed was for my style of riding and might not work for other riders.

I currently have a second flatland frame designed. One like no other frame I’ve ever seen. I have to save up some money to have it created. It is nutty like my bars. This new one will have 73 degree seat tube to even out the two extremes between 71 and 75; to fix the downsides on my current frame along with other tweaks. If you want the best fabricated flatland frame in the entire world, (and I’m not just saying that… do your research) go to londonbikes.us . They are more expensive, but again, the best should be.

B:  What kind of advice would you give to someone who was thinking about designing their own frame?
A:  The only reason I did it was because there were no frames or bars on the market to get exactly what I wanted. So first advice, try lots of different frames and parts out to see what works best for your tricks or style of riding you want to go towards. Second is to go with a good manufacturer who knows whether or not a design will be strong enough to hold up to abuse and who knows what thickness of tubes to use in the correct spots to save weight and still be strong.

B:  What parts in the industry do you think can be changed to be better?
A:  I think that the KHE Mac tires are some of the best tires available, although I’ve had many of them blow up by coming off the side of my rim at only 120 psi. Two different times they were not even a week old, (and they’re expensive).  I feel the tires would be great as a steel bead non-folding in 20”x 1.75” to keep them tighter on the rim and still be a good size for flat. After seeing all the posts and discussions about KHE watanabe seats being converted into pivotal seats, KHE should either find a way to make a pivotal or get rid of the rails/screws/plastic boxes under the seat that you can get your fingers caught in/on.  Brakes in the fork would be nice. I saw someone has made a prototype. I have a design but it would be very expensive to manufacture a prototype. You would have to make custom brakes along with a custom fork. My design would allow full adjustment of tension but the brakes could not be removed. I’ve wanted to design a custom pair of shoes forever. A cross between the Adidas Dave Mirra shoes from back in 2000 that had the tread curling around the sides of the shoes, and Adidas shell toe STs with a mid top ankle protection. (I’m dreaming pretty heavily there) I think all other parts in the market are good to go.
B: What advice could you give to help a rider progress and be an overall better rider, and what steps do you use to learn new tricks? 
A:  I’d say the first thing is a good diet, regular stretching, and an additional core workout outside of flatland to improve center balance. Squats are great for holding yourself strong. Second, while riding, you need to breathe and relax. It’s important to have a sense of restraint.  In other words, while moving through a link, you need to know when to slow down and when to speed up.  It’s important to think about what you’re going to do before you do it, whether it’s before you start the run or in mid link about to move to your next trick. The way to get through is to concentrate on the exact moment that you are in, and at the same time, think about where you are going to go next. I call it “staying ahead of the bike” Now the idea of the more you ride the better you get is true. The more times you repeat the same action in a way that keeps the bike on the balance point, the more your muscles will remember where to be to hold a certain position, and where to be during set up before a switch.
While learning new tricks, I go two different directions depending on what I’m trying to learn. If the trick is a basic body position with no switching, I learn first the balance point of that body position. Second, I learn how to ride out. Then third, I learn to ride in. The reason I learn the ride in last is I feel a trick is useless if you can’t ride out. Learning how to do the roll and ride out first gives me an extra boost of motivation to want to learn how to ride in so I can use the trick. When it comes to learning switches I follow a very important rule. You can only switch to somewhere that you already know how to hold. In other words, the trick that I’m going to end up in has to be a position I can hold well or I will be jumping/pivoting /stepping into unknown territory, and cannot expect to land the switch. So I make sure I know the trick I’m landing in well or at least work on the trick I’m landing in first before I learn to switch myself into it. Then it’s all about a perfect setup. This can be a little more complicated. What I do is figure out first where my bike will be in specifics when I end up in the trick I’m switching to. Then I go to the position I’m switching from and line up either the front end or the frame to have as little transition between the trick I’m coming from and the trick I’m going to. To make it easier to understand, if I’m switching to a trick on my front wheel, and the trick I’m switching to has my wheel carving to the left, my handlebars leaning forward, and my frame at let’s say “eleven o’clock”, the trick I’m coming from will need to have the wheel as close as possible to carving to the left, handlebars forward, and the frame as close as possible to move to eleven o’clock before the moment that I’m set up and ready to make the switch. The more you set up the switch as close as possible, the less transition time which means the smoother two tricks can flow together. Staying on a link breaks down to quickly correcting your setup before you switch. The faster you can immediately land or get adjusted to the correct “sweet spot” before a switch, the cleaner tricks will go together.

Learning to do a switch by breaking everything down to its smallest details is extremely important. I ask questions like… How should my feet be? How high should I lift or lower my heels? How should my hands be? How should I lean and when? Where should my elbows be?  How fast should I go? How much should I bend my knees? Once all these questions are answered correctly and can all be done at the same time, the faster a trick will come. The “game” for me during a link is to go from switch to switch with as little amount of setup between switches as possible. I feel this makes links look better. The less pumping and the less time it takes to get setup before a switch the cleaner it looks. And of course, the more you repeat, the less “mind” you have to use, the more you can put the trust in your body’s memory and let it take over.

One thing I want to add is perfect practice makes perfect. After every trick you don’t complete make sure to ask yourself, “what went wrong, and what needs to be fixed for the next try?” If you keep making the same mistake, take a second to breathe, regroup your thoughts, check the details, and then try again. All of this stuff works for me but there may be a better way for you. So experiment and don’t limit yourself, try everything because you never know what you’re capable of. Believe you CAN.
B:  What’s your thought about contests?
A:  This is a touchy subject so I’ll tread lightly. Just like anything, contests have they’re upsides and downsides. Upsides are you get to go ride with friends and other riders while meeting new ones and seeing different riding styles, traveling and seeing new places. By riding against each other you can learn a lot about yourself, how far you can go, how you respond to pressure, and where you need to improve, and that’s all very healthy. The downsides come in when riders try to prove themselves in a sense of insecurity.  I feel you should only enter contest if you want to test yourself to see if you can land your tricks under pressure. That’s it. If your there to do anything other than land your tricks in your runs, be prepared to possibly walk away very upset. If you’re going to care about not being the winner, not qualifying, being judged below somebody that you thought didn’t do as good as you, then don’t compete in flatland. Since we are not all doing exactly the same thing, it cannot be judged perfectly. If you land your links and you get judged highly, think of it as a little something extra. I feel with so much negativity brewing in the discussions between flat riders that I can see why no large sponsorship backing is going to want to invest time and effort into putting flatland in the forefront. I want coverage of contests and larger more televised venues just as bad as any other person, but I think we all need to see how we can put flatland into societies “fresh flash of the moment” attention span, more than asking society to accept us as we currently see fit.

I wonder what happened to Chad Johnson’s tricktionary breakdown of flatland riding. It may be the best way to start. Record everyone’s runs the entire contest, look over the entire footage one rider at a time, take scores from the trictionary, and get the results in a few days. If there’s something new, you can get the highest amount of points possible, then it gets added to the trictionary, and from then on gets a “standard” score like other tricks that have been done before. Everyone would have to be ok with the point ranking per trick first or you would have “how could that trick be this many points and that trick be that many points… not fair” Or another idea… the pros have hand held devices that are linked to a computer, (Bluetooth), they watch battle format, and they become the judges. After each battle, the rest of the pro riders judge who won by choosing a number or color linked to the riders riding. Who can you hold responsible?  3 to 5 judges at a table, or your peers riding in the same contest as you. They can’t vote for themselves if they’re not riding… you know? That might work best because if your peers think you won or lost a battle, they have more right to say so. Does anyone understand how to hook up some handheld Bluetooth judging devices?

 Personally for me, I will only travel to contests if I am prepared to land my runs. I go through stages. Sometimes a contest will come around at a time where I’ve been spending more time dialing in tricks, so I’ll enter. Most of the time, this is not the case in my riding style. I think I’m more of a “work really hard to learn a trick, and move on” kind of style. I don’t really ever try to “dial” any set of tricks in too often. I like the spur of the moment, “think of it and do it” freestyle riding style. I get bored doing the same 1 goes to 2, 2 goes to 3, and so on. It’s just too monotonous. Only to do well at contests with perfect consistency, this is how you have to ride. So I don’t enter too much anymore. My personal progression will always come first.

B:  Who are some of your favorite riders right now?
A:  Martti, Keisuke Tanigawa, Tsutomu Kitayama, DUB, Ciaran Perry, Moto Sasaki, Russia, Yoshiki Uchino
B:  Where are some places you would like to travel?
A:  I want to hit Japan and ride with as many scenes as possible while I’m there. I’d like to ride at the Green Mile, Hungary, Germany, Spain, Italy, Africa, Austria, Costa Rica, I’d like to go to California and ride in San Diego and the clock tower, I’d like to hit Atlanta and ride with their crew, and Indianapolis’s crew. Ah…everywhere.
B:  Describe your personality type in six words:A:  obsessive, compulsive, perfectionist, driven, dedicated, anal (ha ha, yea I said anal),

B:  List the six most important things in flatland to you in order most important to less.
1.       Personal progression
2.       Having fun by myself or with friends
3.       Staying healthy (not hurt)
4.       Keeping up with sponsors and shows
5.       Keeping my bike dialed
6.       Keeping links dialed

B: List the five NOT important things in flatland to you (no specific order):
1.       Contest placings
2.       Global-flat bickering, it’s like elementary school for flatlanders
3.       Seeing Matthias link clones everywhere, I didn’t say trick, I said links… (Matthias you rock!)
4.       What anyone thinks, wears, listens to, or tricks they decide to work on.
5.       Egos…your level of riding, if you are trying to learn your first trick, you are of same importance to me as a veteran rider. It’s about people, not about what you can do on your bike.
6.       Aaron Frost’s Raccoon

B:  Any other ideas for your future in flatland?
A:  I would like to start a flatland school later down the road. I feel that I’m a little too busy with other projects to start that one, but I will do it. I love teaching and I love to see others progress.

B:  Who are your sponsors and who would you like to give a shout out to?
A:  Sponsors: Clown Dog Bikes (Best Bike Shop in Austin/The World), Sequence, Ophicial Clothing, Runnur Straps. I’d like to give a shout out to the Austin Flatland Crew, Brice, Mike, and John at the Dog, every rider on the planet that’s ever found enjoyment in learning a trick, Effraim for all the hard work he puts in at flatmatters, and Mark at bmxfreestyler.

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