The concept of this article is let all of you beginner level through to pro know, the level of practise/training it takes to be a top professional rider in a contest situation, it's one thing to hit a trick once a session, it's totally another to have a trick on lock, and be able to pull it in a contest. With jomopro fast approaching followed by ninja spin the week after, this seemed like the ideal time for this article to drop. For Part 1, I interviewed the current World No 1, Viki Gomez, Matt Wilhelm, and James White and get their thoughts (with James' sarcasm) on their methods of practise, read on....
Take the combo above as an example, the week before Jomopro, Terry will be "training" like mad, he is "performing", this combo will be 5 in a rowed every session,there are four different levels of riding, "storming" "forming", "norming" and "performing" (contest level) many riders have different techniques to reach that level, many riders in the past such as Martti Kuoppa (who I believe did it first), Justin Miller, Sam Foakes, Terry Adams, all used or use this technique to be consistent. Firstly, how do you decide what combos to practise and dial in for a contest?
Viki Gomez: My main decision is based on variety, originality and trend. Also the combos that are consistent and easy to do in the shows are the ones ready for the contests. Matt Wilhelm:I start off by picking individual tricks that I have a realistic chance of pulling under pressure.Then I put these tricks together into combos that look different and aren’t too repetitive.I hate when people keep repeating the same tricks. James White:I choose the one's I have a good chance of pulling, I've being pretty much the same stuff for a good while now!...but it's better than walking through your run!!
Do you have a practise routine that you stick to before a contest? If so, what is that routine?
Viki Gomez:I have to do every combo 3 times perfect in a row. Then I can switch to the next one and like this with all the combos. Usually around 8 combos to be safe and have a backup for different floors.
Matt Wilhelm: I don’t really have a set routine. For me it’s all about keeping your brain focused.Some people do their combos 5 in a row, which I sometimes do. Some days I pick two individual tricks and try to pull them 10 in a row or try to get a 90% success rate, or whatever the goal is for the day. I’m all about setting practice goals because it actually makes riding more fun for me. When you have been riding for 20 years you need something to keep your mind from wandering.
James White: Get up 6am, prepare breakfast for my family. Take the dog for a walk. Take Kids to School. Go to work. Come home get Dinner down my Family. Take Dog for a walk. Take Kids to whatever clubs are doing that day. Check Flatmatters. Go to bed dreaming that one day, I'll be good enough to beat Matthias.
Does your practise routine vary if there is a 3 minute run, or battle format style? Yes definitely. In the battles you have to put more effort making the combos longer so it means you need to be ready to freestyle a little bit and improvise. I prefer 3 minute run system, but I admit I enjoyed the battles few times before. But I don’t like the KOG system where you are out if you touch the floor. It’s so stressful and unfaithful for the riders. Only the most consistent wins,but the spirit of the battle is gone. Obviously those formats are not made by riders who compete! HUH! Matt Wilhelm: I don’t change it up too much. I might shorten up a few combos or extend a few combos, but the framework of my run is there for both.
James White:What's Practise?
Viki Gomez @ Jomopro 2010, whereas some riders are very structured in their combos, Viki has the ability to freestyle at will it seems like, you never know what combos he will throw down.
Do you practise on different types of floor?
Viki Gomez:I used to when I lived in Madrid since I have like 4 different spots to ride. Now that I live abroad and travel a lot I just practise where and when I can in any kind of floor. Sometimes it sucks because bad floors don’t let you feel the bike and if I don’t feel my bike I don’t have a life.
Matt Wilhelm:Yes, but that is only because I do lots of shows. I think a good rider can adapt to less than ideal conditions.
James White: Sometimes it's wet, does that count?
How long before a contest do you start training?
Viki Gomez: Before it was the whole winter ,but nowadays I usually start one month before. I think it’s time enough to don’t hate my bike after 15 years of riding. Also contests nowadays are just a joke! I mean if I win it would be max 2000€. I can easily do this amount in 2/3 shows so I m not stressed. Before with the x games and other comps we were talking about real money!
Matt Wilhelm: I typically practice my contest stuff for about half of my session and then work on new stuff for the last half. However, if I’m riding at the warehouse in a jam circle it depends on what everyone else is doing. If
they are doing long combos and I’m working on a single trick, I will barely get any time to ride. In that case I usually end up doing combos.
James White: On the morning of the contest.
Who do you look at as the most dialled contest rider?
Viki Gomez:I love to see videos of Martti Kuoppa with perfect clean runs. Example the worlds 2002! Epic shit and original tricks that could kick all the asses nowadays. I like Trevor Meyer’s consistency! Moto is just water on a bike!
Matt Wilhelm:Terry Adams is the most consistent because he can ride in the worst conditions on any bike and pull every trick. He rode someone else’s bike at the World’s one year when his bike was lost by the airlines. It even had zero offset, which he didn’t ride.
James White: Me or Matthias, it's hard to decide!
Matt Wilhelm is a machine!, throwing it down in 3 min format at the BMX masters 08.
How do you juggle contest training and progression?
Viki Gomez:The best way is to ride 4 hours a day. 2 hours in the morning just for contests stuff and 2 hours in the afternoon for my self, for my life and for my only reason to ride: Progression .Many days I pulled new tricks that I never do again either,because I can’t or because I forget them! I know I should film them but I just sold my video camera! Hahaha. Gotta get a new one and try to remember those tricks and film them.
Matt Wilhelm: For the past few years I have been thinking about hanging up the competition side of riding, but I still do love competing.I’m kind of getting tired of the battle format, because it doesn’t push progression at all.It pushes consistency.Just recently I was watching an old video of the 2001 X-Trials on Flatmatters where I pulled the Blender Bike-Flip for the first time in a comp and ended up winning my first Pro comp. The format of the
comp was best of the 2 runs counts. At that time I had that trick about 1 of 10 tries at best. Now with a battle format I would never even consider trying it in a comp because not only does every run count, but I would also have to pull it in 4 separate battles as opposed to just once in a single run. I always have felt contests slow the rider’s individual progression, and I am really feeling that lately.
James White:I don't......I juggle trying to fit riding in my life.
If you do “5 in a row” method of getting consistent, how strict are you on that? And what is the timeframe for getting that done? Viki Gomez: I do 3 in a row system cause 3 is a better number for me. After 10 days I should be able to do them all the time with out feeling that I wanna kill myself and stop riding.
Matt Wilhelm: If you are doing 5 in a row, and it takes you longer than 15 minutes for each combo you are wasting your time. When I do 5 in a row I probably only make a few mistakes, and I have the combos at about an 80% completion rate. I think a lot of people would be better off just focusing on certain individual and problematic parts of their combos rather than just running through the whole thing.
James White:I've never done five in a row of anything in my life!
Do you do any other kind of training to be contest ready?
Viki Gomez:I would say whiplashes. Front and backwards. I always start warming up with this trick. For me it expresses the balance of my self everyday.
Matt Wilhelm:When I wasn’t doing 400 shows every year and driving 40,000 miles I used to hit the gym regularly. Now since I’m so busy I have to decide between the gym or riding. We obviously know which one I choose. I’m constantly on my bike all day. I have a show almost everyday at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning, a show in the afternoon, and then riding at the warehouse at night. My metabolism is constantly running all day.
James White: I'm trying to train my Dog, not sure if that helps.
How in your mind do you know when you are contest ready?
Viki Gomez:When I hate my tricks, my bike and my life in general then I m ready to go to a contest and feel like a consistent pussy. Sorry to say that but I feel like this sometimes when I go to a contest and I just pull my tricks with out trying new shit so I don’t break the ”consistent harmony”. It wasn’t like that in the past...but contest nowadays have a space of 5m x 5m and most of my friends I use to session with are gone. I talk about Martti, Nathan, Phil, Kotaro, Yanma, etc... I just cant session with everyone now cause I get depressed sometimes. No hard feelings for everyone but I come from those good times with those good fellas and with out them I rather to practise alone! Old school? New school? I would say True school!
Matt Wilhelm: When I know I can go out on the contest floor and pull a combo first try with no warm up.
James White:I was born ready!!
James is a natural talent, family man, gets out when he can, and as you can see, loving it more than ever!
Do you have any superstitions going into a contest?
Viki Gomez: The less I think and stress the best I ride. So I try to enjoy my time more in some trips and have a good time.Last year from the 8 comps I went I just enjoyed Fise, Barcelona and Vigo contests. And mostly because some of my good old homies were around!
Matt Wihelm:Not anymore. I’m also lucky in the fact that I ride best at the beginning of my session. I don’t need to spend an hour warming up. The only little superstition is that I ride much better when I sip on coffee throughout my session. I don’t think it’s a superstition if I can prove that it works.
James White:I remember Brian Tunney saying in an old interviw he thought of Sex to stop him messing up. Ever since then, when i go to a comp i get a mentalpicture of Brian Tunney (complete with bum bag), thinking about sex....Awkward!