It seems like just yesterday that myself and Sam Foakes were “5 in a row” training at the Yokohama MM21 riding spot before the 2008 KOG Finals. This turned out to be Sam’s last contest. I knew this was a “moment” I would never experience again.
I recall being more nervous than Sam was leading up and during the KOG finals, I knew what it meant to him, and I also knew he did it the hard way. Riding crappy spots, and most of the time in the pouring rain. Struggling to make each round financially, so on and so on.
As we talked about him retiring from contests, I couldn’t see how he could let the riding go, but I understood how much work it took for him to be at the level he was at, and he was broke, living off his credit card to sustain the competitive professional life. And most of all he wasn’t happy as a result of that. Something had to give.
Fast forward 4 years, yes it’s that long! I can’t believe that myself. Sam is happily married and managing the National BMX Centre in Manchester, managing a team and training kids in BMX Racing full time. This is not your regular 9-5 job, this is as demanding as it gets.
Flatland nowadays has become a release after a hard day at work, he has awesome spots close to his work, but chooses to ride elsewhere to separate work time from riding time.
When I saw him thread together his combos with pinpoint precision at the TGM jam with, power and speed and most of all the smile on his face, it reminded me of what is really important.
Sam’s riding & perhaps his outlook on riding has come full circle, it’s no longer his job that left him broke, it’s his passion. Something very few get to see in person, but when they do. You can’t help, but say “what if?”…
Sometimes it’s good to do what you love, just because you love it, nothing more, nothing less. And just smile.