Photos: Ali Bharmal/Flatark photo: Jason Halayko.
When you put all the pieces of the “flatland pro” puzzle together, you wouldn’t be far wrong to call Viki Gomez the “finished article”. All bases are covered, winning contests worldwide, video parts with brand new tricks, rides shows across the globe, travelling constantly representing his sponsors, not to mention running Brand of the year, KGB. We all of course know Viki won the editorial, and readers choice for Rider of the Year in the 2016 Flatmattersonline Year End Awards plus contest run of the year for his final run at the BMX Cologne contest, it’s time to catch up with the man himself.
Congratulations on 2016 Viki, an amazing year for you. Three World Circuit wins in a row, numerous amazing video parts, Nora Cup win, travelling the world, doing what you love, KGB brand of the year? How do you firstly put all that you have achieved into words?
Hard work I guess. 2016 was a really tough year due to much stress and at some point it paid back all the hard work. After all, riding is a way to free my mind, a therapy and therefore it helps me to be focus in my life and put together successfully different projects that turned out really good at the end. I am not alone in this and my wife Alexa has been supporting me to achieve amazing goals. Also it was really good to work again with Martti and successfully launch Kuoppa Gomez Bikes and the new frame SoulRider which is the most resistant frame in the market right now. This is just motivation to keep progressing and working hard.
Let’s talk about contests, I noticed there is a pattern the last few years, you take the wins at the first couple of contests of the year? What do you put that down to?
For 2 years in a row I wanted to drop contests for different reasons. And this mindset helps me to feel free so at then end when I go to contests I m going with a free state of mind and then success happens. I guess this applies for everything in life though. Also fresh from the winter, doing the newer tricks seems the right thing to do in the contests.
With so much travelling in your schedule from Red Bull shows, would you say there has naturally been a shift in your riding? How do you juggle contests, shows, video parts and do it all so well?
Actually shows put your level of riding down. But at some point I told to myself: Whats the difference between contests and shows ? Then I started to do hard tricks in the shows and play with the pressure and enjoy that pressure. For me nowadays there is not much difference between a show and a contest besides shows are all positive energy and contest not always. Then when you go back home to your home spot, you don’t need to do any contest trick practice since I do it already in all the shows, so I just try new tricks everyday I go to ride and let the progression takes its natural place. I guess it is all about how you distribute your work tasks and try to give the best in each one of them.
Of course you competed a lot over the years, is there a favourite format of event you have?
I really like the format of 2,5 or 3 mins + 3 tries for a hard trick. This way everyone needs to show what they are capable to do outside of their comfort zone.
We all do hard tricks at home, so why not doing them in contests? specially if you have 3 tries then at home you can practise this game and push your self to pull a hard trick within 3 tries. The idea came from the atmosphere of the “best trick”. Everyone loves that atmosphere and it is very challenging for the riders. I was very happy last year doing tricks that are not contests tricks and taking the win. It felt good personally! And it has not been like that always.
With the World Circuit already in the bag by the summer, I wondered what was your mindset going into Flatark?
To be honest I felt I was not ready. Just because when Martti won Flatark he setted up a high level that I wanted to achieve and it was not yet ready last year. He definitely made a revolution and I would be happy the day I can ride in Flatark as good as Martti! The way your tricks are so hard that you will win regardless the judges, the format and the circumstances. That’s a true champion spirit and to achieve that one day I keep riding hard everyday. Martti made a comeback like none in history ! He really showed that he is from another planet!
With everything you do, its easy to overlook also the European flatland association? How is that going?
I want to represent a part of the sport that is related to push Flatland forward and its progression. It was time to make something in Europe where more contests happen in the world and where many qualified judges are. And this is the reason why I created the EFL (European Flatland League) in order to put together a legit organisation. I created it together with my wife Alexandra who was a professional gymnast in her young age and also she is a Sport Lawyer. None better than she to put in words all our ideas properly and create something solid.
But it wouldn’t have been successful with out the support of the contest organisers and all the European judges!
When I looked at the table of judges and I saw riders like Effraim, Mike S, Michael Sommer, Martti, Frank Lucas, Alexis, Alain, etc I felt I was doing the right thing! Which was to put together those riders I used to compete with and who deserve to be in a prestigious judge panel! Pretty tough job and hat down for that!
Health of course plays a huge part in riding, and particularly more so with all your travelling? How do you deal with your diet, jet lag and all those things that come from being away from home all the time? Do you practise yoga, pilates or anything like that to stay in shape?
It was at the end of 2012 when I really got a painful injury in my low back. Luckily I met a spanish physiotherapist who is based in Luxembourg who is into the old traditional chinese medicine. In the chinese medicine the stomach is the Earth, and if the stomach is bad the whole body is bad. I wasn’t eating proper for many years and this is why at the end my low back collapsed at some point.
She gave me very important tips about nutrition where I have to drop very common ingredients of our daily life like dairy products , pork, gluten (bread and pasta) and sugar. She said this will heal my low back and will change my metabolism. I followed the tips in 80% (cause it is not good to become extreme and you have to enjoy life aswell ) and after six months I was a completely new person!
I simply felt the same energy than when I was 15 years old and it changed my riding and my whole life. One year later I started to practise Pilates and Yoga moves and this was an amazing change! Not only for my mind and body, but we Flatland riders need Yoga and Pilates moves in order to compensate our body stress from riding.
So after applying this to my life many things changed, like breathing while riding and being flexible on my bike. This helps to make you feel better in your riding and to prevent future injuries.
It is hard to start but once you are into it and you start experiencing its benefits then it is hard to stop.
2016 was an amazing year for awards for you. How do you feel about the FM and Nora Cup awards?
For me the FM awards and NORA Cup awards are the best achievements a rider can dream of! It really shows the support from the Flatland community and the responsibility to give back to the community. It is an exchange of energy and I feel really flattered for everyone who voted for me. So my only motivation is to keep riding hard and learning new tricks. Also in 2016 I wanted to ride and give a tribute to the the OGs of the sport and the times of the Mid School that were the raddest era of BMX Flatland. They call it Mid School but I call it the “Real School”.
Back then everyone had its own style and being “rad” as a rider was your only goal. This is the right way to be a kick ass rider and I am happy that my message was understood and awarded. I have so much to thank to all these international 90s OGs and that was my tribute to them. Keep real freestyle alive And for that I truly thank that era that made so many long lasting friendships around the world.
With 2016 being such a good year, what is your mindset for this year?
I want to do something different this year. I really like the direction that my riding is taking now. Something has changed, before I had to ride 3h to 5h a day to achieve tricks that I can pull nowadays in just 1h. I believe now it is more about quality than quantity and definitely all the side work like yoga and other things are playing a very important role in my riding now. I am really enjoying riding in a different way. No more goals than progressing and enjoying the journey of creativit. I will hit some contests this year too. But my main goal is to come back in 2018 with a completely new style and tricks.
In 2016, how many flights did you take? Do you log that kind of thing?
I dont really calculate these things cause I m not good in counting! haha but I would say looking at last year’s agenda that I had about 80 events world wide and if you think that it is at least 4 planes (2 going out and 2 going back) for each event then I would say I took about 320 airplanes! damn I feel like crying now! haha..
Of everywhere you have travelled Viki, do you have a favourite place other than home?
Last year something really special happened and it was my trip to India. I have heard many things about that country that it was actually surprising that almost none of them were true. Besides that it was a very epic experience because there is nowhere else like India. It was a trip that really changed my mind. It was beautiful , it was peaceful, I had the best crowd, the most appreciation to Flatland that ever have seen, food was epic, people were kind, chaos was harmonious … I don’t really know how to explain it but I really recommend to go to India since it is a place that will change your life forever.
What can we expect out of Viki Gomez for the rest of 2017?
I hope to come up with new tricks, this is my main focus this year! Creative and new projects that will be shown once they are done and also a lot of trips with some new tricks in the shows worldwide.
Any final words Viki?
Flatland is so magic that we all can learn a new trick everyday. There are hidden skills that are right here and right now inside of all of us! So relax, breath and look. Progression is here and it always have been! There is no reason to follow certain riding trends, styles.. this life is your own experience and should be your personal journey. Give the best of you. Don’t act and be yourself! Ride on and kick ass!
Thanks for your time Viki, it was a pleasure catching up! Congratulations once again for your awards!