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2014 BMX Cologne |  Review

The BMX Cologne has come and gone and a week later I’m barely posting this review.  Haha.  Been a busy few weeks for me and I have to thank my girlfriend Christine for the gift that allowed me to attend this amazing BMX event.  When I began this review I was sitting at the Flatland venue with the contest judges, just so you know my perspective as you begin to read.  Enjoy.

Effraim Catlow is sitting to my left while one of Germany’s best riders, Chris Bohm, sits to my right.  The very humble Alexis Desolneux is two seats over with Mr Frank Lukas himself chillin with his sunglasses right next to him.  The bass of the music feels good as we watch one of the 53 riders work his ass off to ensure a place in the finals at this year’s BMX Cologne Pro Flatland Contest. 

This is my first year at the event as well as my first time anywhere on this side of the Atlantic.  My first two days on the “other side of the pond” were spent riding around Paris on my flatland bike with Pro flatlander Alex Jumelin and Scott O’Brien from New Orleans, who were also here to attend one of the world’s very few BMX only events.

The energy in this venue is electric and it’s very rare that you see this much interest from spectators for flatland.  I haven’t been to any other European event so I know that I don’t have a lot to compare this to other than the Voodoo Jam in New Orleans, but being here at the BMX Cologne has been nothing but inspiring and motivating. 

This trip was a gift from my girlfriend who I’m very grateful for.  She’s always believed in what I do and the passion that I have for this sport and bikes in general.  My passion for people supercedes that of the two wheels but it all works together and I’m learning to cherish opportunities like this past week in Europe, which was with some of the friendliest, humble, and most dedicated people in the sport.

I won’t go into detail about every aspect of the BMX Cologne or give you the run down on every flatlander’s run and new bag of tricks. You’ll be able to find tons of that on Instagram, Facebook, and the BMX Cologne website.  What I do want to say is that the BMX Cologne (formerly known as The BMX Worlds), is what it is today because of the people behind it.  What everyone sees on the outside is an amazing event, one that draws some of the biggest and baddest names in the sport.  Attendees and even many of the athletes have the luxury of just showing up and don’t take into account the people behind the scenes.   They don’t see the many many volunteers that are running around bringing water to each area so the athletes stay hydrated.  They don’t see the overseers of each event work diligently to bring organization to each event and ensure the best results possible.  They don’t see the heart that the organizers and creators of this event have for young people, who they have described as the future of the sport. 

This is what I saw.  This is what stood out to me.  Not the pros or any “celebrities”.  It was the people behind the scenes with a passion for BMX and a passion for people.  And that is what makes this event great and will continue to for years to come.

Being in Germany, I was able to sit with some of Flatland’s greats like Alexis Desolneux and talk about life and the sport over coffee or a beer.  I was able to learn a lot more about the man behind the bike, someone who the flatland world considers a “god” within the sport.  Effraim Catlow, from England and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, was a blast to hang out with and cracks me up.  Was able to hang out with my good friend Kevin Brill who lives in Germany who helps represent the Byke Project there.  Chris Bohm was a pleasure to finally meet who is one of the most energetic people you’ll ever meet.  He’s on a natural high and you can’t help but get excited around him.  I was able to walk the streets and hang out with Phil Dolan, one of flatland’s legends.  His friends don’t give him a break and love picking on him, but it’s hilarious after a few beers and he can take it.  And of course hanging out with many of the regulars that I see in the US is always a blast.  I think I hung out with Scott Obrien in Europe more than I ever have in the US.  haha.      

In closing, I have to give props to the BMX Cologne for always making room for flatland.  Many large competitions at one point or another refuse to give this discipline the recognition that it deserves.  Flatland is at the root of BMX and not including it would be like having a bowl of cereal without milk.  Not only does this event include flatland within their event each year, they do it in a way that pays homage to it.  They believe in it.  They love it.  They know what it is and how important it is to BMX, and this year’s 2500 sq/ft carnival bumper car setup speaks for itself.

There should always be room for this part of the sport and I call out every other major event in the world to do the same.  I call out the XGames, the Dew Tour, and even Austin, Tx’s smaller event The Texas Toast.  Make room for flatland.  Pay homage to the roots of BMX and quit making excuses.  There’s an audience for it and events like the BMX Cologne proves it.  

Thanks again BMX Cologne, for a great weekend.  Hope to see you again next year. 

If you’re free the weekend of August 2nd, head to New Orleans for the Flatland Voodoo Jam.  Also, in Houston,Tx I’ll be hosting, with my partner Cisco Nira, the 3rd Annual HTX Bike Fest.  We’ll have an awesome street/ramp course and huge flatland area.  www.htxbikefest.com  /  www.voodoojam.com

@hectorgarciahtx  |  Hashtags #bmxcgn, #bmxcologne, and #thebykeproject.