In 2006 I hosted my last contest in a Flatland BMX series called Elevation5 and it was then that I first met someone who would eventually become one of the best riders in the world. He was a young little thin dude with a shaved head who had the focus of a hawk. His style and bag of tricks caused him to stand out and here he is 10+ years later, dominating contests and taking home NORA cup awards.
How long have you been working on this new edit?
It was filmed in April, so I worked on it off and on since then, subtitles took a while, and finding the time to edit the final product too.
I knew that your past included doing shows in China but never to the extent that you share in the video. Describe how your life and riding was changed in China.
The opportunity to first go to China and live from doing doing bike shows literally flipped my world upside down. I look back now and think “What if I never went? What if I said no and stuck to my day job working at a bike company packing bikes in boxes. What if?” It goes to show that maybe there’s a wave to catch that might not come around so often, and you better catch it when your name is written on it!!!
There is one team that I’ve taken care of for the past 8 years, and another team that I used to manage just came back around this year. It’s the greatest feeling to have the last word on who deserves the chance to live from doing tricks and focus on their riding doing shows and enjoy the rest of their days doing what they like. The job comes with it’s ups and downs, but it’s rather gratifying.
Is it safe to say that you wouldn’t be the rider you are today with the influence and discipline you received while in Shenzhen?
The Shenzhen contract was the greatest motivation I could have wished for. I was an inconsistent rider and had nothing to impress the crowd with, so from then on the shame of messing up during the shows continuously helped me build the drive to make my riding sort of what it became today. It’s a bit nerve racking when messing up tricks alone on a stage in front of hundreds of people with a spotlight on you and everything else being dark. Totally not the kind of riding that I like. We had to perform 3 to 4 shows a day.
You describe yourself as having a “second life” in China. Can you elaborate?
Yeah, I could definitely live a full life in China if I was to stay there permanently. I speak fluent Chinese Mandarin, I have friends in many parts of China, and I Shenzhen would become my “basecamp”, as I feel at home there. I guess spending 2 to 3 years in Shenzhen at an early age really sort of made it my second home. I’d love to spend more time there and also visit Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Gansu and Inner Mongolia provinces, all places I’ve never been.
I’d probably open a Taobao and do better business selling only in China than the rest of the World, if marketed properly. I’ve been going to China since 2007, about 2 or 3 times a year and I’m looking into touring a show team through China, which could be very profitable as well.
The bottom part is actually Montreal. I am 3 years in and we haven’t had the time to finish it yet. I probably need to sit in his chair another 10 or 12 hours on top of the 30 plus hours already inked into my back.
Was IGI a brand that developed while you were in China?
In 2009 I was riding shows in Beijing and next to the dormitory was a place to buy materials and right next to that a bunch of different machine shops. The IGI peg idea first came to me over there while struggling with the dry, dusty air and slipping off my pegs during tricks like pivots. Griptape was wearing through my shoes and hands from everyday practice. The idea for the new peg design with the sphere on the end was in my mind for a while. Not necessarily the texture, but the sphere shape, allowing a rider to have a better grip on the peg with their hands during tricks. I wasn’t fluent yet in Chinese so I figured out a way to finally describe my concept to a local shop and had some made. That place has been demolished since, but every time I pass on the street with a rider I tell him about the brands beginnings! I still feel like it’s only starting and so much work is left to be done!
You’ve been on top of the contest world this past year, even winning Nora Cup 2017. What has all of this success meant for you and what are your plans for 2018?
It was nice to get some recognition this past year! I thought I still had 5 years to practice before I could win a big pro contest. That first win at FISE Montpellier in May helped me break the ice and gave me the confidence throughout the year that I had what it took to repeat that and, two weeks later in Grenoble at Ninja Spin I did it again with a flawless run! I was beyond stoked and my life seemed set to orbit around BMX Flatland for another couple of years.
Follow Dub @igiflatbmx and @jwilliamp. www.igibmx.com