Scott Powell is a professional BMX flatland rider who has been riding for 30 years progressively. He has performed many BMX stunt shows in his career as one of the most recognizable flatlanders in the world. Scott is currently filming a series of tricks named "The Decade Anthology" which is based on the trick of the decade. Every video is either a "world first" or a extremely advanced version. You can view the series on his vimeo channel.
Scott eats many NuGo bars from several product lines. His favorite flavor is NuGo Slim Raspberry Truffle. He was featured as our Athlete of the Month last June, and this month Scott answered our questions about BMX Flatland Riding.
What is BMX Flatland riding?
BMX flatland is a discipline within BMX in which you do tricks on your bike without the use of ramps or other street obstacles. It is usually done on an open flat surface such as a tennis court or basketball court. A wheelie and riding no-handed would be two examples of entry level tricks. I often describe flatland as floor gymnastics on a bike.
What type of bike do you use?
About 8 years ago I had my friend who owns Mountain Top Fabrication custom build me two identical frames. One bike is a traditional set up with front and back brakes, while the other bike is a brakeless set up.
How did you learn?
There are several ways to learn. The best way is to ride with people who are at or above your skill level. Instructional videos are also on the internet. Either way, hours of countless practice is involved.
How do you train?
I do not necessarily train, but rather practice as much as possible, usually 4 or 5 times per week. Each session is about 3 to 5 hours long. During which time I do warm up tricks, then combinations that I have done but "pop" into my head, then move onto new tricks that I am working on.
How do you come up with new skills/tricks?
New tricks develop several ways; sometimes another rider who is not at the level of the new concept will tell me to attempt it. Sometimes when working on another trick/concept you "mess-up" which opens the door to the new idea. Other times I will see someone else do a trick/combination and it will go a different direction than what I thought it was going....at which time I would see if my idea would work or be possible. If it does then a new trick is born.
How do you decide what to name new skills/tricks?
As a general rule of thumb whoever makes up the trick gets to name the trick. Some names are just more precise explanations of the tricks. For example, Rollback Hang 5 is a Hang 5 (front wheel wheelie) where you are rolling backwards. Otherwise you name the trick based on anything you want.
How long does it take to accomplish a new stunt/trick?
The simple answer is anywhere from first try to never at all. Depends on the trick, skill level of a particular rider, fatigue, bike condition, etc.
What is the optimal age to begin this sport?
Most guys begin riding between 10 and 15 years old. Although in recent years there has been a resurgence of "older" guys beginning to ride again-- that is, they used to ride in their teens/early 20s and stopped due to a multitude of reasons (jobs, kids, other interest, etc.). Now years later in their late 30s/early 40s they are beginning to ride on the weekends again. More so now as recreation than aspiring to become a professional (like in their youth).
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a BMX Flatland rider?
Although Flatland riding is the safest of the BMX disciplines, it is also the most difficult of the disciplines. The advice that I give to all beginners, is to be PATIENT. Baby steps are the key to every trick. Do not try anything beyond your skill level. Learn the most logical next step first. Take your time and have fun.