Degroot: Battle in the Rockies
Flying in the winter is not my favorite times of the year due to delays at tons of airports specially with a layover in brown-town Cleveland. From 81 degree Orlando then to Denver which is showing a 60 degree drop in one day. So waking up checking temps was not great for my disposition. But it did make me think of childhood in the Midwest on those freezing mornings and snow banks over my head. Icicles, dirty snowmen, crisp air, snow angles, yellow snow… Denver is an area I did want to visit this year for numerous reasons; the people, the mountains, Beer, Clay and Pusher BMX, Leif Valin, Adam Baker, Duncan Gore, Mike Meister, and the Battle in the Rockies. Flatland has had a plentiful year that this one is not an event I could pass up. If I told people that I am flying all the way to below zero weather to hang out in an empty warehouse for 4 days, they might think I am bizarre. In reality I am riding and judging an event that is only helping flatland and BMX as a whole since this is an international event and even a few chosen riders received a free ticket, hotel, and entry from a one-minute submission to make the limited list for competition. This also is a great concept since flatland is not known for the rich and wealthy riders but more hardcore who will travel around the world to be a part of the history of flatland. $10,000 is a lot for a flat jam and the end result with rentals, food, flights, and other expenses it had to top 15k. Over 60 people entered with 24 in pro. Put 22 sausages in one house thanks to McGraw and let the stories and memories start. Fighting for TP and hot water was well fought. I even set my alarm for 7am to grab a hot shower the last night. It was like a sea of people with mattresses and bodies scattered all over the 3 floors. Mornings and nights were like family time with everyone cooking and eating and the Kendama challenges. Sharing food and drinks along with nonstop laughter. Downstairs the hustling on the pool table was amazing. To say thanks to James and his family we found their Xmas gear and decorated the basement to make it festive and warm. Upstairs we took turns on the dialed massage chair right in his master bedroom. Outside was the crisp air and mountain views to die for.
The Battle was stacked in the AM classes with everyone showing their support. Expert all crushed it. Vets all brought their original game and Ruben turned on the bubbles man and took home 1st. And the pros went hard with some of the best runs I have seen. Bobby Carter streamed it live with no online complaints which was great since it usually brings on the crap talking. The bubble spot was seriously the toughest to be in. But the end result is Efraim Catlow, Nathan Penonzack, and myself agreed it was the right stack of riders for the finals which brought 11 since one expert who won his class would get bumped up. This was incredible since that AM would be making money now.
Keep in mind 10k is on the line and the finals are at a club in an entirely different surface, lighting, and vibe. So the 3 AM’s and 11 pros had to be on their “A” game. Well fought AM battle and Joe Cicman got bumped into pro and in the final battles. To say this was an easy task to judge would be lying. The order could have been changed in each many battle. With 3 judges it’s a high-pressure situation but confidence is the reason we were invited to do this job. Tensions seemed to be really high along with the riding level at its best. I do think the worst part is the 3rd and 4th place means they know they didn’t win or get 2nd but still have to ride again for 3rd podium. Dom and Ben both killed it. But the two tops with Dub and Dez could have gone either way. Congrats to everyone for riding at such a high level in the wildest locations for a final battle. The heat was increasing inside yet the snow and temperature kept dropping outside.
Ending my trip by eating at the #1 Vegan restaurant in Denver almost sealed the deal but seeing so many friends really did it. BMX has shown me the world and it never lets down on the memories. Flatland has been more fun than ever and I hope if you get a chance to do it please give it a go. If one of these events is within your reach to ride in or spectate, PLEASE DO IT. We are all banning together to make this stronger and better for companies that support and ride for the future. Thank you for the support I have received and specially:
James McGraw and his family
Clay and Pusher BMX/Flatlandfuel.com
Profile Racing, PowerBar, DecoBMX, Mr. B’s
Thomas Noyer/ Efraim Catlow/Flatmattersonline.com
Duncan Gore, Adam Baker, Leif Valin, Mike Meister
Farts on the plane
Fred Gates and Robert at Reklamation