BMX Flatland Revives with FlatWebTV
By Amy Vance
A 20-inch bike circles the pavement. The rider, not with feet on the pedals or rear end planted on the seat, is “dancing” with the bike in fluid motions across a completely level surface. This is Bicycle Motocross (BMX) flatland, where artistry, balance and agility thrive more than speed or catching air. This sport blends originality, difficulty, consistency, and confidence together in a spectacular fashion with the ultimate goal of creating “links” — combinations of different tricks like the Rolaid, Cliffhanger, Dumptruck and Whiplash. In order to be successful the rider avoids touching the ground. Flatland takes years of practice to find the various balance points and to hone one’s skills.
In the past it was extremely popular, sometimes sensationalized at professional sports during halftime, but has since become a more underground or private-sponsored sector — it was even dropped from the X Games in 2004 for lack of spectator intrigue. Since then, however, some professional riders have completely reworked the style and approach to the sport, turning it into an exciting, rock concert type of event that captivates audiences. Flatland riders remain passionate, diligently working to regain greater recognition from the BMX and other bicycling communities. To assist in getting the sport out of semi-obscurity, Portland resident Justin Hoey created FlatWebTV, an online show dedicated to sharing the inner workings and news of the flatland scene.
Hoey began cycling at age 14 and started riding flatland specifically after watching guys perform in a stunt program during a local bike show a couple of years later. Since then, he’s been hooked, ever challenging himself to learn new tricks and occasionally entering contests. After years of practice and never seeing a professional cycling career in his future, Hoey settled into a nine-to-five job, initially as a mechanical engineer and then in marketing. He still rides fervently and remains actively involved in the sport by frequenting “jams,” or contests, and making web edits — short videos showcasing local riders and competitions.
In the summer of 2010, Hoey and his wife Marie established Everyday Paradise. A full span website, EverydayParadise.com serves as an internet sports television network, with its primary focus being FlatWebTV. The site recently introduced Freestyle 5, to showcase more mainstream BMX action.
First released in December of last year, FlatWebTV strives to give consumers great online content in a unique free format. Modeled after Revision3.com, the leading independent special interest online video network, FlatWebTV addresses the need for media and representation in the flatland community.
Episodes air the first week of every month, covering a wide range of topics, from bike frames, releases of other BMX-related media, newly posted videos, event highlights, and big name rider reports. Utilizing webcasts, the show features occasional interviews with some of the best in flatland, such as professional riders Terry Adams and Pete Brandt. Incorporating YouTube videos and other web edits, FlatWebTV packages the information viewers expect to see, including the direction and progression of the sport.
The June episode was the first to be filmed on site, at the 3rd Annual Seattle Jam, providing direct footage of the event and its riders. Mirroring news sportscasters, Hoey and co-host Anthony Buglio, a flatland rider who has been involved in BMX freestyle for the past 23 years, are diligently informing spectators and working to spread flatland news beyond its unique niche.
Hoey and Buglio, epitomizing the true rider’s spirit, are very down-to-earth and host a casual, informative show. With Momo, Buglio’s dog, walking across the couch, and the occasional audience views or shout-outs, the program provides a quirky twist on traditional news, solidifying the “chill” vibe they wish to represent. Hoey explains their approach as “trying to be real.”
Thus far, the show has about 1,000 fans across different media centers, engaging nearly 750 subscribers on iTunes alone. From all media outlets, FlatWebTV receives approximately 5,000 views a month, the majority coming from friends sharing the show on different sites. A good portion of the demographic, roughly 75 percent, are males ages 15 to 45. However, Hoey says a greater percentage of female viewers are trickling in each month. Ultimately, he wants the station to be something that anyone interested in BMX can enjoy.
The money needed to create each episode comes out of the Hoey’s pockets. Many of their friends and connections have donated equipment and time to the production of FlatWebTV. As far as costs, little is required besides time and the already paid for camera equipment, which will allow the show to continue and not be too heavily impacted by a lack of finances. However, as Everyday Paradise solidifies its position in the action sports community, the hope for company sponsorships increases; additional funds will provide additional flexibility to generate even more fun and exciting programs, maybe even expanding to smart phone apps or TiVo.
Despite the fact that FlatWebTV began a mere eight months ago, it has already covered significant ground. Many viewers enthusiastically commend Hoey and Buglio for taking the initiative to put something like it together. BMX and flatland websites and blogs, including bmxfreestyler.com, global-flat.com, fatbmx.com, and bmx.transworld.net, all post the newest episode each month, accompanied with feedback by the hosts. Sites like global-flat.com labeled FlatWebTV as a “must-watch,” and enjoythetrick.com comments, “The show continues to go from strength to strength,” positively impacting the flatland community. In the words of Adams, an X Games gold medalist, FlatWebTV is “bringing legitimacy back into flatland.”