Name: Sietse van Berkel
Location: Utrecht, Holland.
When did you start riding? Why ride flatland above other forms of BMX?
When I was 15 years old, I bought my first BMX (cheap Wal-Mart-style bike). In the village where I used to live at that time, there was like only one stair where me and my friends could jump off. So after a few weeks, it was kind of boring to ride ´street´ with only one stair. I got interested in flatland after seeing some flatland videos on YouTube. What sticks in my mind is the Simon O´Brien video (Flatland Australia, with the Hilltop Hoods song). I got my first flatland bike, a WTP Pony, for my 16th birthday. Since then I started to focus on flatland specifically.
How often do you ride?
I try to ride every day that will be around 4-5 days a week. Mostly 1-2 hours a day. In winter I don´t ride that much, but then I try to ride every week. Hopefully I can find a decent spot for the upcoming winter.
Do you ride contests? If yes, what has been your biggest success? If no, why not? (It’s interesting to find out people’s views on competition…)
Yes. This year I ended up in 3rd place in amateur class at the Worlds (probably due to the asphalt floor instead of the wooden floor). A big success for me, besides contest riding, was a jam in Indonesia with Rully and some other guy, when I was 16 years old. I went to visit Indonesia with my family, and hooked up with these guys in Kuta (Bali) to ride with them for a few hours. Really inspired me! Worldwide!
Since a few years back, I go to the Masters/Worlds every year in Cologne. It´s fun to meet all the people with the same love/passion for flatland, party with them, and talk about tricks and styles. The same for other contests and jams: I just like the vibe with other riders. This year I went with some Dutch guys to the 55dsl jam in Berlin, hosted by Deepbmx, which was like the best international jam I’ve been to. Just riding and relaxing.
Mostly when I’m at a contest, I also want to compete, because it gives an extra dimension on being there. The tension before your run and always talking shit about a slippery and bumpy floor at every contest (mostly always, because I’m used to asphalt), and trying to land some tricks on the contest floor during my run. I like the alternation between the tension for the contest (I don´t want to care about that, but still do) and the relaxing vibe with all the riders.
Where do you ride?
Till a few years ago, when I lived at my parents place in a small village, I used to ride everyday in the middle of the Dutch lowlands. I really enjoyed the silence and the sunsets when I rode there till dark (I used to ride much more at that time). So sometimes in the weekend I still go ride over there. Now I live in Utrecht, just 50 meters from Griftpark. A park just near the city-centre, with a big skatepark, and a basketball-court (Asphalt! Yes!) where I can ride.
(This is Griftpark, my spot is just in front of the big building, in the right top of the photo. )
What is the riding scene in your town like? Are there any other flatlanders?
Next to some park riders and a lot of skateboarders, there a few flatland riders; Omar Lammers (who is progressing a lot!), Nico, and some others. Once in a while we ride together at jams, but 98% of the time I ride by myself. I really like to ride after a busy study or work day. Almost like meditation, forget everything, only focus on riding. I really love that feeling!
If you could take a flatland world tour, which 5 places would you like to visit for riding and why?
Can´t make a choice of 5 places, instead I will plan a Flatland World Tour made up out of places I haven´t been yet!
Let´s start close to home in Europe Madrid; having fun- and hardcore good-weather-sessions with the Flatland XXX crew. Then take a ride up north via Lyon and Vienna to Helsinki; Visit the Flatstyles jam and ride with the Too Small Bikes crew.
From there take a flight to the USA. Road trip from the South to Canada: Looks to me the vibe over there is amazing with all the good riders, nice weather and crazy people in LA, San Francisco and other cities I normally only see in onelovebmx or samethingdaily videos. I went to NYC last May for a week; I want to see more of the USA! It´s always inspiring to see guys like the Edmonton crew and Pralex crew ripping hard on the bikes in Canada and having always fun. Then take a flight via Bangkok to Malaysia and for a good finish of the tour to Japan of course!
Is there a goal you would like to reach concerning your riding?
Not really a goal, but travelling with the bike and meet new people all over the world would be awesome. For myself; keep enjoying riding, keep progressing.
Which trick/combo are you working on at the moment?
The last trick I worked on was the hang 10 to pedal steam to inward (?) steam. Just caught it on tape, bit sketchy, but happy about that. Now I’m working on some other pedal variations.
What kind of music do you like? What are your 3 favourite songs?
All kinds of music; depends on where I am, what´s my mood, and so on. I like to go to music festivals with friends, and experience some good vibes over there.
For riding nowadays I ride a lot with The Mars Volta, Schradinova in Kytopia (free legal and safe download) and Bonobo/other relaxing beats.
Tell us 3 things you like and 3 things you don’t like
Like: Saturday-morning-chill-breakfast, getting useless presents and poems for Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus holiday, 20 days before Christmas), reading Garfield comics at the toilet.
Don´t like: When people act like someone else, getting useful presents for Sinterklaas, if I want to ride, but it´s not possible (weather, cracked bike, or now, when my shoulder hurts)
Do you work or study?
Both; I work 2 days a week in a middle school as a counsellor; mostly help to motivate boys and helping teachers teaching unmotivated boys. I´m also a history teacher. Next to that I’m in my last year of my Master degree in Special Education Needs.
Do you have any hobbies besides flatland and do they influence your way of riding? (For example music you listen to, another sport, whatever)
Yes, I like to go chill with friends, go to the theatre or see some live-music. Also I like to make music (bass guitar) with friends. Every now and then I’ll take a ride on my race bike (summer) or MTB (winter). And I like fries, with a lot of mayonnaise. The mayonnaise influenced my riding the most. It´s almost like a lifestyle!
Frame: Velvart flex frame, 18.7 tt, enough space to step over.
Bar: Flatware Chase, with back- and upsweep version. Like the sweep and space.
Stem: Zion minimal offset.
Fork: Flatware 0 degrees.
Front rim: Proper
Front hub: Proper 48 holes, so no broken spokes ever again!
Rear rim: Sun rims I think?
Freecoaster: Old KHE geisha (golden one), with bearings and all the stuff from the newer silver version.
Rear and front tires: Odyssey frequency, 1.85 in front, because it´s cheaper than the 1.75 version. Pump it up hard and you hardly feel the difference. 1.75 back.
Crank: KHE erlkoenig, modified to fit the KHE 20t ninja sprocket.
Sprocket: KHE ninja 20t.
Front pegs: Suelo, old version, with skateboard griptape. Grippy when it´s wet, good for pivoting.
Rear pegs: KHE Jessup, grinded down by asphalt till half of the original size.
Seat: MacNeil Travis Collier, modified the back for easier grab.
Pedals: St. Martin
Grips: Ody Longneck for the win!
Have your say: This is the place for shoutouts, wise words or whatever you would like to tell the world!
Thanks for Global-flat for the interview. Thanks to my parents for my first BMX, thanks to my girlfriend a lot for always let me ride whenever I want. Bram for helping me out so many times with my bike and taking some nice photos. Thank you for reading! Ride on!
4 combo´s with tricks I’ve worked on last summer (sorry for the bad quality!)
funny video made for the Lowlands 2012 festival. I was really happy about that. Video could be seen on the festival area just before the show of Foo Fighters, Black Keys, and so on. Was like a dream when I was 16 years old and first visited the festival.