Matthias Dandois in Austin

He spent over a month in the US, from Austin, Texas to Joplin, Missouri. On his BMX, he rode where it’s always hot, where “the street” is a kind of religion. Matthias Dandois is the world’s top flatland rider. But by immersing himself with the streeters on their own turf, the Frenchman mastered some new tricks that might well put the competition on the mat. Again!

In the depths of last winter’s coldest days, one lucky man had to face more summer-like heat than wintry chill… It was Matthias Dandois, France’s world champion in BMX flatland. While nearly everyone in France stayed tightly wrapped up in their down jackets, he hopped across the Atlantic in shorts. On the schedule: A 40-day trip across the superheated regions of Texas and Southern California to perfect his new tricks.

I started out with three weeks in Austin,” says the King of Flatland. “All the American riders go train there in winter. It’s like a pilgrimage.” In those parts, it never rains and it’s always hot. And as a bonus, the city seems to have been built for BMX. “You’d think that the architects were absolutely nuts about our sport. There are obstacles everywhere. It’s like every street was designed for us. It’s the Mecca of BMX, plain and simple.

Matthias Dandois has definitely not shied away from testing the potential of this special place. “I rode every day. I thought about nothing but ‘street’ all day long. I went to sleep with my 20 incher.

Thinking about switching from flat to street after his intensive training? “Not a bit,” he says. “The trend now is to mix flatland and street. They’re gonna say I really pushed my open-mindedness. I immersed myself 100% into the streeters’ way of life. I spent my days and nights with the best.” In particular, Mat spent time with Sean Durns, the leader of the “hardcore” trend (riding without protection). “I also met Aaron Ross, the best in the world for technical tricks,” he adds. “And Bas Keep, one of the guys who gets the highest up on the ramps.

Result: After 20 days in Texas, Matthias Dandois had cut a few more notches into his technical belt. He’ll be showing off his new tricks in the international contests coming up in a few weeks. But because there’s nothing better for a Frenchman than to show up the Americans on their home turf, Mr. Dandois couldn’t resist checking in at a major BMX event in the US before going back across the Atlantic.

That was in Joplin,” he explains. “In fact, some buddies of mine from Paris came to pick me up for a driving tour along the West Coast. We stopped at the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Mexico and LA for some photo and video shoots. Then we headed off to where the competition was being held.

Some 30 hours later, after running out of gas a couple of times in the middle of the desert, they got to Missouri, right in the middle of the United States. The Frenchman didn’t waste any time pulling out the big guns, going straight for his new secret weapon: a “half cab tail whip two peg wheelie”, a trick directly inspired by… the street. The US riders and all the others who came to challenge him could only bow before the master.

It was awesome,” he remembers. “The organizers put together a competition that mixed flatland and park. My sport’s usually pushed to the background. But there, there we were in prime time. I threw my new trick at them. And I think it went pretty well. I really moved my riding forward on this trip.” Which bodes well for the rest of the season. An even stronger Matthias Dandois, re-born, as it were, in the USA…

Photos by Vincent Perraud courtersy of Red Bull Photofiles.
Story courtersy of Red Bull Photofiles.