Full Name: Matt Wilhelm
Date of Birth: January 10th, 1979
Home Town: Chicago
Type Of Riding: Flat
Twitter – http://twitter.com/mattwilhelmbmx
Website – www.mattwilhelm.com
How long have you been riding?
I started riding in 1992 when freestyle was totally dead. However, the town I grew up in (Oak Lawn, IL) had a thriving BMX scene at the time. It just seemed like it was a rite of passage in my neighborhood to ride.
You are known as a flatlander but have you ever tried any other style of riding?
When I started riding I did everything from street to dirt to flat. My bike always used to break from doing grinds, so I just gradually and unconsciously started to ride more flat. Plus, it was so much easier to go ride at the tennis courts down the block than to ride a few miles to hit one grind ledge.
What is it about flatland that drew you to the discipline & keeps you motivated to try new things?
From day one until now it has really always been the same thing that keeps me motivated to ride, which is having fun doing something and gaining personal satisfaction doing it. I always wanted to see how good I can be.
How much time do you dedicate to riding?
Usually a couple of hours a day is more than enough. I used to ride for eight hours a day, but at some point riding that much becomes counterproductive and not fun. A few hours is good and leaves my body in good shape to ride the next day too.
When you ride do you focus on learning new tricks or putting together a good line?
I go through different phases. Sometimes I am just trying to learn new tricks and switches, and then I try to figure out how they all go together. Other days I will go out and just freestyle some links, which is really when I feel at my best.
You compete a lot all over the world. What have you gained from traveling to all these places?
I guess the main thing is that no matter where you live, there really is no place like home. Don’t get me wrong it is amazing to experience historic places in Europe and hip new places in Japan, but coming home always put these places in perspective. For me it is really more about the people than the places, and my people are at home.
Do you get time to site see or is it all about the competition?
I always make sure to check out something new when I am abroad. You would hate to look back and say that all you saw was a bike contest when you could have seen something much more impressive. Sometimes I think that I see more exotic places in one year than most people do in a lifetime.
You also do a lot of demos for school kids during the year. What keeps you motivated to do that?
Kids are the future, and you never know if you are inspiring the next Kevin Jones or Mat Hoffman. I get tons of emails from kids who see my shows and are now really pumped about BMX. It just seems like one of those things that the more you give the more you get. Plus these demos are a lot of fun too.
Your instructional flatland DVD “Ground Rules” has been very successful. What do you attribute to its success?
I think it is successful because it works, and people actually learn from it. I have received so much positive feedback from that video, and I am just happy to have helped riders progress. I remember watching how-to videos before I made “Ground Rules” and thinking that there has to be a more effective way to teach somebody a trick with a DVD. Then while watching John Madden analyze a football play one day on TV, I thought that drawing on the screen like Madden would totally give the visual of what to do on each trick.
Where do you see flatland going in the future?
Up! As far as the riding goes it really is amazing how it can keep progressing. There are tricks people are doing now that riders thought were impossible even just a few years back. From an event standpoint flat has kind of reinvented itself, and I think that it is going to get a lot bigger. There are a lot of events showcasing flat in an engaging way, instead of just making us ride next to some bleachers in a parking lot. It is definitely going to get bigger.