One of our newest Freestyle Now squad members, Dez Maarsen recently hit up some large bmx flatland contests in Europe last month where he was placing consistently. We caught up with Dez to seek out some information about the contests his new sponsor hook up with St Martin, his first meeting with Paul Chamberlain and how to talk to girls.
Dez Maarsen learnt this 180 body varial 7 years ago, still one of his favorite tricks – photo Bram Berkien
Congratulations on getting on the St Martin team, what does this mean for you?
Yes really stoked! It’s a big honor to be added to their team and to ride and represent their new parts! The new parts look amazing and I can’t wait to ride them. It’s definitely great to have a sponsor that makes parts that fits my riding! I’m happy St Martin is sticking to the pure flatland parts and I get to promote them with my riding.
Can you tell us about St Martin, who they are and what they do?
St Martin is a BMX Flatland brand from France and have been a big player! It was started by Manu Massabova and Alain Massabova is the team manager now. Alex Jumelin has been the face for the brand for a while now. They have been a big player in flatland for quite some years now. They have a large team consisting of new riders like Owen Bohn from Mendoza in Argentina and some OG riders like Jesse Puente from the flatland fugitives fame and Chase Gouin who is one of the originators of modern flatland riding as well as Aude Cassagne from France, she has an good style. St Martin make two styles of frames plus they have forks, handle bars, cranks, sprockets, stems and pegs. Its a good all round package of product on offer. I’m really happy to be riding some quality flatland equipment.
Why do you ride flatland?
When I started riding BMX, Flatland came pretty natural to me. I picked up the tricks pretty quick and just got hooked on the feeling of learning new tricks. The first BMX riders I met where flatland riders. They showed me which tricks to learn and the lifestyle around it, visiting jams and contest. I just fell in love with flatland and I still love it till this day!
Dez spinning at the Sosh Freestyle Cup that took place on the beach in Marseille France – photo Melissa Zucchiatti
You recently attended some rather large competitions which ones were they?
Yes it was a busy months of June and July for contests! There were 3 contests in 3 weeks and besides that I had to coordinate another one here in The Netherlands the day before the Cologne contest in Germany. The first contest was the Matthias Dandois Open in Marseille France for the Sosh Freestyle Cup. It was great vibe with a stage at the beach and just good times hanging around with everyone. I rode pretty solid. Tried some stuff on the back wheel for more variation and had a struggle with my x ft hakfpacker. But yeah amazing times here with all the riders. I got 9th eventually.
Then there was BMX Cologne in Germany. A contest I’ve been to since I started riding Flatland. After last year’s absence I was really stoked they returned the contest with the bumper car area (one of the best contest built flatland floors). I managed to pull a no touch run and pulled the final banger!! My signature 360 pressure flip to inside halfpacker! Have wanted to do that at Cologne for a longtime so that was definitely the highlight of the competitions I went to. Ended up in 4th place! So stoked! Only 0.3 points difference with Matthias and I would have made it on the podium!
The week after it was time for the BMX World Championship hosted by the IBMXFF in the UK near Bristol as part of the N.A.S.S. festival. It was the first time I went to the UK for a contest and the whole trips was epic. Unfortunately I didn’t ride the way I wanted to in the final, but still got a 6th place, a decent ranking.
Dez Maarsen took out a 4th place at the recent contest in Cologne Germany – photo Melissa Zucchiatti
Dez Maarsen place 6th at the IBMXFF World Championship at the N.A.S.S. festival.
How do you prepare for contests?
At every session I do I try to do my contest tricks. Sometimes I mix them up within combo’s and just freestyle with the combo’s. When I go to the contest I prepare a run in my mind and only focus on those tricks when I’m at a contest. I make sure my tricks are hard and mostly original and dialed enough for the contest. To dial them I try my contest tricks on different surfaces.
Do you follow a certain training regime leading up to contests?
This year was pretty hectic taking care of the contest in The Netherlands, doing shows and working on other stuff. I usefully have a regime just to ride 4 times a week, eat healthy and not go to any party’s the weeks before the contest. I’ll definitely gonna be doing this for Flat Ark since I will be able to focus the weeks before that without taking care of other obligations.
How important are contest placings to you?
I think for every competing rider the placing matters. And I always strive to get a high placing, but when I’m at the contest I don’t worry about what placing I might end up. I just focus on making sure I pull the combo’s I prepare for the contest, since in the end as a flatland rider it’s the only thing you have control over. The past years I’ve been putting in a lot of work in dialing some of my hardest tricks in, with the hope to pull them in a contest and see progression in my contest runs. That’s my main strive in a contest.
What does the rest of 2016 have for you, what contests are you looking at attending and do you have some new combos in the works?
My next contests will be King of Paris and Flat Ark in October. In the meantime I will busy with a big show project also in October. I definitely will be working on some new combo’s before that contest! Then I want to head to another contest in November and then work on new tricks and want to bring out a new edit!
The modern trend in flatland at the moment seems to be either you are a front or back wheel rider, where do you fit into that?
For the past years front wheel has definitely been my specialty. However I’ve also been working the back wheel and it has been really fun. Definitely feel I have still a lot of tricks to learn on the back wheel and I like the challenge.
How did you get into flatland bmx riding?
At the beginning I wanted to ride Freestyle, but it was really hard for me. I was just a small kid with a heavy bike. Then the first BMX riders I met where flatland riders and I was amazed by the tricks. Also we didn’t have any skateparks in my hometown, so flatland was the only option. Back then we were also with a nice group of about 5 or 6 flatland riders, so there was always someone to ride with. Also there was Flatground in Amsterdam which was the first BMX event I went to and the vibe was amazing.
Dez Maarsen and his final “no touch” run at the BMX Cologne contest in Germany
Who do you ride with on a regular basis?
My brother Bodean, Gino Stuart, Jorrit van Drumpt and Erik Hogers.
Who would you like to ride with on a regular basis?
Dub and Benjamin Hudson!
What is life like living in Holland, is there a lot of cultural differences to other parts of Europe?
The one thing that is really a Dutch thing is that everybody rides bikes! That’s something that only happens in Holland. Besides that the Dutch are very outspoken and straightforward. Also I do feel the Dutch are more tolerant. However sports don’t play a big roll, accept for when you play football its hard work to make it as a professional athlete.
Do you have any advice on how to talk to girls?
Let them do the talking.
What do you do for income/work?
I’ve been running my show and clinic company for 7 years now and at the moment I’m working on this pretty much full time. Don’t need to have side job at the moment.
You recently helped organized the flatland contest at the soul contest in Amsterdam, can you tell us how that can about?
Action/Urban Sports are finally getting more recognition in Holland. Amsterdam decided that they also wanted to put themselves on the map in supporting action/urban sports, so last April they hosted the Amsterdam Urban. Soulcycle was in charge of the BMX competitions and we put down a pretty good flatland contest and next year we are planning on making it bigger!
When was the first time you met fellow Freestyle Now squad member Paul Chamberlain, and can you tell us a bit about that first encounter?
I saw Paul for the first time at the BMX Worlds in Cologne 2004. I think we both competed in expert class. That was when he was still living in the UK. The next time I talked to Paul was I think at the Red Bull Circle of Balance party. I was really drunk and probably said with a shitty English accent impersonation some quote from Get Him to the Greek (a movie with Russell Brand, which pretty much looks like Paul). And I think the other times I ran into him where also in Japan and me being drunk and asking him to say “stroke the furry wall”. The last time I saw him he told me he finally watched it and said it was actually pretty funny.
You are currently doing studies, what are you studying and why?
After high school I only focused on riding for 4 years. Then at one point I was motivated to start to study for event and artist management, since that was pretty much my interest back then. For the past few years I started to focus again on my career since I didn’t have to attend any classes anymore. However I do feel it’s time to finish and get my bachelor in economics. Studying still has never really been my thing, so I’ll be so relieved when I’m done!!
Is it hard to be original in bmx flatland?
It’s the hardest thing to do in flatland! And flatland is already a very hard thing to do. But in order to make it to the top you have to be original so you definitely have to challenge yourself and be creative and be really hard on yourself. However in order to be original you have learn other tricks first. Still people are coming with new tricks so it’s great that see that flatland is still evolving.
Dez ended up in 4th place in Cologne with a flawless run plus he got to pull this banger, his signature 360 pressure flip!(in this video)The level of riding was insane.
Can you tell us anything about the flatland scene in Australia?
As far as I can see there is a small but loyal flatland scene in Australia. With DownUnderGround making sure there are events where the riders meet up. I think events are the most important thing in flatland to make sure riders get together and motivate each other. However I hope to see some young riders coming from Australia soon! I see that Australia is doing really good in BMX Park so why not any new blood in Flatland.
In which direction do you see flatland moving?
In contest way’s I think we’re getting to a system that works the best for the riders. The past years there have been so many different contest formats. Besides the contest I see that we’re actually busy with the future of flatland, which is a good thing. I think we need to grow the sport and have everyone feel involved. About flatland riding its self I don’t know what kind of things we gonna see. I just hope that every rider will challenge himself to progress, to see their riding as their identity and an expression.
In 20 years time where will Dez Maarsen be?
Hopefully Flatland will be involved in the Olympics and I get to be a coach.
Function or fashion, Which do you choose, And why?
There have been some good changes in flatland like the double diamond frame. Also the bikes become stronger because of that. However I still need a functional flatland bike for my tricks. Flatland is already hard enough. So yes function is first then fashion.
Possessions, do you have too many or do you try to live without many?
Collect memories not things right! I didn’t grow up with much stuff so I’m still not possessive. Just live with the things I need. However I do have trouble with throwing away stuff!
Shout outs and thank yous?
Yes I went to thank my mom for always being supportive with my decisions in life! Want to thank my dad for pushing me to aim for the highest things. My brothers for being really amazing guys! And everyone that saw potential in me and gave me a chance to presume my dreams! And big thanks to Freestyle Now for the support and the good questions!
Dez in his secret training facility working on his contest runs
Dez working on some more diversity with this back wheel combo