Since this is a lengthy interview, I need to make this intro short. Trevlon Hall is a pro flatlander from Trinidad and Tobago. Not many BMXers outside the realm of flatland might know this, but flatlanders by and large practice on areas that are either private (and illegal) or public (and shared.) For years, Trevlon rode on a basketball court, sharing the space with whomever was also using the area to play ball or jog. Frustrated with the distractions, Trevlon eventually approached the government about designating the area specifically for flatland use only, creating the world's first ever government sanctioned flatland practice area in the world. This is his story, and since it's a little bit lengthy, I'm gonna break it up into two parts. Check back tomorrow for the second half, and thanks in advance to Trevlon for his diligent efforts in the flatland community.
Give yourself a brief introduction. How you got into riding, how long you've been riding for, what motivates you to keep on riding, and where you see your riding going.
My name is Trevlon hall and I am from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. It's about 7 miles off the north east coast of Venezuela, housing an approximate population of 1.3 million and coated with a beautiful tropical environment. Anyways, my BMX freestyle evolved about 12 years ago, somewhere in 1997. At the time, I could not get a bike even remotely similar to what I saw in the magazine at any local shops because the industry literally did not exist. A bunch of generic 20" bikes were generously available for sale at the time. I used what the industry had available and began jumping sidewalks... I really liked ramp riding but there were no parks. Flatland was easier for me to progress at, although most of my early years of practice were done using the worst of parts and conditions. But I never allowed the discouraging conditions to deconstruct my insatiable appetite to progress and learn more about our sport. I am a fast learner and that's part responsible for my undying motivation... After about 4 and a half years of practice, I became the first person in our island history to enter a number of pro international events between 2002 and 2006. However, injuries began seriously haunting me in 2006 and I pulled away from the contest scene. To allow the healing process I significantly reduce my training and switched focus. During my down time I became severely obsessed with infrastructure and building flatland from a different angle. I was already an addict of progress and overwhelmingly compelled to do something philanthropic for flatland in ways beneficial to others and our generation next. So I invested time in applications like Adobe's Flash and Dreamweaver, and within three weeks of no prior knowledge of the applications, I built www.xsitesport.com from the ground up all by myself. I also invested tons of time learning many other applications on the Mac, Windows, and Linux platform, which was able to assist me along the developmental path. Where I see my riding going? I honestly spend more time working on different angles of infrastructure than I do on my bike. I try to progress every time I go out to ride and I am mostly successful with that, but I prefer sacrificing riding time for our next generation and organizing for the future development of flatland.
Can you explain your "spot" philosophy?
After years of borrowing spots to practice flatland and getting kicked out from public spots, I wanted to make a worthy and pandemic difference. If you look at flatland's infrastructural history, you will notice a staggering amount of flatlanders have been borrowing parking lots, tennis courts, basketball courts, hockey rinks and dockyards to say the least. Some flatlanders even have their personal in-house or backyard spots. But which of these identify flatland to the general public and has a legitimate flatland public address? In short, a flatland park, open to the general public where kids can have fun and progress without unnecessary distractions... I don't mean to bash anyone's spot or the history of our spots, which was largely responsible for the tricks we have today. I am just adding the fact that the flatland park concept will not take away anyone's spot whether in-house, backyard or borrowed. In fact, it will add to what already exists, transcend flatland's respectability status, identify flatland to the general public and encourage more parents to allow their kids to practice flatland. The point is, flatland parks can be a plus to our industry!
What was once a tennis court is now a legally historic flatland spot with a public address.
Can you describe the BMX scene at large in Trinidad and Tobago?
There are over 50 riders scattered throughout the island, some ride flatland and others ride pure street. There are no BMX ramp parks here as yet, but that will change over time. There have been several jams and small competitions over the years, but as infrastructure continues to build, the scene will grow.
I'm not going to judge your riding totally from YouTube videos, but it seems like you're a bit of a back wheel fiend. Do you have a preference for back wheel tricks, front wheel tricks or a mix of both?
I love back and front wheel tricks, but I think a lot of riders are doing a good job on the front at the moment and I personally wanted to explore more back wheel stuff. When I am comfortable with some of the new links I am working on, I'll mix some front wheel stuff into the flow.
Additionally, what style of flatland riding do you enjoy most?
Something I have never seen before will definitely catch my attention. I enjoy watching many styles and even practicing different styles. I look at different riders and different styles and there is always something that amazes me. At the moment, I'm working on moves that involve no scuffing. It's a new challenge for me and I am having fun with that for now. But I respect every rider's style regardless. I love to progress when I go out to ride, and I love watching progressive riders.
How long have you ridden brakeless for, and can you describe your motivations for riding without a brake?
I've been riding brakeless for about 9 and a half years now. My riding style was very shaky with my brakes on, so I decided to leave them off. I rode with brakes for 2 and a half years though. There are many riders that I enjoy watching ride with brakes, but personally, I am clumsy with the brake and flow more without it.
Can you tell me about the newly christened flatland spot you've worked to create in your country?
In 1997, my first serious days of practice began on a street in front my house, but I quickly noticed it was no good for flatland. It was always busy with vehicles and was clearly distracting and dangerous. There were no legitimate facilities for this new sport, so I had to borrow what was available... In the first 2 years of my riding, I borrowed outside basketball courts, but they did not permit the depth of concentration I required to progress comfortably. I had to wait to borrow the courts and many times at night I had the lighting switched off on me in the middle of practicing tricks. I became weary of the situation and began looking for other places again. In 1999 I found a tennis court almost three miles from where I lived and it was scarcely used. I had to periodically deal with people playing cricket, netball and even jogging around me in the middle of my training at this new spot, but it wasn't as rowdy as the basketball courts I used before... I rode my bike at this newly found tennis court everyday. I was so focused on learning tricks that I forget about the heat and other discomforts. I was like a positive logo on the court to the people of the community and my sessions were about 7-11 hours everyday. The only days I did not ride were the rainy days. Some days I even had a huge sponge waiting to dry the court after the rain fell to fast-forward the drying process...
Anyways, as my riding progressed, the court became a magnet to many other young people with an interest to ride. The distractions also became more frequent. At this point, it was more than 10 years of distractions and I seriously ran out of patience. With a burning desire to make a difference, I wrote our local government informing them of our dilemmas and the positives we were using the court to do for many years. After several meetings the spot was legitimately declared for flatland and the transformations began... Presently, final adjustments to the spot are being made. What was once a tennis court is now a legally historic flatland spot with a public address. I will be the first to bless it with my tires of course. I will be more than willing to put up a NO Cricket, No Jogging and other No Signs. There will be an official launch ceremony on July 25, 2009. Government officials and other distinguished guest will be there of course. Hardcore riding and other delights will fit into the mix... For the most part, the spot is a perfectly flat asphalt surface with an area of about 120ft x 70ft. It will be secured by a solid fencing with two gate entrances and a few benches to sit and chill like other parks. Unfortunately, it's not covered, but we don't have snow to worry about here and it's mostly sunny all year. Welcome to the tropics! It's a great start for now and I am most grateful. However, in the near future I will be working on something covered. I'll also be working on more advance projects as time goes by.
[Check back tomorrow for part two, where Trevlon elaborates on the various processes it took to build the flatland area, as well as his bouts with carpal tunnel syndrome and his thoughts on the future of flatland.]