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Q&A: Matt Wilhelm


Matt Wilhelm hit us up to say he had a fresh edit for us filmed in his new private warehouse. He's got some old favorites (at his usual hyper speed) and some new stuff, too. And because it's been a while since we caught up with Matt we shot over some interview questions to go along with the video. And to cap it off, we got a bunch of questions from our Facebook fans that Matt took time to answer. Lots to see in here, so dig in:

Name: Matt WilhelmAge: 31Location: Chicago, ILSponsors: Dan's Comp and Hoffman Bikes

It's been a while since we caught up with you...what's new in the world of Matt Wilhelm?

Riding, riding, and more riding. I've been married to my cute wife for over five years, have two wonderful cats, and I'm trying not to stress like I always tend to do.

Not sure if many people know this, but you do solo shows. What's the breakdown of what you do in your shows and how did you get into doing them?

I usually do about a 40-minute one-person show with a few easy tricks like decades and hard tricks like some of the tricks in this web video. My show has a few character segments as well about perseverance, and how I didn't give up after getting last place during my first year in the X Games. I also talk about how important it was that I graduated with honors from college while attending on a music scholarship. I started doing them for a team a while back, and broke off on my own because I knew I could do a better job.

Exactly how many shows and demos did you do last year? What's the most rewarding thing about doing the kind of shows you do, and how do you keep from getting burnt out on them?

I performed almost 400 shows at 315 different schools, libraries, and community events in 2009. I already have 180 shows scheduled between now and June 5th, which is pretty crazy if you think about it. The most rewarding part is just the feedback I get from students, parents, and teachers. It really feels like I am making a difference and that's what keeps me from getting burnt out.

Can you share any wild stories from the road of touring?

There is just always random funny stuff that happens. Here are some quick random things:

• Getting asked out by a teacher.• A student asking me out for the teacher because the teacher is shy.• I have bunny hopped priests, pastors, and rabbis, but not at the same time.• I read a book out loud called "Duck On A Bike" to a couple of kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms.• Autographing copies of Ride Magazine taken from the school library.• After I finish the show of my hardest tricks a bunch of kids ask me if I can do a wheelie and a stoppie.• An eighth grader telling me he can't read my autograph because he can't read cursive. (I guess that is more sad than funny).• A kid getting too excited when I am signing an autograph and he accidentally farts. You can't cover up the smell by talking louder.• Instead of picking a skinny teacher for me to jump over the principal picked a 400-pound woman and she couldn't get up afterward.• When introducing me the principal says, "He won second place at the World Championships in Portugal. That's in South America." Hint... It's not in South America and a principal should know better.• A 6-year-old told me I look better with my helmet on. Ouch!• I can make my own "People Of Walmart" website.

You were ranked 9th in the World Circuit standings for 2009, so why didn't you go to the recent World Classic contest in Tokyo?

The timing just wasn't right for me. I'm in the process of learning new tricks and trying to get them consistent, so neither my new or old tricks are consistent at the moment. Plus, flights to Tokyo are expensive and I hate feeling the pressure to try and win my money back to pay for the ticket. I've been to Tokyo a few times already, and I'm sure I will go back again soon.

What contests do you plan to hit this year?

I plan to hit any big contest in the U.S. like Fight with Flight and JoMoPro. I will also probably hit up the comps on the World Circuit, the Worlds, and Masters too.

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Tell us about your new warehouse that is in this edit.

I had to change locations, and the new warehouse isn't as good as the old one. The floor is just a little too slick for me to ride at full speed. We put a lot of effort into getting the floor perfect like waxing the floor and trying different cleaning solutions. It looks like just mopping it with Coke is the best so far. It's kind of weird paying monthly rent to ride, but it's better than the alternative of not riding half the year.

The trick in the end that you crashed on a few that a new one for you? How long does it take to learn something like that?

Yes, that is a new trick for me. I have been working on it for over six months, and it still takes forever to pull. Believe me, I have plenty more crash footage on that trick that couldn't fit in the video.

There has been talk about this on forum boards, so just to have it on record, I know that your video "Ground Rules" (a flatland how-to DVD) is one of, if not THE best selling flatland videos of all time...your thoughts on a second edition?

I would love to make a second edition, but I just haven't had time to make it. With the on-screen drawing it takes a long time to edit, and I don't want to do a halfway version. It will be done as soon as I can find some time or a self-cloning machine.

I may have opened up a can of worms with this one, but I posted on our Facebook for people to ask you questions, so here are some of them from our readers... More than 30 questions posted for you in less than an hour.

Pete Rutenga: wen u 1st started bmx, did you have a sick bmx..?

My bike had 2 pegs and both of them were stripped out. It was definitely sick, but not in a good way.

Nenad Ognjenovic: favorite and the hardest trick?

Favorite: No-handed Time Machine

Hardest: 360 Body Varial Caboose

Nic Vorster: When you look back over all the years you've been riding, is there one period that stands out as the best? Or is it now?

My first few years riding was the best because I got to ride with people nicknamed Farmdog and Phillbilly. If that doesn't sound like fun, I don't know what does. 2001-2003 was awesome because the Chicago scene was great and lots of awesome road trips too.

Jimmy Myers: what trick or link took you the longest to master?

I have tricks that I still can't do consistently or at all. I am terrible at whiplashes, crossfooted hikers, and still can't do whoppers.

Jonathan Prince: Was it hard geting sponsored when you wanted to be?

I always wanted to be sponsored, but never seriously pursued it. Dan's Comp sponsored me before I even turned pro, and then GT called me shortly after I turned pro. I've been pretty lucky in that department, but I wouldn't mind some big sponsors for my tours.

Braeden B-Real Barnard: do you have a favourite t shirt you wear when you know your gonna shred

My favorite shirt was "For Men With 20 Inchers", but my mom threw it out when I wasn't looking. Now I like Hoffman and Dan's Comp shirts because they are free and if I rip them I can just get another.

Dustin Delva: matt how do you feel about 8 bowls of early morning frosted flakes.

That sounds like too much fiber and a long date with the crapper. I poop too much as it is.

Johnathan Robert Persia: Do you wear rad shoes?

No. I have something painful called plantar faciitis (inflamed foot tendons) from riding a lot, so I have to put these lame inserts into my shoes. I'm looking for some rad shoes or a shoe sponsor, so if you know one hook me up.

Esteban Ramos: aparte de dans saben otra pagina donde pueda encontrar marcos?

Apesadumbrado mi amigo, sino yo no habla español. Siga por favor asentado para el resto del vuelo.

Alex Traylor: Where do you the sport going in the years to come?

It seems like new tricks are leveling off, so I think that more up and comers will be able to learn pro level tricks. Flat is definitely gaining some momentum, no pun intended.

Matt Thomas: Matt, what came first the chicken or the egg ?

The chicken. You never heard that joke about the chicken and egg laying in bed and the chicken lights up the cigarette first?

Ethan Smith: when looking at the progression of flatland in the last 10 years do you think the sport has improved or lost momentum.

The tricks are harder, and the overall style is better. However, it seems like everyone is starting to do the same stuff. I would say that the overall difficulty has improved, but there are less people being original.

Dean Stevens: when was your last wank?

I'm not familiar with that terminology. Are you asking the last time I took matters into my own hands?

Kyle Rosinke: Have you ever thought about switching disciplines? No disrespect to any form of BMX but have you ever considered changing your mastery to lets say a street rider?

I started out riding street and flat, but my bike kept breaking from riding street. I would like to monkey around at the skatepark, but I'm too much of a wuss. I did learn flips into the Woodward foam pit though.

Jonathan Derose: What way do you like having your bike set up? I have seen tons of brakeless flat riders, why do you stay with brakes on? Do you think it makes you a better rider?

For me it's all about riding for fun, so why would I limit myself and not be able to do tricks that I enjoy. If you want to do a brakeless combo then don't hit the brakes. I always thought riding brakeless was more about getting attention or maybe just being too lazy to fix your bike. If you aren't learning basic tricks because you don't have brakes, then it isn't making you a better rider.

Jake Fritz: Do you believe flat land is an art?

Art and Sport. Does that make it a Spart, or is a Spart something that comes out instead of a fart?

Chanse Schultz: favourite place to ride?

Picasso sculpture in Downtown Chicago, when there is no security.

Dan Harris: Wot trick did u find hardest 2 learn?

Blender-Bikeflip. More crashes on that one than Ricky Bobby.

Nick Freekn Born: Are u going to the Brooklyn banks to support this Saturday ?

We took a road trip in 1998 to New York pretty much just to ride at the Brooklyn Banks. I could bust a wallride when needed.

Lee McCartney: if you could change anything about yourself what would it be?(ginner)

I would change myself to look like Megan Fox and just look in the mirror all day. Either that or I could give myself a superpower like time traveling. That would be cool.

Alex Van Rensburg: If you sucked at BMX, would you still do it?

Thanks for saying that I don't suck. I was pretty bad my first year riding... Until I found out that I was trying all my tricks opposite. I stuck with it then, so I guess I probably would until it wasn't fun.

Jake Keisel: when you started bmx who did you look up to? does bmx make a lot of money? and what was your first bike you rode on?

I looked up to Al Sprandel, Hiro Tsuchida, and Todd Gully. They are local Chicago riders who really helped me learn tricks. Thanks guys. BMX can make a lot of money, but if you break it down to all the hours of practice it's probably less than minimum wage. My first trick bike was a Hutch Excel.

James Dean: Wat would u rather wrestle a tiger, shark, crocodile, Hulk Hogan, Fudger, or Mulligan

Let's weigh the options.

Tiger: Well I love cats, so I wouldn't want to do any harm to a big cat.

Shark: I've seen "Jaws," which does start with a skinny dipping scene. But then it got messy.

Crocodile: If I win I could make some cool crocodile leather wallets, belts, and boots. But that's only if I win.

Hulk Hogan: Grown men hugging each other in Speedos isn't really my scene.

Fudger: He wouldn't even be a challenge. Too easy.

Mulligan: By process of elimination, it's Mulligan.