14 Mayıs 2014 Çarşamba

BMX Worlds 2013-Cologne/Haro Bikes-The Rise of the Freestyle BMX

As the only old school BMX collector and a Haro enthusiast in the whole country, I sometimes have a lonely feeling. BMX now is a much more popular sport in Turkey than it was 20 years ago, but the gap between 90ies and mid 2000 when BMX was down made old school BMX almost forgotten. For many of my friends  those we rode together BMX is only a nice memory rather than a continued passion but thanks to Facebook and BMX Museum, I know that there are many fellows like me all over the world and it is a pleasure to share my works, pictures of my bikes and stories with everybody.  Another nice fact is that those riders who used to be our heroes back in the day are very accesible. Most of those legendary figures of the sport are very humble and friendly and I appreciate for their friendships.

It was 2013 summer and I was spending most of my time on pc following Dominic Phipps' updates on his book "Haro Bikes - The Rise of BMX Freestyle". That was a great project and was very excited to have a copy of the book. Dom was only my Facebook friend at the time but he was kind enough to answer my questions about the book and how I could buy one. Unfortunately Haro was not sending the book to Turkey, so I was left without a solution to get the book. Exchanging several messages on Facebook with Dom, I figured out that Dom would be in Cologne for BMX Worlds which is one of my dream events-a pilgrimage for all BMX riders. Dom told me that he would be happy to meet me and give me the book in Cologne.

So why shouldn't it be? I had to be there, watch the event, meet cool riders, meet Dom, get the book and have a fun weekend! One week before the event I made up my mind and bought my ticket.

Before my departure I messaged my Venezuellan friend Eduardo who lives in Turkey and who is still a badass rider. He was happy for me that I would be in BMX Worlds but also jealous because he would be spending the weekend with his parents in law lol. Below is our conversation:

Anyway, I hit the road and made it to Cologne the night of 12th July. Because that was a short notice, I was only able to find a bed in a small hostel quite far away from Jugendpark. Spent the night in the hostel and early morning I took a walk to Jugendpark.

My first impression in the ticket queue was that I was in the right place!

Entering the park, just on the left hand side I saw the beautiful Haro display of Jason Eley to whom I would be introduced later. There were several other oldschool bikes brought by other people. The scene was awesome! Those bikes I was looking for all my life in Turkey were just a few steps away from me being exhibited.

After spending an hour or so drooling at several OS bikes, I walked on until I saw a half pipe and a rider taking huge airs. 

When I saw his arms wide open to both sides, then I figured. He was the "Condor"!


I waited patiently until the show was over. He was chatting to his friends until I approached him introducing myself and my friend Eduardo(!)... That probably was a moment he had encountered a million times in his life, but was very special for me. He was kind enough to pose with me saying hi to Eduardo...I had kept my promise...

After bothering Matt Hoffman enough I walked on through the park watching young bmxers. The park was very crowded and as I tried to walk through the crowd, I suddenly saw a familiar face. That was Dominic and he recognized me too. Apparently we had chatted long enough on Facebook to recognize each other. He gave me a warm hug and in a very friendly way he told me to follow him. We walked into a building inside the park with a few security at the door checking people's passes. That was the administration building with snack bar, a dining hall, and several couches for people to rest. Dom told the guys I was a guest and they let me in. Later on I figured only VIP was allowed to use the administration building. A guy welcomed Dom and they hugged each other then Dom introduced me to him. He was Stephan Prantl! In an hour's time I was meeting another legendary BMX figure, what an intense day!

Later on, another guy, Jason Eley joined us. Dom introduced him to me: "Meet Akman, a Haro collector from Turkey, actually the only collector in that region" After some chatting Jason said "ah you are the guy who rescued his Haro Sport from Qaddafi?" (See http://bmxveteran.blogspot.com.tr/2012/06/rescue-mission.html) " I know that story!" added Stephan. 

Haha that was a suprise. People had read my blog somehow. That was really flattering... Later that day Stephan very kindly arranged a V.I.P. badge for me. Wow how about that? My frist time in BMX Worlds knowing almost no one then a few hours later I was V.I.P.!

After having lunch in the V.I.P. dining hall Dom brought a bag full of his books and took out one of them and handed to me. This was one of the reasons I had come all the way from Turkey to Germany and finally it was in my hands. I knew this was a book written by Dom after painful and challenging surveys and researches, and to me is a very important documentary to know the history of Freestyle BMX not only for OS bmxers but also for the new generation. Finally it was in my hands. A book signed by the author... What a privilage!


I spent the rest of the day in Jason's display chatting with several people mostly old school bmxers. I met many good men, one of them was another Facebook friend Bernd Diegelbe. His excellent English and sense of humour made our days very colourful, I must admit I am happy to know there is a friend out there in Cologne...

Bernd, Dom, Jason

Taking the chance of writing this blog, I can't help writing a few words for Jason Eley. He is an extraordinary person. He puts his display in a rented van, drives all the way from England to Germany every year sets his display and he does this without any expectation. His only motivation is his passion for Haro. He was even invited to United States to support Dom for his project by Haro. This time he was with his son and his friends who are also riders and he showed a big hospitality welcoming me to his display all the weekend. Our common enthusiasm for Haro made us good friends.

Dominic and Jason
It was almost dark now and Dom I and Jason walked to the dirt area where there was a big show. I had never seen so many good riders together. 

After the show Jason chose to stay in the van with his son and his friends. I and Dom went to the city center "to have a look" to the party organized by BMX Worlds where we left around 5 am in the morning! Dom was very kind to offer me the spare bed in his hotel room, so after a few hours of sleep we went to the park again. I knew that there were young flatlanders who came from Turkey so I went to the flatland contest area to support them. 

Murat Özdemir

Kaan Geylani (6th Place in flatland competition)
Kaan Geylani, Tayfun Balkan

After the flatland competition while I was walking to Jason's display, I encountered another facebook friend and a French flatland legend, Alain Massabova. I didn't miss the chance to immortalize the moment!

Jason's display was like a magnet pulling all OS guys...

The weekend was almost over and people started leaving the OS area. We helped Jason to dismantle his display. Everyone was tired after the hectic weekend but I was also happy to come and have unforgottable time... 

That 2013 July weekend will always be a good memory for me thanks to BMX Worlds. I appreciate Dom, Jason and Stephan for their support and friendly approach and making me feel a part of the BMX family!

2 Mayıs 2013 Perşembe

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I am a Turkish guy 37 years of age. I live in Istanbul-Turkey. Turkey is between Asia and Europe and Istanbul is its biggest and most crowded city. Istanbul is around 6500 miles away from California, 1400 miles away from Paris and 1600 miles away from London. I was born in Istanbul. I have had many passions in my life, have played many sports, played musical instruments, have had many hobbies. There has been only one passion which has been a lifetime one, which sometimes faded away but suddenly came back, which I could never turn my back to. As if someone or something programmed a microchip and put it under my skin at the age of 9. It just does not let me go. Sometimes it lets me be a sleeper, but suddenly reminds itself. And passion comes back again. This passion of mine is called BMX.

I know I am not alone at all in this planet. Many years after sleeping, I realize how many old school riders woke up, started restoring their survivors or collecting the ones those they could never possess but always wanted to. It is amazing to see how iconic BMX has been, and I am only a simple proof of it - being born 6000 miles away from where freestyle was born and still being infected by this passion. There are thousands of examples like me all over the world. BMX Museum and Facebook is the largest source of evidence that people from all over the world are still into BMX no matter what their ages, religions, races or physical conditions are. Even this humble blog which I started keeping two years ago and which is only and specifically written about Old School BMX is read by people from a long list of countries of several continents.

It reminds me of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". People from different locations suddenly start dreaming about one thing, wanting to be there and do it, they are simply obsessed. A mystic power driving them almost at the same time to the same target. A mystic power that makes these people friends and make them a member of a huge family...

Who would say I would be Facebook friends and exchange personal messages one day with Bob Haro? Who would say Rick Moliterno, Radical Rick Allison, Dave Nourie, Martin Aparijo, Woody Itson, Jose Delgado, Greg Hill, Alain Massaboa, Dave Voelker and many others those were my childhood idols would be my Facebook friends? Who would assume I would be chatting with a great and humble guy like Dominic Phipss on his book about history of freestyle bmx who is also project manager for Haro and I would be exchanging parts between a Serbian rider and a good friend Milos Mihajlovic? This is because BMX family is a humble family. Celebrities of this family are good people and they are friendly. You could be only member of a Holywood star's fan page, that's all. But BMX family members are real people and equal. To me, the magic, the mystical power is in the shared history and feelings of the riders no matter how they good were in freestyle, how famous they were or where they are from. These two wheels connected to each other with some pipes have this magic to bind anyone together who enjoyed it once in their life. I am happy and proud to witness this era and be a part of this family even from thousands of miles away and even I had no chance to have even a decent bike in my childhood. Long live BMX.

19 Ocak 2013 Cumartesi

In Pursuit of an Ancient BMX Story-Pink Haro

If you were a bmx rider in late 80'es, being in Turkey had some certain difficulties. Turkey was not still entirely open to the rest of the world, imports and exports were not a big deal and you had to pay a fortune to customs for your bikes or parts to get cleared. Although the sport was booming in mid 80'es and even had started declining by the beginning of 90'es in USA and Europe, there were maybe not more than 20 riders in Turkey in 1990 which did not make the business interesting for importers. 

Consequently everyone was trying to get a bike through a friend or relative living abroad or the ones with financially well off parents were basically ordering bikes which were reaching them in minimum 2 months' time.

I was coming from a middle income family, and had to save money for my bicycles and parts. I had a few Turkish brand bmxes with poor quality, basically made of nicely painted and welded iron water pipes. I had a Bisan Freestyle without a rotor or gyro, which was a popular bmx in Turkey at the time. Unfortunately I would like to put here a photo of a Bisan  Freestyle but although I dug deep on internet I was unsuccessful to find one. Although I contacted Bisan factory in Turkey I could not get a reply from anyone. That's another indication of lack of popularity of bmx in Turkey at the time. 

Sometimes somebody used to bring a bike from broad and sell it in parts, that day a lot of bargains used to take place. Even a single gyro cable was important (it was not available) and I remember we were fighting even over bolts and nuts, not to mention the frame&forks, stems, brake levers, etc.

Drooling on BMX Plus magazines and dreaming of having a GT or Haro one day, throughout that winter sacrificing from my lunch, I saved barely enough money to afford to buy a second hand bicycle. Sold my Bisan Freestyle and started waiting for a good opportunity to buy a second hand decent bike. Informed everyone that I had the money and any second hand GT or Haro would be welcome. 

Finally one spring day, my friend Kerim called me and said there was this Haro Sport for sale. It was one of the guys who lived on the other side of Istanbul. The bike was said to be in pink color and a weld under the seat post clamp,but honestly I did not really care about the color or the weld, so I happily accepted to buy the bike. Arrangements were made and we met in the Kadikoy port. There the bike was, 88 Sport, half pink, half chrome, haro freestyle handlebars in purple, pink GT seat post, Haro sprocket, 128 brake levers and a GT stem on it. It had the chrome frame standers on the original Haro fork which are difficult to afford now. That was love at first sight, paid the money shook hands and I sat on the white dominator seat.

The guy said he was reluctant to part the bike as it once belonged to a French ramp champion so the bike meant a lot to him. I was surprised and asked him to tell me the whole story. He said there was a bmx show in Gulhane park in Istanbul and one rider from France broke the bike under the seat post clamp on the ramp. The guy was one of the spectators in the crowd, so somehow the French rider gave (or sold I can't remember this part of the story)   the bike to him, he fixed the bike, rode for a year and then decided to sell it. What was the name of the rider I asked. Michel  he said, but he didn't know the surname... I didn't believe him much as these bikes were iconic those days and kids loved to deliver such cool stories. Anyway I recorded the story in my memory and kept it for years.

Haro Sport was probably heavier than the GT's or Mongoose's my other friends had and it had a way longer frame. But I was so happy having her, had my first wheelies, squeakers, cherry pickers and so on, and it was the coolest bike in my eyes.

I spent two summers with my Pink Haro and there I was 17, still loved my bike, but my friends were buying newer bicycles which did not have the wears and tears, no dents, dings welds and they felt free to try sickest jumps without the fear of breaking their bikes.  So I decided to sell her and buy a newer bike. That's probably something I would not even cross my mind today, but we appreciate the value of things we have after we miss them... I heard the bike was broken a few weeks after I parted it. I was still feeling so attached to her and felt deeply sorry to hear that. Then I bought my GT Aggressor which I still lovingly keep today, but my Pink Haro has always been a good memory and the cause of my today's obsession on Haro bikes.

And year 2011... 18 years after parting my Pink Haro, call it mid-life crisis or whatsoever, I started restoring my old bicycles and collecting old school bikes and started keeping this blog. Deep inside somewhere I always wondered if the French champion story was true. so I decided to investigate it...

I first asked my friend Ertan Uckumru-legendary BMX freestyler who is still riding at age of 44. He  told me that back in the time there was a French rider Michel Delgado who was said to come to Istanbul for a show. That was a good lead. Searched for Michel Delgado and came across with some BMX footage and links from oldschool bmx France. He definitely existed but there was no e-mail address so I could contact him and get the story confirmed.

I typed his name on Facebook found a few Michel Delgado's but there was no evidence any of them were veteran bmx riders. I almost gave up my search. At the time, I was searching old school riders on Facebook and adding them to my friends list. There was this guy Christophe Boul, a very talented illustrator and artist who had amazing illustrations on Bmx and other stuff. I added him up on Facebook. One day I realized he shared one of his illustrations:

An Illustration from Christoph Boul-
José DELGADO, un des 3 légendaires MBK "MAD DOGS" (Michel Delgado et Adolphe Joly)

That was it! I had eventually found the trace of the Delgados. Looked up on Boul's friends list, I found Jose Delgado. There was no sign of Michel Delgado, but Jose could be heplful! He was probably his brother and would know the story! I sent him a friend request and not long after he accepted it!

Jose DelgadoDenis LanglaisRon Wilkerson, Adolphe Joly and Martin Aparijo at Pony Park, Slagharen, Netherlands

It was a bit embarrassing and weird to come up with a strange question like that, but I could not help myself and started messaging Jose:

  • 20 Jan 2012
  • Haro Veteran
    Hi Jose,
    I am an oldschool rider from Turkey. I wonder if you and your brother Michel came to Turkey - Istanbul around 20-25 years ago. According to the myth Michel broke his Haro Sport from the seat post tube during the show and gave his bike to one of his fans in Istanbul. Can you confirm if this story is true? Because a few years later I bought that bike and they told me this was the story of the Haro Sport. If it is true do you have any pictures of the bike from those years? I spent wonderful years riding it. Thanks in advance.

3 days...No response... mmm... well, ok;

  • 23 Jan 2012

  • Haro Veteran
    hi jose do you speak english?
    • Jose Delgado
      Yes , i do speak english but i was quite busy these days ... And yes , as far as i can remenber , the story is more or less true ...
      I remenber those shows we did in gulhane park , i'm not sure about the name but it was really fun being there and meet cool people...
      I have to Check if i have some pictures from our Istanbul trip...
      Anyway , thanks for the memories...
      José .

    • 23 Jan 2012
    • Haro Veteran
      Sorry I didnt mean to push you for the answer, but thank you very much for your interesting message.
      Yes Gulhane park is the correct name-good memory. I bought the bike from the guy you or Michel gave it. I always knew it was welded from the seat post tube and rode the bike until it was almost broken again and sold it. I know regret having sold it although it was not usable anymore, therefore after years in that bike's memory I am collecting oldschool bikes. The ride with Haro Sport was wonderful and I had unforgottable memories.
      When you have time, I would very much appreciate if you can tell me more details about the story so I can mention it in my BMX blog. You can visit www.bmxveteran.blogspot.com The blog is yet only in Turkish soon I will make it also in English but you can just enjoy the pictures. I would also appreciate to have that bike's photos, that would be really precious for my memories and blog.
      Thanks in advance Jose, my regards to your family and Michel.

    One month passes but I can't resist my curiosity, and shoot another question;

    • Hi again Jose,
      Sorry for bothering you with this stupid obsession over and over but can you remember the original color of the haro sport michel broke in Istanbul?
      • 9 Mart 2012
      • Jose Delgado
        Hi , it was a black haro sport
        • Haro Veteran
          thanks man.

        Yes, that was it. Despite Jose's talkative(!) attitude, I had had the story confirmed by him. I had even learned its original color which proved the bike was painted in pink afterwards which was a surprise. I was truly satisfied but my regret had grown bigger that I had sold my Haro Sport... My next goal now is to try to find my bike. If only I could remember to whom I sold it. Yes strange but true, although I can remember many other details, I can only not remember to whom I sold my bike. I will keep searching for old photos, and try to find out to whom I sold it. I may never achieve to find it but who knows, one day you may be reading another story on this blog regarding how and where I found it...