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.
|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!