Words: Miljan Milekić
Speaking of BMX in the Netherlands, there is one name that can’t be overlooked. Daniël Wedemeijer, 27-year old, Amsterdam-born BMX rider quickly gained attention with his crazy style, earning the nickname ‘Flying Dutchman.’ Turned pro in 2013, he made appearances at contests all over the world, but also starting his own – also started #BraaaB BMX Contest in Eindhoven. He took part in Travis Pastrana‘s Nitro Circus and became the first rider who jumped over a canal in Amsterdam. We spoke with him about his past projects, Vlog he’s currently running, and much more. Enjoy!
Recently, you started running a vlog. What’s the idea behind it, and what motivated you to do it?
Daniël: The first and most important thing is that I want to show the life I am living. As an athlete, I am always pushing the limits, and that’s the thing you will see back in the Vlogs. Hopefully, with the Vlogs, I can inspire a new generation to get out there, ride BMX, and get the most out of their lives.
We live in the age of Social Networks. How important for you, and for a BMX rider today is to be online and continuously in touch with his followers?
Daniël: It’s definitely way more important than back in the days. I remember when I started riding I had to wait for magazines or videos to be dropped. Now with Social Media, it’s a way faster thing which brings more opportunities, of course. The everyday reach you can get with Social Media is crazy, and something partners and sponsors nowadays are looking for. With all that said it’s still important to be real and ride your BMX like there is no tomorrow! Well, that’s how I think of it.
You live in Amsterdam, which is pretty much a bike city. Along with tulips and windmills, bicycles could be the national symbol of the Netherlands. How was it to grow up in a city like that, and how much of an influence was it for you to start riding BMX?
Daniël: Unfortunately, I am not living in Amsterdam anymore. A couple of years ago I moved down south near Eindhoven because of 040BMXPARK. But back to the point growing up in Amsterdam is just amazing. There is not a day without something happening. BMX wasn’t something I started doing because of seeing it. It was just because all my friends at school had a BMX and I wanted one too. But riding to school was not enough for me, so I started doing little “jumps” on it. From there it’s been a never-ending story.
Growing up, and nowadays, what is your favorite place to ride? Also, who do you like to ride with?
Daniël: Outdoors I will say the Marnix bowl in Amsterdam which is a beautiful place and a good bowl to ride. Nowadays it’s all about 040BMXPARK in Eindhoven. There is just not one bad thing about the place! I can’t really pick one rider I like to ride with. I need people around me who motivate me, and I can have fun with. Luckily there are enough people like that.
How did you team up with Red Bull, and how much have they, and the other sponsors helped you in your career?
Daniël: Back in 2013, I got an e-mail from Red Bull Netherlands about an event they wanted to do. For the event later called Red Bull Framed Reactions they asked me for advice from a BMX point of view. From here on they started following me as a rider. On the day of the event, I got surprised by becoming part of the Red Bull family. All together sponsors have been a big part of my career. Without all the help I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
I would go back to a project you did for that contest, the backflip over the canal. Tell me more about it? How hard was it to prepare and perform something like that?
Daniël: Every project has its ups and downs. I always wanted to do something “big” in Amsterdam, and with Red Bull, I got to make that dream reality. Preparing wasn’t the hardest thing as we had the ramp indoors to get practice going. The hardest part was the rain during the backflip.
Framed Reaction – from the viewer’s point, it looked like an insane experience. How was it for riders, and are there any chances for something similar in Amsterdam in the future?
Daniël: Haha yes, it was an insane experience! Moving ramps, big sized ramps, and probably the longest BMX park course ever. For me, it was one of the best parks I have ever ridden. Wish every day was like that. You never know with Red Bull what the next event will be. But I am pretty sure something will happen soon again.
In recent years, you organized the #BraaaB BMX contest in Eindhoven. What made you step out and hold an event like that, and can we expect a comeback in the future?
Daniël: The only reason I did it was the create a platform for riders to show their skills. Amateur or Pro it didn’t matter as long as the fun was there. The problem I had after the 2nd edition was the money part and time. A lot was paid out of my own pocket and my time was limited. Hopefully, I can bring back something similar in the future.
It was your first experience in an organization, right? How would you describe the difference between looking at the contest from the organizer’s perspective and a rider’s perspective? I guess being a rider helped you with understanding the needs of the other athletes?
Daniël: I had seen hundreds of competitions all over the world and wanted to bring all the best together in one. In my eyes that worked pretty good and the riders were happy and had a good time. The main difference was the energy needed. Riding competition is hard but organizing one is insanely heavy. I think I rehabbed for a week.
You were part of Nitro Circus, a massive project done by Travis Pastrana. What is like to be a part of something like that? Can you tell me more about the experience and Pastrana himself? Daniël: Pastrana is an athlete on another level his skills, passion, and energy are a great combination. That’s what you can see in the shows, too. Being part of such a big thing was a dream becoming a reality. Oh man, it was a crazy adventure but such a good one. Just one big group with the goal to progress the sport every show again. In 4 weeks we did 16 shows which is pretty heavy, but having big crowds every show going wild keeps you going! As soon as the show starts, you feel your heart going faster, and for 2,5 hours it’s one big adrenaline rush. And with people like Travis Pastrana and other people from the crew, things can get pretty wild and crazy. Don’t even think of not going to watch it! It will blow your mind for sure!
As a pro rider, you traveled all around the world – I’ve seen you at Pannonian Challenge in Osijek, Winner of Belgrade in Serbia, you’ve also been at Simple Sessions in Tallin, FISE World Series… Can you compare some of those contests, and what would you say is your favorite?
Daniël: It doesn’t matter where you go, in the end, it’s one big family. If you ride a BMX, you’re part of it. The best thing about all the events is the one spirit they have, and that’s having fun. For sure my favorite is Fise Montpellier.
BMX is announced as an Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020. Are you planning on being there, and how do you prepare for something like that? Also, there are X Games, FISE World Series that is stronger than ever. How do you see the future of competitive BMX, and how much has the scene changed since you first started?
Daniël: Of course I am planning on being there! Just need to qualify! (laughs) I dreamed about BMX being an Olympic sport, and now it became a dream to go there! BMX changed a lot since I started riding BMX but always stayed fun. The future of the sport looks great with so many events and the Olympics in 2020. Hopefully, all the events together will help the sport grow to another level.
You are a successful contest rider, but yet, looking at you riding them, there is an impression that you are constantly trying to improve yourself and push your own boundaries, rather than win, or make a good result. What do you see as your priority?
Daniël: I am not here for a long time but a good time! I want to leave a mark in the sport and get the best results possible. But the priority has always been having fun and doing what I like to do and not what people want me to do.
Your aggressive and energetic style of riding, have cost you quite a few injuries on the way, with some of them being really serious. How do you maintain to recover from serious hits, and get back even stronger and better every time?
Daniël: Every setback is shitty, but it makes me stronger every time! Luckily I have an awesome girlfriend who supports me to the fullest and helps me a lot during injury time. It’s a part of the game and something I deal with.
I know you are a big fan of music. How big of an impact does music have on you while you’re riding?
Daniël: Music is for sure a big part of my life. While answering your questions, I am listening to Dutch rap. It really comes with the moment. Sometimes I feel like a gangster listening to hip-hop, and a minute later I can go into Dance music. It just keeps me going.
So, for the end – what can we expect from you in the future?
Daniël: So many things planned but the most important thing right now is the Vlog videos on my Youtube. I really want to take it to the next level with that. Cheers and thanks for reading!