“He came from nothing to become a legend” – BMX flatlander Terry Adams

Decoding Athletes Podcast with Matthias Dandois – Episode 9 – “He came from nothing to become a legend” – BMX flatlander Terry Adams
Coming from a small town in Louisiana, where dirt tracks trumped paved roads and the only inspiration to BMX was a dude doing tricks at the local gas station, the likelihood of Terry Adams becoming a flatland legend was second to none. But he made it.
 
Find out how a whole lot of grind got Terry to the top in the latest episode of Decoding Athletes with Matthias Dandois…

“We called ourselves the Nuts Team” Terry grew up in a small town in Louisiana where dirt tracks were more commonplace than tarmac and where the only inspiration to ride was a guy doing tricks on the forecourt of the local gas station. “My mom would take me down there every day to watch him ride,” remembers Terry fondly. His mom ordered him a video the guy recommended, he fell in with a neighbourhood gang of BMX riders and they formed “The Nuts Team”. The rest is history…

“I just said a bunch of trick names and said yeah, I can do this and this; I couldn’t do any of it” Terry stepping stoned from BMX racing to hitting box jumps for his local shop before a call came through from some industry guys in New Orleans: “They asked me what kind of flatland tricks I could do and I lied,” he says. “I just said a bunch of trick names and said yeah I can do this and this; I couldn’t do any of it. Luckily, the guy, Eugene Collins, saw potential, and from then on Terry was a flatlander.

“It is like you have some type of power to float around the bike” It was the feeling of flatland, that sense of flow and breaking trick codes that got Terry hooked. He describes it as floating: “You start to learn how to really feel the flow and the essence of what it is to finally be able to take a trick that was once hard and make it easy.”

“In my mind I felt like I needed to be possessed to get really good” Terry became obsessed with progression, writing as a 12 year-old, “flatland, flatland, flatland. Eyes closed.” Then writing flatland with his eyes closed. He says, like all things, he took it to the extreme. “I get so obsessed I will ride myself to death” he remembers thinking back then, before admitting he sometimes needs to take his foot off the gas.

“If you come over here today it can change your life” Terry had always wanted to be the guy in the magazines or on TV winning the XGames but there weren’t too many chances for a kid from his town to reach the top. “I could pop a wheelie and do and endo and I knew that I was going to go as hard as I could to be a professional” but it wasn’t going to be enough. Then Scott O’Brien persuaded him to meet the guys from Red Bull while organising Voodoo Jam: “I was able to shake hands with some people there” remembers Terry. It was his ticket to ride the world doing what he loved.

“When I have a goal I write down the goal and underneath it write an action plan” The same obsessive traits that made him incredibly good also opened some unexpected doors along the way, including appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and bagging the 2008 NORA Cup. Getting to ride on Ellen’s show involved years of writing and calling the production team before the realized they had no choice but to invite him along. While to win the 2008 NORA Cup he unashamedly emailed saying “I feel like I killed it” to all the right BMX illuminate and asked them to vote for him. All because he had chosen to ride on stage with Jennifer Lopez in 2005 rather than flying to Vegas to pick up the NORA Cup then, which at the time he was unsure if he had won.

“Visualisation is super powerful. Pretty much everything that I have built today comes from that” 2002 was when Terry started making the lists of what he wanted to achieve. Arranged into personal, professional, and trick categories he worked his way through them, with the goals getting “crazier and more outlandish” each year. “There are some podiums. A new car. A different house. 150,000 followers on TikTok,” he reads off his latest list. ““I built a board that was up for 3 years” he recounts of an old venture “and the only reason I took it down was that everything on the board came true. EVERYTHING!”

“You do what you want to do and that is what makes it freestyle” Like a BMX pump track where there are highs there are also lows. Perhaps one of Terry’s lowest points was when he in his own words “listening to the chatter in the background” and for all the wrong reasons took off his bike brake. “Although I am one of the top riders, I am also such a fan, and all the top guys run no break.” He made a big deal about pulling off his break but it was such a disaster he only did it for 8 months. “If I take off my break five years from now” he says with determination” it is because I want to take it off 100%”.

“I want him to see me win. I want him to see me loose. And I want him to see me work for it” At the end of 2018 Terry and his wife Vanessa had a little boy. He was the catalyst that in Terry’s words “restarted his journey”. Terry already had a trophy cabinet brimming with XGames medals, NORA Cups and KOG trophies, but just to take his son on a nostalgic tour would have been, in Terry’s words, too easy. Terry hired a coach, the legendary Martti Kuoppa to “get back to the top of (his) performance level and the contest game” and gain the essential tool of balance. “It has really put me in a different level, not only on my bike but also in life,” Terry admits. “And this way (my son) knows he can grow up and be anything that he wants to. If he wants to grow up and be a scooter guy or a yoyo guy or if he wants to blow bubbles for a living he will know it is possible”.

Terry Adams performs at the Caliente Stadium in Tijuana, Mexico on August 9, 2019. // Francisco Vega/Red Bull Content Pool

“Everyone has a choice. They can either try to better themselves or stay at home and do the opposite” Then came Corona Virus and the lockdown but rather than sink the pandemic again made Terry swim harder. He lost 30 lbs on a strict diet and exercise regime to “get ready for when things start back up”. He dropped sugar and bread and hammered out 100 pullups, 100 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, 50 curls, and 1 mile runs a day. He also found time to power through a game of BIKE with Matthias Dandois, Martti Kuoppa, and others and in true Terry style won it. “I think in the very beginning I made the decision on my goal list I was going to win the game of BIKE” laughs Terry.

“I am going just as hard today as I was 20 years ago. I never want it to end. I am having so much fun” The truth is Terry has come out of the lockdown stronger and more motivated to better his lot than ever, with victory at the FISE Montpellier in his sights and perhaps even an Olympic medal for Team USA. “If I look at my riding level 10 years ago and my riding level now I am in really good shape so the goal right now is to be the best bike rider I have ever been, for myself and for my son”.

Decoding Athletes with Matthias Dandois is a podcast series hosted by professional BMX rider and eight times Flatland World Champion Matthias Dandois. Matthias who is a Frenchman living in New York has spent his lifetime travelling the world. Along the way, he’s met a host of amazing people, rocked BMX flatland with his unique style and picked up a few trophies for good measure too. Now, as the host of Decoding Athletes, he finds himself on the other end of the mic, interviewing the crème de la crème of action sports to discover what it needs to be a standout athlete in today’s challenging competitive landscape. Subscribe to it on your favorite podcast app Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker or Google Podcasts, leave a comment, give the podcast a rating and/or get the conversation rolling by using the #DecodingAthletes hashtag across all social media channels. Find related photo and video content HERE or head to Matthias’ YouTube channel to watch the podcast VLOG. You can find Matthias on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or Twitter. Decoding Athletes with Matthias Dandois is produced by ASI Media Events and Maniac Studios for Red Bull Media House and distributed by eyesprint communication

(L-R) Terry Adams and Nico Deportago-Cabrera at Red Bull Bay Climb in San Francisco, California, USA on 7 September, 2019. // Long Nguyen/Red Bull Content Pool

 

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