I’ve always wondered how you learn a new BMX trick without breaking a couple of limbs, surely one slip and you’re flat out on the concrete? I guess if you have the skills of flatland specialist Keelan Phillips that’s just not an issue. This guy is taking victory in international and national competitions all over the globe, he’s one of the best in the business. We caught up with Keelan to talk bunny hops, drum & bass and the competition.
Bowlegs: So you get your brothers old bmx in primary school, was it him who taught you to initially ride a bike? Were you competitive?
Keelan: Yes he gave me his old bmx and tried to teach my how to bunny hop, looking back it was a really bad way of teaching me but I learnt it so I guess it was ok.
Bowlegs: Was it immediately obvious you had the talent, how soon after getting the bike did you start trying out a few tricks?
Keelan: Immediately I started to learn tricks, BUT I honestly don’t believe i’ve got anymore natural ability on a bike than any other! Its just that I grew up riding bikes non-stop and put loads of hard work in!
Bowlegs: Most bikers I presume start with street biking, trying grinds and jumps, was that the same for you?
Keelan: Yes definitely, that’s what everyone does – jump off curbs, grind walls etc, I even started to race and dirt jump, I even went to national races.
Bowlegs: When you started trying Flatland tricks was their a few of you doing it? What happened to the others?
Keelan: Yes there was a few of us doing it, but at first, the reason I started doing flatland was to be different, everyone rode street, I wanted to stand out in my own way. After a while they kinda copied too and it was all a good time, but I took it more seriously than the others
Bowlegs: Where was your inspiration coming from, who were you looking up to or getting ideas from at this point?
Keelan: Basically it was my and my cousin who were heavily into riding, he rode street and I rode flatland, he was really good, and still today he’s so sick, but my aim was to be really good at flatland , I initially got a vhs video, and it was the American guys like Day Smith who made flatland stick and make it look so cool so that was a big inspiration. Then there’s a guy from England called Phil Dolan who back then just won every contest going, and invented the nose manual – big inspiration on me.
Bowlegs: Is there a painful few days ahead when you start teaching yourself a new trick?
Keelan: I wouldn’t say painful, with a new trick it’s either exciting or annoying. Like if you feel you can nearly get it, then it’s really exciting, you just do it over and over until you hit it once – then its so satisfying. You then do it more to get it consistent. Other tricks can be so awkward to do and take so long to learn so they can be annoying.
Bowlegs: How often are you on a bike, do you need to train on a daily basis? Do you listen to music when you train, if so what records have you been listening to of late?
Keelan: Im on my bike just about everyday, I do a lot of shows (performances) at all kinds of different events so that can take my riding time up. I do feel like I need to train on a daily basis to keep consistant and progress. Yes I listen to music too, it’s really varied from early punk stuff to recent drum an bass
Bowlegs: You’ve won competitions all over the globe, how do you keep your arsenal of tricks fresh? Do you keep an eye on the competition?
Keelan: Keeping an eye on the competition isn’t an issue as each rider should try to be original, but if I want to invent a new trick I have to search about to see if anyone did it first. There’s a lot of tricks which are considered kinda neutral, but if I want to create a new move or position I have to make sure its my own.
Bowlegs: Finally what do you have planned for the rest of 2012?
Keelan: This years busy with a lot of shows booked in through my company stylebicycle.com, so concentrating on them its good to show a lot of people what I do as a lot haven’t even seen it before! I want to get out to some major contests abroad again too!