“If you’d asked riders from the scene about Maciek, you’d probably hear that; “…he only ever does turn-downs and flairs”… “…his bike’s way too light…” and “…he always rides without his shirt!” – There is much truth in all of this! However, I’ll add that; his turn-downs and flairs, are performed in places, that no other riders would attempt such tricks (and a few other maneuvers as well!). In addition, his bike’s never too light (you’ll see why in the new Dartmoor film!). And lastly, the t-shirt thing, it gets worse… I’ve seen him riding without pants too!” – Ryszard Syryczynski.
Full name: Maciej Kiwak/ Sponsors: Dartmoor Bikes & Intruz Clothing/ D.O.B: 16.02.1989/ Place of residence: Katowice, Poland.
1) Hello Maciej. Let’s start by setting the scene… What was it like growing up in Poland? Well, I think growing up in Poland was nothing out of the ordinary. I remember that as a kid I didn’t have any particular interests or hobbies; In primary school I used to spend almost all my free time sitting in front of the computer – Nothing to be proud of!
2) What was it that made you want to ride BMX? And what was the catalyst for your riding career? The story’s a bit complicated – It all started in early 2006, when a friend of mine bought himself a type of “Dirt/4x Bike” and started to ride a bit, let’s say, HARDER! During the same time period, I started watching the “NWD” movies, and decided I wanted to try to jump, like ‘those guys do’ and I guess that is how it all began. I switched to BMX in the beginning of 2007; when considering my riding career, it was the best decision I could have ever made!
3) Ever dabble with mtb/24” bikes? Yeah. I used to ride 24” bikes for a short period of time (not even a full season); fortunately, after that I got a BMX.
4) How would you describe your riding style? Or for that matter, what disciplines do you set your preferences on? I like to go as fast and high as I possibly can! I simply don’t like doing tricks one foot above the ground and riding so slow, that you could literally fall asleep! I spend most of my riding time at skateparks. However, I like to jump on dirt as well, if there’s an occasion. The feeling of longer, higher flights, is just incomparable to the day-to-day experience, to be had at a skatepark.
5) How do you think the spots/locations in Poland compare to what the rest of Europe has to offer? I’m aware that this might not sound very patriotic; but unfortunately Poland has very little to offer, in comparison with the rest of Europe – Especially in terms of skateparks. On the other hand, when thinking of dirt, it’s better! And this is thanks to spots such as Shamanns Backyard in Suszec (a truly amazing place!), Piret Trails in Gdansk and Kosmos in Wroclaw… So actually, it’s maybe not that bad, rather good in fact!
6) What’s your perspective on the contest scene in Poland at the moment? Did you ride the Baltic Games last year? I’ll try to hit as many of them as possible! At this time, there’s no fixed info about any low-key contests. As soon as I get some info I’ll try to be there. Last year I couldn’t ride the Baltic Games. For some unknown reason, another event was scheduled in for the same day nearer the place I live (Jastrzebie-Zdroj); Naturally I chose the local skatepark contest instead… I’m still wondering why somebody decided to organise two BMX contests at the same time. Strange, isn’t it?
7) Any plans to ride the “Bike Hall Contest” (Czech Republic)? As for now, I’ve made my plans to be there. I’ll most probably take part and ride at the event. The course has been changed a lot since the last year – It’s pretty sick right now! For me it’s a kind of a “must be there” event – The Czech atmosphere is awesome!
8} Describe a typical day’s riding for yourself? And who do you ride with on a daily basis? So first of all, I need to take a trip by car, because the nearest decent skatepark to ride is 50 km far away from where I live. After a long day of riding (I never go to ride for two or three hours, in my opinion it’s pointless. I like to ride all day long!), I’m packing myself up ready for the journey back home. I have a few good friends, with whom I ride with on a daily basis. We spend most of our time riding together and that’s good.
9) Are you a big fan of filming for web videos? I like to film something every now and then; but there are always problems to deal with. Before the biggest problem was obtaining a nice camera to film with. Since then the problem’s changed – I’ve since bought a nice camera, but now nobody wants to film anything! I hope that it will change soon, because I want to film clips at different Locations – I’ll probably end up asking if somebody else wants to do it, a dedicated filmer.
10) The kid at the end of your most recent web video! That’s definitely one way of getting the message across – What happened to him? I’m always telling the kids not to get in our way, but sometimes it ends up like the situation in the video… I didn’t mean to crash into him, but it happened. The worst thing was that his parents weren’t even at the skatepark! And c’mon, he was only eight years old, left alone by them! Anyway, I cut his upper lip and it needed to be stitched. Later on, some people told me that in the hospital they had to remove one of his nails. I guess it must have been very painful… But still, it’s kind of a lesson for both parents and the kids!
11) You don’t appear afraid of the big moves (flairs, etc)… How do you visualize accomplishing such manoeuvres? Do you have your own strategies, etc?
Fear doesn’t help you at all. That’s obvious. When you think that something might go wrong it probably would (I think it’s the way the human psyche works). So I’m always trying to be optimistic while doing something new or big – I’m always telling myself that it will work and fortunately it often does (of course not always, but I believe it helps me a lot). If I were to summarise it in one phrase I would say – “Attitude is the most important factor, that decides upon our success.”
12) So tell us about your situation with injuries? You sure you want to read it? It will be kind of brutal… In 2006 after crashing severely (the bar stabbed me in the belly), I had four broken ribs, cracked liver and serious internal bleeding. I had surgery and spent a month in the hospital. And after that, I had to stay on a special low-fat diet for six months. Then, in 2007 after an unlucky evacuation from a backflip (I stopped whilst upside down!), I broke my coccyx. During 2009, I lost two of my front/upper teeth, after crashing on the quarter pipe (I landed on the flat!); I had to wear a special kind of brace for a month and a half. And again, in 2010, I lost the same teeth as before (after clipping the wall, whilst doing a turn-down down stairs, and face-planting straight to concrete!). I’m not even counting minor scratches and concussions… But yeah, I’ve had way to many injuries!
13) Describe your current bike set-up? My current bike set-up is really sweet! I have almost all the parts from the Dartmoor 2011 collection, including the Yuki frame and Saito fork. Recently, I got the new Dartmoor Flow 2011 Bars, and they’re superb (high and wide). The whole bike is very light (about 8.3 kg with brake and gyro). In my opinion, my current bike’s the best I’ve ever had. The bike is agile, yet stable and that’s what is really good about it!
14) Do you have any projects in the pipeline for 2011? For now, I have to finish the exam session at the University. And after that, when the winter is finally over, I want to ride as much as possible and that’s basically everything! I don’t like to make long-term plans.
15) Are there any new riders on your scene right now that deserve a mention? There’s one guy that instantly springs to mind – Dawid Godziek, younger of the “Shamman” brothers. Although, he’s not new on the scene, at the age of 16, he’s managed to win some major MTB contests in Poland! Now he’s changed to BMX! And I’m really looking forward, to seeing him shred his way across the contest scene. He’s really amazing and I’m sure you’ll definitely hear about him soon!
16) Any last words, shout-outs, etc? First of all, I would like to thank my mother and the whole of my family for their support with my riding, despite all the injuries I’ve had. I would like to thank Dartmoor Bikes for providing me with all the parts I need and the great cooperation that we get. I want to thank Intruz Clothing, another of my sponsors for taking me onto their team. Last but not least, I want to greet all my friends, with whom I’m riding everyday. And my friends from the University (they know who especially!). And thanks to you Chris, for the interview.
Thanks for your time Maciej – Chris@Valleyside.
http://www.slam69.co.uk/ (Dartmoor UK retailer/Distributor).
http://www.balticgames.pl/ (Baltic Games Website).
http://www.bikehallcontest.com/ (Bike Hall Contest Website).