When you're quitting school and pack your bags to move to a scene that is happening, you must be pretty dedicated. Australian Matt Fairbairn made the move to Europe because he wanted to ride vert with more people and wanted to visit more events with his bike. We sat down with Matt and found out what makes him tick.
FATBMX: All the regular stuff please Matt?
Matt Fairbairn: I'm 29 years old and I'm from Newcastle, Australia. I've been riding for 18 years, a long time, a lot of that was racing. My sponsors are Volume, Demolition, Armour-dillo, Etnies and SpinLikeHell.
You're over here in Europe for a while now, how does that work out with your sponsors?
Matt Fairbairn: They're still taking care of me. Obviously it's pretty hard for them to send me over to the UK but they're doing their best for me. They're all pretty stoked because I'm getting coverage for them and everything.
What's your plan for this summer?
Matt Fairbairn: My summer is pretty full at the moment. I got quite a load of demos happening in the UK. I'm doing every event that I can. I've got pretty much every weekend full which is great. If I was back home right now, I wouldn't be doing anything. I've got the Urban Games event, Soulbowl, I'm really looking forward to that, there's so much happening this summer, it should be good.
Why did you make the move to leave Australia?
Matt Fairbairn: Back home it's just me and Tim Woods riding vert so it's kind of hard for me to push myself over there. Also, if I want to make money, that's not the reason why I do it, but, if I want to live off riding it's so hard for me being in Australia because there is just so much more happening in Europe and the US. I do one or two demos in Australia and one competition and that's it. It makes more sense for me to be over here and also a big reason is that my girlfriend is from England.
You basically quit school to become a full BMX pro?
Matt Fairbairn: I was studying to be an electrical engineer so I was working full time as well as studying part time so I was getting pretty busy. In 2002 I got offered a few demos and thought this is what I've always dreamed of so I took the chance to give it a year or so to see how it goes and now it has been three years and things are going well. Last year was kind of tough to start with. I broke my foot and broke up with my fiancÃ©e at the time so it was a pretty tough time for me. Then I did some demos in Thailand, met my current girlfriend there, she was on holidays in Thailand so my year totally changed from being at a low point. My riding improved so much from being over in Europe for those months doing competitions and demos all the time.
Why did you choose Europe over America?
Matt Fairbairn: It was my dream to go to the USA growing up reading all the American magazines thinking, oh that's where it's at, that's where I want to go! I did that in 2003 and I didn't really like it. I think Europe is a much nicer place, I like the people here, there's more culture and it's a nicer place to visit with all the old buildings and the history. I just didn't like America and I'd much rather be here. I like the way the competitions are run over here as well. It's more laid back and a lot more fun.
How did it make you feel when you won "Rider of the Day" award at the Verthaus jam in Germany?
Matt Fairbairn: I was stoked, I couldn't believe it. As you know there was a lot of good riding going on there. It was good that it was voted by the riders as well. It meant a lot to me. But also I guess that was not what that jam was all about. It was one of the better weekends. It was 10 vert guys who all wanted to ride vert and everyone was going off. Not because it was a contest but we were all feeding off of each other. I had such a good time.
With Simon Tabron's halfpipe jam and Peter Geys' vert jam going on, do you think that vert is coming back?
Matt Fairbairn: I think that it may come back. With these jams people can ride together and have a good time. It's not like the X-Games where people are trying to kill themselves. I think vert may come back but it will never reach the level of street riding because it's a lot easier to start riding street. It takes a lot of time to get good on vert and most people don't realize that. It will take a year or two to get 6 foot on vert and riders get on a halfpipe and expect to go that high after a few days and it doesn't happen. But also with the push of possibly going into the Olympics I don't know how that would work out. That could be a good thing to get a few more facilities and get more riders into it.
What advise could you give the riders out there who want to get into vert?
Matt Fairbairn: I want more people to ride with, that's for sure. As a vert rider it's hard to find people to ride with. It's becoming the 30+ class isn't it? There's very few riders coming up right now, I can't think of anyone. I guess Koji, but he sort of is already established now isn't he? Just try it. It takes a lot of time to get into it but it's well worth it. It's the best feeling to go as high as you can and carving all over the ramp.
And you get to do demos and contests all over the world?
Matt Fairbairn: Exactly! I've gotten to travel the world just because I'm doing what I love to do.
Okay Matt, thanks a lot and we'll see you around this summer.
Pics and interview by BdJ/EBC