Alex is a really underrated rider in my eyes and comes from the upper half of our Continent. Canada!!! Alex travels a lot going from Canada to Texas to Louisiana, Georgia, Indiana, and various places across Canada. Even placing pretty well in most of the contests he compete is. He goes to school now and wishes he was riding more, but can’t because of the winter weather. Alex is a great person and always seems to have a smile on his face. I asked to do an interview with him and he came up with some really good answers. Watch out for this kid, going to blow up real soon. Be sure to check out his blog, www.pralex-pralex.blogspot.com Enjoy!!
Name: Alex Poirier
Age: 20 years young!
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sponsors: Joe Mamma Bike Shop
First and foremost, how are you doing today?
Today, not so great, ridiculously tired and just got back to Canada from a road trip to Texas where it was warm, and now (after a 40 hour drive), I’m back in Ottawa, and there is still snow storms happening, haha.
When did you start riding and how did you get started?
I’m not exactly sure when I actually started flatlanding. I know in like grade 8 having a BMX bike was the cool thing, so I begged my parents and they complied. Eventually I started fooling around with tricks, and I’d say I started getting serious in grade 9 and 10 mostly thanks to Jeff Hewitt and Barry Mielke who were local flatlanders at the time.
Who were some of your influences growing up?
The only one that really sticks out is Jeff Desroche, the first video I got was Paved Paradise at a jam in Hamilton, and I watched that video over and over. I think you can see small similarities between our riding, especially some of the newer stuff I’m working on.
Who are some of your influences now?
Now I’m mostly influenced by Prasheel (as we tend to harp on each other a lot if our riding isn’t up to par, haha), plus the french guys, Matthias, Raph, and Alex J. They just seem to have more fun then anyone else in this sport, I think their overall outlook and attitude has influenced Prasheel and I a lot.
What/Who keeps you motivated to ride?
I really don’t know, there’s been a few times where I thought about throwing in the towel, but then I’ll get motivated again. Riding with Prasheel Gopal and Andrew Wylie helps a lot. Also traveling, and meeting new riders, we just got back from riding with the Austin, Texas scene, and I’m so motivated to ride, to bad there’s several feet of snow outside.
How is your bike set up?
I really don’t have an official set up. I’m not picky at all, if my bike works, I’m super stoked! Usually there is a lot of problems with it, lately my freecoaster doesn’t really work properly anymore, my seat is held together with duct tape, my bike is around 30 pounds. I run a front brake sometimes, it comes on and off here and there depending on what I’m working on.
What is up with horrible bend in that frame, how did that happen?
That happened by trying to learn whoppers I think, that’s the only explanation I can think of, which is understandable, I hold nothing against KHE, I beat the hell out of my bikes, so these things happen.
Do you plan on getting a new frame anytime soon?
I got a new frame a little while ago, I’m now running the WTP Sinus, it was cheap, and didn’t have a tiny top tube length, so I jumped on that, next I’m thinking the new Colony frame that Simon designed hopefully.
What do you think of how light bikes are becoming?
Good and bad. I’ve never been picky about the weight of my bike, it’s usually around 30 pounds, and at one point was at like 34 not too long ago, but I’ve since started to make it a bit lighter. I pretty much take what’s cheap and don’t worry about weight myself. If you want your parts to last and you’re a bit heavier on your bike, buy parts that are a little more beefy, I don’t think its rocket science.
Anything you would like to see change in the flatland industry?
Nothing really in particular, frames are usually a little to short for my liking, but I think a few longer ones are coming out soon, so I’m stoked on that. Other than that, most flatland companies are run by riders, so I think the industry is in pretty good hands.
I know you travel a lot, what is that like being able to go all over North America?
It is amazing! I’m super lucky to have the parents I have as they are very supportive especially when I struggle to pay rent from month to month and get groceries from time to time. Their support is the number one reason I travel as much as I do. I’m so glad I’ve went to some of the cities I’ve been to, New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and now Austin are by far my favorite places at the moment in North America.
Who came up with the idea of the Pralex Team and who is on the team besides you?
I think my Mom came up with the name Pralex as Prasheel and I have pretty much become inseparable since we went to Voodoo together last May, and Prasheel and I just started taking the idea of “Pralex” way too far, and now we have a whole bunch of things in the works (T-Shirts, and even wine, haha), so I’m pretty excited about that. Pralex team was started by Prasheel and myself, and on the “team” we have Andrew Wylie, Addison Moore (both Ontario locals that we travel with a lot), and Dylan Leeder (Photographer who we’ve started traveling with a lot as well). We really just want to spread how much fun we have to other riders and scenes we visit.
What is your opinion regarding brakes VS no brakes?
Personal preference, some tricks will be easier with brakes, that’s for sure, and I think it should be judged accordingly if someone brakeless does pinky squeaks versus someone using brakes for them. I switch back and forth and enjoy both, so whatever suits your style.
What type of music do you like to listen to when riding or when you’re just hanging out?
Pretty much anything, it all really depends on my mood, sometimes I ride to metal, sometimes ridiculous techno, and other times hip-hop. Same with when I’m just hanging out, I even rock out to some classical sometimes, I’m a big music fan and have a large CD collection.
Where are some places you would love to visit?
Well now that I just crossed Austin, Texas off my list…Pretty much anywhere that riders come to visit us from. Matthias is coming to ride with us in March along with Dominik (before we head to the Flatland Unlimited Contest), so I’d love to be able to go visit them in France and Czech if I ever come up with the money. Besides that I’d love to go anywhere and everywhere, I can’t stand just sitting around in one spot for more then two weeks.
If you could pick one person to ride with for a whole month, who would that be?
I’d probably just stick with Prasheel, we have a ton of fun when we ride together and we both make sure we push each other a lot when we do ride.
What are some of your favorite flatland DVD’s?
Terry’s video was awesomely done, it was good to see so much effort put into a flatland DVD, along with the new KGB video that has some crazy stuff in there. I just recently watched Alex J’s ‘Fast Forward’ video, which I really liked as well. And Paved Paradise because it was my first flatland video I got and it was full of Canadian riders that killed it.
Speaking of that, what you prefer, web videos or actual DVD’s?
Web Videos have definitely been getting better, especially with Sevisual now, the Matthias/Adam video, the Michael Sommer video, both are unbelievable. I’m pretty willing to fork out the cash for a DVD, but web videos are awesome too.
Do you think DVD’s will eventually die out?
They will either die out, or riders will really have to step up their video riding and editing.
What are some of your favorite movies to watch?
I watch the Adam/Matthias video religiously. I love watching any movies really, riding or non-riding, it’s all I do in the winter when I can’t ride.
Who would win in a battle format, you or Prasheel?
I can’t wait for us to actually have a head-to-head battle in contest, I plan on grabbing his bike from him, and doing a link on it, haha, it is gonna be awesome. As for who would win, depends, I usually do well under pressure, while he does not. But he likes polished concrete more then I do which is what most contests seem to be held on. We like to argue about our contest placings (note that I have beat Prasheel 4 of the last 5 contests we entered, hahaha).
What does flatland mean to you and do you consider it a sport or an artform?
I don’t really know, I don’t think about these things, I ride a little bike, it’s a little silly even, I just try my best not to take it too seriously, I have loads of fun, that’s what matters.
Where do you think flatland is headed for the year 2009?
Bigger hopefully! It seems like North America has puttered out and not much is going on, but so far 2009 has been awesome! So I’m super excited, this years Flatland Unlimited is gonna be the biggest its seen in years as Prasheel and I have been hyping that contest everywhere we go and all over the internet. Then we have Jomopro coming up now, and that is going to be even better I think. Then Voodoo…2009 is definitely looking better then 2008, so I’m super stoked on that.
If you could change anything in flatland or BMX as whole, what would it be?
To be honest, I think we’ve got a pretty good thing going right now, it seems like riders are more focused on having fun than anything else, and every time I bring someone who doesn’t ride along with us for a trip, they are always shocked to see the relationship that every rider shares and the common ground we sort of have going.
What is the riding scene like in Canada. I know it gets cold up there in winter months, so do you have a place to ride indoor or do you just tough it out?
I hate Canada. The riding scene in Ontario has dwindled so much in the past couple years, and the winters are terrible. Here in Ottawa we don’t have an indoor spot. I rode my bike in November when we went to Atlanta, then I rode in January for the Zero Degrees of Flat Contest. Then I rode in Indianapolis two weeks later for the Fight with Flight contest. So the only times I’ve gotten to ride in the past four months have been when I travelled to events. It is too cold to even think about going out riding usually.
Right now, who you think is the most underrated rider?
Adrian Furniss from Ontario is really underrated and hasn’t really gotten any exposure, so hopefully in Toronto this March he will get some. Adam DeClaudio (from Austin) is an awesome rider and I hadn’t really seen any of his riding until this past week, and wow he is a great rider. Same with Diego from San Antonio.
What are your thoughts on global-flat, good thing or bad thing?
Definitely a good thing, but I think some people take it to seriously, I always try to be light-hearted on there and never take anything anyone says to me to seriously.
Who are some of your favorite riders to watch?
Dominik Nekolny has unbelievable style, so much fun to watch him. Matthias obviously, anyone who doesn’t appreciate his riding and his obvious love for riding is crazy. Justin Miller is a machine to watch in person, same with Terry. The list goes on and on really.
Can you tell us any new comers coming out of where you live and who we should watch out for?
Unfortunately, Ontario is lacking for any new comers really. Out of my old home town (Lambton County) is Scott Fowler, so hopefully he keeps it up, and Dylan Leeder (our photographer) is starting, and I could really see him getting good really quickly.
How much time do you dedicate or wish you dedicated to riding?
In the Winter, no time other then when I travel. In the Summer, as much as possible. Got to make up for the Winter months. I really wish I lived somewhere where I could ride year around without any hassles, and I also wish I didn’t go to university so that wouldn’t take up so much of my time, but that’s life.
Your style is pretty unique and wild, did you plain it that way like as far as progression goes, or you just always rode that way?
Everything I’ve learned just sort of happened like that, the only trick I really set my heart on was frame tomahawks, everything else just sort of came with my natural progression. Now I’m starting to try and force myself to learn things that I really have to put a lot of time and work into (360 barflips, bigger jump switches, and just more technical stuff all around). I used to be pretty heavy on the brakes, but riding with Prasheel I’ve started using them less and less and he always yells at me if I kick the tire too much in a trick or something doesn’t look smooth, and I do the same to him, haha.
Do you think back wheel tricks will make a comeback?
I think back wheel is doing quite well right now, there’s quite a few riders who seem to mostly stick with back wheel stuff, and a lot of riders are starting to do back wheel links then whoppering into front wheel stuff. I myself have a few back wheel things I’m working on, but I definitely could dedicate more time to it…One of these days…
I know you’ve entered in a coupe of contests, have you done as well as you would’ve liked?
If anything, I’ve exceeded my expectations, I look at the riders I compete against (Tyler Gilliard, Jesse Cantore, Prasheel, Isaiah Jordan, Bryan Huffman) and just to be anywhere near those guys is awesome since at the same time I look up to their riding just as much as I do pro riders.
What was your favorite contest so far?
Voodoo ’08, no question! I qualified first place! Finished 4th, had so much fun!
What, in your opinion, is more fun, competing in contests are just riding with your friends?
Contests! Because not only do you get to ride with friends, but it’s always a fun atmosphere I find and allows me the chance to travel and meet new riders and make more friends!
Do you go to school or work at all?
I got to Carleton University in Ottawa for Computer Science. I hate school, I want to ride my bike, haha.
Now a not so serious question. What is it like being mistaken for Matthias Dandois or a young Mat Hoffman for that matter, haha?
Haha, it’s funny, I definitely look up to Matthias a ton, which is weird looking up to someone who is younger then me, but he’s done so much for himself just by riding his bike its impossible not too, and to be compared to him in any way, even if its just that we look similar, is awesome in a hilarious sort of way.
Any shout outs?
Mom & Dad! They are the best parents ever! Prasheel Gopal for driving me lots of places and being my travel/drinking buddy. Andrew Wylie for riding bikes with me lots. Barry Mielke for getting me started and now being a rock star! Whoever managed to get a full page picture of me in Cream BMX magazine, I love you, such an honor, haha. And anyone else playing a big role in my life right now contributing to happiness, you know who you are. Also the Austin scene for riding with us this past week and being super friendly! And you for giving me the chance to do this interview!
Anything else you would like to add?
Come to Flatland Unlimited 5 in Toronto March 13th to 15th! And also go to Jomopro! And Voodoo! And come ride with us in Ottawa, we will take you in and show you a great time!