Interviews: Going the distance: Paul Langlands interview.
Name: Paul Langlands
Hometown: Cambridge, New Zealand
Sponsors/support: Metal Mulisha, DVS, ONE Industries
Can you explain a little bit about the New Zealand BMX scene?
Paul Langlands: New Zealand has a good fun scene, because NZ is quite a small country, most riders across it know each other so it is always cool and easy to link up with others when travelling
around. There isn't a lot of contests like you would find in others but plenty of jams and that sort of thing. The majority of towns and cities have a skatepark at them so within a short drive is plenty to ride and many different trail spots throughout both islands, NZ is mostly dirt orientated when it comes to riding.
You've always had some dirt jumps in your backyard, but for your new project, you had to take it to the hills, right?
Paul Langlands: Yea my parents have always owned farms so I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to build sets of jumps wherever we have lived, as I've gotten older the jumps and set ups have always become bigger but with this set I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to go bigger than what is possible in the yard but also take it back to what I originally did of finding a hill or a spot on the farm and shaping up a lip and pushing myself and my limits in that way rather than just trying to learn tricks. I found this spot out by where we have some trails built about 20km out of town, it was on a neighbouring farm and looked prime for what I had in mind so I asked the farm owner if it would be ok, he said it would which was awesome because I had not met him before, he was just fully about doing rad stuff on Moto bikes so was happy to help.
What inspired the size of your jump?
Paul Langlands: The main inspiration of it all came from Dane Searls and his big set of jumps he built, I'd been out and looked at them while he was building them and it looked like a new side of BMX I wanted to be apart of, I've always been about going big rather than the regular so after seeing what Dane got done when I went looking for my spot it just happened to become this size. I also helped Jed with his 'Dirt Dogs' jumps which he built, unfortunately I had just come back from injury at this time and wasn't ready to hit them but after also watching that go down it made me keen for a piece of that airtime too.
With all the digging, you don't need a membership for the gym, do you?
Paul Langlands: haha no need for a gym, I would come home most days after a solid days digging and have arms which felt like they were completely dead. Not only the digging but the packing, wheelbarrowing, roller wheel for packing, trips to the creek for water and walking up and down the hill all added up to a pretty good work out. I must have walked up and down the roll in hundreds and hundreds of times so far, to get things from the car at the top, to get a visual of it etc have all added up and also made for some good slip overs walking back down.
How long did that run-up and building the take-off take you?
Paul Langlands: I'm not sure exactly but definitely a few hundred hours and a lot longer than I expected. When I first found the spot I came out most days for a couple weeks before I headed to the U.S, did the same when I returned then I went away to Europe and the States again for a couple months, after returning from that trip I got stuck into it and did aprox 30 hours a week after hitting it to try adjust it to work it all out. Because I was digging up the grass sods and it was solid ground it took quite some time and also it's sometimes hard to tell what you need to do until you visually look at it so I would have to shovel it to a point just to figure out where I was at. All up it took a long time but it was really fun at the same time, most days I was in the middle of no where with not a house in sight and nobody around, just some nice view with peace and quiet, building dirt jumps made for some good days, and it's not over yet, there's still a lot more to be done until I'm close to finished so by the end the hours will be into the thousands for sure!
You don't have any buddies around who can help dig?
Paul Langlands: Most of my buddies who could help me dig work full time jobs so they would be busy doing that while I'd be shovelling away, or after work they'd be either too tired from work, or put time into the spots they'd actually ride so it was all a solo effort pretty much. Although I really earn next to nothing from BMX, you can't put a price on what makes you happy so to me being out in the hills earning nothing but enjoying myself digging and learning was worth more to me than going to a regular job so I'd rather do that.
Once the jump was done, how long were you up there on the hill thinking about the first jump before you rolled in and hit it?
Paul Langlands: Not too long as I'd done most of the processing as I was digging it each day, picturing how it would go down. The first time I hit it was more just a check to see if I had the speed to clear that distance, although it was still a 65ft gap at that stage, I figured that because I'd done all the work and I was the one hitting it that if it was to go wrong I would only have myself at fault so self confidence was that main thing behind it all. I was lucky on my first jump that the cows were in the paddock and the grass was quite long, because of this there was shit everywhere and mixes with that long grass made it slippery at speed so when I didn't get over the knuckle of the hill I had a nice safe slide through the cow shit to a stop haha.
Can you describe how it feels to be in the air for so long?
Paul Langlands: It's so rad and like nothing I'd had before, mostly because I had put so much work in that it was a good feeling to have that reward feeling and you do get a good hang time but on the other side of it, it didn't feel too much different to a jump of half the size because you're travelling twice as fast so it all happens at about the same equivalent but hitting a lip at that speed definitely is something else and after having it all I wanted was more of it.
You don't seem to wear crazy protection gear but crashed a lot on the several attempts. How are you surviving?
Paul Langlands: I'm not even too sure myself, I think the practice over time of crashing definitely helped haha and I stretch/yoga regularly which also is a great help to injury prevention. The style of jump is definitely a lot safer than that of a 'regular' dirt jump which was more what I was going for on my first build to get comfortable jumping at that speed and size and then progress from there.
Do you think, in a way, that mountain bikers do these kind of jumps (less far maybe) in the hills in some way?
Paul Langlands: The style I see it more as is a moto sort of style of jump, I grew up watching a lot of FMX and freeriding so that probably had some influence on the jump for sure. I think though that mountain bikers should be hitting things of this size or terrain, it's definitely suited to the type of bike and really mountain bikes are made to ride those things that can't be ridden by a road cycle or BMX which is how they came about in the first place.
What speeds are you getting bombing down that hill?
Paul Langlands: I get an average of 65km/hr, I did not have my speedo on when I have hit it just in the tests but I have changed the roll in since which I now feel I am getting faster so I am yet to check it again. I also have plans to build a jump down into the roll in which will hopefully generate a bit more speed too.
Have you calculated the steepness of the hill, the size of the take-off and the distance you have to jump to clear the gap?
Paul Langlands: No calculation at all really, it was all done of visual eye which I have learnt just from experience. Since the beginning of this build I've learnt a lot about the gravity speed and that sort of thing so for the next jumps to come I shouldn't have to go through the same amount of testing hopefully. Orginally I thought the faster I pedalled at the top the faster I would be going at the bottom but then discovered that wasn't quite right, I'm still learning and finding out how it all works so it's a fun learning experience at the same time in BMX which I haven't had to do before.
What's the next step after this?
Paul Langlands: More jumps through the terrain is the next step after this, build some different style stuff as compared to just a straight jump and use the terrain to minimise the digging, there is some good options further down the hill so I'll just flow with the land as it goes to the bottom, it will be a long push back up haha but a sick ride down so it will be worth it!
Pushing BMX, and personal satisfaction, is that what this is all about?
Paul Langlands: Pretty much, pushing myself on a BMX in a different way than I have been doing over the last few years and taking it back to how I pushed myself ten years ago but to the scale of where I'm at with my riding now. The set of jumps is not at all about trying to set records or try out-do anyone, it's what I find fun with my riding but at a level where I can get that same progression with that little bit of "scare" feeling at the same time in a different way which I haven't done before so at the same time I'm learning which also makes it a lot of fun.
Thanks to: My parents and friends for listening to and putting up with my constant rants (more than the usual) for months about a set of dirt jumps. The Hannons for allowing me to use their farm to get it all done, without them this would not have been possible at all. Dane Searls for being the original and the pioneer in this type of riding and showing the possibilities of what can be done on a BMX. My sponsors for supporting me with gear that I need to keep my bike and me rolling. Ryan McCrae for filming and editing my videos, he's put his own time and effort into my idea and without his talents it would not be displayed in the way it has been. Anyone who has believed in me, and even those who haven't because it's given more motivation to get it done. And a massive thanks to BMX for all the good times and everything it has given me so far and continues to.