Flatland BMX is akin to a “breakdance circle” using a bicycle that draws movements from ballet and ice skating in an informal contest. An American innovation, this style of BMX was originally created in California by Bob Haro in 1978. What is unique about the sport is that you can do it anywhere that has a perfectly flat and smooth surface. An underground style, it’s one of the most technically difficult BMX subjects.
Not a competitor himself, Jay practices the sport for fun and fitness. First discovering freestyle BMX in 1982 then buying his first bike in 1985, he’s been riding ever since. Downtown Tampa has multiple flat surface areas including Riverwalk, but his preference is Bicentennial Park in Oldsmar. All self-taught, Jay never had formal teachers. The “great thing about BMX is you learn at your own pace within what your skill set allows, which progresses over time. The more one rides, the better they get,” says Marley. His favorite moves include the “Hang Five” or “Decade”.
He draws inspiration from fellow Flatland judges, Chad DeGroot, Marcos Paulo DeJesus and Mark Eaton. DeGroot and DeJesus are both X-Games veterans and medalists. Eaton is the Flatland DJ who pioneered BMX videos back in the 80’s. Marley credits Eaton with the invention of the mashup music style and his most popular video series is “Dorkin’ in York” with the legendary “rolling” trick master Kevin Jones. DeGroot is now a successful bike shop owner and brand owner of Deco. BMX. DeJesus has been performing flatland stunts with Cirque du Soliel for over 12 years. Other than these talented judges, locations like Japan and New Orleans serve inspiration for Marley. Jay’s intention is to nurture and grow the US flatland scene, which is comparably small to those in Canada, Asia and Europe.
When he’s not spreading the word about Flatland BMX he is a graphic designer and a DJ himself. “I’ve been pretty blessed to be surrounded by and work with like-minded souls over the years, in all my various endeavors, and I strive to keep that going until it’s my time to leave this earth.”
You can catch Jay Marley, Chad DeGroot, Marcos DeJesus and Marc Eaton with special guest, Terry Adams this Sunday, January 28th at the Rialto Theatre for their annual Gasparilla Flatland BMX Jam. Admission is $5. More information can be found here.