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Conversation with Matthias Dandois

Train Paris-Bordeaux, France Words : Yoann Wenger Photography : Matthias Dandois

Hi Mathias! How are you? Are you answering us from Paris?

I am very well, thank you! Not really in Paris. I am on the train for Bordeaux!

Could you introduce yourself quickly to those who are not familiar with your background and what you do?

Totally! I am 31 years old; I grew up in Paris, I lived for seven years in the United States between San Diego and New York, but I have recently returned to Paris. I have been doing flat BMX (doing figures on the ground without artifacts, ramp) for 20 years; I am 8 times world champion in this discipline. I also do a bit of modeling, acting and am a photographer and video producer.

For someone like me who is not very familiar with BMX Flat, I was surprised to discover how essential creativity is (the obligation to create your figure) in competition, correct? In our interviews, you find many athletes or creatives; it looks like you are the perfect combo!

Creativity is what attracted me to BMX FLAT. Indeed, if you want to win a pro-competition today, you must have created your tricks. This sport is borderline of art. It is fantastic to make things that no one before you has done, a new gesture, a new move.

How do you transition from competition to none and this drastic change of way of life?

I have been pro for 15 years doing between 10 and 20 competitions a year, on a plane every week, and in a different country every two weeks. I am not going to complain, but it is quite tiring as a lifestyle.

The first six months of the pandemic were great for refocusing on what is important, doing things I did not have time to do (cooking, meditating, doing yoga, reading, spending time with my girlfriend, and above all, to rest.). Still, I admit that for 3-4 months, I have been yearning to resume the road to competitions; it is quite hard to motivate yourself to go riding hard every day without a competition deadline. So, I am doing quite a bit of imaging; I produced a video during the second lockdown in Paris called "Unlocked Down," which came out last month. What do I do ...?

When did running enter your life?

I have always loved running, especially middle-distance. I used to run for the Longjumeau club when I was a kid; I did many local cross countries, and I loved it. It got into my preparation when I saw that it could make a difference during a competition. A lot of BMX riders have very poor cardio. Flat runs the last 3min, and after 2min, some are done, and they spend their last-minute not riding as well. 3 min. It does not look like that, but it is enormous! So, I use running in my physical preparation to avoid missing my last minute, and it has been for 10 years.

I am also an ambassador for the Wings for Life association, which organizes the Wings for Life World Run every year. Thousands of participants from around the world start at the same time. There is no finish line; it is the catcher car that catches up with the runners in the end. It is my favorite race. And all funds go to research for spinal cord problems!

Is this an essential part of your preparation today?

This is the most crucial part of my preparation.

Did you run the New York Marathon? Tell us about it, did you set your sights on a stopwatch, or did you (that is already amazing) challenge yourself to go to the end?

Yes, I had the opportunity to run the New York Marathon with Olivier Guiraud in 2016. We decided very late, haha, so we ended up very poorly prepared. We wanted to do 3:45. Finally, we finished in 3:35, I think! I messed up in the last 5 in Central Park; it just kept going on and on. I would like to prepare better next time.

 Want to do another one when the races resume?

Yes totally! I would love to run in Paris, prepare well and finish under 3:20. I am not too bad on ten kiosks that I regularly run under 40 minutes, but I mess up a bit in the long run. It takes time. This year the Wings for Life World Run will be my next race! May 9, 2021! You need the app; anyone can participate!

Which pair of shoes are you currently running?

ASICS Novablast. I love what ASICS does in general for running. Very cool.

You have traveled worldwide for BMX; you must have run in quite a few places. Where was your highlight run?

Yes, lately I did a session in Comporta in Portugal, which was crazy. I thought I was in Tanzania!

And in Paris, if someone wants to join you on the run, where do you run?

I often run in Montmartre (the steps hurrrrt), in Parc Monceau, but I quickly feel like a rat in its wheel, haha. Otherwise, I love the green belt, from Bastille to Lac Daumesnil!

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