If you were walking around campus on Friday afternoon, you might have seen a man performing bicycle tricks unparalleled by nearly anyone in the world. That man was Terry Adams, a flatland BMX rider, who is on a 14-day Red Bull college tour in Southern California and spent Friday at UCSB.
“I’ve been doing [flatland] for around 19 years,” the 29-year-old Adams said. “A huge portion of my life has been dedicated to riding, contests, promoting my sponsors and doing what I love along the way.”
With Red Bull since 2003, Adams has become the prominent name in flatland BMX, a freestyle way of riding entirely on flat surfaces without ramps or rails.
“I chose flatland because it was so much different than the other aspects [of BMX],” Adams said. “Flatland just looked more intricate; it looked like the more art side of BMX. It’s kind of like painting a picture on the ground.”
While BMX was not prominent in his native Louisiana, Adams always dreamed of one day gracing the covers of magazines and being idolized as he once did his flatland predecessors.
Since turning professional, Adams has been featured on shows such as the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Glee”. He has even created his own move, coined Katrina, in homage of Hurricane Katrina and its extensive damage to his home state, Louisiana.
“I just wanted it so bad; I was trying to ingrain myself in the industry any way I could,” Adams said. “As a kid, I was calling those companies trying to make connections, and it turned out pretty well.”
Flatland may not be in the spotlight, but Adams has still received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career.
In 2005 — the last year flatland was featured in the X Games — Adams won gold for the event. His peers also voted him as the winner of the NORA Cup in 2005 and 2008, an award given to the No. 1 rider in all of flatland.
Injuries have come along for Adams as he has broken a collarbone, wrist and kneecap, but he has fought through them and admits he is lucky not to have had worse injuries in his career.
During his time in Santa Barbara, Adams spoke to a sports marketing class and rode around campus, appreciating the amount of students biking and skateboarding at UCSB.
As many of his childhood idols continue to ride into their late 40’s, Adams hopes to continue his career for many years and even pursue riding as a hobby years down the road.
“As long as you can believe you can do it, and as long as you want to do it, I don’t see an end there as far as extreme sports go,” Adams said.