Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Karl Hughes {Paradoxium} interview

I've been lucky to know Karl for quite a few years. He's the soft spoken gentleman from another era that managed to somehow find his way to BMX Flatland. One standout memory I have is arriving at the BMX Games in Sydney a few years back & seeing all the Melbourne crew arriving... with Karl having driven them 11 hours to get there & taken care of everyone. That's Karl straight up: he'll do anything to help those around him without second thought.

Karl has since unwittingly stepped it up a notch. What began as a one-off project to help a rider in need as turned into a world-wide phenomenon: The World Bike Projects. He'll never admit or take the credit for it, but Karl aka Paradoxium on the forums, has started something big... very big.

Here is the man...

* Full name & when were you first involved with flatland?
Karl Hughes, started BMX at 14 years of age {around 1986} and stopped at age 21 {around 1993} Sadly had a 7 or 8 year break, then got back into it around 1999 and have been with flatland ever since. Unfortunately its always part time as I have a family and run a business.

* Has Melbourne always been your home?

Yes, i've always lived in Melbs.

* How would you describe the evolution of the Melbourne scene?
It's an always changing scene. There are only 2 riders still jamming regularly from the beginning up until now, that's Grant Cruise and myself. Everyone else has moved on, stopped riding etc, but there is always new faces of young riders, and we have many new faces of various ages and old schoolers return, so it's refreshing to always have a decent scene at our jam spot in the city.
Currently, we have around 10 regular flatlanders with 3 being overseas at present.

* The world knows the huge contributions you've made to the global flat scene, especially riders that are doing it tough. How did your involvement come about in all of this?
In the beginning, I tried to keep it quiet, but the more I helped, the more I realised it was impossible to keep anonymity. In the end, I went full on public with the ideas. That was when I saw the worst bike in the world, and decided to start a project. I figured if I buy the biggest parts, I may be able to get worldwide assistance to finish & it worked.

At the same time, I have been flowing parts for over a year to my friend, Francisco in Peru in exchange for learning Spanish by correspondence. I benefit by achieving my goals and many riders in Peru benefit from this exchange. I also helped another rider, Coco, by supplying him forks when they broke.


& his bike>>

Put it all together & you get the following...

* It seems that what started as a one-off project has grown to an enormous scale - how do you feel about that?
I am more stoked than you can imagine. A gradual increase of giveaways & donations has occurred in many levels all around the world. From what I've seen & heard, this is taking place all around Australia, North & South America & Europe.

* Do you see any further opportunities to develop your projects such as getting communities involved, companies to co-sponsor projects etc?
Yes. I am stockpiling parts for my next project which is bigger than the present ones. I am doing more groundwork with this one. As soon as the Barbados and Panama projects are complete, I'll start the new one. So far its been very difficult to get companies involved, with a response of "We cannot afford to help your friends".
I have plans to invite companies to jump on board with this next project, and awareness has grown dramatically of what's happening. Companies I approach will no longer feel I am looking for free stuff for my friends, but indeed have a worthwhile venture to contribute to. They can see the benefit to the company in question & not just the flatland community.

* I understand that you're involved in a number of forums around the world. What is it about the forums that really interests you?
Hahaha, yes I'm a regular on Flatland Australia and Global-flat but I'm doing my groundwork now for the next project & the forums are the best way to get to know the scene of a region. I also study language as a hobby and lurk more forums but don't participate due to limited skills, hehe.

* Given your work in the World Bike Projects & the response from the riding community, has this changed your perception of flatland?
I feel so. I see the global flatland community growing from strength to strength, with a feeling of a brotherhood. If I can help with that in just some small way, it's all worth it.

* Where do you see the future of flatland?
It's hard to say, but I feel it's increasing in the regions already assisted. The good vibes that flow from assistance is amazing. It gives the entire scene a boost. As for flatland as a whole, it would be safe to say it's moving forward steadily.

* How would you describe the flatland scene in Australia?
Amazing. Paul Chamberlain & Shaun Jarvis have given the Aussie scene the boost it needs with the new Colony DownUnderground national contest series & we can all thank them, & everyone else involved for that. It pushes riders to progress and motivates people to stick with riding.
Jams and contests are what makes the scene. It's motivating - Aussie flatland rocks!!

* It's been great speaking with you Karl - time for thanks & final words...
Yeah, I want to thank everyone that helps flatland in some way or another, through websites, jams, comps etc or just reaching an incredible level of riding. Also everyone that has helped with the various projects, including Flatlandfuel, The Byke Project and Animal Bikes for jumping on board with the projects. Also Shane Badman for the Flatland Australia News Blog, this interview & his contributions to the sport.


  1. Nice one Karl! I think you're a good role model for the kid's getting into flatland. Cool.

  2. Thanks a lot sir karl..

    I know your a great person.. thanks for helping the Philippine flatland scene!!!

    god bless you always..