Türkiye'de BMX'in Sesi! | Voice of BMX in Turkey!

MARCH 2016


Hello Dear BMX Enthusiasts,

 I am really proud of this very first interview of my editorial life for the website that I and my dear friends established. This website is very special for me. It has been my dream for long years. It has always been a part of me. It was a dream that would speak out everything about BMX, a tool that would direct the young Turkish BMX riders, an opportunity to discover new BMX athletes, a gate for Turkish riders to express themselves to the rest of the world, and to demonstrate the rest of the BMX world to Turkish riders...It was a huge dream to write down the Turkish BMX history, a book to introduce Turkish old school riders of 30 years ago to today’s young riders...Once I had attempted to realize this dream which did not work out. It was a hard task and too much work for one person. It was a dream. But it is no more a dream. Now it is reality thanks to my dear friends Akman and Melih. Thanks to them we made this dream come true...

 And now I will make my very first interview with an old school rider and my dear old friend Cenk Bilgin. Where did this Cangabi come from? Why do young riders like him that much? Why did they draw pictures for them and wrote Cangabi? What does Cangabi mean? We will ask all these...

               EDİZ TENŞİ


E.T.         Welcome Cenk! Be careful! I can ask you some very special questions based on our friendship and put you in the corner from time to time. Are you ready?

C.B.        If you put me in the corner than I will say I need to pee and run away from through the back door and you will not hear from me for at least 5 years. But based on our friendship and sincerity, I am ready to answer even the most boring questions, so shoot! But please don’t be too much ridiculous for the sake of the tomatoe soups I made for you along our friendship.

E.T. On the Turkish BMX History section of our site you wrote your BMX resume but would you please give more details about how you started BMX? I am asking you this because I want to demonstrate today’s young riders how difficult it was and how we were lacking resources.

C.B. I think I started riding bicycles when I was around 8 or 9, may be earlier. Can’t remember I was too young. I can say I have been riding bicycles all my life.It has always felt like a natural act-like eating or walking. After I owned my very first bicycle I don’t recall a day without bicycles. It is a very good activity for a person who is not very social. I see it like a gate between universes. When you are on top of it you are like teleported to another universe, you leave all worldly things behind.

And BMX is just another story, like a way of expressing yourself. It is a life style rather than a sport, very strong, very solid, esthetic and a part of yourself. Every single trick is like a physics problem, all you have to do is to figure out how to perform it. I can say it improves one both physically and mentally and purifies. I think the very first BMX I saw in my life was the ones in the movie E.T. How nice those BMX’es were...Of course those days we had nothing in contrary to nowadays. I mean the first BMX I saw in real was years after the movie E.T., it was Bisan BMX or Cenk BMX. Just a sec, no it was a Motobecane MBK BMX of a kid who lived in our neighbourhood. I think his family lived in France once upon a time, otherwise there was no way a Motobecane would be in Turkey... And yes when I first met Boğaç, he had an American Rider BMX that was also one of the first BMX’es I saw. He then had quit BMX and started skate boarding...

It was a huge struggle with my parents to make them buy a BMX for me. I think it was too expensive at the time. Instead of a one piece crank BİSAN, they had bought a crappy three piece crank “Cenk BMX“. I was both happy and pissed off because those 3 piece cranks were too crappy, there were gaps in it and they were easily broken.  It had the same cranks of a Pinnocchio bike. Although the BMX and I had the same name, what  a big dissapointment it was!

How would I know one day the owner of the CENK BMX factory would see me doing a wheelie and sponsor me? Back in the day we had no idea of sponsorship concept. When my CENK BMX was shattered into pieces I was taking it to the factory, the guys were renewing the bike for me! Just at that time the movie RAD was released and BMX became a permanent thing in my life.

When my most popular tricks were bunny hop, endo, wheelie, reverse riding and etc, RAD changed all our world! Now there were 180, 360, Cherrypicker, Boomerang and so on and on... There was even a backflip at the end of the movie! That movie opened new horizons for me but after the Cherrypicker the bike was bent, I kicked the bike and it was bent back! The RAD guys were doing front wheel hops, and when I tried it , my forks were breaking! They had rotors, but my brake cables were snapped after 1.5 rounds... This last example may not be understood by young riders because they go brakeless...

Anyways, what I mean is, we were terribly under resourced and were still trying to make a life style out of BMX which was way above our limits....In my opinion, despite all the problems we had, we made it. I think your  efforts as  BMX TR without any expectations, the number of BMX riders in Turkey and their quality close to European and American riders are proving my opinion... 

E.T. Where do you currently live, how are you making your living? What are your priorities in your life and how and when did you get back on the BMX seat?

C.B  I am living in Göcek district of Muğla city for about 20 years. Quiet, fresh air, forests, mountains and the sea... Because I thought one of the best things I could do here was to work for marine sector, I am making my living working as captain for boats. It is quite a physical work, being on board is quite tiresome but keeps you fit. Except for a few injuries I think I owe my energy to my BMX history and my current occupation.

As much as I don’t ride BMX for a long time I was never disconnected from bicycles, I bought a bicycle more suitable for the terrain, an MTB hard tail, slope style or dirt x, whatever you like to call it. It is like a BMX with bigger wheels. I ride it on the mountains, and am still riding. My surrounding is not really the best terrain for BMX. Plus nobody is making fun of you if you ride an MTB. As you will remember back in the day people were laughing at our small BMX bikes...

And you already know how I started BMX again Ediz...It is already in our soul, we can never give up on it. Still, I would be lying if I told you I would buy a BMX again if you hadn’t made this website. I wouldn’t make it if you, Akman and Melih hadn’t encouraged me..I am just too easily encouraged about BMX.

E.T But I am still wondering where you have been all these years? Why did you bury the BMX love deep inside?

C.B It is due to the lack of resources my dear Ediz. Because of our people’s point of view. Because of our shyness, because there were no BMX parts, there were no ramps, because there was no one to support. So we had to move on with our lives and everyone moved on and scattered around. To continue we had to be together, we had to influence each other. So it didn’t work out man, it couldn’t. I think we all got tired of it. Not only me. We had to supress the love of BMX. We had to give new priorities to our lives. Unfortunately BMX had no place in our life struggle. This applies to all of us, at least most of us. 

E.T How do you see the BMX scene in Turkey now? Where do you think it will go? How do you think the young generation is?

C.B I can see many talented young riders in Turkey now. They are good riders but if they do not continue the sport in a disciplined way, it is hard for them to reach their targets. BMX in the world has a serious progress. You have to watch the new combo tricks in slow motion mode to be able to perceive the tricks. And now the young riders have all the resources, parks, parts, bikes. Prices are more affordable compared to our times. So you have sugar, flour, water, why don’t you make the cake guys? I am not a nationalist man but I hope one day there will be famous Turkish riders holding our flag in the BMX World. Then I will be more satisfied with what we are doing for BMX.

E.T You always rode for ramps and you made an incredible return with a backflip! How come? How could you make this after long years of pause when even most active riders can’t do it?

C.B First let me send my thanks to my dear friends Boğaç Tanonur and Güney Cino. They are building skate parks all around Turkey. If Cino’s sponge pool wasn’t there in Extreme Academy, I would never make it. And look it again comes to the subject of resources.Were there any sponge pools back in the day? No! Plus it wasn’t that hard at all. Soon I will try it on the fun box. Not only the backflip, there are a few other tricks that are in my mind. I will not stop trying while I am still strong enough to try them..  

E.T How was your wife’s reaction to it? Didn’t she say  “Cenk we are planning a long life ahead and look what you are doing!... Because it is a passion that not everyone can understand.

C.B Haha just the contrary she wanted to try too when she saw the sponge pool because it looked simple to her?!?. I can’t blame her. Her husband is slightly maniac, he doesn’t do normal things, so she got used to the idea that I ride in the living room or do backflips!

E.T Cenk, you always rode like crazy and you were very talented. Plus you had an incredibly brave. You were the one to do most of the tricks for the first time in Turkey like Big Ramp, 360 Air, 540 Air, Table land, X-up, One Foot.  Where does this courage come from?

C.B Haha I don’t know what to say for this quetion. Believe me I never thought I had an extra courage. If I had, I would be doing crazier things. Yes at the time 540 was a cool trick but wasn’t an extraordinary trick. Thinking of the past everything we did looks simple to me.

E.T Do you remember Cenk, once we were trying drop-in from the table top, your father had come and he was mad at us. But the way he was angry is the thing that I cannot forget. We were scared to try the trick, of course, the ramp was 3 m high. And your father was yelling at us like“ Cenk Cenk why don’t you do it? Come on son jump, you couldn’t do a simple trick for the last one hour. Come on son do it!“  He was encouring us like that. I think all of our fathers were like that, may be because they were from Bakırköy. What do you think?

C.B Yes I do remember. He used to behave out of standards, actually he still does, possibly due to Bakırköy’s air, weather, trees, oxygen whatever.J

E.T Of course I know the answer of this question but for our followers would you please tell us where your nickname Cangabi comes from?

C.B It has a very short story. There was a Motocross field in Bakırköy where today there is a Metro station. As you would also remember we were doing a show there during Bosphorus Rally to keep the auidence’s interest focused. It was year 89 I guess, you me, Murat Başkan and Sinan Okay were there. The boys from the neighbourhood were applausing as “Cenk Abi, Cenk Abi“. So after a long applause the words started to sound like “Cangabi Cangabi“ and thanks to Sinan this became my nickname, this is the story.

E.T Are you thinking of continuing riding? There are riders of your age. Do you find the strength in yourself?

C.B What kind of a question is that? And the answer is yes of ourse I will continue to ride. You make such a good website, encourage me, make me buy an expensive  BMX and now you are asking me if I will continue to ride...I have a slight injury in my arm, when that recovers I will show you all!

E.T Other than BMX you are wotking as a captain. As a captain are you as brave as you are as a BMX rider?

C.B Oh yes I am. Marine works, sailing need courage but being too brave is not good for both sailing and riding. Although you are very experienced in those two fields you need to practice again and again. Otherwise if I was to brave I would try the backflip 25 years ago and break my neck would I?

E.T I know a part of your life was tough. How did you over come the problems of this period and what did life teach you? This village has been a good shelter for you hasn‘t it?

C.B All of us may have had hard times both financially or emotionally. Yes it is true the place I am now living is away from the hectic city life, quiet, a place that one can be alone with himself. Nature, sea, forest and fresh air. I have many cats at home, I don’t know what more a person can ask for? May be a skatepark in the garden or at least a half pipe?

E.T Those were tough times, I hope they won’t repeat again. After you moved to this place, other freestylers moved to this place too. Who came here with you and how are you spending your time here?

C.B Yes there is Sertaç Söke from the former skate boarders. Kerim Selçuk is also here who is an old school BMX rider from Kadıköy area, he is my next door neighbour. Hakan Karka who used to be one of Turkey’s best ramp riders is also here with whom we used to hang out all time. We can’t see each other everyday due to normal day routine, but hey, everyone is invited to come and see us!

E.T. There is also one more talent you have that we know of; You make delicious tomatoe soups. When my wife makes it I recall your soups (which are way better). Do you still make it?When will you make a tomatoe soup for the BMX riders Cenk?

C.B Haha, it has been almost 25 years since I made that soup Ediz. Let‘s leave it behind as a myth. That recipe can be a bit over the top in terms of calories after a certain age...

E.T Suddenly you became hit of our BMX TR Facebook page. The videos we put were watched by many people. Eveyone started asking “who is this Cangabi?“. A young rider drew pictures for you.and shared on Facebook. Back in the day there was no internet so only Ataköy and Bakırköy people knew you. Now all BMXers in Turkey almost know you. They ask about you. What do you like to say?

C.B Yes for a few days I felt like a small scaled internet phenomenon... A super feeling!...Ride on guys!!

E.T How do you find BMXtr.com, do you like it? Do you think this website will have any contribution to Turkish BMX enthusiasts?

C.B This website made me buy a BMX and made me make a backflip after 42. There is no more to say about it I think!

E.T And this is the end of our interview. Thank you very much for your sincere answers. As a friend we had a wonderful childhood together. We dedicated an important time of our lives for BMX. I am very proud to have a talented friend like you in Turkey.I know many Turkish riders can’t wait to ride with you. And I hope to ride again with you very soon! Goodbye...

C.B Thank you! I am very proud to be interviewed by BMX TR! Hope to ride altogether in the nearest time!