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

By: AKMAN ATILGAN

Photos: DILARA KOCAK


DECEMBER 2016

Dear BMX TR followers,

As BMX TR we have been working hard to support BMX in Turkey. When we decided this, we had set targets and principles to BMX bigger and more popular in Turkey. We hope we have achieved those targets to a certain extent. While putting these targets we took international practices as samples during our visits to foreign events. And we realized Turkey was lacking something important: Almost all our riders are male riders. There are categories in contests and events abroad, whereas there are no female riders in Turkey. Therefore we decided to put another target: to promote BMX among girls and to increase the number of female riders. One day we got very excited when we saw that a female rider registered herself to our website. Her name is Kumsal Güneş. In her picture she was riding her GT Calafia to the sunset. Without losing time we contacted her. She got very excited when we told her that as BMX TR we would like to interview her. It was a very nice chat and now we are giving this interview as a new year present to Kumsal in the very last day of 2016. We hope you enjoy the interview…


BMX TR:
Hello Kumsal how are you? We don't see many female riders in Turkey, actually you are the first one we have encountered so far. We are both surprised and happy to meet you!

K.G.: Hello I am very good thanks. In fact I am a bit excited. I was equally surprised and happy when you contacted me. When I was registering to your website I wasn't expecting this whole thing to go this far!

BMX TR: No need to be excited, feel yourself in the family. BMX is a big family and you are a part of it. Would you please tell us a bit about yourself?

K.G.: I am 16 years old and I live in Tekirdağ. I am studying in a nursing school. 

BMX TR: Nice. This is a profession you choose willingly right?

K.G.: Absolutely.   

BMX TR: Then how did you get involved with BMX Kumsal? As BMX TR we don't see it that way but most people in our country see BMX as a males' sport. On the other hand there are many female riders outside Turkey.

K.G.: We used to live in Bkırköy-İstanbul. At the time I was studying at 6th grade. I first encoutered BMX riders in Bakırköy Square. Then I checked out Youtube and watched an edit of Aaron Ross. The sport had impressed me but I never thought I would start doing it.

BMX TR: So, you are a fan of Aaron Ross?

K.G.: Yes definitely I am. Then I started to follow the sport closely and started learning trick names. I spent 2 years observing the sport. When I was 8th grade I started finding riders in Turkey and I realized they were all males.


BMX TR:
How did you feel then? Desperateness? 

K.G.: No just the contrary I thought why a girl can't do it? Why should I not be that girl? It gave me motivation rather than dispair. I was watching videos on YouTube and was seeing girls riding in other countries. Then I decided to buy a BMX and began saving my money starting from the beginning of 9th grade until summer holiday.

BMX TR: For how long did you save your money?

K.G.: It took about 9 months. I was very determined. I almost didn't spend a penny.

BMX TR: Then finally you bought the BMX you were dreaming of?

K.G.: No I didn't. I spent the money for a mobile phone and other stuff. Just spent it.

BMX TR: ???

K.G. : Yeah just did so. I didn't buy a bike. Because I met a guy who told me that I wouldn't be able to ride and it would be waste of money. He told me to buy rollerblades or other things instead.

BMX TR: Did he explain why he thought so?

K.G.: Because he thought BMX was a men's sport. He discouraged me so I spent the money for other things. But I was still wanting a BMX.

BMX TR: He literally made you give it up! I am curious who he was but I think you do not want to disclose his name. Ok. What happened next?

K.G.: Last July I met a rider. I can disclose his name easily because he is a great guy. You probably know him, Ozan Sulu.

BMX TR: Yes, he is among our registered riders in Tekirdağ.

K.G.: I told Ozan the whole story. He encouraged me for BMX and told me I would be able to do it if I really wanted it. He was always there for me.

BMX TR: But the money was gone?

K.G.: Yes but I was very determined again and I started a job to save money.

BMX TR: Just to save money right?

K.G.: Yes and I always thought I wasn't the kind of person that could work. A friend of my uncle is the owner of a rice shop so I started working there as a waitress. I was working only for BMX. Again didn't spend a single penny. I was carrying rice orders to the shops in the middle of August heat. Everything was for BMX.

BMX TR: Great story!

K.G.: Ozan built a bike for me with parts he took from here and there using the money I saved. May be it is not the best bike in the world but he made my dream come true. I can't thank him enough.

BMX TR: What brand is it? Tell us more about your bike?

K.G.: It is a 2013 GT Calafia. In fact there are lots to tell about it.


 

BMX TR: Like what?

K.G.: When I bought the bike we hadn't entirely moved to Tekirdağ so I was temporarily staying at my grandparents. The day after I bought the bike, I seriously fell and injured myself. Naturally it was my first trial and couldn't control the bike. My knees and elbows were badly injured, and I couldn't even walk for a day. At the time I was still working to be able to pay my debt to Ozan so I couldn't even go to work. The first moment I felt better I went to the shop I was working for. That day when I came home after work it was a big shock, because my grandpa had brakes installed on the bike!

BMX TR: What is so weird about it? Yes I am not as old as your grandpa but as an old rider I support the idea of using brakes at least during the progress of a rider. Viki Gomez is saying the same thing if you read his interview here. Actually I like what your grandpa did.

K.G.: Ok but my bike did not have any pivots on it. He got pivots welded!

BMX TR: ……............ Couldn't find any words to say. It's a pity for the forks.

K.G.: I wish it was only the forks. He also got rear brakes welded on the frame! There are welds on my frame and fork now, it's like a joke!

BMX TR: ............................

K.G.: Yeah.

BMX TR: Well as much as it is a horrible thing to do to a bike I still find your grandpa very symphatetic. Yes it is unfortunate for the bike but I like the intention behind it. And a bit amusing too. Whatever…

K.G.: Yes he was thinking of me at the end of the day.

BMX TR: Are the brakes working at least?

K.G.: Yes quite good. Ozan dismantled the front brake but he left the rear one.

BMX TR: With whom are you riding in Tekirdağ? According to our records, there are riders like Tuana and Sait.

K.G.: I don't know Tuana but We are riding together with Sait from time to time.

BMX TR: Who are your favorite Turkish riders?

K.G.: I am a big fan of Arif Gül. I thought he was around 20 but when I figured he was only 18 my admiration doubled up. So very young and so very talented. He is a great rider. In my opinion he is the best street rider in Turkey.

BMX TR: Yes we were together in Germany-Cologne. He became 5th in pro category. He is also very disciplined, everyday he is training for long hours. 

K.G.: And I also like Ferhat Ergün.

BMX TR: Yes, from Bursa. Good rider.

K.G.: Yes I follow his riding with admiration .

BMX TR: Who else do you like among the riders from abroad other than Aaron Ross? 

K.G.: I like Haro rider Chad Kerley. Ryan Taylor is also one of the riders I like. And Sarah Lampert is my idol!

BMX TR: I was just about to ask which female riders you liked…

K.G.: Yes I also like Nina Butrago.

BMX TR: What about your family? Do they support you?

K.G.: My dad and mom are seperate. I have a father in law. Him and mom they support me a lot. For example I call mom when she is on her way to home and ask for allen keys or a wrench or so. She laughs at me and says why are you not like a normal girl asking for parfumes or nail polish! We have a funny relationship like this. 

BMX TR: Hahahaha that's funny! 

K.G.: Or sometimes the school administration checks out our bags randomly and unexpectedly.  While mascara, nail polish, lipsticks or other stuff come out of other girls' bags, they find allen keys, pivot caps, bolts or nuts  in my bag!

BMX TR: Hahahaha! I would like to ask you, do you have a different social life than the other girls because of BMX?

K.G.: Well in fact I can't get along well with the other girls. I don't like most of them's spoiled attitudes.

BMX TR: Don't you have any girlfriends?

K.G.: Of course I have but I don't get too intimate with everybody.

BMX TR: Does BMX effect your relationship with your girlfriends?

K.G.: Not at all. My best friend has always been there for me. She did the shooting of the pictures for this interview. And I also can avoid invitations from friends that I don't want to meet giving my BMX training as an excuse!

BMX TR : How about boyfriends? Anyone special?

K.G.: No, not yet, but even if I have one one day my first priority would be BMX. BMX comes first.

BMX TR: You mean if someday you have a boyfriend, he has to accept you with your BMX right?

K.G.: Exactly!


 

BMX TR: As far as I know in terms of riding Tekirdağ is a bit problematic because of the terrain.

K.G.  : Yes a little. We don't have a skatepark here. There are two places I can ride, a pedestrian way by the seaside and a schoolyard close to our apartment. 

BMX TR:  As a girl rider what kind of reactions do you take from other people?

K.G. : Children have a funny way of approach, they ask me if that's a stunt bike, some ask me to jump, make a trick and so on.

BMX TR: Does that make you uncomfortable?

K.G.: Well yes and no. Yes this is a visual sport and it is very natural to get reactions like this. But the astonishment I see in people's faces means BMX is still not known in Turkey. For instance people must at least be able to say "BMX" instead of "stunt bike". Before they met me nobody in the school knew what BMX was. They got familiar with it because of me

BXM TR: Are you going to school with your BMX?

K.G. : No it is quite a distance from home to school, plus there is nowhere to put it in the school

BMX TR: How do they know that you ride? Ah possibly because of the allen keys and pivot caps coming out of your bag?

K.G.: Hahahaa no, I am telling them.

BMX TR: Have you got a certain training program? Are there any tricks that you are targeting?

K.G.: I ride almost every weekend. Because of school I don't have time to ride during week days. I am working hard on the most fundamental trick-bunny hop. Trying to jump over some obstacles and improve my jumping skills. I have strength issue, because of this I started going to fitness and get my arms stronger. Footjam is one of the tricks I can do now.


 

BMX TR: Yes strength is an important factor. If you read İsmail Emre Dalgıç's interview, he is complaining from the same problem

K.G.: By the way İsmail has a very amazing talent too

BMX TR: How do you find BMX TR?

K.G.: Actually I didn't know your website but Ozan showed me, so I have been following BMX TR since summer. You have a great website. What you are doing is amazing. Especially the interviews. I believe the English translations of the interviews is a very useful PR for Turkish riders. Thank you on behalf of the other Turkish riders.

BMX TR: We thank you for chosing BMX as a sport and for following us. We hope you continue this sport without dispair. That would be the best response to those who try to discourage you. We hope other girls who read this interview will be inspired and they start riding BMX, so number of our female riders increase. Thank you for this enjoyable interview!

K.G.: It has been a pleasure, thank you very much BMX TR!