Posted on 07/26/13

New Orleans Konkrete Cruise   
Objective: Drive to Voodoo Jam Flatland Contest in New Orleans, Louisiana for June 1st and back.
Riders : Jean William Prévost & Jason Plourde
Media : Jean Philippe Veillet
I was so stoked to meet up in Québec with Jason Plourde for the first time in 7 years. We had both spent much time in China doing shows for amusement parks and here was our chance to catch up once again on the road to New Orleans, Louisiana. A city which could have one day became a distant cousin to Montréal or Québec City in the old French empire that had colonized North America to the bottom of the States. 
So as we were drawing our path on the map we knew we would get to the bottom of this!  

All packed up and ready to go, JP armed with his camera and both of us our bikes we were on our way to another land which also identifies itself to the ’’Fleur de Lys’’. A symbol which traces its roots back to the first French Monarchies. The first stretch was a 10 hour drive to Windsor, right at the border, where we met up with Chase Gouin , a legendary rider who’s influence on BMX Flatland has had no boundaries to this day. The past three years had been rough for Chase, fighting an unknown disease that took over his health, but he is back and stronger than ever looking forward to his next sessions and just being able to kick it on the bike. Inspired by his stories and words of wisdom, we crossed the border to the US where we sessioned by the riverfront in Detroit looking back on Canada we had just left behind.
We both dropped a few quick combos on Detroit, and then we got cancelled by security and pouring rain at once. Still, I had just enough time to bar ride over the incrusted World Map at the bottom of the Renaissance Center. That was the beginning of the US stretch of I-75. We took our time driving just a few hours a day, making sure to stop in the big cities in search of decent floors to ride and keeping our body in good shape for Voodoo Jam. 
I had driven from Montreal to New Orleans in 2006 with Jeff Desroches and company to arrive to a wrecked city that had just been drained from the storm surge which had broken the dikes and sadly flooded whole neighborhoods and killed many. Speaking of storms we thought we’d of encountered tornadoes on our way down the Easternmost part of  Tornado Valley, but didn’t, nothing but showers and sometimes sunshine ?. After countless pit stops, beef jerky snacks and XXL drinks it was nice to finally make it to the Big Easy to see most things were on the upper trend, construction sites all over and some boarded homes which I guessed would never see their original owners. We can’t but take a minute to think about all those who perished to this terrifying force of nature.
We noticed however the hurricane couldn’t of washed away the warmth and friendliness of the great Southern Hospitality. Saluted at every corner and seen as equals if you do the same in return. Though beef could surely be contracted through neglecting a nod after eye contact with a local thug, or so it seemed…
We inevitably had to visit Bourbon Street on our first day there, so before nightfall we hit up the French Quarter immortalizing a few captions and runs deep within the heart of the beast.  A place that doesn’t ever feel the need to stop the party, whether it be night or day, you’ll be sure to be served with circus freaks, break dancers, shemales, strip clubs and beads, lot`s of beads. We asked around on how to get our hands on some oh so famous purple drink, but it seems this chapter has to be pushed back to our next trip.
The pre-jam, a day before the contest, had one of the dopest settings I`ve seen in flatland in a long time. It rained on our way there, and somehow the Flatland Gods (as Jay would always say) made it possible for this spot to be saved from the storms that permeated the area on that day. A few hundred people gathered around a decrepit basketball court in the middle of a New Orleans suburb to celebrate the continuity of our sport. Many nations represented at this jam riding away in a melting pot where everyone got to mingle and show what they`ve got. Somehow, riders from all walks of life can find a place around this jam circle and a moment to show what they’ve got in their bag of tricks. 
The word Voodoo in Voodoo Jam is the name of a religious practice initiated in French slave colonies in Haiti during the 18th century. Countless businesses and services carry the name of this still influent tradition in the sector. It is used to attract favors from the gods and focuses on the vices of dishonor and greed.
The contest in itself has nothing to do with Voodooism. It’s all about skills and dropping your sickest links in front of a receptive crowd of southern folks. There is a tad bit of illusionism involved in flatland though... 14 of 40 Pro Riders qualified to the final battles. Qualifications went as follows: Riders were grouped with others from their respective countries and had 20 minutes to get used to the floor and spot before giving their best in 2:30 minute runs. 
I hurt my shoulder dealing with the floor in qualification, so my focus was a bit off, but I still qualified lucky 13th and made it to the finals where I battled Tsutomu and lost by a flag 3 to 2. I was pleased to see he went on and took the first position at this event; I shall not have lost in vain!!!  Seems Jay wasn’t as lucky with the floor during his run, but still managed to pull a decade to switch footed peg wheelie that had the crowd fiending for more. The Japanese definitely planned a hell of a show for their runs, and kept the crowd alert until the end of the contest.
The after-party took place on Bourbon St. and we all got to dance to some bands rocking out and jamming to the southern vibes. Beads were thrown, and all was let loose, letting go of the contest vibe and partying it up before heading back home for some more hardcore training.
Many things come to mind, out in the open, your crew and the road. We had time to reinvent the world over and again. I guess we all just do it for kicks and giggles, being out there absorbing all these sceneries and landscapes we’d never seen, meeting people we’d never heard of or realizing how much more there is to learn about life through riding and travelling with friends.

One thing’s for sure is you sure as hell better enjoy life while you can; every day on the road is a gift worth thanking for and I’m more than thankful to all of those who made this trip possible.
Shout outs to Scott O’Brien and his son for putting this awesome event together and shout out to Konkrete for making this happen. Other thanks go to Far East Cycles, 514 BMX, Expressions Body Piercing and Tattoo’s, Kick Denim, Ride the Tiger and JP at Sequence films who was behind the camera at every scene.
By Jean William Prévost 


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