The recent Vans BMX Pro Cup in Malaga had to be one of the best contests we've been to in the last few years. The combination of a bowl comp, a killer list of riders old and new, and the godfather of Spanish BMX, Ruben Alcantara playing host on home concrete were just some of the elements that made up a perfect event, not to mention the focus on style, lines, and creativity ahead of rubber-necked flip-whippery. Ahead of this year's penultimate event in Guadalajara, Mexico, we caught up with DIG favourite Greg Illingworth (Mongoose) to hear what he had to say on this much-needed series and the welcome resurgence of riding everything, fast.
So, how are you doing after the Malaga stop of the Vans BMX Pro Cup? You took a nasty spill. What happened?
I’m healing up nicely now, thanks. I was doing a nac nac to table and my feet slipped off as I went in to the table… sending me straight to flat. The damage was some bruised/fractured ribs and a separated shoulder.
When are you back to 100%?
The shoulder is taking a little time to get back to normal but I’ve already started pumping around. I’d say about two weeks and I should be feeling solid.
What is your favourite aspect of the Vans BMX Pro Cup contests?
I think just that they’re in bowls really. Bowl jams generate the best atmosphere, I love riding them and I love watching the other dudes roast them.
Who would be in your dream contest group if you were spectating?
Mike Aitken, Joe Rich, Sergio Layos, Ruben Alcantara, Kevin Kalkoff, Gary Young, Chase Hawk, Tom Dugan, Clint Reynolds, Dylan Lewis and Garrett Byrnes. I know it’s a big group but it’s my dream haha.
What was it like getting to share the deck with Garrett Byrnes and Ruben in 2017?
Insane! Seriously. I’ve looked up to those guys for so long. I met them about ten years ago when they visited South Africa. This was the first time I’ve seen them together since then, it may even be the first time I’d seen Garrett since then at all. I felt honoured getting to speak to them and watch them ride.
What was the craziest thing you saw there all weekend?
Maxime’s table transfer! The whip needs a mention but the table...
Is there anywhere you would you like to see the BMX Pro Cup go next year?
South Africa and the UK!
Us too, do you think we're seeing a resurgence of the all-round rider?
Yes, I think so. It may be more of a resurgence in classic riding or bowl/faster riding… however you want to describe it. I’d like to see all aspects of BMX thrive independently through working together where possible. I think it’s become clear in recent years that mixing all aspects of riding, and all kinds of riders in to one pot can be a bit awkward.
How important do you consider contests to be?
I think they are a fundamental part of BMX.
Agreed. Do you believe contests like these directly get kids stoked on bowl riding / park riding which in turn helps to promote the sport?
There were moments during the Malaga contest where I rode past the crowd and heard nothing but kids screaming! They were so stoked on the whole thing. They will remember some of those moments forever. Just like I remember seeing my first BMX contests.