Interview: Pavel Alekhin "Vishneviy"
Name: Pavel Alekhin aka “Vishneviy”
Current location: Moscow
Years riding: since 2005
Q: First off, congrats for your season so far, you’ve been killing it! Did you work hard to prepare for this year or did it just kind of happened by itself?
A: Thanks, man! It happened by itself, surely. I’ve been riding a lot this year. I've spent the whole winter riding at my local spot, with an average temperature of about 15C degrees below zero as we don’t have any indoors places to ride.
Q: You are no longer riding for Black Market bikes and are now riding for Merida. Not much people around here knew of this brand before they saw your videos. Can you tell us a bit more about the brand as a whole and how you feel about your relationship with Merida?
A: Pretty stoked about this relationship, to be honest. Here in Russia Merida is pretty big and we all are like a huge family. They were focused mostly on XC, enduro and trekking bikes, but a few years ago Merida designed the new Hardy frame and I think that it’s a significant innovation, cause I have never ridden on a good aluminum frame before and thought that all of them were pretty ugly and fat. But this one looks pretty thin, ultra light (1,8 kg) and pretty strong, plus with my different paintjobs, I really like my bike, cause it always looks sooo fresh!
Q: Russia seems to have a big BMX/MTB scene. I always see pictures and videos of Russian events with tons of riders attenting, and there’s even the Russian BMX Awards. Can you tell us a little more about the Russian scene right now?
A: Yeah, MTB/BMX scene in Russia is really huge and the way it's improving, I'm really happy for that! Seems like it goes it’s own Russian way. We’ve got BMX as an official sport here for 3 years already and we have things like Official BMX Championship of Russia and Official BMX schools with free education. Also we’ve got some awesome guys, who develop everything by themselves, for example the XSA ramps guys, they built the sickest skatepark in Krasnodar city in the south of Russia and they organize one of the best contests in Russia, the Backyard Jam.
Q: I’ve heard a lot of people blame their riding on the weather all the time, as if it was always too hot or too cold to ride outside. But you, you seem to ride whenever you feel like it, whether it’s super hot, or your jumps are covered in snow. What motivates you to go for a jumping session even when it’s snowing outside?
A: You know, it always snows here in Moscow during winter, so my friends and I don’t have any other chances to ride somewhere, plus it’s a good opportunity to feel something interesting and to practice some new stuff in a pretty safe way.
Q: Back in the days, you seemed to ride more street and park than dirt jumping. Nowadays, you attend a lot of dirt jumping events and always kill it. What made you do the transition to riding more dirt, and do you still go for a street session once in a while?
A: I've always liked dirt jumping, even during street sessions. But this year, I've practiced street a lot in Barcelona with Matthew Macduff, cause what you need at first is good company to ride with and to enjoy riding.
Q: What are your influences for riding lately?
A: Getting pleasure is the main thing I ride for.
Q: Can you describe us your actual bike setup in a couple words?
A: Sure! I really like when my bike is comfortable, looks good and unique. That’s why I use pretty light components and do not use any brakes, cause I love the way my bike looks like without any special devices for braking, for example.
Q: At this year’s Masters Of Dirt event, Sam Reynolds described you as “The best dirt jumper in the world, who does the most tricks and can do all the tricks, when he puts it all together in a competition, he will beat everyone.” What do you think about this statement, and is there any frustrating tricks you simply can’t do?
A: Hah, it's pretty cool that he thinks so, what else can I say? About the tricks, hmmm, I’m not good at straight tricks, I like tricks with different rotations, cause they don't look that simple and I’m enjoying them much more.
Q: In your opinion, who is the best rider in the world right now and why?
A: To this sort of questions I usually answer like there are soooo many talented and special guys in the world whose style/riding is really interesting to watch, but I can’t mark anybody, whom I like most of all.
Q: With all your contest experiences, what’s your favorite contest format, and what type of obstacles would you like to see more in contests?
A: The best contest format, when organizers make the course comfortable for tricking, never push you to ride, when it’s windy and everybody thinks about how to make themselves do more than they can, and not about how to get the first place and stuff.
Pavel with a Backflip triple barspin
Q: What is the best event you’ve ever attented and why?
A: I like Vienna Air king, because it was my first foreign contest and I try to visit it every year. The course is always good, the crowd is loud, hundreds of good riders and a nice afterparty. What else do I need?
Q: What do you think about the whole FMB Tour and would you change anything about it?
A:I think that the idea to make this whole system of rating riders and events is pretty sick, because it always pushes organizers to make a better event with higher jumps, bigger prizes and funnier afterparties. But I don't ride much freeride or downhill, so I would prefer more dirt jump and big air events.
Q: How do you manage to make money? Are your sponsors helping you out a lot or do you focus on winning money at contests?
A: My sponsors help me a lot for sure, but I think that If you do everything right in your life and don’t care about the money that much, you will have enough to be happy. For me, money is just one of the instruments to make your life happier but it’s not at the top of happiness.
Q: You’re known for pulling a lot of crazy backflip variations lately, and you proved your point at Vienna Air King with a backflip double barspin to tailwhip. How was it to practice a trick this hard and then land it at a big contest?
A: I just tried it a few times in a foam pit and than landed it at La Poma bike park in Barcelona, where the jump was harder and smaller. So when I arrived to Vienna Air King’s course, I felt so comfortable to try it there and it worked!
Q: For all the riders out there that are scared to go upside down, what goes through your head when you’re doing a backflip and what tips would you give to someone willing to learn them?
A: You should remember that backflips are easy, super safe and just a little bit scary. 360s are harder and more dangerous about the falls, so just do it if you really want it!
Q: How often do you smoke Shisha?
A: Haha, I expected this question. Hmm, not that much,it always depends on how busy I am. At least, 2 times per day, to be honest.
Q: I’ve heard that you completely stopped drinking lately. Is there a particular reason behind this decision?
A: You know, I organized big rock’n’roll parties for almost 4 years and I drank a lot, because I was always part of a party. Once it occurred to me that I got addicted to alcohol so I decided to stop that shit and I understood that I can still party, still can enjoy my life and feel better from day to day. So I think that it was a right choice. I’ve noticed as well that so many guys gave up drinking alcohol and I’m pretty happy if that was partly my influence.
Q: How was it to spend a lot of time in Barcelona with Matt Macduff? You guys seem to have a blast together and push each others riding in good directions. Do you think Matt had an influence on your riding?
A: That was a blast for sure. Best long trip in my life. I think we’ve pushed each other pretty hard and I received such a great experience from all this process. Can’t wait to repeat it this winter.
Q: What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
A: Don’t remember exactly, but I always remember the phrase “Never be afraid of your emotions, you won’t have a second life for them.”
Q: What are your plans for the rest of the year? A lot of contests, travelling, filming..?
A: Yeah, definitely. I think I will take part in a few more contests this year, one huge filming sesh with my Merida teammates in Norway and than will move somewhere for the whole winter to ride and to film.
Q: What are your plans for the next 5 years?
A: I will ride my bike, enjoy my life and push myself forward.
Q: Thanks for your time, and we wish you the best of luck for the future! Any shoutouts, people to thank?
A: Thank you The Rise crew for doing style, my parents for support, my sponsors for pushing me forward, my girlfriend for patience and my friends for readiness to help!