Global Flat is the number one international destination for flatland riders on the Web. Boasting upwards of 6000 registered members, Global Flat is BMX's one-stop shop for all things flatland, from news to product profiles to a vibrant message board to online flatland video battles. And it's the brainchild of Germany's Martin Schulz. For the past seven years, he's been fighting the good fight to keep spammers at a minimum, while the world of flatland and interacts and progresses. Recently, on a trip to the states, we got the time to sit down with blank and discuss the origins of Global Flat, and the position it holds in the flatland community.
ESPN.com: Explain your origins in flatland. What motivated you to start Global Flat?
Blank: I started riding flatland around 1997 on a Free Agent race bike. Back then we had a decent flatland scene in the town I grew up in. So those were the good old days for me. Around 2000, most of the guys stopped riding and I also had to take a longer break because I was ill. In 2003 I was finally back on my bike and felt like I had some catching up to do. I started looking for flatland Web sites. There were a bunch of good local Web sites but the Pedal BMX forums were the only place where you would find news and people from all around the world. There wasn't much structure so it would always take some time to find the information you were looking for. At that point the idea was born. I wanted to build a Web site that would provide international flatland news and all the information a flatlander might need. I started looking for people who could help with that project and formed a small team. That's how it all got started. In 2004 the first news got posted on global-flat.com and at that point is was pretty much just a blog.
How many members does it boast today?
The discussion forums were one of the first things we added to the site in 2004. Many riders from all over the world are coming to the forums today. We have about 6000 registered members. Many of them are posting in the forum, others might just read or use other functions of the site for which you need to be registered. You can, for example, add your spot to our spot map. There is much more to our community than the forums. Explore it!
What goes into running Global Flat on a daily basis?
Nowadays quite a few people are working on the site on a daily basis. I'm really happy that we are such an international team. There are literally people from all around the world: Australia, Asia, Europe, North and South America. So we have many difference influences. There are many things to do in order to keep the site up to date. We have the editorial content like the news, event coverage, interviews and so on. Then there is the whole community with the forums that need to be moderated. Last but not least it's a challenge to keep everything up to date on a technical level. With all the spammers and hackers around that's an important aspect as well. I take care of the daily news, all the technical stuff including coding, manage the team, make sure our advertisers are happy and simply try to keep an eye on everything. Furthermore I visit as many flatland events as possible and take photos there, which became another passion of mine in the last couple of years.
What do you hope to achieve with Global Flat?
I want to make a million $$$ and buy a Porsche in the very first place! Haha. Basically I just want to give the flatland community a platform where people can find information and meet other people. Lately I'm thinking it would be nice to encourage riders to take over more responsibility within our sport. We need the next generation of contest organizers and people that push our sport in the right direction! People like Trevlon Hall from Trinidad and Tobago. I'm trying to figure out how we can encourage riders to GET BUSY through Global-Flat.
What's the strangest thing that's ever happened on the Global Flat message board?
There are many strange things happening every day! It's a mirror of the world out there. Every now and then we get called "Nazis" for moderating the forum. Being from Germany that's a rather strange thing to hear for me. However there are many good things going on in the forum, too. The best examples are probably the bike projects that one of our moderators helps to organize. The purpose of the bike projects is to collect parts that riders don't need anymore in order to put decent flatland bikes together for riders from less fortunate countries and give them away for free. Last year one of our users started to organize the online video battles in our forum, which became pretty famous. It works like a normal contest with one on one battles. Instead of judges, the whole community can vote the winner of each battle. It's amazing to see that people make good and creative use of the platform we provide!