I first met Karl about 10 years ago, mid summer at Nelson BMX track. There was one dirty big dirt jump built on the in field for Karl to hone his craft and perfect his bodily contortions in preparation for the 'X-Air' competition being held in Hamilton the following month. What struck me back then still reigns true today; how can one dude go so much higher than everyone else on the same jump with a similar bike setup? Well Karl's that guy....
Fast forward a bunch of years and I'm in Wellington riding the infamous Island Bay trails up the back of the house where Karl was living. Again, Karl was boosting larger than anyone else and while he wasn't throwing the hugest, latest 'fad' tricks he had better flow, boost and style than most of the visiting US pros at the session.
In the last few years, Karl's focus has blurred from solely BMX shredding to MTB dirt jumping, onto downhill and now even XC. He's also recently taken on the Black Market distribution in Aussie under the Private Distro flag. He's a true all-rounder and is "jack of all trades, master of them all" which not many people can claim. He's super friendly and a blast to ride with, and if there's two wheels under him he'll have a huge smile on his dial and be totally amped on whatever it is you're riding.
And if you're wondering how Karl boosts so big, he let me in on the secret: "Just pump your tyres up real hard, go fast and pull back heaps." Cool.
Ladies and gentlemen, Frankly Thursday with Karl Bensemann......
How old are you? 25
Where do you live? Sunny Brisbane
What do you like best about living where you do? The weather is the best, you get to ride all year round. The people I ride with are rad, good mix of riding styles. Our jumps, it's just Scott Irvine and I that dig there and we get it done.
What do you dislike about living where you do? Big city traffic is not ideal. Snakes and spiders, kind of unavoidable riding in their territory. No daylight savings; apparently the curtains will fade and the cows won't know what time to be milked our some crap.
Who makes your riding possible? Blkmrkt, Funn Brakes, TSG protective gear,Taylor cycles, my understanding girlfriend Prue.
First bike? My first 20" BMX was a Healing HMX my cousin gave me. It had Alloy 5 spoke rims, it was so heavy. My first MTB was an 18 speed cromoly Raleigh, it was sweet, got me everywhere I needed to go. Sadly it died not long after I first saw the Crusty Demons video.
What was the largest challenge getting Private Distro off the ground? The whole gig is going to be a big challenge for me. I've got a lot to learn about business and computers. But I'm keen and excited about learning something different and with the good people I've got supporting me I should be fine.
Best spot in the world to ride? UK trails. Queenstown is up there too.
What can’t you travel without? Travelling with a friend is the best, but if I'm alone then my iPod.
What's your day job? Pipe welder and Private Distribution.
What can you not live without? Riding bikes. I turn into a grumpy shit if I don't ride enough.
What's your average day like? It's up at 5:00am, breaky and coffee. Then off to work to weld up pipework. It's all about full penetration butt welds with a rod (welding is rude). I try to get out of there as soon as I've done eight hours, while my workmates give me shit for not working 12 hour days and going to the pub after. "Don't break ya neck on that stupid bike," they say. Go home to pick up Brownie the adventure dog, then the race is on to get to the trails for as much riding or digging in as I can before dark. Then head home to relax with Prue.
What motivates you to get out of bed and go to work each day? It's just something you got to do, no one gives you money to sleep all day.
What are your plans for the coming summer? Hopefully a trip to New Zealand for Farm Jam, and I've heard rumours about Skyline lift allowing bikes this summer, that would be amazing!
What's wrong with mountain biking? Having to have a bike for each style of riding is a bit of a pain but oh well. Dudes in nicks, why do they think that's cool?
What's right with mountain biking? You're mostly out in the forests away from it all. I'm pretty new to the XC and DH side of riding but since getting into that I'm so pumped on the variety of riding. Going and riding XC trails like Gap Creek and Bunya, it just blows me away how good value it is, so much fun and so easy to get out to.
Who do you look up to? People I look up to in the riding world, the Frews for taking the game into their own hands and doing it for riders, McGazza for sending it and been dedicated to taking it to the world. Jason Blackmore, 38 years old and still fast, owns a sweet pad with backyard jumps, XC tracks, and a DH track. Matt from Wide Open, he knows what he's doing. Seb Kemp, international man of mountain biking. Paul Langlands, SHREDDER!
Favourite piece of bike kit? blkmrkt MOB frame, of course.
What are your vices? The dam smoko truck at work; as soon as I smell it drive in I just have to have some of its fatty goodness. Pies, burgers, deep fried delights. Mmmm...
Got any dirt / story of a MTBer you’d like to share? Sorry I got no dirt on anyone for you. I like my friends. About eight months ago Scott and I noticed a tent hidden in the forest where our trails are. We weren't quite sure whether to go investigate or not as it's a pretty sketchy place at the best of times. After a few days of days of spying on the tent from a distance, curiosity got the better of us and we had to go have a look. So armed with our trusty shovels we went in to find a spaced-out guy sitting behind the tent reading a tattered R rated magazine. To say he was surprised to see two guys with shovels standing there is an understatement. We introduced ourselves, told him what we were up to and left him to his business. Later that day we were digging away and our new friend emerged from the bush and came over for a chat. That was how it would be every time we went there. He would come hang out, drink beer and tell us stories about how he ended up living in a tent. We came to pretty good deal with him; in exchange for beer he would scare people away from the jumps. A few months ago the local cops added our spot to their daily beat and our friend didn't last too long. He didn't even get a chance to take his washing off the line.
Okay, a bit of word association:
- Dirt jump - Boost it!
- Downhill - Wild
- Huck to flat - Bender
- Tricks - Comps
- Style - Relaxed
- Mat Hoffman - The Man
- Cross Country - Fun
Check out what Karl's been up to on his Private Distro BLOG.