I never liked Instagram. I wasn’t much into it until I created an account for Bicycle Nightmares. It actually works better than Facebook. The truth is, that the online mobile photo-sharing service has given me the opportunity to explore and discover new people, mostly riders and photographers, and sometimes, inspiration.
Somehow, a month and a half ago, I ended up checking this guy’s Instagram profile. The pictures were sick. You could see his passion for digging and riding bikes through all of them. He had skills with a shovel, a bike and a camera. He just got a new follower.
But who was Daniel Fleury? I never heard of this guy before. I contacted him. And a conversation with the canadian trail boss begun.
Daniel, I don’t know much about you. Could you please make an introduction of who you are?
My name is Daniel Fleury, I am 19 years old, from Nanaimo BC. Growing up, I always loved the idea of riding a bike, but I never got the chance to race BMX or moto as a kid, I was pushed into the regular sports by parents like soccer, baseball, etc. I have been building jumps for longer than I can remember, but it wasn’t until I was 16 that I decided to drop all sports and focus all my time for digging and riding. I have met so many cool people and friends just through riding bikes. It has given me a positive outlook on life, something to get stoked about.
I have been watching the trails where you dig and ride on your Insta. They look sick, and really fun. What is the story behind them?
My main trails are Spooks and Laguna. Spooks were machined by Darren (Berrecloth) and I did all the digging and shaping by myself. I have built the Bearclaw Invitaional course for the past 4 years. I put so much of my time and own money into building and getting the course ready that this is basically where all my motivation for Laguna started. I started Laguna about a year and a half ago. It was stacked all by hand. I met Tyler (Olson) a year ago. He is 16 and has been the first local who has been keen to come out to dig and ride. He definitely helped me finish the Laguna line. I had a dream to build the biggest and baddest jumps around. It took me 8 months to finish the jumps (digging mostly alone) and I am amazed at how far it has come.
That’s awesome. I had no idea that those trails existed, and let me tell you, that you have done a pretty good job.
Thank you. It is crazy to remember the months of digging alone wondering to myself if this idea was even going to work out. I started in August 2013, and spent 8 months stacking the biggest 3 set of jumps that I had ever built. Most people say that I am crazy for not working a job for months just so I could have the time to go dig at the jumps every day. They turned out way bigger than I first thought, first jump being 27ft and brakeless all the way through. Building those jumps was more work that I could have ever imagined, but to now share it with other people and friends and see them get stoked on it, it really makes all the digging worth it.
Besides digging and riding, what do you do for a living?
I am currently working at Arrowsmith Bikes, a local shop in town. All my free time is spent either riding or digging at Laguna, Spooks, or other trails. I am also into surfing and photography/videography. As a kid I fell in love with the idea of building dirt jumps, you can really create whatever your mind can come up with.
How is the riding scene in your hometown?
Nanaimo doesn’t have to much of a crew that come out to ride and dig. We are Tyler Olson, Calvin Huth, Max Barron, Daniel Brown and Caleb Liggett. We all work hard to make things happen. The last couple of years I have made it my goal to build some amazing spots in town, where I live, and not only bring myself up as a rider, but try and bring more people and riders into the local scene.
I can imagine where do they come from but, what are your influences when it comes to digging and creating dirt jumps, and then riding?
I draw most of my inspiration from BMX. I remember growing up seeing videos and pictures of BMX trails, and they stuck with me. I wanted to experience it for myself. My riding style is inspired by riders like Chase Hawk, Kris Fox, Clint Reynolds, to name a few. I might not have the craziest tricks but I love big boosty, style tricks and flow. I guess seeing pictures and videos of what other riders are doing inspires me to ride and build something different. I remember when I was first getting into building dirt jump trails that my favorite rider was R-Dog. In videos, he just made riding look so sick, not many tricks, just boosting style and flowing through dirt jumps. That definitely influenced me starting out. Other than that, I would say just friends and other riders.
This goes out to any rider that wants to create his own trails. What tools do you use, and also, could you please add some tips for digging?
I use mostly just a pick, a rake and a flathead. Digging jumps is pretty simple, it just takes a lot of time and effort to move enough dirt (if a machine isn’t available). When it comes to shaping lips and faces, I would say to try to use a consistent dirt or clay, take out all the rocks, and just keep throwing dirt and raking rocks until you’re stoked.
What are your plans for the near future?
This year I want to put the time into putting out video segments. It has been a long time coming for myself to put out my “first” video. The last couple of years I have definitely spent more time digging than riding. I feel that I have built some really good stuff, but now is time to finish what I started.
You have talked about photography before, what camera or equipment do you use?
I use a Canon 7D and I recently got a Pentax film camera. When I am shooting photo or video I just try to visualize the best possible perspective (angle) of what I am trying to shoot. I enjoy photography just to capture what myself and the people around me are doing, something to look back on.
Is it hard to maintain the trails running in the winter?
There is not much of snow on the island, just a lot of rain. Pretty much you don’t get to ride dirt jump trails very often in the winter. Usually you just ride sand spots and trick jumps (or dig more jumps). We try to build as much drainage as possible, and tarp up the jumps the best we can.
What are your top 5 spots, MTB and BMX riders?
Other than Laguna and Spooks, the only spots I have ridden are Freedom 40, Post Office, and Cannan in Kelowna, so I would say those. For MTB riders my choice would be Ryan Howard, Graham Aggasiz, Andreu Lacondeguy, Martin Soederstrom and Brandon Semenuk; and for BMX, Kris Fox, Mike Clark, Matt Priest, Chase Hawk and Clint Reynolds.
If you could choose any place in the world, what places would you like to visit?
There are many places. I would really like to go down to California again and see all the places and spots on the way; I have always liked the trail scene down there. Also a winter trip to Barcelona is on the wish list. Other than that I am not too sure, all those things cost money.
Your last words.
Thanks for taking the time to read what I had to say, and thank you Héctor for doing this interview. Shouts to the local boys Daniel Brown, Calvin Huth, Tyler Olson, Max Burron, Ryan Forsythe and Caleb Liggett. Thank you mom for supporting me in everything I do. Everyone who has supported or motivated me along the way it has been much appreciated. My sister Emily, Leon Thiele, Darren Berrecloth, and so many others that I have missed, I am sorry. Props to all the people getting out there and doing what they love, chasing their dreams on a daily basis. You only get one chance to do what you love, and you gotta’ take it.
Thank you Daniel, this is going to be a good one, keep doing what you do.
Make sure to follow Daniel on Instagram to see all his trail work and everything that he is up to.
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Photos by Tyler Olson & Leon Thiele