We first saw Shanice ride when we were in Rotterdam. She was casually throwing down 360s over a hip on the street and working on ‘tuck no handers’. Intrigued, we we dispatched Saskia Haex to find out more about this Dutch wunderkind and her goal in BMX.
Hey Shanice. Good to talk to you! Let’s start with the basics. What is your name, age and location?
My name is Shanice Silva Cruz I’m 19 years old and live in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
How long have you been riding bmx and who do you ride for?
I started riding in 2006 and ride for Skateland, Rotterdam.
How did you first get into riding?
Back in 2006 I came across a DVD called Flybikes. At one point one of the riders in the movie lands a sketchy half cab and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. After seeing that I wanted to start riding bmx right away. But when I told a friend about it, his reaction was quite blunt: “Riding BMX is not for girls!”. Regardless I asked my dad if I could have a BMX instead of a mountain bike for my birthday and I got it! I wasn’t supposed to do any tricks on it at first but I did them anyway because I wanted to prove my ‘friend’ wrong. My goal when I first started out was to get better than him. And so I did.
What motivates you to ride nowadays?
Even though I’m only 19 I’ve been through a lot. Things have never been that easy with my health, family and school. BMX was, and is, an outlet for my daily struggles. When you are riding you don’t have to think about anything else. And it gives me something to look forward to.
It’s also important to motivate yourself constantly. For example when you feel you’re not progressing as much as you want to. That’s the kind of moment when it’s good to realise where you are and to look back at the things you have achieved so far. For example when I started out riding one of my goals was to learn a 360 and now i’ve actually reached that point. That feels kind of weird.
Since I stopped school, BMX has become more important than ever to me. This year is all about BMX and I want to make the most out of it. BMX is what my life is all about right now and I’m going for it 1000%. I’m even going for the harder tricks like frontflips and 360 barspins.
BMX is what my life is all about
What are your future plans?
To ride internationally on a pro level. Or to study Maths in University. Or to start my own 3-star restaurant. I set high goals for myself.
Would you like to be able to live off BMX?
Yes. The travelling and everything else about it appeals to me. But in our tiny country there is not much money to be made with riding BMX though I would love to do so. Making money with something you really love to do sounds pretty much like a dream. Plus working for a boss is just not my cup of tea.
Skateparks are often overcrowded with little kids, inliners, bmxers, skaters, scooters. And above all that there is often an audience during contests. How do you make sure you maintain your focus amidst this chaos?
Before you start to ride you wait for the right moment. And music is important too. Without music I’m am completely out of focus. But when I ride I don’t actually hear the music, I’m concentrating so hard, I only hear “10 seconds left”, “last trick” or my own name. There is nothing else on your mind except what you’re going for. You practically crawl under the skin of the trick you’re trying and ‘feel’ it before you actually do it. It’s only after you land it that you snap out of it and can see and hear all the things that are happening around you again.
How do you prepare yourself for a contest?
First I start riding the course whilst thinking of lines and tricks I could do. Before the contests starts I make up a trick list in my head. During every heat I’ll try all the tricks on that list. When I start riding in the heats I’ll go from trick to trick, super focussed. The previous trick is forgotten as soon as you land, and a new one awaits.
There are not many girls that ride freestyle BMX and even less who compete. What do you do when there are no other girls competing. Do you ride with the boys?
It depends. In The Netherlands there are no other girls to ride competitions with so I compete with the guys on Pro level. It’s only at Fise and BMX Masters that I ride with other girls.
After people see me ride, they know I’m a real rider
Which do you prefer?
Riding with the guys. The girls’ level is often somewhat lower. And I feel more challenged when riding with the guys. The higher level
makes you push yourself a little further.
How do the guys respond when you compete against them?
Well back in Rotterdam I’m just one of the guys. But I notice when riding in other places that it’s not always like that. Sometimes I’m looked down upon. But after people see me ride, they know I’m a real rider. It would be nice if guys wouldn’t judge me and just see me as a rider instead of a chick on a bike. It’s a complete opposite of the guys that I ride with. They motivate me and challenge me to get better.
As a girl you have to try even harder than them, which is tough sometimes. It used to be different: I’d get props even if I hadn’t landed a trick. There’s no way I’d get away with that now, I have to perform at their level and everyone is equal.
What’s your favourite contest?
In The Netherlands it’s Best of Blaak. It’s one of the highly sponsored competitions in our country and the title has a real value. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something if you win it. On an international level, Fise & BMX Masters. In the Netherlands there are often people from the neighbourhood in the audience watching the competition. But at international contests it’s people from the scene. Which means you really get noticed and the competition itself is more serious.
Which riders do you look up to?
Channon Balorian, Nicky van der Veen, Daniel Wedemeijer, Michael Beran, Anthony Napolitan and loads of others. I’ve actually made a YouTube list of edits I watch every day. I’ll get so hyped up I can’t even sleep after watching it. My goal is to get to that level of riding.
Aren’t you afraid of disappointing yourself if you set your goals so high?
I always set my goals high and know that I’ll never learn ALL the tricks I want to learn in a year. But I don’t overestimate myself too much. I think that setting high goals, really going for it and looking forward to new accomplishments is something I need.
Is Rotterdam a good city for riding BMX?
The scene is really nice and there is a good atmosphere. But for riding, the Westpark skatepark is just not big enough to practice pro-bmx stuff. The funbox is just far too small and all the obstacles are often super slippery. It’s just not a real bmx park in my opinion. I do practise at Skateland, the local indoor skatepark. Soon i’ll start riding in Eindhoven too because there is a new indoor BMX park opening there, 040 BMX Park.
What do you like to do when you are not on your bike?
Cooking. Facebooking. Sleeping!