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Julien Dupont, free in his mind

At the age of 29, Julien Dupont is possibly in the process of mastering the one move that he always found the hardest: he is settling down! The young man from Lyon acknowledges it with a note in his voice that could well be pride. He is gradually acquiring a new set of strange words: reason, organisation, management, nutrition. But rest assured, the trial freestyle rider has not deserted the ranks of reckless heroes, ever seeking to smash down barriers.
But let’s just take a moment to look at things from his parents’ perspective (as a matter of fact they were the ones who got the wheels in motion, as it were, when his father put his son on his back in a rucksack to take him on his first motorbike ride across the fields – aged 6 months...). So let’s imagine what is was like having to control this hyperactive, over-excitable kid, who never sat still, never got tired, barely ate, barely slept, who only learnt the rules in order to break them, and did everything he could to be different! Not an easy task! So what was the answer? Sport? Julien had energy by the bucket-load, but distances, balls, wheelies, exercises, training only meant anything to him in high doses.

AT THE SCHOOL OF LIFE

It was the motorbike that really got his attention, his energy - and his life. Julien, who acknowledges that he always preferred to learn at the school of life than to learn life at school, got off the academic track as quickly as he could, to go his own way on the rough tracks around Lyon. He went in for trial competitions, rode in the European and World Championships – and then gave it all up, the healthy lifestyle that high-level sport demands not quite fitting in with his teenage excesses.

So Julien jacked it all in, let himself go, and ended up a hyperactive with nothing to do, wallowing in the abyss of his own apathy. His girlfriend at the time put her foot down, and when he managed to overcome his lethargy, he realised he had unexploited riches he could tap into: his talent on the motorbike. It was at this time that the first “kamikaze style” (as he puts it) shows were being organised. It was also at this time that the first impossible moves were emerging: picked out by an organiser who challenged him to do a backflip over an artificial trailer, Julien had three months to prepare for this world first, without the slightest guarantee of success. But he did it. It worked. And it was such a success that over the course of a year he became famous in freestyle for doing this move. Before dropping out again through lack of challenge.

DRIVEN BY INNOVATION

When all is said and done, it is innovation that motivates him, and so Julien used his talent to further his ambitions: he started “street trial”, and made his first film which caused a sensation on Youtube, in all its glory. The video was awarded 4th best sports video of the year in the Youtube awards.

So Julien creates. He invents. He uses his accelerator the way others use a paintbrush. He masters, one after the other, a whole load of tricks borrowed from BMX: the wall ride, the fly on motorbike, which he performs in urban settings, and especially on the edge of steps; he made a huge impression when he performed the fly on a 12-metre wall, going down, in Barcelona. He also invented the 360 flat on a motorbike, which he explains thus: “Down in 4th, then 180 degrees on the front wheel, and finish with 180 degrees on the back wheel. I am still amazed the bike can cope doing this move…” The landings in reverse he could do in his sleep, with his hands behind his back. He has the backflip trial down to perfection, and is the pioneer in Europe of the 360° in trial…

« RIDE THE WORLD »


In is not surprising that, if he cannot truly extend himself to the full in purely sports competition, all this talent has found expression through the media. TV and the internet are lapping it up, and freestyle DVD watchers just can’t get enough. So Julien films a lot and has invented his concept, “Ride the world”. Under this banner is a whole series of videos combining culture and sport – a kind of cross between “Round the world in 80 days” and “Nitro Circus”. His idea is to offer different freestylers the chance to introduce the culture of the country visited through their sport. Ride the world, is also a road movie to come out on DVD in the autumn, giving both live action and a voice-off documentary look at a year’s worth of travelling around the globe. And it is also a brand of clothing for those who – gosh! – can’t be doing with rules. Soon the concept will incorporate a production, communications and freestyle events company too.
So is Julien Dupont really the good boy now? “I have a completely split personality”, he tries to explain. “I am Aries, very driven, which is what you have to be to climb the roof of CNIT in La Défense, or do things that are completely improvised, and sometimes really dangerous. But I am also Cancer, quite often a bit of a dreamer, and always very aware of my inner feelings.” But the stars haven't yet answered the fundamental question that underlies the key moments in his life: what is he really running after?
“I don't really know, because I have always been running. When I was a kid, I took crazy risks. I really frightened my parents. Now that I have calmed down, I am facing the real battle, because being calm is not in my nature, but it is what I need to do.” Perhaps what Julien has really been looking for is just freedom?