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Join UsGravity Defiants
ESPN is set to cash in on sports of the "extreme" variety. Believing the next wave of advertising dollars will come from fans living on the edge, if not just vicariously, ESPN has invested millions to broadcast everything related to adrenaline rushes and the latest new tricks. Gone are the days of your basic whitewater excursions, bungee jumps and shark dives. Hello to adventure confident (even brash), skilled, unfathomable sports enthusiasts questing life as an occupation. Extreme sports can be found at every turn and twist. Clubs are formed, magazines written, nutrition studies researched, camps conducted all in the interest of pushing whatever interest you have, to the absolute limits.

Our two-wheel passion hasn’t been sidestepped. With the extreme bike tricks, stunts and experimentation gaining momentum wherever and whenever two or more are gathered, promoters stand eager. Locally, Grand Prairie hosted an exhibition of motocross madness broadcast nationwide. Cleveland will be home to the Gravity Games, a nine-day sports event bringing boards, wheels and championship stunts of courage and drama into the mainstream.

The Gravity/X Games are the highest-rated, best-attended action sports, music and lifestyle events in the world. The X-type attractions gain more television viewers than any other action sports contest. Entering its fourth year, the Games will feature more than 250 of the world's best professional action sports athletes competing in Freestyle BMX, Freestyle Motocross, Street Luge, Skateboarding, Inline and Wakeboarding events. In the heart of the action is an interactive festival village, which features something for everyone including live concerts from some of today's top bands, the latest in action sports equipment and fashion, interactive demos and athlete autograph sessions.

NBC will broadcast 10 hours of XGames competition this Fall in addition to an extensive international television schedule. Last year's coverage garnered 2 Emmy nominations for NBC Sports.

The Gravity Games is jointly owned through a strategic partnership between PRIMEDIA (NYSE: PRM), the leading targeted media company, Octagon, the global sports marketing arm of The Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) and NBC Sports.

For more information on the Gravity Games log on to www.gravitygames.com.

What started locally with Sportbikehype’s Patrick Stephens and his personal contest notoriety…has exploded into World Competitions and a summer tour contract. Team rider, Greg "Wheelie" Fowler, recently trophied his personal best with a 41 and _ mile continuous wheelie.

BGR may have found their entertainment in Patrick and Greg. Dallas-area strunt groups, very possibly gained their inspiration from the talents and skills exhibited by Britain’s Craig Jones, Jake Semtex from the UK, Aussie Robert Jones, Antonio Carlos Farias of Brazil, Magnus Carlson from Sweden or Quebec’s Benoit Bouchard. Undoubtedly, all found motivation from the original motorcycle stunt rider, Liverpool’s Gary Rothwell. Holder of seven world records, including the 13 person wheelie…It’s Gary we have to thank, or maybe, to blame.

Can-do students-of-the-stunt are some of the bravest people around. Defying the laws of physics, riders challenge the pavement to ride on the brink of insanity in an endless frenzy to continuously one-up the next guy. Their world consists of innovative tricks, long endos and immensely creative riding style.

Before the stunt, there exists a stigma -- a sort of prejudiced division identifying which class one belongs. One person will portray this world written by script, marked by a series of do-overs. For America, this is where it began, in Hollywood. The chases, the crashes, the death-defying antics were all part of a bigger picture, the silver screen. Here the stunts are meticulously broken down into film slide segments to get the precise shot to achieve the desired audience reaction. Team X-Treem’s Todd Colbert educated the world on the proper way to ride in Mission Impossible 2.

Another person may express their 2-wheeled world in terms of a serious occupation, depicting aspects of a business plan. All educated logic says we shouldn’t be doing this. Employing our mechanical engineering and vehicle dynamics lessons with the latest technology maximizes our machine. Combine that with rigorous athletic conditioning; specialized sports and arts disciplines, good nutritional and health habits for maximum strength and endurance. Time to draw on a choreographer and a music technician/DJ to exploit Las Vegas and major sporting tour circuits. Ball of Steel stunt brothers in their mid-teens pilot a visual spectacle of light and open throttle action riding dirt bikes inside an 18 foot steel globe. A sound-show-theatre-experience leaving audiences awestruck nationwide.

Danny

The 90’s grunge thing merged with rap and set the extreme world on fire. With its raw taste for the do-it-at-all-costs persona, Street Stunts did a 12 o’clock down Main Street. Stunt emerged a lifestyle, taking it to the next level – an interim plateau for the adrenaline junkie.

Illustrated by their shiftless lifestyles, funky clothing and fur-covered motorcycles – Akron, Ohio introduced the world to notorious idols while confusing preschoolers with their spelling. The Starboyz, a radical trio of entrepreneurial measure, thrilled audiences along the East Coast. Then it all broke loose…Las Vegas Extremes, Wheelie Boyz, MI Extremes of Florida, FBI and Underground Riders, Vermont’s Green Mountain Outlaws, Evasive Action, Orlando Street Riders, Chain Gang, Boston Boyz, Driving to Endanger, D-Aces. Most descriptive of the outlaw mentality came in the name of Ten Ninety 6…the penal code section referring to the guilt of a suspect that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. By role of moral seediness, the groups that introduced the craze, ultimately may bring about its demise. These fanatic culture vultures are the new breed of rock and roll outlaws. Derived of oppression and allied with darkness, death and absolute evil, their media driven characters epitomize the apparition of rebellion, personified by callow, pubescent defiance – an image that repeats itself each generation.

If you draw a line from Gene Vincent, through Jim Morrison and then project it to present day, you arrive at the hardcore mutations of local teams: 820 Boys, XtremeChaos, Sportbikehype, and Strictly Vertical having traded in their black leather jackets for faux fur costumes, taking the rock star image to a minimalist extreme.

 

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Special-effects-shoot-‘em-up cinema attractions is about the extent of the general public’s awareness of motorcycle talent…with the exception of what the vehicular population gets a dose of in their daily commute…the wheelies in congested traffic lanes, the damage and destruction as a result of sidewalk or parking lot riding and the injuries. Individually, when riding on public property it is our personal responsibility to ride within reasonable, appropriate and acceptable standards as set within the governing jurisdiction we are riding in, both in the state and outside the state. On private property the guidelines may be less restrictive. Many of the uneducated public might be impressed, entertained and more inclined to support the stunt riders if the activity was presented in a positive and safe venue..

WOWD/FW based Point of Balance is a skilled team of professionals that master their technique for coordinated exhibitions. They are reputable mom and pop types that respect their sport for the athletic ability it demands. Fitness training, superb bike maintenance and stage presence are equally important in their repertoire. Their extensive training routines and rehearsals are conducted in safe venues utilizing protective gear. Their efforts include exhibitions at fairs and race events to introduce stunt riding to the general public. After having called or contacted almost every stunt team in the United States, I found out that Point of Balance is the only stunt team in America to have performed their show at a church event!

All stigmas between the various riders worlds disappears once the first wheel comes off the ground. The worlds become one and the show begins. For the stunt rider, it’s as much about the execution of the stunt as it is a performance for the crowd.

Wheelies are done by powering on the throttle control, or by dumping the clutch on less powerful bikes. The faster the wheelie, the greater the wind – so you go really easy on the gas. Because it isn’t spinning, getting the tire down at these high speeds causes it to squeal and smoke like an airplane tire.

One-handed variety, legs over the handlebar, even performing wheelies on frozen rivers – wheelies are always guaranteed applause getters. The UK’s Kevin Carmichael goes a step further by completely removing the front end of his bike. Yes, it is appropriate to stand and clap for such a trick. If it seems motorcycle shops sell stunt videos from everyone that has attempted a wheelie, you are probably on to something. Scott Harmon’s site www.stunters.com rates the latest and greatest tapes on the market.

To get a public audience into a roaring chorus of Bravos, you might try a stoppie. They are done by pulling in the front brake to compress the suspension until the rear tire comes off the ground. It is impressive to think that the front tire can support not only the static load, but also the bike and braking force as well.

To learn more about the specifics on these basic stunts, visit www.garyrothwell.com for detailed lesson instructions. He’s the guy with the Busa – maybe that’s why I’m a fan!

When you are ready to get serious…initially, I’d avoid the freeways. Tricking off on the highway definitely adds a serious measure of danger to the stunt and the audience notoriety drops sharply – especially for the beginning student. Instead consider learning the impressive stuff at a track day. Dave Begotka holds them around the country. For $200 you get the chance to ride in a safe, controlled environment without the distraction of traffic, people complaining about the noise or police chasing you through your routine. The classes are taught by National Champions and divided into skill levels emphasizing safety and good riding technique. Hummmm, might that be an oxymoron? Similar to the definition of why so many stunt riders carry this passion…because they have complete freedom and ultimate control at the same time?! That one is good enough for several sessions with a good psychologist.

Once you’ve learned the jargon, have become completely vertical and able to differentiate between a biscuit eater, a flamingo and a high chair, it might be your turn to become the next Ambassador for the Sport by participating in a local competition.

Like most fashion trends making their way to the United States, Motorcycle Stunt Riding Championships, too, came from across the pond – specifically, Edinburgh. Presently, Canada hosts the stunt riding elite in what has become one of North America’s largest events. As sponsorship is catching on in the US; Todd Colbert’s Florida Stunt Fest, gave the world a safe stage to perform on. Here’s an opportunity to view guys like Dave Coates from the UK riding backwards at 145.6mph for the world’s record.

Once you’ve succeeded at an individual level, it is time to introduce this activity to an assistant. Preferably someone you can fight with regularly, a spouse or significant. (I’m kidding – don’t send me e-mails.) Two shall become one takes on a whole new meaning. Richard Bak from Canadian Chaos reminds us, "it’s one thing to be doing these stunts with yourself at the controls, and quite another to trust someone to do it while you hang on." It’s depending on each other to achieve the control, balance and agility to become a Todd and Lori, or a Gary and Joan.

Equally important is a locale, a hang, where riders can work out. With every sport, there is usually an associated field, court, course or track. Until Tony Hawk blew us away, we hadn’t even heard of skate parks. Now Van’s is working on building one at Grapevine Mills Mall. With stunt riding limited previously to Hollywood, the need arises for an appropriate and safe venue. All riders know that consistent practice is what every rider needs and a private location is a way to make it happen and stay in a positive light with the authorities and public alike.

POB

There is a fine line between heroics and insanity. The sport is hard on the body and the equipment. Riding that line has its downside of crashes, cops, injured bodies and broken bikes. Stunts become challenges and sometimes the challenge is the cost to repair the CBR 900s and GSXR 750s. Motorcycle techs, good dealer and sponsor relationships become vital teammates. www.empiregp.com has answered this question with affordable motorcycle plastic welding and tank repair.

The BlueGooseRiders support the positive inroads being made by our associated stunt riders and salute your efforts to promote the sport. The future will highlight the best amalgamation between technology and art. You, the riders, will lead the way through experience and innovation.

I want to thank Patrick Stephens, Danny Stafford and the Xtremechaos.com members for initiating me into your world of Stunt Riding passion; answering my naïve questions, introducing the players and teaching me enough to paragraph through this article.

 
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