By Natalia Kurkova
WARSAW — The Fat & Skinny Tire Fest is a spring weekend for cycling enthusiasts that takes place in Winona Lake and Warsaw. This year the event gathered bike lovers for the 13th time. The weekend of May 20 through 22 was full of cycling activities such as road races, mountain bike races and bike tours. For the adrenaline junkies, a special treat was prepared. On Friday the Bicycle Motocross Stunt Show integrated speed, height, precision and coordination. Bikes used by BMX riders are smaller than race bikes and have no brakes. This adds to the extremity of the sport.
Among the regular pro’s of the event, this year’s sensation was the 14-year-old, Hannah Roberts, who returned from competition in Europe to show Warsaw that age is “just a number.” The returners at the show were Chase Roberts, Danny Rumple, Brandon “Wolfy” Wolferman and Rich Hoppe. Hoppe was the oldest contestant at 42, yet never lowering the standard of tricks compared to his younger comrades.
The riders would speed towards an eight-foot ramp and perform tricks starting out with single-rotation “frontflips” and “tailwhips” (the rider holds the steering tube while flipping the frame of the bike 360 degrees in the air), raising the bar higher each time to “backflips” and double-rotation, or “540 degree” flips. The outstanding balance skills of the cyclists were obvious when they rode to the top of the ramp and balanced on the front and rear wheels of the bike with both feet on the pedals. Another one of the remarkable tricks that the young riders performed was soaring above the ramp and letting go of their bikes completely, only to catch them a few seconds later and successfully landing onto the ground.
As the intensity and risk of the stunts performed by the riders increased, the mouths of the people in the crowd opened wider and their “ahhs’s” got louder. Watching people fly so high up in the air while maneuvering the metal construction was breathtaking. Not a single trick was left without applause as fans cheered for the successful landings. The mood of the event was enhanced with modern pop and alternative music.