Bike 2001
Report from UK Ambassador, Paul Thomson

Other Perspectives

For UK trials riders there is only one show worth attending each year: the Bike show organised by the company behind MBUK magazine. Since the beginning in 1995, the trials demos at Bike have been hugely popular with the crowds. Headed by the ever present Martyn Ashton and Martin Hawyes, each year has seen bigger and more challenging shows, from the gallery drop at Olympia, to the speed trials events at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. In a change to recent years the speed trials format was dropped in favour of a more traditional demonstration event; huge logs, stacks of railway sleepers and concrete piping with a backdrop of a few hundred screaming fans made for some of the best riding yet. Four shows per day, each lasting up to 40 minutes proved a huge improvement over the five minute BMX sprint of last years speed-trials contest plus it gave each rider a chance to shine at their chosen discipline and play to their strengths. The finale of each show was a gap jump competition to really prove the riders abilities - the winning gaps were often in excess of 10 feet. Impressive!

In keeping with recent tradition, the usual UK riders were joined by some international superstars from abroad. The 9 rider line up represented a good mix of styles and introduced some new faces to the UK audience. Martyn Ashton and Martin Hawyes have been the focus of attention at Bike since the start, and simply get better each year. UK Champion Chris Akrigg, riding for Pace, and Pashley's Eddie Tongue have been demonstrating their unique styles for a number of years, helped by huge audience support. British junior number 2, Kris Leeson was present, riding the latest product of his father's engineering firm, the Leeson 660 (see photos for more details) - expect to see great things from Kris in the near future. Ex BIU world stock champion Petr Kraus, riding for team Animal Orange and the amazing Thibuat Marriaux have always proved popular, even with the xenophobic UK crowds. Two riders new to the UK were the Brisa professionals, Shaun Miller and Nelson Reis, accompanied by Brisa owner and all round nice guy Roger Rodriguez. For many, this was the first time they'd seen what a mod bike is capable of, and what better introduction than seeing Nelson Reis ride.

Martyn and Martin have been perfecting their shows for years and their performances were pretty flawless. Chris Akrigg's BMXy style and general aggressiveness is always impressive - the UK champion looked to be on good form even if demos are not his style. Thibaut looked slightly under par at last years event - speed trials doesn't seem to be his strength. This year he appeared much happier. Trying every line possible, his smoothness really has to be witnessed first hand to be appreciated - no matter how difficult the move, there is nothing but silence from his machine.

The Brisa guys really did steal the show though - particularly Nelson. Highlights for me were seeing him gap from a stack of concrete pipes right over the barrier to the feet of the audience (you'll have to wait for Roger's video of that one); dropping from front wheel off the 8 foot pipes and generally making the others look a little stupid. Just to prove it was Nelson not the mod bike, Bikedock, the UK Brisa importers, built up a B26 for his Sunday performances. 20 or 26 inch, Nelson was unbeatable.

Some negative points though - show security seem to be getting more and more anal each year - they threatened to throw Nelson out for his leap over the barrier. Health and safety concerns were totally unfounded; no one besides Nelson was in any danger and the crowd, as ever, are blown away by these things. For me, this was the most impressive piece of trials I'd seen in ages - trials riding is all about pushing the limits and there was more than a little sour grapes from some of the other riders. Anyone with any complaints should remember the Sheffield indoor moto-trial where the riders entered the arena by riding down the steps between the audiences seats - I don't remember signing any disclaimer form to sit in the audience, or even being told this was going to happen. I suppose it's only to be expected of people with no interest in extreme sports or even cycling.

Besides that, and the fact that the rest of the show was as boring as ever (but hey trials riders are only interesting in one thing right?) the experience was positive. Shouts go out to the UK Brisa importers, Bikedock, for their generous hospitality; Bikedock seem to be rapidly turning into the premier distributor of exciting biketrial exotica in the UK, so remember to support and reward their hard work!

See you next year!

Photos of Bikes and People with Descriptions

Trials Demo Photos from Mart Spain