The Summer of Smiles is a summer-long festival held for young people across the city. Our resident journalist, Tomos, is reporting from the main festival site as it goes on.
I am no daredevil, but I do know a death-defying stunt when I see one. There were definitely a few of those on display in the baking heat of July!
The guys at Extreme Bike Battle were certainly up for the challenge of developing a grand routine for everyone to enjoy as the crowd gazed on in awe of what was unfolding in front of their eyes.
There were tailwhips, 360s, backflips and tricks I had never even heard of before – truly boggling the human mind.
Meet the riders
I was just in time to catch the bikers, Tom and Owen, as their last afternoon show ended, and it quickly became clear that pulling off these stunts in scorching weather is no easy task.
“The heat makes it a hell of a lot harder,” explains Owen, fresh off his mountain bike as he tries to catch his breath.
“We try to get in the shade as much as possible and the arena can be a little bit dangerous, but so long as it stays dry it should be safe for us and the people watching.”
Meanwhile, Owen was still recovering from an injury as he braced himself to launch down the ramp from the roof of the big van used to transport the bikes and all the equipment to set out the course. Although, you wouldn’t have noticed it from behind the barrier, where I was trying my hardest to get an action shot of the bikers in mid-air!
Showing them how it is done
Don’t be lulled into thinking the show is over when the lads have finished their high risk routine of effortlessly staring death in the face. Their part is just a practise run, because you are invited to have a go on the bikes when they are done!
There are bikes of all sizes, so everyone can take part, but there are slightly different rules for each type of pedal-powered menace.
Owen and Tom both ride different bikes. Tom rides the BMX, and that is the one with “the backflips and the tailwhips.” Perhaps you could say that is the ‘cool’ stuff, but the competition Owen competes in, the Mountain Bike trial, is equally demanding.
“The two bike disciplines are completely different. Trials are more static and include jumps between different heights and various gaps.” I noticed it involves a lot of wheelies. Personally, I would quite like to see Owen do some jumps on a unicycle!
Saving the best until last
The boys are at the main festival site, just outside City Hall, Cardiff, for the entire three weeks. They would love for you to come and say hello!
While they were tight-lipped about exactly what was up their sleeves for the rest of the festival, they promised us that “the best was yet to come. There’s still some more tricks!”
If you’d like to find out more about the Summer of Smiles, how you can get involved, and where to get tickets, click here.