Bike show entertains crowd with its tricks

Kids love the Flowriders.

Skilled mountain bikers — Frankie Vass (top) of the Flowriders freestyle team prepares for his landing

Skilled mountain bikers — Frankie Vass (top) of the Flowriders freestyle team prepares for his landing

Kids love the Flowriders.

They were amongst the large crowds magnetized to them during the 64th annual Peach Festival at Okanagan Lake Park. And why not. The professional riders ventured with their bikes on narrow wooden paths, went air borne thanks to mini and large ramps, did flips and tricks.

Andrew Baker, a rider with the Flowriders the last seven years, said one of the things he loves about doing the tricks is how people look at them as “total freaks.”

Baker said some of his professional colleagues won’t even dare doing the things they do on the homemade course.

“I don’t know many guys that would be willing to try this,” said Baker, following a Friday afternoon show. “I have got guys that make their entire living riding bikes, who I ask to give it a try, and say you couldn’t pay me enough to even walk on that let alone ride my bike down it. It’s kind of cool. It doesn’t really bug me to ride this stuff much anymore.”

Flowriders was created by Dan Cowan, known as Dangerous Dan, as the North Shore Mountain Bike Club in 1998. Before the creation of the association, there was no voice for biking in the Lower Mainland.

The Flowriders had Mike Laudrum, Baker and Frankie Vass, showing off their skills. Baker, 28, has been riding bikes competitively since he was four.  His resume entails competing on the World Cup circuit and at the world championships.

“I got tired of the competitive aspect of racing so much and got more into freestyle BMX and then transferred over to freeride mountain biking,” said Baker, who grew up in Edmonton. “Then went pro as a freeride mountain biker. I have been doing mountain biking for 10 years.”

Vass has been riding for 10 years and doing the shows with the Flowriders for two. He moved out west because he knew B.C. is known for its riding. He then connected with Flowriders through Baker.

“It’s nice to be in front of a crowd every now and again,” said Vass, who is from London, Ontario. “It’s also nice to ride these ramps, it’s fun. It’s just good all-around.”

Midway through the Friday afternoon show, as Vass was going to ride the narrow path and take the small jump, his chain snapped. That prevented him from being able to do too much until their evening show that day.

“That’s the worst case scenario because when your chain snaps you usually go over the bars,” said Vass. “If you go over the bars from 12 feet high you are not going to get up from that. I really lucked out.”

The riders do bring extra parts with them, but they also will pick up what they need at a local bike shop wherever they are visiting. Baker said, bike shops tend to have the parts from the professional companies they ride for. While in Penticton, the riders went to the Bike Barn and got what they needed after introducing themselves.

Following the shows, the riders interact with the crowd.

“It inspires them (kids) to go out and build some jumps and get into the sport,” said Vass. “People usually like back flips so they comment on that. It’s pretty eye appealing.”

Some may think a no fear approach is what’s needed to do the tricks the Flowriders do, but the opposite is true.

“The fear keeps you on edge,” said Baker. “It keeps you focused. An old saying in BMX is always, if you don’t get butterflies before a race, you should just quit racing right then.”

He still gets nervous before shows.

“Our energy level is definitely fueled by the crowd,” he added. “How much they cheer. The more they cheer the more they are enjoying the show. We really appreciate them cheering.”

For video coverage of their performance, check and click on story link.


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