Flying high with Stunt Bermuda
In middle school Trent Daniels longed to do a backflip on his dirt bike.
He even tried to do it as a physics project. “My teacher said ‘no way!’,” the Belco machinist said. “She said it was too dangerous.”
At 16, Mr Daniels got into motocross racing, but had to quit doing it seriously after a bad accident.
Now 32, he is still mad about bikes. A few months ago he and a few friends formed Stunt Bermuda, a group dedicated to promoting wheelie culture in Bermuda.
Google explains wheelie culture as: “a subculture born on the streets, where pain gets turned into creativity. It's an opportunity for riders to flaunt new tricks, make new friends, and hone their bike skills. It’s a way of life”.
Stunt Bermuda meets, informally, on Sundays. “We don’t have any structure in Stunt Bermuda yet,” he said. “People can just show up to one of our training sessions on Sundays and just jump in with us and have fun.”
On September 5, they will be putting on their first event, the All in Stunt Show at the number one car park in Hamilton.
It will include a custom bike show, a slow race, a BMX wheelie competition and BMX best trick competition with cash prizes.
Participants are urged to wear their bathing suits because the competition side of things will be done over water.
There will also be crash pads used in the competition so children will not hurt themselves.
Mr Daniels said Stunt Bermuda is trying to harness wheelie culture in the show and add more to it. “We’re trying to showcase the talent we have on the island in a positive way,” he said.
A few months ago, with help from his Stunt Bermuda friends, Mr Daniels finally did that backflip, but it took some work.
“I learnt to do it through YouTube,” he said. “I started out by building a portable ramp. I didn’t really know how to build a ramp, but I followed instructions and watched a few YouTube videos.”
He first took the ramp to a dock in Sandys, figuring that learning on water would be a lot less painful than on land.
Many people said they wanted to try the five-foot ramp when they saw it, but changed their minds when they got close to it on their bikes. Its steep grade made it intimidating.
“I built it, but I don’t know what angle it is at,” he said. “I know it is steep. I probably rode 15 times into the water before I could do a flip.
“Then I bought an inflatable landing to use on land. It is sort of like a fun castle. I crashed twice before I could do a backflip onto the landing.”
One of his more spectacular failures was featured on humorous local Instagram feed @mrfotogenik.
“I tried to do a jump on a mini dirt bike and landed upside down,” Mr Daniels laughed.
It felt great when he finally achieved his goal. “Me landing my first backflip, was amazing,” he said. “I can’t even explain the feeling.”
Mr Daniels said worldwide there is an increased interest in wheelie culture thanks to
Instagram sites such as @wheelie.fun.worldwide which have over 200,000 followers.
Now it is common to see children and adults around Bermuda trying to pop a wheelie on school fields, in traffic or in parking lots.
“Wheelie culture online has a major impact on what we do here, especially with the kids on the bicycles,” Mr Daniels said. “You see kids today doing things on bicycles that we never did when we were growing up. They are amazing.”
He said often the community reacts negatively to wheelie culture, not really understanding it.
“We get told to go outside and get away from technology, but then when we do, they call the police on us,” he said. “So far, no one has called the police on us since we’ve been jumping the ramp, but there have been other instances where people are just having fun on bikes or learning to ride bikes at fields or somewhere like that.
“The island is not geared for people that really like to do more with bikes than just ride them from point A to point B.”
Mr Daniels said it has cost them $20,000 to put the show together.
“I’ve been into bikes in some way or another for as long as I can remember and I’ve always loved stunts, wheelies and racing,” he said. “It’s not until now that I’ve decided to step out of my comfort zone, do something exciting for the island and stop saying that I wish someone else would do it.”
He is not only the promoter, he will also be in the show demonstrating his ramp and backflips.
He said ultimately, he would love to be able to teach children how to do different tricks on their bicycles.
“We can all learn together,” he said. “I am really enjoying it.”
Hosted by local social media influencer Mr Fotogenik, the All in Stunt Show will also include a demonstration by Zeb Dennis, a champion Canadian motocross and elite stunt rider.
Mr Dennis is known for a fluid style that makes jumping look effortless.
“In the last ten years wheelie culture started to catch on everywhere,” Mr Dennis said. “It is huge in Canada and really big in the US. It is pretty wild.”
In Durham, Ontario, he runs a motocross and BMX freestyle summer camp and programme called MotoPark Academy. Throughout the programme he has produced several champion motocross riders.
He was last in Bermuda in 2000 to compete in the Bermuda Motocross Club’s Champion of Champions race, held at Coney Island, St George’s.
“It was awesome,” Mr Dennis said. “After that we had a healthy following of Bermudians come to our summer camps from 2000 to 2008, and then it fizzled out.”
People interested in joining Stunt Bermuda can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or message them on Instagram @stuntbermuda.
All In Stunt Show will be held on September 5 from 12pm to 4pm in the number one car park in Hamilton. Tickets are available on www.ptix.bm, $45 general admission, $125 VIP adult tickets, $50 VIP kids, and children under four are free. VIP tickets will include two drinks, a plate of food and bleacher seating.