The Young And the Reckless
Monday, June 23, 2008
BALTIMORE, June 22 -- What the heck, Mike Spinner decided in practice last week. Why not try the quadruple tailwhip again?
No one's ever done the trick that sends the tail of a bike spinning around the front four times, while the rider grips the handlebars and flies through the air. But minor details like that don't bother Spinner. He went for the trick, and almost landed it cleanly before his bike slid out from underneath him. At first, he didn't know if he managed to whip the bike around four times or only three.
"I didn't even know if I did it," Spinner said. "But when everyone else was just staring at me and didn't say a word, I knew. You know you're doing good when no one congratulates you."
The third-place finisher in BMX park on the final day of the AST Dew Tour's Panasonic Open at the Camden Yards Sports Complex, Spinner, 20, lives to make the tricks no one else does look easy. In just his second year as a professional, he's earned a reputation as one of the most innovative of a new generation of riders that includes the free-flowing Dennis Enarson and extremely technical Garrett Reynolds, both 17.
Veteran BMX rider Ryan Nyquist, 29, who has excelled at both dirt and park disciplines over the past 10 years, enjoys seeing what the new kids can come up with, although the natural progression of his sport can make him feel old.
"In five years, or sooner even, they'll be the guys everyone's talking about and we'll be left in the dust thinking about the good old days," said Nyquist, who finished fifth in park and took first place in dirt at the Panasonic Open.
"Look at Dennis Enarson," Nyquist continued. "He's just so well rounded in such a short time and he's established himself as a serious force in the sport. And some of the stuff Spinner does is truly mind boggling to me. I've been riding for years and he can do a lot of stuff I'd never even think about trying. It's great to see people riding at that level."
Enarson uses the entire course in an effortless manner that gives his runs a smooth appearance that few riders can achieve. He took sixth in the Panasonic Open's park finals in his second year as a professional. Reynolds missed the nine-rider cut for the final round partially because his detail-oriented style doesn't always earn high scores in traditional park-course competitions, although his technical prowess impresses peers.
While Reynolds is in his element at street-riding competitions, Enarson's performances are usually cool and easy-going as he seems to flow around the course. Spinner jokes that he has to live up to his last name, twisting and flipping his way along dizzying runs.
Back when Nyquist first started riding, doing a single tailwhip was great, a 360 awesome. But easy access to safer venues like foam pits to experiment with more complicated tricks changed action sports and catered to younger riders such as Spinner, who push the limits of the sport and physics.
Two years ago, the BMX community took note of Spinner when he threw the first ever 720 tailwhip, in which the rider and the handlebars spin twice horizontally while the back rotates another 360 degrees -- he's still the only rider to do it in competition. In 2007 he became the first to land a 1080 and six months ago completed a 720 double tailwhip, a trick that Spinner admits is more than intimidating.
"That is the hardest trick I've ever learned," Spinner said. "I don't know when I'll do that. I can do it on a real ramp but just the risk factor, there's so much gnarliness there. I'm spinning twice around. I'm spinning the bike twice around. There's so much going on that I'm scared to do that trick.
"But I know for a fact that I want to do it just so I know I pushed myself," he added. "I could pull my other tricks and probably win a contest, I might not need that trick for a while. But my biggest personal motivation is being able to do what no one else does. It's what makes me, me."
Dew Tour Notes: Attendance dropped slightly through the four days of this year's Panasonic Open as compared to the tour's first-ever visit in 2007 with 52,502 people as compared to last season's 54,907. The AST Dew Tour is scheduled to return for a third summer in Baltimore in 2008. . . . Australia's Blake "Bilko" Williams edged two-time defending FMX Dew Cup Champion Nate Adams in yesterday's finals by a point. Williams, who advanced through the tour's open-qualifying round, snagged the win at the same location where he crashed hard last year, shattering his left knee and ankle and forcing him off his bike for six months. . . . Two-time defending BMX park champion Daniel Dhers shook off a fall in his first run of the finals to win at the Panasonic Open, beating out 2005 champion Ryan Guettler, who finished second and expects to make his own push to reclaim the title this year.