Want to cycle for adventure? Watch Greg Illingworth and Paul Ryan do stunts on the new Mongoose BMX bikes
The skin around Greg Illingworth's knees bear permanent scars. “It is the result of 13 years of stunt biking,” says the 25-year-old South African, who is a trusted and respected ambassador of Mongoose BMX bikes. His official brief involves promoting BMX (bike motocross) as a sport in countries that are yet to warm up to leisure cycling, let alone extreme cycle racing. He has an ally in 23-year-old Paul Ryan from England, who is equally experienced and works towards the same goal.
The duo, which is touring the country as part of “The Mongoose BMX Street Promo 2012”, being organised by T1 Cycles of India and CRX Sports — will perform gravity-defying stunts at Express Avenue mall on Saturday.
To give an inkling of what will unfold at the mall, Greg and Paul leap and swirl with their bikes and they appear to have scant regard for the laws of nature. While the onlookers are worried for their safety, the two cyclists bound over flower pots, and ‘fly' close to lamp posts as if these are the most natural things to do. None of the open-eyed spectators knows their bikes have no brakes. “Some BMX riders prefer bikes that are fitted with brakes. Others don't,” says Greg matter-of-factly.
They, however, have the humility to admit that they also take tumbles and suffer serious injuries. “I have had a collar bone fracture and battered knees,” says Paul. “I am just back from an injury that kept me out of action for weeks,” says Greg. “It's hard when you are nursing an injury: that's when you most want to go riding.”
Both know their stunt skills come with a shelf life and anticipate the day when their reflexes will be slower and they have to bow and make their exit from their sport. “When I am too old for these stunts, I will begin to give my undivided attention to my BMX store in South Africa. One more store — this time in England — is on the cards.” Paul is trained in carpentry and he will turn to the trade after his retirement from BMX cycling.
Until then, life will move in leaps and bounds for these youngsters.