Todd Edenborough of Australia performs a Superman seat grab trick high above the ramp Thursday during the Mega Jump Action Sports Experience show in the East Entertainment Area at the State Fair in Grand Island.
“We might learn a trick — like the X-up where you crank the handlebars all the way around — and then build off of it,” said Dustin Grice, one of the riders who have been showing their stuff about three or four times a day in the East Entertainment Area. Each show is about 20 minutes long.
They advertise having the largest jump in the industry, “giving our riders the airtime they need to attempt the most dangerous tricks at perilous heights.”
The audience gasped as the riders completed stunts such as an aerial high-five, a “tail whip flip” and a backwards flip.
Grice is 28 and has been riding and doing tricks for about 15 years. The ages of the riders at the fair range from 11 to 47.
Eleven-year-old Dallas Light from St. Cloud, Minn., began racing bikes when he was about 4 years old and by age 7 or 8 took to the ramp to do tricks.
“He was already comfortable going fast,” Grice explained, adding that he is one of the youngest stunt riders in any of the traveling shows around the country.
The group at the State Fair also has one of the oldest stunt riders in Mark Lukens, who is 47.
“He is one of the oldest people to do a back flip on a bike,” Grice said, adding that the riders don’t complete the stunts every time. “They are experienced to know when it feels wrong.”
He said that, rather than risk getting hurt, the riders may abort a stunt and try again, although they do fall a time or two.
“That is part of our sport. You fall, but you get back up,” Grice said, explaining that the rubber mat on their jump is made of a material that allows their bike tires to grip it, but is soft when they fall. He said aside from a few bruises and scrapes, they have never gotten seriously injured during a show.
He admitted the heat has been a little intense, but they bring in a big bag of ice each morning for their drinks and spend their time when they aren’t performing in the shade or one of the air-conditioned buildings around the fairgrounds.
Grice said the Nebraska State Fair is one of their longer events. Most of the time they work at smaller fairs and have shows for three or four days at a time around the Midwest.
Only a handful of spectators were at the early show Thursday morning, but Grice said the two days of Nebraska’s Biggest Classroom produced some of their largest — and loudest — audiences.
“The riders feed off the audience’s energy,” Grice said, adding that it was a lot of fun to perform for such enthusiastic crowds. “The kids were going nuts. As long as the crowd is into it, these riders will keep going.
Mega Jump’s shows will be at 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Friday.
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