NASS (National Action Sports Show) Festival near Bristol is a four day festival of music, street art, BMX and skate. Think Malverns Classic for small wheels, with more bass and lasers. This year, big wheels joined the scene, in the form of a BikeLife competition in the Collective Bikes Arena.
BikeLife is a movement that’s growing among urban living youth culture, and riders typically perform impressive wheelie based tricks on BMX cruisers and mountain bikes, sometimes as part of a mass ‘ride out’. We’ve previously featured a BikeStormz ride out:
Joining the NASS festival is a big deal for BikeLife, as it gives these riders and their corner of the bike world some real recognition. We’ve seen skateboarding and BMX grow from something kids do to Olympic sports, and competing at NASS alongside these ‘official’ sports elevates BikeLife and recognises the skill and athleticism of the riders.
The Collective Bikes Arena was sponsored by Collective Bikes – a brand that us mountain bikers may not be so familiar with, but that’s very much one of the brands to be seen on in the BikeLife world. However, it wasn’t only Collective Bikes sponsored athletes taking part, and 30 riders took to the arena to compete in the Swerve and Combo competitions, progressing through qualifying rounds to finals, with cash prizes of up to £500 at stake for the top spots.
We don’t want the bike brand you ride to be a barrier to competing at the Collective Arena.Collective Bikes
‘Swerve’ involves approaching an object on one wheel, and swerving round it at the last minute. This is judged on technicality and style.
‘Combo’ is where riders are given two runs of one minute each, in which they perform the best tricks they possibly can.
Collective Bikes founder Jay Stratton explained the importance of the inclusion of BikeLife in the NASS Festival:
NASS has a BMX and Skate competition every year – this was the first time a BikeLife competition was held. It is a critical moment, as before this, competitions were only held on a street level, without prize money and the formal recognition of it being a sport. They were essentially competing at the same event as BMX Olympic gold medallists.
We have been fighting for years to get these talented young people the recognition and opportunities they deserve. To see [Bikelife] recognised as a sport for the first time at a major event like NASS is groundbreakingJay Stratton
The elevation of the BikeLife scene also gives riders a new target to aim for. Jay described how one of the parents of the competitors said that their son now understood the format and was already figuring out how to practice to a timer, making sure that all their best tricks could be linked together to meet the Combo target. The competition – and attractive prizes – give a focus to their riding, and something to train towards. Jay says this will help the riders think like athletes.
It’s always interesting to see different corners of the bike world. There are those who witnessed the birth of mountain biking… perhaps their kids are now witnessing the birth of a new bike discipline?