Professional trail biker thrills students at Robinson field

Professional trail biker, Thomas Oehler, gets tricky during Tuesdays demonstration.

Eric Coulter

Professional trail biker, Thomas Oehler, gets tricky during Tuesday’s demonstration.

Dan Spadafora

On her first day at Grand Valley State University, freshman Sha’von Moore moves into her dorm, on the second she narrowly escapes a bicycle landing on her face.

During the week of freshman move-ins, fraternity Sigma Pi created a weeklong event offering the chance for freshman to socialize and meet other students. The main attraction came on Tuesday when the fraternity had Red Bull sponsored Thomas Oehler, a professional trail biker, come and perform tricks and jumps on his bike.

The tricks and jumps were over volunteering students and Moore, a Benton Harbor native, could not resist volunteering.

“I thought he was going to roll over me,” Moore said. “The girl next to me, he was so close to her face.”

Lying on her back, Oehler instructed Moore to keep her feet together, her arms at her sides and to not move. Moore says this was more than an eventful first few days at GVSU.

“I was shaking,” Moore said. “It was scary and he kept getting closer.”

Recruitment Director of Sigma Pi, senior Guillermo Perez says this event is to give freshman a good first experience and with the addition of Oehler the event will only be better.

“Looking back as a senior we talked about what kind of thing we wanted to see when we were freshman,” Perez said. “The key thing is that first week as a freshman is getting here and meeting people and getting to know campus. This is really a great way to socialize and start off the year.”

When Perez was offered the chance to have Oehler come to GVSU and participate in this event he jumped at the opportunity.

Originally from Austria, Oehler is traveling across the country in 30 days to perform at different universities and cities including Central Michigan University, Seattle and San Francisco to name a few.

Oehler says the crowds always love it when he jumps over people but he says these tricks can be a bit boring because the technique involved is the most basic. What Oehler says he really likes to do is jump his bike.

Oehler owns the world record for jumping his bike up 2.9 meters, which is roughly half a foot short of a basketball hoop or 10 feet.

“I love it,” Oehler said. “I had a day off yesterday and I went out riding for maybe three hours. I mean that’s what I do. For me going out and riding, that’s relaxing time.”

Since he was 12, Oehler has been riding. Today he is 28 and has stopped competing to go back and finish up his schooling. Oehler says he realizes he is an athlete and he cannot do this forever.

“The thing is I’m 28 now and I’ve got a couple more years I can do it professionally but I know I have to find my way into a serious job someday,” Oehler said. “I definitely want to stay in the business but it’s something you have to think about as a professional athlete.”

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