If I could, I would submit a blank sheet of paper as my write up for this weekend’s festivities because I actually don’t have the words to explain how amazing and surreal my experience with Red Bull X-Fighters was. I will start by saying that living it up the last two days with the top names in the freestyle motocross industry has been like living on a Hollywood movie set. I was a part of everything; the glitz, the glam, the five-star hotels and even the amazing chocolate pudding.
Now, motorbikes and ramps have never ever really been my thing (unless you count that one time I rode my skateboard down a hill). With that in mind, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel Friday morning. When I arrived, I was welcomed with a can of Red Bull (“There’s a fridge to your left. Please help yourself to as many Red Bulls as you’d like”) and was told to grab a seat as we waited for the press conference to begin. Another first for me was sitting in on that press conference and that’s where the movie-set feeling first started. We then progressed to a tour around the grounds where it was explained that the track in the final leg of the tour here in sunny South Africa was, by far, the largest track the organisers of X-Fighters have ever created. With the 50th anniversary of the event happening at such an iconic location and with Nelson Mandela’s outstretched arms almost egging us on, I think the atmosphere was one of extreme anticipation. I think what else also really caught me was the professionalism of the whole setup. Red Bull, the Sheraton Hotel, the media crew and even the athletes themselves just seemed to have all their ducks in a row, this air of cool collection, and it was simply incredible working in and amongst them.
The actual event on Saturday was a high-paced blur. The opening ceremony was quite the spectacle with everything from local dancers to chiefs with amazing headrests. The athletes obviously pulled out all the stops in order to wow the crowd and not least of all, the judges. With the favourite to win the 2014 tour, Levi Sherwood, having fallen out in the qualifiers on Friday (he actually had quite an accident), it was pretty much open playing field for the competition’s winner and Australia’s Josh Sheehan. Sheehan managed to pull off a double back flip, not once but THREE times in the entire competition. Now if you’ve ever seen someone do a back flip with a motorbike and noticed how awesome it was, just try and imagine DOUBLE that amount of awesome. It’s no easy feat, I can tell you. I walk away from this weekend’s event a changed man. I learnt a lot, met some pretty incredible people and I can just about say I was on set with some Hollywood stars (almost).