Trevor Bodogh looks back on 13 months with the Montreal-based company
Cirque du Soleil cyclist Trevor Bodogh
The call came on a winter day in 2016. Trevor Bodogh was in. After four years of trying, the Ontario cyclist’s dream of riding for the most famous circus company in the world was finally becoming a reality.
By October of that year, Bodogh was riding his trials bike onto the hallowed stage at Cirque du Soleil’s Montreal training ground. “It felt like a dream to have my tires on a Cirque stage,” Bodogh said. “It felt that way every time I rode out toward the audience with the music thundering behind me.”
The 31-year-old recently wrapped up a year-long stint with Cirque’s latest touring show, Volta, which featured a variety of extreme sports and played on a round stage under a massive big top. Volta’s 2017 tour included stops in Montreal, Gatineau and Toronto before heading off to Miami in mid-december.
Unfortunately for Bodogh, his trials riding was one of a handful of acts that wasn’t selected to continue with Volta as the producers shifted the show’s focus before launching the U.S. tour. But for the St. Catharines native, being part of the intense world of Cirque du Soleil was an incredible learning experience.
“It requires just about every human skill you can summon, from fear management to injury prevention to body and sleep management, professionalism, communication and problem solving,” he said, adding that working with a large cast of artists with varied cultural backgrounds and personality types was also informative. “Basically, you’re ready for anything after Cirque life.”
Leading up to the Volta debut in early 2017, Bodogh worked with a team of acrobatic and artistic co-ordinators to fine-tune his one-man, five-minute trials riding act. As the show’s year-long run went on, his act evolved as he added new elements to the performance. During his segment, Bodogh made use of both the flat stage and a large hydraulic three-level platform that rose up from the stage’s centre.
While the individual acts aren’t particularly long, the amount of training and preparation that takes place before each show is intense. Bodogh would typically arrive at the Cirque big top shortly after lunch each day for an earlyafternoon training session on the main stage. For an 8 p.m. show, the performers eat at 5 p.m., start makeup by 6 p.m. and costume and stretching by 7 p.m. The show is done by just after 10 p.m., and Bodogh arrives back home by 11:30 p.m.
The trials bike Bodogh rides is a Crewkerz. He has both a primary and a backup always ready to go. “Should anything happen on stage like a flat tire or broken chain, you run to the side stage and grab the spare from a coach standing by,” he said.
As for what comes next, Bodogh said he’ll likely go back to doing what he had been doing before Cirque du Soleil came calling: using his skills on the bike to teach life lessons.
After honing his skills on the streets of the Niagara region, Bodogh was encouraged and supported by friends, family and sponsors to turn his hobby into a profession. He started putting on demonstrations at a local bike shop, high schools and colleges “to target the students who felt like me at that life stage: uninspired, unmotivated, detached or unaware of the words ‘passion, practice and perseverance.’”
“Trials biking is one of the most fulfilling ways to experiencing a bicycle because you don’t simply get on and start riding. There are hundreds of hours dedicated to learning,” said Bodogh, who also put on demo rides at the Toronto International Bike Show for six years. “It’s a complete mental and physical investment. You deal with extreme risk, which helps break down other barriers in life.”
In addition to resuming his demo rides, Bodogh wants to share his bike-handling skills with the larger mountain bike community to help people have more fun on the bike and increase their competitive skills. “The movements seem mesmerizing and impossible to some, but they’re completely teachable,” Bodogh said. “Once you start learning one trick, it feeds into the next, which gives the rider limitless options for fun while riding, and increased levels of safety and bike handling.”