We got a call from Feld Entertainment, the group that runs the Supercross series. This wouldn’t normally seem odd, but it was mid-july. I know the A1 hype starts early, but July? It turned out they were calling about another event they run, their Marvel Universe LIVE! stage show. The sequel to the superhero stunt show was kicking off, and they were planning a media day just over the freeway from Anaheim Stadium, in the Honda Center (where the Anaheim Ducks play).
So we over-asked. We didn’t want to preview the show’s scene that they’d be showing that day—we wanted to test it. Fortunately, our newest associate editor, Andrew Oldar, competed in trials in the pro class, and since the heroes of the show ride trials bikes for their stunts (some people may get some enjoyment from the fact that the bad guys ride electric bikes), we had the perfect test rider to answer the question: Are the stunts in the Marvel show tough for pro-level trials competitors, are they watered way down, or are they even just something actors could learn in a weekend riding school? I’ll let you read Andrew’s test in this issue for those answers, but I will tell you getting our man onto the stage felt tougher than sneaking a factory bike out of its race rig.
Feld is a big company, and with that usually comes rules, restrictions, and an over-use of the word “no.” But they said, “Okay,” and their only initial restrictions were that Andrew couldn’t attempt two specific (and big) stunts, we’d only have one hour on stage, and our bike couldn’t have dirt on the tires. Reasonable enough so far.
We got to the Honda Center two hours early; sometimes paranoia is really just good foresight because the Honda Center was on Fort Knox lockdown even at a very lazy 9:30 on a Friday morning. We started at the security desk at the loading ramp, were sent around the arena, and then went through security’s metal detector to the security desk in a lobby…to get permission to go back to the loading ramp and drive down to drop off our trials bike and a box of tools. Then it was back around and back through the metal detector to wait.
It was like Feld was “icing the kicker,” if I can use a football metaphor in a hockey arena for a dirt bike story. When we got the okay, everything happened fast. We were rush-ushered down to the performers’ staging area where our stock Gasgas had morphed into a Marvel vehicle. We were told we couldn’t shoot any performers in costume backstage and that the interviews would start…now!
Andrew interviewed some of the stars of the show, the show tank vanished from our bike as mysteriously as it had appeared, and then Andrew suited up to ride and we all watched a few dress rehearsals of the scene. It was choreographed chaos. Every performer was either on a motor- cycle or wearing a foam costume and getting knocked over by one. Other media groups, local TV and CNN Digital, got their time to interview the performers, and we waited off in the dark edge of the arena floor, hoping we’d still get our full hour on stage.
Then we got the “go” to get on stage, and Feld disappeared— no one from Feld said a word or even peeked over to question what we were doing. We had been given the keys to the show. It was that feeling you have as a kid the first time your parents leave you home alone and in charge. It’s a good feeling that they trust you, but part of you is also thinking, “That was kinda foolish.”
With the work lights up and the house lights down, the stage had a surreal feel. And the story in this issue, with no dirt in a Dirt Rider riding feature, feels a little surreal now. But I think you’ll get a kick out of what we learned and in seeing another way talented riders are making a career out of riding dirt bikes.