Mar­vel Uni­verse LIVE! Age of He­roes is a stage show that brings Spi­der-man, the Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy to­gether to stop Loki from try­ing to take over and rule the uni­verse. The show is put on by Feld En­ter­tain­ment, the same com­pany that owns and runs Monster En­ergy Su­per­cross, Am­soil Are­nacross, and Monster Jam, and maybe not too co­in­ci­den­tally the Mar­vel show in­cor­po­rates mo­tor­cy­cles in the sto­ry­line.

When Feld in­vited us to come check out the show, we did one bet­ter—we got Feld to let us join in and eval­u­ate how hard the show’s stunts re­ally are. I was given the as­sign­ment be­cause the show in­cor­po­rates tri­als bikes, and I com­peted in tri­als from the age of seven un­til I was 20 (the last three years in the Pro class).

We were shown a com­pli­cated scene, and I was told I would not be al­lowed to at­tempt two of the stunts—the back­flip and the 14-foot splat­ter—and that was just fine with me. The bike I rode was a Gas­gas TXT Rac­ing 300, the same brand, model, and en­gine size of bike the Mar­vel per­form­ers ride. How­ever, each of their bikes are painted a dif­fer­ent color, have large (fake) gas tanks, and a small seat to go along with the comic book world theme of the show. I also didn’t wear one of the show cos­tumes, and I got “work lights” so I had good light­ing for my ride. I had ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the stage and first­hand ad­vice from the Cap­tain Amer­ica and Spi­der-man per­form­ers.

The cen­ter­piece of the stage has stairs at the end and a hidden tram­po­line on each side of the base, which I was warned to avoid. A ramp on each side of the up­per stage al­lows the rid­ers to get up onto it, plus there is also

a 5-foot-tall ramp at cen­ter left stage, a few ramps cen­ter stage, and a freestyle ramp at the back right area that Cap­tain Amer­ica and Black Widow use to launch up to a 14-footh­igh door­way. This ramp is also where Spi­der-man does a back­ward rolling nose wheelie. The freestyle ramp, stage, and floor all had ex­cel­lent trac­tion; the stage sparkles with a ma­te­rial re­sem­bling clear skate­board grip tape laid over it. I’m not sure I could spin the rear wheel even if I tried. This made do­ing wheel­ies and other ma­neu­vers eas­ier and more pre­dictable than nor­mal.

The first ob­sta­cle we started with was a rolling 180 nose wheelie. Clark My­ers, who plays Cap­tain Amer­ica, ex­plained to me that in ad­di­tion to do­ing to the stunt prop­erly, the ob­jec­tive is to land the rear wheel as close to the stage’s bar­rier as pos­si­ble for dra­matic ef­fect. Clark did the stunt first and made it look easy. I got the nose wheelie down fine, but my rear wheel landed about 5 feet away from the bar­rier. Af­ter a few more tries, I was able to get my rear wheel within about a foot of it. I’d rate this trick as some­thing the av­er­age ex­pert tri­als rider could do but with an added de­gree of dif­fi­culty for the pre­ci­sion.

Next I tried a 1-footer off the 5-foot-tall ramp. Dur­ing the show, an­other per­former is stand­ing on the side of the jump and the rider pre­tends to kick them off of it. Clark ex­plained to me that it’s im­por­tant to do the 1-footer a lit­tle late in or­der to not ac­tu­ally touch the other per­former. I tried the jump first with­out the 1-footer, which proved to be pretty easy. The 1-footer wasn’t too hard ei­ther, but I over­jumped a lit­tle bit on my sec­ond try. I got it down pretty well af­ter that though. Clark then sug­gested I tie the two ob­sta­cles to­gether as they do in the show. Land­ing from the rolling 180 nose wheelie made the 1-footer jump a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult, but I was able to com­plete both stunts with no prob­lems. I’d rate this as an in­ter­me­di­ate level of tri­als skill but, again, with some ex­tra dif­fi­culty thrown in be­cause the stunt-tim­ing of the kick is crit­i­cal.

Troy “Smallz” Neault, who plays Spi­der-man, demon­strated the next three stunts. The first was a 90-de­gree rolling nose wheelie im­me­di­ately fol­lowed by a 270-de­gree cir­cle wheelie—in the show Spi­der-man uses this move to knock over sev­eral of the bad guys. The rolling nose wheelie re­quired me to land my rear wheel about 90 de­grees from where I be­gan. This part of the stunt wasn’t that dif­fi­cult, but it was tough to go straight into a wheelie im­me­di­ately af­ter land­ing. The cir­cle wheelie wasn’t too bad ei­ther, es­pe­cially be­cause I was able to put my left foot on the ground to help me bal­ance while do­ing it (this is way eas­ier than do­ing this with­out touch­ing the ground). The front wheel cross-up at the end for a fi­nal “punch” at a bad guy was sim­ple enough as well. This stunt would be a lot more dif­fi­cult with ac­tual per­form­ers nearby forc­ing the po­si­tion of the wheels, but over­all this stunt wasn’t wildly chal­leng­ing; I’d say it’s some­thing most ex­pert-level com­pet­i­tive tri­als rid­ers could pull off.

The fourth stunt I tried was a nose wheelie roll­back down the freestyle ramp. Troy did it a cou­ple of times to give me a proper demon­stra­tion. He rode his front wheel to the very top of the ramp and popped a huge nose wheelie and rolled back down the ramp all on his front wheel. He did it per­fectly time af­ter time, but I knew it was go­ing to be su­per dif­fi­cult. Troy ad­vised me to throw my weight as far for­ward as pos­si­ble to get the nose wheelie up and mod­u­late the front brake on my way down. He also told me it took him six months of work­ing on it every day to mas­ter it. In­ter­est­ingly, he learned this for the fun of it be­fore he knew he was go­ing to be in the show. This was def­i­nitely the most in­tim­i­dat­ing stunt for me; I could po­ten­tially go face first into the ex­panded metal sur­face of the freestyle ramp. Need­less to say, I was glad to be wear­ing a full-face hel­met! My first few tries were just to feel it out. My nose wheel­ies got pro­gres­sively big­ger as I at­tempted it a cou­ple more times, but I couldn’t find the bal­ance point of be­ing able to main­tain the nose wheelie and roll back at the same time. It was ex­tremely tough. I ended up just do­ing a nose wheelie and let­ting my rear wheel down be­fore rolling to the bot­tom of the ramp. This stunt was cer­tainly harder than it looked, and it looked ex­tremely dif­fi­cult! I’d rate it as a pro-only stunt. Ac­tu­ally, I’d say there are prob­a­bly only a hand­ful of even the pros who could ac­tu­ally do the full stunt. It’s im­pres­sive rid­ing.

The fi­nal stunt was what I’ll call a run­ning wheelie. In the show, Spi­der-man falls off the back and chases his own bike in a wheelie. Even though this stunt is pretty

safe and it’s rel­a­tively easy to get away from the bike if some­thing goes wrong, I was a bit ner­vous be­cause I didn’t want the bike to get away from me or loop out in front of me. I prac­ticed it on flat ground first then at­tempted it af­ter rid­ing a steep ramp up onto the stage, which added an ex­tra el­e­ment to get­ting off the back of the bike and main­tain­ing con­trol of it. It wound up be­ing fairly easy, so Troy sug­gested we try it side by side. It was a lit­tle bizarre. It seemed kind of like two guys walk­ing their dogs on op­po­site sides of the street. But in the ac­tual show, per­form­ers are rid­ing next to each other, cross­ing lines, and Black Widow (played by Louise Fors­ley) does a nose wheelie next to an­other rider and then sets her rear wheel over the other bike’s front wheel to land her nose wheelie. My run­ning wheelie was an ad­vanced-level stunt, but I’ll rank the scene’s over­all stunt chore­og­ra­phy as re­quir­ing a pro per­former level of con­sis­tency.

Dur­ing my one hour on the stage, I learned that all of the rid­ers in this show could com­pete at the high­est lev­els of the sport (many have). If you go to a show, you will see some pro-level rid­ing, and if you watch closely, you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate how pre­cisely they are do­ing it. Also keep in mind that the per­form­ers are wear­ing cos­tumes, rid­ing bikes mod­i­fied to look like some­thing in a comic book, and are rid­ing under con­stantly chang­ing light­ing con­di­tions. Lastly, they need to be able to do this with thou­sands of peo­ple watch­ing. Back when each of th­ese rid­ers started their ca­reers, they didn’t imag­ine they would wind up as Mar­vel su­per­heroes. It’s amaz­ing where mo­tor­cy­cles can take you, whether it’s in the United States or across the world, or if it’s just a re­tired pro get­ting to walk in their shoes for an hour.


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