When a bike gets you down, get back on again.
A life motto lived by Vanderhoof born Luke Wheeler, 26, motocross madman, skill-full dirt biker, and living proof one should never give up.
“I never thought I would be doing a show [as big as the Air Show] but if you want something enough you can get there. Just go for it and don’t let anyone ever talk you down,” said Mr. Wheeler, who accompanied Jeff Fehr, national dirt bike performer, in a duo freestyle bike performance in front of thousands at this year’s Air Show.
What started out as a natural attraction, snowballed into a prosperous life passion. The first time Mr. Wheeler saw a dirt bike he knew what he wanted to do. He got his first bike at age eight and from then on whenever he wasn’t riding he was thinking about riding.
“Jumping clears the mind of anything else. You have to be focused when you’re hitting a ramp like that,” said Mr. Wheeler, who says he doesn’t really think about the risk of getting hurt.
Over the years Mr. Wheeler has continued to push himself no matter what obstacles came his way. As a child he developed Osgood-Schlatter, a tissue inflammation disease mainly formed by quick adolescent growth spurts and intense sport playing. Always motivated to do what no one else could, he continued to ride and eventually grew out of it.
“[The knee pain] didn’t bother me much,” said Mr. Wheeler. “I just kept going.”
Being a rider for almost two decades now, he’s nursed a few broken bones but it wasn’t until he started jumping a few years ago when things got a little more life threatening.
One day, feeling confident with his ability of basic stunts, Mr. Wheeler tried to jump upside down but failed and came crashing to the ground. He has since had three knee surgeries but continues to dirt bike as much as possible, at least three to four times a week, said Mr. Wheeler.
“You have to weigh out the fun-to-pain ratio and figure out if it’s worth getting hurt. It’ll probably be something I regret if I don’t try again but it’s hard to learn new things that could break your legs when you have a job and family,” said Mr. Wheeler.
Some jumping tricks he has conquered include heel clickers (jump around and click heals together), knack knacks (through leg over back of bike) and super mans (hanging onto the bars and floating away from the bike in the air).
Other than flipping the bike upside down, one stunt he has yet to complete is the Kiss of Death (where you flick the bike out and do a handstand off the handle bars), which Mr. Wheeler says, is a Jeff Fehr stunt but may be something he’ll try in the future.
“Every time I’m on my bike I want to get better,” said Mr. Wheeler.
Foam jumping pits geared toward learning safely are something that Mr. Wheeler says he would love to try out. Unfortunately there are none close to Vanderhoof but he did buy a brand new ramp this year and for now will stick to doing smaller freestyle dirt biking shows at the Morris track.
“No matter what you do in life you should keep trying to progress and always get better,” said Mr. Wheeler. “But you got to get seat time because you’re not going to get better over night.”