Extreme mountain biker riding high

Nanaimo’s Ben Glassen gets huge airtime while practising at the Doumont trails last month. The mountain biker is preparing for the start of another competitive season on the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour starting this spring.

These days, Nanaimo’s Ben Glassen can do a backflip on his mountain bike. Then another, then another, each one a perfect, safe landing.

Surely, there must have been a period of cringe-inducing crashes, right? How does a coach even begin to teach something like that?

“That’s the weird part about this sport,” Glassen said. “No coaches. No training, really. It’s kind of just go out, trial and error, and spend the time on the bike.”

First he’ll go over to Whistler and practise performing the trick into a giant foam pit built just for that purpose. Then it’s up to Parksville to try landing it into a sand pit. Then come the dirt jumps at Nanaimo’s Doumont trails.

For Glassen, it’s all preparation for another season on the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour, about to get underway.

The 21-year-old Nanaimo District Secondary School grad piled into a sponsor’s van last year and travelled to some of the North American tour stops, going as far as New Hampshire. He was happy just to make it to any finals. This year, Glassen would like to get to all the North American tour stops, and he wants to place high in his finals.

“I’ve really been progressing and learning lots of new tricks at a really fast rate. I’m really excited about it,” he said. “So I think I’m going to be very competitive.”

He bikes in the professional division, but going pro is easier said than done. Landing his backflips and 360-degree spins in competition is part of it, but sponsors are ultimately looking for exposure. In the YouTube generation, that means riders need to get footage of themselves navigating trails and jumps – “shredding” – in secret locations, then produce videos set to music their parents hate.

It’s both sport and showmanship. And Glassen is better at both, now that he can backflip his way down even the trickiest trails.

“The scary part about backflips is just that first flip, when you actually get to dirt,” he said. “I was feeling in the right mood and I did the first one, got that over with and it was like, ‘Oh, that’s not too bad.’”

BIKE BANTER … Glassen is seeking travel sponsorship and can be reached via e-mail at just_ride101@hotmail.com.


Just Posted

Nanoose residents want court sports at their local park

Regional District of Nanaimo plans to redevelop Jack Bagley Park

UPDATE: Furry fire victims recovering in Nanaimo

Two dogs and cat recovering from smoke inhalation expected to make full recovery

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

UPDATE: One person dead after crash on Nanaimo Lakes Road

One person dies, another was injured in the accident which happened at about noon Wednesday

Conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun in Nanaimo

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area

UPDATE: One person dead after crash on Nanaimo Lakes Road

One person dies, another was injured in the accident which happened at about noon Wednesday

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

First Snuneymuxw Fight Night to be held at community gym

Eli Wyse facing Quesnel opponent in main event of boxing card Saturday, Dec. 14

GUEST COMMENT: City should stop catering to fast-food drive-thrus

Eliminate drive-thrus to improve safety and health and reduce emissions, says guest columnist

Dover Bay Secondary School drama program to stage ‘Addams Family’ musical

Production is first high school musical for teacher and some students

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read