On any given weekend in the parking lot of the West Goshen Shopping Center, Greg Wells can be seen practicing tricks on his BMX bike in front of the local bike store where he works.
Wells, a flatland BMX bike rider and senior bioelectric engineering major, is among the few who ride professionally in the state of Pennsylvania. He turned to flatland after a BMX jump went wrong, which led to his breaking his collarbone.
“While I was healing, I couldn’t really do any jumping around,” Wells said, “so I started doing flatland tricks, and it just went from there. I got addicted to doing it.”
Performing at shows not only gives Wells a chance to show off his tricks, like the “deathtruck” and the “hitchhiker,” but he gets about $100 per hour for each event.
Flatland riding requires more agility and balance than regular BMX, and the tricks are difficult to perform, so most people don’t continue with the sport, Wells said.
Though his parents see his chosen sport as a hobby, Wells’ friends and co-workers seem to admire his passion for the sport.
“He does it really well,” said Frank Schinchirimini, store manager of the Bike Line in West Chester, Pa., and Wells’ boss.
Schinchirimini said flatland BMX riding mirrors Greg’s personality, which he described as “outgoing.”
“His bike is pink and green, so yes, it definitely suits his personality,” Schinchirimini said.
Schinchirimini said Wells’ dedication to his sport is also reflected in his work ethic.
“He has never missed a day of work and never called out sick,” Schinchirimini said. “It’s pretty impressive, I have to say.”
Taking his passion for bikes even further, Wells has taken up another unique hobby: riding the unicycle.
“I just saw some videos of it online, and I thought it looked cool. And I figured I’d like to try it out,” Wells said.
He said unicycle riding is easier than riding flatland BMX.
“With a unicycle, the crank arms are fixed to the wheel,” he said, “so you have complete control the whole time.”
Hoping to obtain a career in neuroprosthetics after college, Wells said he will continue to ride.
“[In order to quit], I would have to be physically disabled in some way so that I can’t get on my bike,” Wells said. “I just want to continue to progress and learn new things – no matter what it is.”
Jenn Matusiak can be reached at email@example.com.