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Edgerton stunt cyclist to perform at Los Angeles X-Games

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
July 26, 2010
— Eight years ago, Edgerton stunt motorcyclist Ryan Suchanek started practicing wheelies, burnouts and other tricks in local parking lots.

At the time, Suchanek told people he planned to take his chosen hobby, sport bike freestyle riding, all the way to the World Series of extreme sports: the X Games.


That was before he lost part of his leg in a collision with a car and had to learn to ride a 400-pound street bike using a prosthetic leg.


This week, Suchanek, 29, is making good on old plans. He’s headed to Los Angeles, Calif., to take part in the 2010 Summer X Games.


Thursday at the X Games, while world famous skateboarders and BMX bicyclists compete in venues throughout downtown L.A., Suchanek will perform in a sport bike freestyle exhibition.


The show will be in a lot outside the Staple Center, in front of 75,000 people. It’s the first time sport bike freestyle has been included in the internationally televised X Games, which run from July 29 through Aug. 1.


“I’ll probably be nervous, throwing up and pulling my hair out,” Suchanek said. “But when it comes down to it, I’ll just try to do some sick tricks, and go from there.”


Suchanek is among 20 of the country’s top sport bike freestyle riders invited to take part in the X Games.


Extreme Drifting League, a major-circuit motor sport association, organized the exposition, hoping to spark enough interest among fans to turn sport bike freestyle into an annual competition at the X Games, Suchanek said.


“Hopefully, we’ll be back there, actually competing for medals next year,” he said.


Sport bike freestyle competitions are broken up into individual routines performed on small, squared-off areas in parking lots. Each routine is a tightly choreographed, two-minute tempest of tire-smoking burnouts and leg-splaying wheelies.


Suchanek compares the sport to competitive figure skating.


“It’s like couples skates, other than the fact that it’s a 400-pound fat girl you’re dancing with,” he said, pointing to his motorcycle, a modified Kawasaki 636.


It’s a wonder Suchanek can still make a sport bike dance. In October 2007, while riding his motorcycle on Bowers Lake Road near Milton, Suchanek came around a blind curve and collided with a car.


“I totaled out a ‘98 Chevy Lumina with my body,” he said.


The accident left Suchanek in a coma for days and took away the lower half of his left leg. It took Suchanek weeks of physical rehabilitation to learn to use a prosthetic leg, but by March 2008, he was back on a motorcycle, competing in freestyle.


“It was a huge challenge, but I had something big to motivate me. I love motorcycles. I love riding,” he said.


Suchanek said he’s still learning to finesse a motorcycle with his prosthesis, a spring-loaded carbon fiber model designed by Prosthetic Laboratories in Monona.


“You’ve got to trust yourself and say, ‘If I stick my stump here, it’s in the right place.’ It takes faith,” he said.


Whether sport bike freestyle emerges as a major sport, Suchanek said he’s thankful for the chance to shine at the X Games. He’s proud to have played a role in elevating the sport from local parking lots to the national stage.


“Hopefully, what people see is that when you face something like I did, you can move ahead. You don’t have to become a couch potato for the rest of your life,” he said.



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