Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Streetbike champion Aaron Colton's path has taken him to the Philippines where he hopes to change your mind about the sport

This appears in

Freestyle and easy: 
Streetbike champion Aaron Colton's path has taken him to the Philippines where he hopes to change your mind about the sport
 words and pics (except for the middle foto) by rick olivares

Why is a young kid from Minnesota like you not playing hockey?

Aaron Colton, out of Shakopee, Minnesota, laughed.

“Yeah, that’s hockey country right there,” he said a little pensively as the question had him thinking back to his younger days; not that being 22 years of age is old. “Yep. Right in the middle of farm country too. I played some hockey when I was younger. I mean who wouldn’t? It’s Minnesota.”

“But there are a lot of sports that are pretty huge back in Minnesota. We’ve got football, track and field, basketball… lots of sports. I chose my path though and that’s riding motorcycles.”

That path has taken Colton from all over the United States to Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Panama, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and now to the Philippines.

However, this isn’t Colton’s first time in the Philippines. He was here in September of 2013; an anonymous visitor who spent a week in the island paradise that is Boracay. This time around he’s here for work as part of his Red Bull Street Tour.

The press conference for his tour is at Publiko in Eastwood City. It pays to be early and I am rewarded with the day’s first one-on-one interview and Colton isn’t only engaging but proves to be insightful and humble for someone who has become a global star.

It was during his first visit to the Philippines that the idea of coming back and promoting streetbike freestyle. “I noticed that everywhere I went I saw motorcycles. Not just the ordinary ones but big bikes, some sport bikes,” he recalled. “I was told that motorcycles were either used as your regular mode of transportation or for leisure. Although I heard that there are bike races as well. Basically, I want to promote the streetbike freestyle and tell Filipinos that you don’t need a fancy or expensive bike to get into the sport. And given the Filipinos creativity, I think they can bring something new to the sport.”

Aside from the promotional tour where Colton will showcase his stunts – wheelies, endos, burnouts, drifting, and acrobatics -- with his 2 KTM 690 Duke, he is here to shoot a video.

Something like the wakeskating stunt at the Banaue Rice Terraces, I wondered.

“Yeah, most definitely,” enthused Colton. “I’m good friends with Brian Grubb who did those stunts and he had good words to say about his trip here aside from shooting the video. So maybe mine could be just as good.”

 “Maybe you can help us with some ideas on where we could go,” Aaron asked.

I rattle off a few ideas at the top of my head – the old world streets in Vigan, the Lion’s Head along Kennon Road, the La Mesa Dam watershed, Subic Bay….

“Awesome! We’ll take down notes,” chimed in Colton’s girlfriend Daniela.

“When you think about the Philippines, one of the first things that comes to mind is that’s it’s a vacation place,” added the multiple-time freestyle champion. “But if you look beyond the beaches there’s a lot of beauty country out there. There’s a lot you can do if you put your heart and mind to it.”

“Motorcycles have been a part of almost my entire life,” Aaron reflected. “I didn’t think it would be my life but when I was around 12 or 13, it changed from a hobby to a passion.”

Colton’s passion for motorcycle sports and his achievements have helped give the sport of streetbike freestyle a “facelift.”

“Streetbike freestyle have always had this rebel image,” explained Colton. “Maybe that’s because it was an inner city sport and there were all these tattooed riders competing. It is nice to be complimented in giving the sport a sense of legitimacy but the credit has to go around to all the others. I love the sport because it is taking and harnessing the power of the motorbike and spinning it off into new directions. It’s a way of expressing one’s self.”

Truth to tell when Aaron takes off his helmet to reveal his long curly locks, he looks more like a San Diego surfer dude (he now lives in Santa Monica, California). ‘Yeah, I’ve gotten quite a few of those comments like, ‘what’s a nice boy like you doing in a sport like this?’

Standing six-feet tall, dressed in a gray short, long shorts and Nikes. He might look like one of the scions of the Lords of Dogtown. Colton grins at the remark. In addition to his incredible skills and achievements, his clean image has helped bring in a lot of corporate attention and support to the sport.

But streetbiking isn’t without its inherent danger. Lying around for five months on the mend is enough to make one question their direction in life. “Fear is something that you have to master. I am at a point were I am comfortable with what I am doing. This isn’t something you can do forever but I’m still young and I’d like to make the most out of it.”

And this sports prodigy’s path has taken him to these Philippine Islands where he is out to spread the gospel of the sport. “There are roads yet to travel,” he smiled. “I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Not bad for a boy from Minnesota who exchanged hockey for streetbikes.


It's way cool when the Man likes what you wrote!

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