For three years now, a highly trained, professional BMX team known as Bikes Over Baghdad has been traveling around the Middle East visiting several U.S. military bases and putting on astonishing, one-of-a-kind stunt shows for our U.S. troops. The idea was created by program manager Christian Schauf and is supported by Harley-Davidson.
“I realized that the only tours that the troops got to see seemed to involve music, comedy or cheerleaders,” explained Christian, “It was a no-brainer to try to bring action sports over. I've been told it's the #1 requested tour at the bases overseas, and it seems each time we show up somewhere, people have been waiting for us for weeks.”
The Bikes Over Baghdad team features some of the biggest names in BMX, including riders like Chad Kagy, Brian Kachinsky and Mike Escamilla – as well as Red Bull teammates Anthony Napolitan and Drew Bezanson.
Renowned ramp builders Nate Wessel and Ron Kimler bring the shows to life by building and creating custom-designed skateparks for every base they visit. Most of the time they use trucks, tanks, hummers and many other vehicles as part of the show.
For the riders, aside from getting to ride some really cool ramps, it’s all about giving back to the troops.
“The best part about doing the shows for the troops is returning the favor. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to live the lifestyle we do today. So to give back and perform for them and to help take their minds off what's going on over there is an amazing feeling,” said Bezanson.
Not only do the riders perform wild and insane stunts in 130-degree heat, they also hold “meet and greets” and give away tons of free stuff from the tour sponsors.
The troops also give back. Not only do they pitch in and help build the ramps, they show the riders a good time by letting them shoot guns in the ranges and give them tours of their tanks, planes, machine shops, offices and attack dog kennels.
Just last week, the Bikes Over Baghdad team returned home from yet another successful tour, performing at a military base in Qatar, near Saudi Arabia, for a week.
“These shows were probably the best attended we've ever had,” said Schauf. “I was told by one of the people in charge of programs on the base that ‘There were more people here for Bikes Over Baghdad than when Kid Rock showed up.’”
The hype has spread so much that military bases throughout the U.S. and all over the world have requested the Bikes Over Baghdad team.
In June 2011, the Bikes Over Baghdad crew will be deploying back to Iraq and Kuwait for a 5-7 base show tour. In addition, they are finalizing plans for a stateside base tour that should reach about 6-8 bases across the U.S.
To find out more details on how you can get involved and participate, check out the Bikes Over Baghdad Facebook page.
- Video: Anthony and Drew riding on a floating barge
- More BMX from Red Bull
- Video: Rajon Rondo visits the troops