Located in Sparta, Wisconsin, the self-appointed bicycling capital of America, is a nine-acre lot with over 600 fibreglass statues. It's an oddly rare attraction that recently lured two of the world's best trials riders, Kenny Belaey and Thomas Oehler, to the town.
Watch the video above to see tyre tracks in the most peculiar places – off fish lips, over an elephant's back or between an eagle's wings.
While most people see these fibreglass statues as decorations, Belaey and Oehler see them as a new playground. The features are truly one-of-a-kind, created by Sparta's own Fast Corp, manufacturer of a large majority of roadside attractions across America.
We caught up with Belaey and Oehler to find out more about the strange project;
When did you hear about the project, how?
Belaey: We started talking about this almost a year ago after I got an email from Red Bull asking if I wanted to shoot a video with Thomas Oehler on some cool obstacles.
Oehler: After seeing some photos of all the statues, I googled around a bit and I got even more interested in these becoming obstacles to ride.
We were happy after we rode the line and nothing was broke – on the giant fish or one of usThomas Oehler
What were your initial concerns?
Oehler: Safety. We didn't know how stable any of the structures would be when jumping on and off – would they tip over? We were also concenered with fibreglass's condition – would it be too slippery or soft in spots?
Belaey: Not being able to fix the obstacles and make them rideable because [of the] fibreglass. In the end, we had guys onsite to fix them and create lines.
What was the most difficult aspect of riding on fibreglass structures?
Oehler: The flanges that bolt each statue's mould together stick out and were often in awkward spots. Those were super-annoying to ride on. That's where we had to do some woodwork for reinforcement to make some surfaces rideable.
Belaey: The fact they move a bit, even after preparing them, so we couldn’t just ride anywhere we wanted. And some of them were huge! We didn’t want to use too many to keep it clean and uncluttered, so we pushed ourselves quite hard and needed to give it our all to get on top of every one of them.
I only had a piece of wood the width of my tyre to take off from once I was on the back wheel.Kenny Belaey
How did you envision your line and which order to place the structures?
Oehler: Arranging the large statues took about a day and a half. It was overwhelming to see so many structures. We started choosing statues and really didn't know how they'd all link together. We used a forklift to place them all in a field and then began to form the line.
Belaey: It was all kind of improvised really, we just worked with what we had. After the build, we agreed that Thomas would ride the faster and smoother lines while I was going to ride the more trials competition-style lines to include two different bikes in the shoot.
The most difficult feature to ride?
Belaey: I think that was jumping from the small horse to the big horse, there was no room for error because it was so high up and I only had a piece of wood the width of my tyre to take off from once I was on the back wheel.
Oehler: The big line on the fish – where Kenny does the 270 drop and I'm coming back up. The fish was wobbly, especially the mouth, it moved! The first couple tries were pretty sketchy... We were happy after we rode the line and nothing was broke, on the giant fish or one of us.
What's the weirdest structure you've ridden?
Oehler: When I was in the Austrian military for eight months, which is required for everyone here, and I took a chance and rode on a tank. I've also ridden on smaller boats, difficult because it moved in all directions the whole time. And ice blocks, those were weird to ride on with metal spikes in my tyres.
Belaey: I think they were all weird in one way or another. But, maybe the pig next to the shark was the weirdest structure. I also like the synchronized move of Thomas going to the shark at the very same time I switch from back to front wheel, very cool shot.
What's next, any other oddities you want to ride?
Belaey: There is another project coming up in 2017, but I'll keep that private for now... Usually, I just go with the flow and if I see anything in a magazine, on TV or the internet that inspires or fascinates me, then I go for it and start planning.
Oehler: Whenever I'm sitting on a plane on the jetway, I always look out the window at all the cool machines outside the terminal, the luggage conveyor belt, etc. If I could ever get past all the security... And I have some abandoned places I'd like to explore.