BikeStormz, which describes itself as “the biggest underground youth movement in the UK,” is to hold its eighth ride-out in central London on 1 June, and expects thousands of youngsters from the UK and beyond to join in (the above video shows the July 2016 edition and, you should be aware, includes swearing).
Launched in 2015, BikeStormz’s central message is ‘Knives Down, Bikes Up’ and its organisers have big plans for it, aiming to turn the style of riding participants employ – one-handed wheelies being one example – into a sport in its own right, as well as exporting the concept throughout the world.
That first ride drew 400 participants to the capital, but thousands now take part – BikeStormz says that by next year, it expects to attract 10,000 riders.
“It is the most talked about and respected youth bike event in the UK and its influence and reach is fast spreading across the world,” says BikeStormz.
“Our mission is to create a sport that will engage and encourage young people to become skilled, professional experts doing something they love.
“The hope is that engaging in this sport will increase confidence and commitment among young people and reduce the number of them involved in knife crime,” it adds.
Previous editions have at times attracted negative headlines but BikeStormz stresses that it works closely with local authorities as well as the Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service, and that safeguarding procedures are in place such as DBS checks for lead organisers.
The movement was founded by Mac Ferrari Guy, whose career as a youth worker and community mentor has led to him becoming a role model for youngsters, and who “wanted to see how many young people he could inspire to ride alongside each other in unity and harmony, simply to have fun and display their passion and talents.”
At a time when police forces are linking bikes with gang activities including cycle theft and supplying drugs – covered by Laura Laker in an article on road.cc earlier this month – BikeStormz's core mission is to use bicycles, and the love of riding them, as a means of steering its core target of 9-25-year-olds – away from that path.
It also comes at a time when young people, disenchanted with the lack of progress made by politicians in tackling issues such as knife crime and climate change are taking ground-up action themselves – witness the school strikes across the UK in mid-March urging adults to tackle global warming inspired by 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, currently in London, her visit coinciding with the Extinction Rebellion protests across the capital.
Setting out its mission, BikeStormz, whose supporters and sponsors over the years include Adidas, Halfords and Nando’s, says:
The BIG picture …
We believe that the young people who are part of this culture have the skill set and the potential to become great sports men and women and our intention is to create a space that will encourage and enable them to develop their skills and perfect their craft with the view to becoming premier leaders in their field.
This culture of extreme pedal bike riding is one of good intentions and has created a family environment and a safe space for many young people who all have something very special in common.
Many of these young people would otherwise be involved in gang culture or caught up in knife and gun crime at worst, or at best would be engaging in some kind of antisocial behaviour.
The love of bikes gives them the opportunity to be free, focused and to have fun.
The BIGGER picture …
Our vision is that BikeStormz will become a world renowned and recognised sport on a similar, if not greater scale, as the London Marathon, Wimbledon or the Tour de France.
The BIGGEST picture …
As a sport, our mission at BikeStormz is to create a point-based system (similar to gymnastics) where young professional riders will be awarded and rewarded according to the number of points they receive.
Aspiring young riders will be able to take part in events throughout the year and enter seasonal competitions where they will be scored by a panel of expert judges who will judge according to various categories.
The most skilful and successful riders will become recognised as professional athletes which will encourage young people to take responsibility and eventually position them as role models within the community.
The hope is that engaging in this sport will increase confidence and commitment among young people and reduce the number of them involved in knife crime.
BikeStormz 8 takes place in Central London on Saturday 1 June 2019, meeting at Tower Bridge at 12 noon, and is free to take part in, with organisers “inviting young people from all over the country to join us as we stand together against knife crime in loving memory of friends and family members whose have lost their lives to this rising epidemic.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.