Since they literally fly through the air, upwards of 50 feet (give or take), their bodies and motorcycles act as a sail and they can easily be pushed outside of their landing zone…

Austin, Texas.

The thermostat is flying north of 30 degrees Celsius – but luckily, there’s a bit of a breeze.

Thousands of individuals have gathered at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track despite the heat. COTA is a 1,500-acre-plus sports and entertainment venue located just 20 minutes from downtown Austin.

It’s where the Summer X Games are calling their new home until 2017. The extreme sports (hence the X) competition previously took place in Los Angeles and hosts events like Moto X Freestyle, skateboarding, BMX and more. I’m here mainly for the motorcycles this day but I’m up for it all!

To beat that heat, what used to be a decorative fountain or centerpiece for the venue is now a cool-down hotspot. People are splashing around in this sizeable, converted “swimming pool” while security guards idly stand by and make sure no one gets too crazy.

Aside from long lineups for cold beverages and minimal spots out of the sun, the “pool” is an ideal place to ward off heatstroke. However, you won’t catch me inside! I’m almost 100 percent sure it’s not chlorinated, or cleaned. Nor do I have a change of clothes.

In between events, the people watching is at a premium. I could sit at any given spot and be thoroughly entertained at the cross section of society that walked through the gates.

The crowd, unlike many other sporting events, is younger. It’s comprised mainly of Gen Xers and Ys. But there’s room for everyone.

As dictated by this year’s fashionable trends, girls wear shorts that barely cover their bottoms, and the guys don’t seem to oppose it. Those of legal drinking age cherish their ice-cold beer and drink it like it’s their last. Though they have one more in their other hand. They’re not about to wait another half hour for more.

Sitting in the bleachers, that aforementioned breeze is both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because it feels so good against the skin. But a curse because if the wind is blowing faster than 25 mph (or around that speed), the athletes can’t compete in the Moto X Freestyle; an event I’ve been dying to see. I patiently wait for updates on the grandstand screens. After all, I’ve been watching these games on TV for as long as I can remember.

The tricks that the athletes do, regardless of medium, are nothing short of spectacular.

The Big Air contest for the BMXers call upon riders to drop into a massive roll, then jump from a kicker to catapult themselves into a quarter-pipe. While doing that, they execute tricks, and try to wow the crowds. And. of course. go home with a gold medal.

I’m all about doing crazy things on wheels but this is more than crazy. It’s just magical. I wish I had the guts to do this kind of thing. I think my mom is glad I don’t.

Eagerly anticipating the show, the wind refuses to settle. But the riders come out and do a few tricks to test out if they’re able to compete. Yay! Since they literally fly through the air, upwards of 50 feet (give or take), their bodies and motorcycles act as a sail and they can easily be pushed outside of their landing zone.

It’s dangerous and a huge safety risk. The event is postponed. No. Yes, then cancelled.

The athletes who travel from all across the world are probably even more disappointed that they can’t ride, says the commentator.

It’s probably true. They want to show off their skills. We want to cheer for their efforts. Add me to that list of the officially bummed out. Well, what can you do? The crowd’s energy is contagious, nonetheless.

There’s no doubt that it’s a fun event to attend, even if the event you’re so excited to see doesn’t happen, and you’ll be on a plane the next morning before it all starts up again.

But like a lot of major sporting events, sometimes, the best place to see all the action is in the comfort of your own home. Where you don’t have to wait half an hour for a cold one. And a breeze is always welcome.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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