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ENTRY: Ellie Chew's Nitro Circus Experience

From Ellie's first phone call at the beginning of 2019 inviting her to the Wellington show, to traveling to Barcelona, Madrid, and her recent Australia tour. Ellie has written an entry on her experience with Nitro Circus! 

• May 20th 2020

Entry by Ellie Chew

"I received an unexpected phone call a week before the Wellington Nitro Circus show, asking if I would like to be part of the show. Without hesitation, I said yes, even though I had no idea how I was actually going to ride down the roll in on my BMX, and jump a 40ft gap, but it was an awesome opportunity and I couldn’t say no."

At the time of the phone call, I was in Rotorua at the Skyline Bike Park with my MTB practicing to get ready for my first Crankworx event with the Wide Open Team, which was scheduled for the following week. I had to organize some practice for Nitro as well, and there was only a small window of time to fit that in, and the clock was ticking, so I jumped in my car and drove 5 hours back to the Kapiti Coast, to pick up my BMX bike and my Mum, Ingrid. 

Up early the next day and back in the car for a six-hour drive to the Franklin Farm in Tokoroa.

Franklin Farm is a training compound that Nick Franklin and Jed Mildon have developed for BMX and FMX. There is a huge foam pit with a roll in, and a ramp with specifications similar to the Nitro Circus set up. 

We arrived in Tokoroa on a cold windy day. Jed was waiting, along with Todd Meyn, another Nitro Circus rider. The vibe was pretty chill, but it didn’t make the ramp look any smaller !!! It was time to pick up my lady balls and walk to the top of the biggest, scariest, massive roll in. My heart was pounding, as I climbed the stairs, and then I was at the top, and there was only one way down. A bit of deep breathing to calm myself, feet positioned on the pedals, and boom I was off. 

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"The speed was unreal, and hitting the take off ramp was like riding into a vertical wall. I pulled back for a flip, rotation came round, then boom, hit the foam."

Smiles for miles, and loving it. At this point, I knew I was going to feel more confident heading into the Wellington Show. The was only enough time for a few more tries, as I needed to drive home to get a good nights sleep before practice the following day at the Westpac Stadium for Nitro in Wellington.

We arrived at the Stadium with my bike and all my gear. We were met by the Nitro Crew and escorted through to the middle of the Stadium. Excitement levels were high, big smiles all round. The Nitro ramp from ground level is huuuugee, the gap is huuuugggeee, the roll in is huuuuggee, it was so much bigger than expected. So many mixed feelings, excitement, grateful for the opportunity, and feeling special that I was walking on the grass inside the Stadium… it’s the most beautiful lush green grass, however, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was pooping my pants!!!

After meeting management, and the other riders, it was practice time. Sitting at the top of the roll in was pretty surreal, and then there was a 40ft gap to clear… I was scared, it was daunting, but with the support, guidance, and high fives from all of the Nitro Circus boys, I knew I had to trust myself and just go!

I decided not to straight jump the ramp for the first time because it’s so big, so I chose to do a backflip. That probably seems weird but I didn’t want to see the landing straight ahead of me, and a rotation seemed more natural.

I didn’t land my first jump but I was ok despite the crash, and once I stood up I was tackled with hugs and cheering for completing my first drop in. The riders at Nitro are the most supportive guys who are so encouraging, and genuinely wanted me to land it. It took a few more jumps to get it right, I kept over-rotating, so had to adjust to the size of the big jump. Finally stuck the landing and it was such a good feeling….. tackled with hugs, cheering and yelling from the boys, they are such a good bunch.

Show Time! Nerves were high, and the crowd was loud and cheering. The wind was at 37km per hour. It was swirling around the Arena like a washing machine. I really wanted to land my first jump of the show, managed to backflip and land !!!!. Everything went well and the event was so much fun. There is such high energy within the riders, and lots of laughs, I didn’t want the night to end. I was so happy !!!

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The next morning I packed the car with my MTB to head back to Rotorua to compete in my first Crankworx event. I was entered in Air DH and Pumptrack. I really enjoyed the event, so much fun and met so many new people. It was a crazy week with Nitro and Crankworx, but it was great that I could make it for both.


 Photo: Graeme Murray

I was very privileged to be invited back to Nitro 4 months later….. this time it was to ride in the Spain, Barcelona and Madrid show.

I travelled to Barcelona, however that first show was cancelled, so the boys and I were able to spend the week as tourists having fun. We hired electric bikes and scooters and explored Barcelona, visited castles and landmarks. 

We travelled to Madrid as a group, to prepare for the show. Practice was the same day as the show, and I landed all my backlips and was feeling really good.

I wanted to try something new, bring a new trick to the show but didn’t have time to try anything in the allocated practice time. A front flip seemed to be the best option, although I had never done one, really didn’t know how to do one, but kept processing it in my head and wanted to give it a go. Jed Mildon and Ryan Williams were in full support, so I had to give it a go.

Without disrupting the set program of the show there was really only a one time opportunity to make it happen. We hit half time and I was given the green light to have a go side by side with Ethen Roberts, both doing a front flip simultaneously on separate ramps.

This was the moment, the crowd was screaming, the boys were screaming. I rolled down the ramp, hit the take off, threw my head forward, tucked into a ball, and at that point there was silence, I didn’t hear anything at all. As soon as my wheels touched the ground, there was a loud stadium roar, it was a pretty surreal moment. The boys where still at the top of the roll in, and one by one they rolled down, landed, threw their bikes and ran straight to me for a hug - it was a very special moment and one I will never forget.

The boys shared their knowledge, believed in me, and I believed in myself, and turned a dream into reality. 

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That night continued to be filled with special moments - I was presented with the MVC award of the night. This award is a riders vote selecting a rider that was the star of the show. It was a humbling experience.

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Moving forward to Nitro Circus Australia Tour 2020

This was to be my first full tour! We had all been apart for some months, so I was as excited to ride the tour, as I was to see everyone again. I decided to go back to the Franklin Farm for some practice before the Tour and explore what else I could do.

A double backflip was the next trick I wanted to land. I tried it into the foam pit and after landing upside-down in the foam multiple times, it finally worked. A double backflip is a totally different process than a single backflip. Because the rotation spins so fast, the gyro force wants to pull your body away from the bike after one rotation, which slows down the next rotation, so once I got my head around the process of how to hold my body in a ball while rotating, I was able to complete the trick.

The first show was in Ballarat, Australia, and all the riders had to get used to the ramp again as there had been no tours for about 7 months. We all rode well and it was lots of fun.

Next stop Wangaratta. I was used to the ramp again so it was time for the double. My first attempt, I over-rotated and landed on my back, shook off some nerves and climbed up to have another go. The second attempt, I under-rotated, crashed and that one hurt. So over-rotated and under rotated, the next one had to work. Lots of support, lots of cheering, lots of high fives, I really wanted to land it, third time’s a charm, right?

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Two perfect rotations, wheels touched down, I did it. There have been so many highlights in Nitro, but I suppose this one topped it to date. I was now officially the second female in the world to double backflip on a BMX bike, Jolene van Vugt being the first.

Third Show - Adelaide.

I completed everything I wanted to do in the Show. Backflips, frontflips and two double backflips. I was so happy to land two double flips during the show, one of them being in the final train. We were all riding so well and everything came together for all the riders 



We were able to enjoy 3 shows, Ballarat, Wangaratta, and Adelaide, but it was cut short due to COVID_19.

I'm looking forward to 2021, so that we can complete the Australian Tour, with more planned for the future. I'm thankful for the opportunity I have been given.

The Nitro Circus group have become family to me. They are the most supportive, fun caring group of people. Nitro has helped me to be me, and push some boundaries. It’s been a positive personal journey, where fears are dealt with and accomplishments are shared and enjoyed.