This is BMX like you’ve never seen it before. First, watch Kriss Kyle land incredible tricks on his BMX across Dubai, and then read our exclusive interview with him.
Home to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai is renowned for its breathtaking skyline. With stunning buildings, huge water parks and bustling souks, a place like this is the ultimate playground for thrill-seekers. But who would have thought that it’s also a BMXer’s dreamland? That’s what Kriss Kyle discovered when he had the opportunity to explore the city by bike and land tricks you’ve never seen before.
From Cavemanning out of a helicopter onto the Burj Al Arab, to tricking on some of Dubai’s most famous landmarks, Kyle captured it all for our eyes to feed on.
What did you think Dubai would be like before you went?
Before I went to Dubai, I didn’t really know what to expect, because you see it on TV and it looks like this incredible place. Everything looks so high-end. I’ve thought about riding there in the past, but I didn’t know it would be possible. I saw the skating video We Are Blood, so I knew there would be amazing spots, but they had security helping them access all the spots.
Also, it’s in the desert, and I’ve never been to somewhere like that before. It was crazy, when we were flying in, I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, we’re properly in the desert’. It’s incredible.
Everyone was super nice, and I already can’t wait to go back. The sheer size of the buildings is amazing – they’ve got everything there and everything is the best. There’s no litter, because they keep the city so clean. It’s a beautiful, beautiful place.
The video opens with the helicopter flying over the Burj Al-Arab and you’re waiting to jump out with your bike. How did that come about?
We went to the Burj Al-Arab for the recce and they asked if I wanted to do something up there. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to jump out of a helicopter’, kind of joking and not fully expecting it to be possible. A month later we got an email saying that they were going to get us a helicopter and I was going to jump out of it. I thought, ‘God, what have I got myself into?’.
I kept saying to myself, ‘I’m doing this. No matter what, I’m definitely doing this’
The whole of last year I was excited, but sweating a bit about it. I’m scared of heights, which isn’t something a lot of people know about me, and because I’d waited all year, I psyched myself up. I had to programme my whole body for it. It’s amazing what the human body can do, because I’m so scared of heights. Before flying out, and even on the plane, I kept saying to myself, ‘I’m doing this. No matter what, I’m definitely doing this’.
What was going through your head when you were practising?
As soon as I got there, and we were up on the helipad, all of a sudden the helipad looked a lot smaller than I remembered. We had a practice day where I was strapped to the side of the helicopter without the bike, and it was terrifying. It just went straight up, and it was wobbly and loud. I was as white as a sheet hanging out of it. It was absolutely terrifying.
Then, we tried it with the bike, because we didn’t have that long to practice. As soon as we took off with the bike, the wind just pushed the bike against my leg, trapping it against the helicopter. I was trying to manoeuvre the bike back around, but because of the wind pushing it, I couldn’t. At that point, it felt like it wasn’t going to work.
We started to practise jumps at around two metres, and then increased the height each time. You’re trusting the pilot to get in the right place, but it’s so wobbly, because the wind coming back up at you is like a hurricane, and my bike just wanted to blow away from me. I was getting a cramp in my arms trying to hold on to my bike, and the first few times I jumped out, the wind forced me sideways, so I learned quickly that I had to face my body and bike the other way to compensate for all the wind.
After a few trial jumps (we maxed out at about 4m and the ramp was 3.5m), I was feeling pretty confident. I had a pretty good sleep that night, and when I woke up the next day, I was stoked to go and do it.
When we got to the site, we were told the helicopter we had the day before had a mechanical failure, and I was like, ‘Why today?’, because I was so ready to do it! Luckily, they had a second helicopter with only one engine, which they said would make it less windy. I thought it would be the exact same, but it wasn’t. My back wheel kept getting snagged, so it was even scarier. It felt like the down-draft was even worse than the day before. I had to keep telling myself that I could do it, so after a few practices I was ready to go.
The scariest part, though, is that after I land the jump from the helicopter, I had to correct myself straight away, because I only had five metres until I had to go through those two bollards and then hit the other nine metre drop. When I landed on the red carpet and rode into the lift all my friends were there, cheering. I couldn’t believe it. I was almost tempted to do it again, but I was satisfied with it, so thought I’d better not.
That was a dream come true. They have the best water parks in the world in Dubai, so it was an absolute honour. The cool thing is that they can turn the water off when they want to. Anything we wanted to do was no problem. The slides were massive, and also so high up that I was scared of going over the side. I knew I wouldn’t, but like I said, I’m scared of heights.
We went in at 6am to film it, and we only had two hours to film it, but there was quite a lot that I wanted to do. The whole vibe of everyone being there was incredible. The feeling of flying down those flumes at 45kph was just insane. It was more fun on a bike that it is on a rubber ring.
What was your favourite spot to ride?
I loved the water parks, and my favourite was Laguna. It was more like a proper session than the others.
What was the biggest challenge?
The hardest part was definitely the helicopter, because of the wind and the storm that was coming in. It was stressful, but I like putting myself in those high-pressure situations. High risk, high reward. I just want to keep doing big projects like this.
This is a massive achievement, and one that will be hard to imitate. Where does it stand compared to other video projects you’ve done in the past?
It’s definitely different. Kaleidoscope was amazing, and still to this day is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. This one is completely different, because it’s street riding and big stunts as well. I would say this has been my favourite project so far.
Is there anything you can do to prepare for something like the heli-jump, mentally or physically?
Not really. I knew what I was getting myself into, so I was able to prepare for it in my mind. If I say I’m going to do something, I will do it. Mentally, I think this project has made me stronger, and I can’t wait to do more, bigger projects. I’m constantly thinking about what’s next.