by Patrick O'Leary

Guys getting air and flying Bears. No show pros and little girls. Sweaty white foreigners in the hot afternoon sun. Posing with my bike and having fun. Ahhh yes, it's bike show time again.

BMX enjoys a healthy following in Taiwan thanks in large part to long time local practitioners, an excellent ramp park which was built for the X-games a few years ago, and of course all the clothes and trappings that go along with riding BMX.

For the past few years the local crew have secured an area adjacent to Exhibition Hall B during the trade show for a BMX exhibition. A perfect place to show off to locals and visitors alike. Absent this year were the incredible foreign trial riders and maniac jumpers who blew everyone away with their professionalism and high skill level last year.

The locals figured with the absence of foreigners this year they would get more locals involved in the show, so all age groups and levels seemed to be represented.

Both days the show was lead by Bear, the undisputed king of ramps in Taiwan. This guy rips and has a gold medal from the Asian X Games a few years ago to attest to his skill level. Auspiciously, he was the only rider bothering to wear a full-face helmet for the event. It would prove to be an almost fatal mistake for another rider on the last day.

Final day arrives and we are down to the main show with Bear warming up in the background. He'll take the stage in five. Two kids are trying to rip up the ramps, one girl about 12 years old and a little guy about 9 years old. Everyone is clapping at the little guy as he catches 2-foot air off the tabletop ramp. He lands it no problem and disappears into the background high fiving his stoked buddies on the side.

Cute girl is up. She looks positively hip for a teenage Taiwanese girl. She's wearing aloha print shorts and a cool shirt. She's got a skateboard style helmet on and crash pads on her legs. She takes center stage and gives the ramps a run. Skill level is average at very best, but the crowd is stoked to see a girl out there giving it a try. She hit's the tabletop jump and gets minor air. She's stoked; the crowd is clapping so everyone tells her to give it one last jump. She turns around and sets up for the last tabletop jump again. What followed next was straight out of a horror movie.

Again she gets minor air off the tabletop ramp, but this time her landing is off. She lands a bit sideways and appears to be headed off of the side of the ramp. Rather than bail her bike and take a nice little tumble, her lack of experience has her falling with her bike off the ledge. She falls, smacking her face into the pavement and immediately passes out. Sickening sight.

From my perspective I thought she had almost certainly broken her neck. Everyone stops clapping and is horrified. A pool of blood and a passed out girl. The event organizers never dreamed that something like this would happen and thus had no ambulance at the event or even a first aid kit on hand. The girl is dragged away under a tent and is bleeding all over the place. Some asshole is right in her face with a video camera filming the entire thing. I put my photo gear away and run over to take a look.

Many teeth missing and some even went through the top of her lip. Her eyes are swollen beyond belief and she's got blood running down her face. She regains consciousness and it looks like luckily the worst is over. Neck is okay, she's not paralyzed but her face looks like a tomato. Ambulance arrives 15 minutes later and she's whisked away never to be seen again.