French stunt rider Julien Welsch once performed with a broken wrist. Find out what makes this nutter tick
SINGAPORE — Julien Welsch has accomplished a lot as a stunt motorcyclist, but if you haven’t heard of this tenacious individual, it’s probably because his appearance in this weekend’s Singapore Bike Show will be his first.
He promises to bring a fun and exciting routine to Singapore Expo Hall 5, where the free-entry show is being held — his performances will be held at 3pm and 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday, together with fellow lunatics Hiroyuki Ogawa and Aaron Twite.
He’ll be performing his routines astride a Triumph Street Triple, making the torquey, lightweight and nimble machine dance underneath him in breathtaking fashion.
“I find inspiration from different sports around the world and stunt riding gurus and implement parts of their techniques into my personal tricks,” says Julien. “The one I’m most proud of to date is the 360 Bunny Hop.”
It’s a stunt that involves a 360 degree spin on the front wheel before landing on the back wheel.
But what makes this stunt rider tick? Julien’s love for bikes actually started before he hit the streets on one. His introduction to biking actually came when he accepted a job selling Yamahas.
When he was 17, his interest in stunting was sparked off on the streets of France when he witnessed a random stranger performing a couple of tricks on a bike. By 18 he’d mastered a basic wheelie.
After seven more years working on his craft, Julien felt he wasn’t satisfied with just practising with friends in parking lots, so he decided to go professional.
“Since then, it’s been all about progress and self-development,” he says. Naturally, there’s been some pain along the way, too. “In my opinion, the best way to learn is to crash, and that’s the sad truth!” he says.
In that sense, he’s had some intense learning. Julien has broken numerous bones in his body through his career, including elbows, knees and even ankles. The one nasty injury that haunts him to this day however comes from his left wrist.
“Eight years ago, I landed on my wrist and broke it during a practice session. It was in preparation for a major competition in the USA, which was less than two months away. At that point, there was only one thing I could do,” he says. He cut his cast off so he could compete.
“Believe it or not, I broke that same wrist a second time,” he says. Pain from the injury bothers him to this day — and serves as a constant reminder to wear safety gear at all times.
As his daily schedule requires at least three hours of training each morning, Julien engages a personal trainer to ensure that he’s fit enough to perform. “Every day I work on my shape and flexibility in a closed parking lot. I don’t practise my stunts on the streets with passersby around like most stunt riders do, since I always prefer to be safe than sorry,” he says.
But if Julien has one piece of advice for anyone who wants to get into the sport, it’s to go at it intensively. “You need to own and be the complete package. Start with videos, a Facebook profile, boost your social networks, get involved in marketing yourself and find sponsors to develop your bike,” he says. “In short, go play football – it’s easier and you make more money!”
“Nah, but jokes aside, to put it simply, there are two paths,” he continues. “You can take the easy way out, or if you’re anything like me, opt for the more tedious path – only because you get to challenge yourself, and nothing can ever be more satisfying!”
by Carmen Rosso