By Ryan Considine–
Fresh off the plane from Innsbruck, Austria, world famous trail biker Thomas Oehler stopped by the University of Louisville Thursday on his Red Bull Back to School Tour. The tour features college campuses all across the Midwest and is scheduled to last for about two weeks. Hosted by the Bellamy, the event featured a special performance by DJ Ryan Coxx and free hot dogs and Red Bull.
Oehler is originally from Linz, Austria and has been riding bikes his entire life. He has been featured in over 180 shows worldwide and his greatest achievements include: Bike High Jump: New World Record – 3 meters, and several first place titles at world and European championships. The Louisville Cardinal caught up with Oehler for a brief interview before his performance.
Q: If you were to pick one place you wanted to ride the most, where would it be?
A: Well, that’s a good question. The place that I enjoy the most is home. I live in Innsbruck in Austria, which is right in the middle of the Alps, and you have everything there. You have the mountains – real mountain biking, real skiing and snowboarding in the winter. We have so many spots outdoors for riding trails as well. That’s probably my favorite place in the world. Other than that – in America, San Diego is a really cool place to ride because you have downtown, which is not too big and there’s so many spots with fountains right next to hotels and other buildings. It’s so much fun to ride there.
Q: What is the name of your tour? How many schools are you touring to?
A: (It’s called the) Red Bull Back to School Tour. I flew in two days ago and it’s the fourth year now, so last year I was in the states for five weeks hitting … thirty something campuses. So in total, I’ve probably seen like fifty or sixty. It’s two weeks this year, so its not too bad.
Q: You mentioned that you like riding in Austria a lot. Is there anywhere other countries or places that you like to ride?
A: In general, America is a really good place to ride, except police and security issues. We get kicked out of campuses pretty often, but as long as you get to ride a little bit you’re fine with it. It’s an odd thing to happen.
Q: You don’t set it up with campus officials so that they know?
A: Never! Because it makes things more complicated, and we want everything nice and easy.
Q: How did you feel after you broke the high jump record – would you consider it one of your greatest achievements?
A: Yeah, I guess so. You get the regulations from Guinness World Records because there was a record before that, so I had to break that record, and there are certain rules. We got really short time for the actual tent, so I didn’t really have time to test it and train. So, in the tent it was actually the first time I tried that height. I was super stoked. We tried like ten inches lower and we couldn’t do it, but then the world record attempt went so smoothly. It was really cool.
Q: What does being a Red Bull athlete mean to you?
A: It’s good to be chosen. It’s really hard to get into Red Bull. Red Bull is known for sponsoring the best athletes in the world. So, I feel kind of fortunate to be on the team, and Red Bull has given me a lot of opportunities as well, like tours and a lot of traveling. I’ve seen the world with Red Bull, so it’s pretty awesome. Red Bull is a good sponsor for sure; they take care of all their athletes.
Q: How would you describe your lifestyle in three words?
A: Travels, searching the world. Home, which stands for like being at home and being with your friends or whatever. And trials, trials of life.
Photos: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal