Red Bull biker a big hit among passing students on campus

The first few days at Carnegie Mellon are often marked by a glowing, campus-wide ambiance that feeds off the sunny skies and palpable excitement around the new school year. Between dapping one’s bros and dissecting one’s ScheduleMan print-out, it’s not always easy to find time to lay back and embrace the tail end of the Pittsburgh summer. That is, of course, unless world-renowned trial biker Thomas Oehler is bunny hopping over you and five of your friends while you all lie face-up on the pavement outside of the UC.

On Aug. 30, former world champion trial biker and Red Bull athlete Oehler came to Carnegie Mellon as part of his “Back to School” tour that has stretched from Ohio, to Boston, to Pittsburgh. Crowds of up to 70 or 80 students at a time lined the architectural landmarks of Carnegie Mellon’s campus to watch Oehler hop from pillars, benches, and fences.

Senior computer science major J.P. Patrizio was dumbfounded by what he saw. “It’s like parkour ... except on a bike,” Patrizio said. “I haven’t seen anything like that before — it’s incredible. He literally jumped over me. So epic.”

Oehler’s had a passion for trial biking for a long time. Riding since he was just 12 years old, Oehler now dons a cattle-adorned helmet and the title of “Red Bull athlete.” Crowned world champion in 2008, he is always enthusiastic to hear students “ooh” and “aah” as he bikes over campus landscapes. Oehler said the way he aims to excite just comes naturally.

“When we were little, my friends and I used to try to impress each other riding around the neighborhood,” Oehler said in his Austrian accent. “It’s just what we did.”

Between every class change, Oehler made a point of performing mind-bending stunts that left onlookers with their mouths ajar. For students who have have never been used as a prop in a rogue trial biking exhibition, they’ve got a new story to tell. For Oehler, he’s just happy to be on his bike, living out his childhood whims.

As students gear up for a typical demanding semester at Carnegie Mellon, events such as this help to liven up a sometimes stressful campus. Oehler was quite the hit, giving students a short escape from their academic livelihood.