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Cycle stunts wow fair-goers

Bangor Daily News | BDN
Bangor Daily News | BDN
Stunt bicyclist Mike Steidley jumps his mountain bike over Michael Noddin, 11, of East Millinocket on Saturday, July 31, 2010 at the Bangor State Fair. Steidley, 28, of North Haven, Conn., has won eight national mountain biking championships. He will demonstrate his skills at 5 and 9 p.m. daily through Tuesday in the Bangor Auditorium. (Bangor Daily News/Judy Harrison)
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Michael Noddin can do bunny hops on the back wheel of his bicycle at home in East Millinocket, but the 11-year-old had never seen the kinds of stunts Mike Steidley performed Saturday the Bangor State Fair.

Steidley, 28, of New Haven, Conn., has won national championships in events sponsored by the National Off-Road Bicycle Association and the North American Trials Council. He has traveled to 23 countries and spends about 40 weekends a year performing at events similar to the fair.

Using several metal platforms and a steel frame that resembled a staircase, Steidley made his custom-designed mountain bike bounce, climb, leap, glide and even hang in the air for a few seconds in a 20-minute demonstration Saturday.

Midway through the show, Steidley called Michael out from his front-bleacher seat in the Bangor Auditorium and asked the son of Peter and Peggy Noddin to lie down on the floor. The bicyclist lifted up his front wheel and hopped over the thin, blond boy. Steidley then turned the bike around and charged toward Michael before lifting both wheels off the floor and sailing over him.

“It was freaky,” the boy said after the show, “but it was good.”

Michael said he did not think he would try jumping his bike over his friends anytime soon but would keep practicing his wheelies and bunny hops.

That is exactly how Steidley got started, he said after the show, practicing hopping over the curb in front of his house.

“I grew up riding bikes,” he said. “As I got older, I thought this would be a good way to travel and see the world.”

He also earned a bachelor’s degree in sports marketing from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. In addition to performing and competing, Steidley has his own firm, Marketing X Sports.

His shows will be presented at 5 and 9 p.m. daily in the Bangor Auditorium through Tuesday.

Bass Park Director Mike Dyer on Thursday predicted the fair could draw 75,000 patrons over the 10-day event, if the sunny weather of the past few days persists.

He said late Sunday afternoon that 16,200 people attended the first two days of the fair compared with 17,100 last year.

In addition to Steidley, some of the new attractions this year are the Aussie Kingdom show, which features kangaroos and other Australian mammals, and Dave Smith, better known as the Human Cannonball.

“The Swampmaster [Jeff Quattrocchi] seems to really be packing the crowds in,” Dyer said Sunday, “but for sheer cute appeal, the kangaroos are winning hands down.”

Dyer said fair-goers can expect to see many of the things they have come to enjoy, including a massive midway coordinated by E.J. Dean of Fiesta Shows, but there also are some new attractions.

“For $10, I think this is the best deal around,” Dyer said.

Bangor State Fair organizers switched to a flat-fee structure last year and saw a huge spike in attendance. The fee includes admittance to the fair, access to all shows and unlimited rides.

For the first time, the Bangor State Fair has a smoke-free midway. Dyer said smoking kiosks have been set up to keep smokers away from other fair-goers while they are smoking.

“People seem resigned to them,” he said Sunday of the smoking areas. “We spend more time answering questions about where they are than in directing people to them because they are smoking where they shouldn’t be.”

The fair, which runs through Sunday, opens at 2 p.m. weekdays and noon on weekends.

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