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The main action at Wheels and Waves Biarritz 2015 took place at the Cité de l’Ocean structure, a successful conceptual piece of modernist architecture, designed to mirror the sea and the sky, it looks like it could have been designed by Dave Arnold of Dirt Quake and Sideburn Magazine, he designs and builds skateparks and that’s exactly what this looks like albeit a highly stylised and sophisticated one.
As a venue it worked perfectly, Wheels and Waves Biarritz 2015 attracted plenty of skaters and BMXers, as well as surfers of course, and all the cultures cross over in one way or another, motorcycles with surfboards, skateboards and even BMX’s strapped to them have always been a common sight at Wheels & Waves. The building certainly played host to skaters and BMXers doing their thing though they also had their own dedicated half-ramp on site, it also became an outdoor cinema in the evenings as well as a music venue. Davida’s photographer, Gareth Buddo thought the reflected light of the roof created a perfect naturally infinity curve for Davida’s photoshoots with Jasmine.
Past all the tents was a great little beach that facilitated the ‘waves’ element to the event in a more practical way than the lighthouse venue ever did, stunning though that was. A larger site was frankly essential this year to accommodate the growth of the event.
Unfortunately the waves didn’t really play ball though late on Saturday night Davida’s Jasmine treated a few lucky people to an intimate fire-dance choreographed to the sound of the surf, a perfect end to the night.Jasmine and her boyfriend Ben, now the singer of legendary grindcore band ‘Extreme Noise Terror’ certainly garnered some attention over the weekend what with the tattoos, flamboyant outfits, fire-breathing and the like, particularly at the Punk’s Peak start line and with a fire display at Cité de l’Ocean on Friday evening, an impromptu thing, the dodgy pallets she performed on almost sabotaged her but she stayed on her feet and didn’t miss a beat. Jasmine was the flag-girl at last year’s Dirt Quake event and as she’s now riding bikes she’s going to be on the other side of the start line this year racing in the ladies class.
The army tents that housed the exhibitors actually stood up to the rain pretty well, each day the Davida tent roof was ‘de-bulged’ three or four times but it didn’t stop the shopping, the Davida stand at Wheels and Waves Biarritz 2015 was rammed from 10am ’till past midnight and was busy when just about everyone else had packed up. Perhaps in part due to a case of Liverpool speciality Gin we had brought as a bit of a cultural exchange, who doesn’t like G&T’s?
Less resistant to the elements was the long disused Garage Foch which housed the ‘ArtRide’ exhibition, it quickly became clear that its dilapidated roof was not up to the job early on in the setting up and yet, amazingly, the Southsiders team became roofers and got the huge expanse of leakiness watertight enough in time to house some really special artworks from the likes of Wolfgang Bloch, a Californian surfer who is obsessed with huge skies, they dominate his seascapes, the ocean and the tiny surfers on it dwarfed by the volatile heavens above and, perhaps the one person a certain generation were intimidated to meet, Paul Simonon, legendary Clash bassist who annoyingly turns out to be a highly skilled painter to boot, his works depict the accoutrements of Britain’s ton-up boys, certainly retrospective and yet his style seems to look further back to the style of Van Gogh though with a very British ‘Saturday night and Sunday Morning’ history.
Untroubled by a leaky roof were the bronze sculptures of Jeff Decker, for many years now the pre-eminent sculptor of motorcycling bronzes that, at the risk of sounding whimsical, are very evocative and given the medium he uses rather timeless and mythological, he also brought part of his collection of motorcycle club cut-off jackets, fascinating social documents in themselves. Also oblivious to the leaky roof was a prominent display of the Davida special edition Wheels & Waves helmets designed by Japanese artist Naoto Hinai of Nuts Artworks, one of my all time favourite Davida helmets. Davida were more than delighted that this Wheels and Waves Biarritz 2015, was the year of the Japanese given our long history of notability and collaboration with the Japanese, elsewhere Japanese suns were emblazoned on the Southsiders’ jackets and one of El Solitario’s bikes certainly looked to the East even if it was a Ducati as we shall see. We got to hook up with old friend Hero who used to do pattern making for Lewis Leathers back in the day and took one of our helmets to Japan when he moved back. Also having made the journey from Japan were Clutch Magazine fresh from their collaboration with Nick Clement’s influential Men’s File Magazine, Nick is of course a bit of a veteran of Wheels & Waves by now.
Nico ‘Ornamental Conifer’ Sclater was back again at Wheels and Waves Biarritz 2015 , now residing in LA (upsides and downsides to it he says though mainly up) his artwork was again ubiquitous around the event particularly with the commission he’s done for BMW’s ‘Path 22′ concept bike which was unveiled at ‘ArtRide’ along with specially painted jackets for the BMW team and the Southsiders, one jacket had ‘The future is our fault’ painted on it, he has his own way with words. The bike ticks all the right boxes for Wheels & Waves: fun, jacked-up scrambler styling, properly engineered surf board holder, you get the idea. Paul D’Orleans has pointed out on his, highly recommended, Vintagent blog that ‘Path22′ is a forest road that Southsider Vincent Prat uses to access his favourite surfing break. The bike, based on a NineT of course, is a good example, like the Ducati Scrambler, of how seriously this comparatively recent scene is taken by the big manufacturers, certainly their embracing of it has been paying off.
Amongst the Spanish contingent present we caught up with at Wheels and Waves Biarritz 2015 where photographers Kristina Fender and Alberto Garcia-Alix, both so talented in their respective fields, Kristina had chosen to shoot analogue film for her own pleasure rather than shoot for one of the sponsors this year, having missed it due to work last year, that was probably a good call and good that she could make that call. Always independent, Alberto rode up from Madrid on one of his beloved Harleys, a cherished one he bought back in 1983, it wouldn’t be Wheels & Waves without him, always looking for the right shot with his hand-painted Hasselblad always at hand, he’s soon to head off to South America, Chile I think it was, to spend some time shooting in a rough and tumble town down there.
David Boras and the El Solitarios as ever bounced from place to place in their usual exuberant reverie, you can maybe pin them down for a few minutes here and there before they bounds off to the next thing, their enthusiasm for the event is as contagious and charming as ever. As ever they bought plenty of bikes to challenge people with (they are divisive, Picasso once said “A good work should bristle with razor blades”) my favourite being a 70’s 350 ‘wide case’ Ducati called Mononoke, it has had some serious performance modifications but the thing that really grabs you is the amazing paintwork, it was done using oils by an artist called Osiyuyu, he spent a month on it, the origin of the art being Hayao Miyazaki’s anime epic “Princess Mononoke” a favourite of David’s kid’s.
The El Solitario bunch are a really genuine bunch, what you see is what you get and they’re generally up for a bit of mischief, we had a bit of fun with them when Davida produced a run of special helmets for them, the helmet has a two tone ‘Lone Wolf’ design, Sharon at Davida rang them and said “They’re done, lettering looks great, ‘Lone Woof’ just as you requested!”
Davida have been involved with Wheels & Waves from the early years though never on the scale of this years event, what with the Southsiders all resplendent in their Wheels & Waves special editions and El Solitario wearing their specials, they were all around.
Most Davida’s that we saw were of course long cherished examples, designer Jochen Schmitz-Linkweiler of LSL had his Classic Jet that he’s been using since 1993 and the lovely Sam Lovegrove who has been a dedicated ‘Wheels and Waver’ for many a year had a cherished old green Jet, he turned up on an old Norton ‘Mod.30′ I believe, and could usually be found riding with Brough man Mark Upham who was sporting a rather splendid old French Police motorcyclists helmet from 1959 if memory serves me correctly, the two of them are kinda the quintessential Wheels & Waves riders. You may be familiar with Mark’s multiple successes with his Broughs on Bonneville’s Salt Flats of late, well I’m happy to report that perhaps an unusual new record is to be set, it turns out that Mark’s daughter is set to take to the Salts and will become the youngest ever to do so in the process, we wish her good speed. Sam Lovegrove is now well known beyond the classic motorcycling fraternity thanks to the wonders of television and his many appearances with TV motorcycling person du jour and Davida aficionado, the equally affable Henry Cole.
In the next installment: Punk’s Peak Races, Ride Outs and other tales.