When he was 19 years old, Tim Dyson was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was then that he decided he wanted to be a freestyle motocross rider, and he began mimicking the aerial feats of his favorite dirt bike daredevils.
The motocross enthusiast now runs his own business, Tim Dyson FMX, which tours the country performing FMX tricks. On Saturday and Sunday, Dyson tears into Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen for Baltimore Bike Fest, an event to raise money for Epicenter, a youth center. In addition to FMX shows, Baltimore Bike Fest features street bike stunts, a motorcycle show, a bikini and leather fashion show, and live disc jockeys.
With a slight Southern drawl and a quickness to laugh, Dyson discussed what to expect at this weekend's event.
Question: How did you get started in FMX?
Answer: I got started just riding all the time, having fun with my friends. We started doing tricks [we saw] watching "Crusty Demons of Dirt" videos. We kept practicing riding, and doing tricks at the local tracks. I got pretty good at it, and a couple of years later a promoter saw me. I was on the road with him for five years. Recently I broke with him [and] got my own thing going. I've got my own ramps, my own business. It's been going pretty good ever since.
Question: How long and how much effort does it take to master a new trick for a show?
Answer: It just takes some time on the bike, but now when we go to shows I usually don't even practice. It's kind of a job now. I've been doing this eight years professionally. I'm topped out at what I'm going to do, [though] I just started back-flipping this month. I spent a month with Kenny Bartram [10-time X Games and Gravity Games medalist], and learned the back-flip. I did a metal landing on Monday and over-rotated so bad I landed on my back. Now my back's all bruised up. That's my goal: to nail it to this metal landing, so I can just keep riding them out.
Question: Do you think you could explain to someone who hasn't ever done a back-flip what it feels like to be going that fast and flipping upside down in midair on a dirt bike?
Answer: It's pretty freaky. I've done about 250 of them in the foam pit, and my first one in dirt was about three to four weeks ago. It took me three hours to do it. I kept jumping and jumping and I couldn't lean back and pivot and pull back. The last jump of the day, ... I leaned back, pinned it and it went around with me. It was pretty cool. The next day I went back and landed like 40 more, and the next day I landed 40 more.
Question: How did the Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis affect your decision to learn these freestyle tricks?
Answer: That's where it all started. I was watching those Crusty videos, and I was like, "Man, I want to be one of those guys." I used to ride all the time, but not that crazy. After my chemo, I went back to Florida, and started riding more. From then on, I just started practicing and doing what they were doing in the videos, kind of mimicking them. A couple of years later, I got really good. I went to a freestyle contest, and I ended up winning.
Question: How are you doing now?
Answer: Good. I've got my own business. ... I'm starting to get a lot of shows booked. My health is good. I've been in remission now for 12 to 13 years.
Question: When folks come out to Ripken Stadium, what can they expect from your show?
Answer: They're going to see a lot of high-flying, good freestyle motocross. ... We should be doing three 20-minute shows during the day Saturday and Sunday. We're going to do cliffhangers, a bunch of seat-grab combinations, one-handed helicopters, stuff like that.
If you go
Baltimore Bike Fest runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Ripken Stadium, 873 Long Drive in Aberdeen. Tickets for children under 12 are $10; general admission and stunt riders are $20. Go to missiontix.com.