Like all sports, BMX biking has a lot to do with confidence. You need to really believe in yourself if you’re going to have the guts to tackle those stairs and rails. Watching these fearless riders flip and grind is an absorbing, and at times nerve-racking, experience. Now what if we told you that the guy on the bike crushing crank flips and rail slides was just over a decade old? Lewis Cunningham, known more popularly as “little shredder,” has been rocking a BMX since the age 7, and as a sponsored rider at the age of 13, this kid is destined for greatness.
Lewis was first introduced to the thrill of bike sports about 6 years ago when his dad started taking him out to an abandoned quarry to ride quad bikes. He loved it, but when the local council stopped permitting people to enter the area, they had nowhere to ride. Not to be deterred, they sold the quad and used the money to buy a WeThePeople arcade 18” BMX. Lewis started riding at the local skate park just down from his house, and if he wasn’t still only 13, you could almost say the rest is history.
He knew that he had found the sport for him, and his skill quickly started catching the eye of other riders, who couldn’t believe how young he was. The freedom he felt on his bike was addictive, though, and he just kept riding and pushing the limits of what he could accomplish. Drawing inspiration from more experienced riders, Lewis progressed swiftly, and keeping pace with guys twice his age, soon realized nothing could stop him.
A sport with an innovative, do-it-yourself beginning, BMX biking started about four decades ago in Southern California. Kids began modifying regular cycling bikes for riding on dirt tracks used for motocross. Although dirt racing is still a part of the BMX scene, Cunningham explains that kids in urban areas, where there were no dirt tracks, started a trend in freestyle riding, emphasizing acrobatic tricks. What he loves about the sport is that it is more about adventure, it’s a scene, a group of friends hanging out, just showing off tricks.
These days, the little shredder rides at least 3-4 times a week, more during school holidays. But now that the weather is warming up, you can bet he is racing home every day after school, eager to hit the streets with his friends. Spending the weekends in search of new spots to ride, his philosophy is simple: it’s just about getting out there and enjoying yourself.
Lewis is lucky to have a family that is super supportive and proud of their son for finding a passion so early in life. His dad is the one who goes out with him, does most of the filming, takes him around to different towns and helps facilitate his progress. A testament to what can happen when parents believe in their children, Lewis’s family loves what he does and they encourage him to keep setting new goals and reaching new heights.
He’s also made some great friends through the sport, people from different places and walks of life, brought together by a common and insatiable passion. Lewis explains that you just get used to seeing each other around local jams, showing off tricks, and what usually starts off as a bit of a rivalry often turns into a bond of friendship. Quick to acknowledge the inspiration he draws from the guys he rides with, he says it’s about finding people you respect and that can bring out the best in you.
In addition to the friends, community, and sense of accomplishment the sport has obviously brought him, there are other things that biking can teach you which can be carried over to normal life. As Lewis knows, when attempting a new trick, if you can visualize in your head when you close your eyes what something is going to feel like, when you do it, it’ll happen that way. The second you hesitate on a bike and lose confidence, things start to go wrong. It’s about believing in yourself and having the courage to test your abilities. A remarkable lesson to learn so early in life, this admirable young man has a contagious passion that is sure to take him great places.
His plans for the future? Just to ride as much as possible and keep progressing. From the age of eight, he’d wanted to join Animal Bikes, a proud member of the team – he’s now looking to get on the amateur team before going pro. One to keep an eye on, Lewis is just getting started and has many years of riding ahead of him. We wish him all the best and look forward to seeing what’s next for this young debutant!