The loading dock behind the Museum of Glass is packed with 100+ people, all crowded around a 12-foot-tall glowing portal of neon, flashing bulbs, and aluminum teeth. It’s late October and the weather made good on the 100% chance of rain. Anticipation hangs in the crowd like a thick fog as they adjust their safety glasses.
A strange man wearing a helmet crowned with sparklers emerges from the darkness. His buttocks, tattooed with positive and negative battery terminals, are exposed to the crowd for a brief awkward moment while he dons his fireproof overalls and cape. Across his helmet in hand-painted letters reads the title, Gaytron the Imploder.
Like a gladiator dressed for battle, he mounts a black bicycle, lights his sparklers and a pair of Piccolo Petes zip-tied to his seat, and sets off toward the gaping maw. He picks up speed, lowers his head like a mountain goat in heat, and hits the ramp. As his front wheel flies off the three inch precipice, 200 feet of neon tubing lit by 90,000 volts of rare stimulated gasses are obliterated in a half-second.
Our hero skids to a stop, pops a bottle of champagne, and poses for the crowd. His adoring fans go nuts, scampering through the shattered neon tubing looking for souvenirs. It’s 2017 and unbeknownst to the jubilant crowd, this would be the last Bike Jump anyone would see for more than four years.
But hope is not lost. At sundown on May 19th, 2022, Gaytron the Imploder rides again. You’ll find him in an alley off 6th Ave between I St. and J St. Be there if you dare. It’s gonna be something.
The whole thing is the weird mutant brainchild of Galen Turner, Tacoma’s own mad scientist. Few exaggerations can be made about Bike Jump. It is 100% as wild as it looks and also as mundane as it sounds. It’s the greatest amount of build-up for the smallest climax ever. It’s probably not the kind of thing that everyone would enjoy but no one could experience it come away feeling “meh” about it.
Like Galen said, “There’s just something about having a junky and a lawyer standing arm-in-arm watching a jackass for like 20 minutes and they don’t even know what happened but they know they liked it.”
Most of the other bike jumps happened in the alley behind Galen’s studio. Before Bike Jump #6, the neon was just mounted up between some 2x4s. The MOG event was a one-off fundraiser for 2nd Cycle but it did give birth to the new Bike Jump rig. The 12 foot beast will be making a comeback this year—complete with functioning Jacob’s Ladder.
In honor of the triumphant return of Bike Jump, we wanted to share some of the posters from past events. Designed by Noah Struthers, executive director of 2nd Cycle, the Bike Jump posters put out every year are almost as amazing to see as the jump itself.
“I describe ‘bike jump’ as Tacomas electric sand mandala,” Noah says, “Bike jump is like a sand mandala in its impermanence. It’s a celebration of the transient nature of reality and beauty. It’s here and now then gone in a pow. It is gritty, DIY, kinda dangerous and sort of stupid. Very Tacoma.”
Noah also drew the poster that comes with Hard Copy 15, just FYI.
Follow the progress and get to know the people behind it on Instagram: