The Black Belts of Shred Academy

Axel and Hunter are the Blackbelts of SHRED!

The Shred Academy program has been slowly building over the last few years and we have time and again been impressed with the focus and dedication, not only from our young riders, but from their amazing families as well. For Spring Shred 2019, Head Coach Levi Weert has rolled out a new wristband reward program to highlight rider accomplishments on the different features of Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park. The green band rewards the ability to pump through all of the Green Line, the orange band rewards the same for all three corners of the Pump Track, the blue denotes the ability to clear all of the Blue Line table tops, and finally the black band – the most difficult to achieve, and thus the most coveted – acknowledges a rider’s ability to navigate all of the features of the freestyle Black Line.

Recently, two young riders succeeded in securing their black wristbands earning the duo the moniker “the black belts of Shred Academy.” We wanted to take some time to chat with the riders, their families, and Head Coach Levi about why they ride and what it takes to ride at the level they do. Check out their answers to some questions and the photos and video clips of these rad shredders doing what they love and doing it with style.

Head Coach Levi Weert:

How long have you been mentoring them?  Over 3 years.

What is it like to coach them?  Really fun. They put so much effort in and it’s so rewarding to hear “Coach Levi did you see me do it!?” Sometimes it’s a little scary for me. Sometimes I think to myself, “Are you really going to try that? Should I be ok with it?”

How are they good role models for others?  They wear all of their protective gear (full-face helmet, gloves, knee and elbow pads, etc). They are very supportive to the other riders and they carry no ego with them which stands out a lot to me.

Next steps?  Jr. Coaches. These kids (along with a few others) have inspired the Lumberyard to order Jr. Coach basketball jerseys for some of the more advanced riders to help others and be leaders. To demonstrate to others what kids can do and how we can help them. And to continue to be great ambassadors for our sport.

The Parents:

Who are they?

Axel’s parents: Axel Faris Weaver, Age 7, “I am basically 8, mom!” (8 on July 24)
Hunter’s parents: Hunter Wills, Age 8 (9 on May 28th)

How long have they been biking?

Axel’s parents: Axel has been biking ever since he could throw his leg over his scoot bike. 1 year? Started riding at the LY at 18 months – lots of speed wobbles down the green line.
Hunter’s parents: Hunter started on a balance bike when he was two. He started on trails shortly after. He got his first real mountain bike at 5 at which point we started towing him uphill as much as he would ride down – which was a lot. At 8 he is able to climb 1500-2000’ at which point he requests a parental tow or chairlift. We gladly oblige.

Where do they bike? How much biking abroad?

Axel’s parents: Axel likes to bike everywhere. Loves to cruise the neighborhood and all over to look for jumps. He rides to school everyday and does manuals down every driveway. He rides at the LY, Sandy Ridge, Post canyon, Mt. Hood, and every year we head to Whistler and he rides with Hunter.
Hunter’s parents: Hunter rides BMX at the Lumberyard and local skate parks. His favorite skatepark is Tigard. He rides mountain bikes at Sandy Ridge, Post Canyon, Timberline, SkiBowl, Oakridge, Bellingham, Trestle bike park, Duthie, and Whistler. His favorite trails are in Whistler which is the highlight each year. We have gone to Whistler at least 2 weeks a year since 2017. We went so much last year and plan to go this year that we got season passes! Last year Hunter and Axel rode Whistler together.

How did they meet?

Axel’s parents: We all [the parents] used to race cyclocross against each other before we had kids. We always knew each other then started hanging out again when the kids could ride – they have been riding together since about 2015.
Hunter’s parents: We met the Weavers in 2006 racing cyclocross. This was long before kids. We were fierce competitors! Kids happened and life got better. Hunter and Axel met when they were little at bike races on balance bikes. They started doing Lumberyard Shred Academy around 2015 and have been buds since. Axel is Hunter’s favorite shred pal.

How do you support them?

Axel’s parents: We support him by always trying to keep it fun and low stress. If he wants to do it then we will support him. We go to the LY every Wednesday and many other days when we have time. We also do everything as a family – we all go ride and go mountain biking as a family and wherever we go we usually hit up a skate park along the way. We almost always have a bike in the back of the car. We like to ride and now his brother, Cru, is liking to ride so we always try to make it a family affair and make it fun wherever we go. Biking is just part of our everyday life. We keep the kids’ bikes in the living room so it’s always a quick grab to get out the door and go ride. This makes it easy and super normal everyday stuff that we do.
Hunter’s parents: We make biking a priority in our life. We encourage Hunter to get out on his bike rather than be inside. There are few limits on where we will go to provide him opportunities to ride. Portland is a great town for riding BMX but unfortunately, it requires an hour or more of driving to ride trails. We make it work. Lastly, we invest in equipment that performs to his ability and will keep him safe.

The Kids:

Why do you like biking?

Axel: I like biking because it gives me a lot of energy.
Hunter: I like biking because it is something you can do with your friends and challenge your friends to do harder things. I think sometimes people don’t want to be challenged because they are scared it’s too hard.

Favorite bike to ride?

Axel: S&M BMX bike.
Hunter: I have two favorites: my Cult BMX and Lil’ Shredder mountain bike.

Favorite place to ride?

Axel: I have never been but I think my favorite place would be Woodward, I want to go. Can we go, mom? Since I haven’t been to Woodward my favorite place to ride is the Lumberyard. My favorite place to ride mountain bikes is Post Canyon because it has a lot of jumps.
Hunter: I have two. The Lumberyard and Whistler. My favorite runs at Whistler are Pulp Fiction, Drop-in Clinic, Dirt Merchant (the old one, I haven’t ridden the new one), and of course A-Line.

Most memorable moment from biking?

Axel: When I met Rat Boy and Loose Dog at my dad’s work. I kinda rode with them. Oh, and when I got to meet Sean Burns. Riding Bad Motor Scooter [at Post] is also my favorite.
Hunter: My first time at Shred Academy because I was just going to learn a lot and be a better rider. I like Levi because he is really nice and pushes me to be a better rider.

Worst Crash?

Axel: At the Redmond Pump track. I was trying to jump a berm and landed on my butt and my bike flew out.
Hunter: On a rainy day in Whistler we did a trail outside of the bike park and I wore a half shell for climbing. We forgot my full face. I overshot a jump, landed nose heavy, and got a bloody nose from crashing.

Favorite Trick:

Axel: 360’s at the LY.
Hunter: Either 360 or bar spin. Or maybe a moto-whip over a big table.

Thanks so much to Coach Levi, Heather Wills, Matt Wills, Hunter Wills, Megan Faris, Ryan Weaver, and Axel Faris Weaver for answering all of our questions and being a phenomenal part of our Shred Academy and Lumberyard families. Without you, and the shredicated families like you, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

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2700 NE 82nd Ave across from Madison High School.