Riding High - Arūnas ‘Aras’ Gibieža

When racing wasn’t ticking all the boxes for Arūnas ‘Aras’ Gibieža, the young stunt rider from Vilnius, Lithuania, he returned to his childhood passion of stunt riding. After buying his second bike, a Suzuki GSX600R, Aras decided to prepare both the bike and himself for the challenge. This week, You & I catches up with the two-time European stunt riding champion and Red Bull athlete, before his head-spinning show in Hyderabad on Gixxer Day.  

How did you discover your passion for stunting?
It all began when I was 10 years old. My grandfather bought me my first scooter, a Suzuki RG50. I soon realised that speed and extremes were my calling. After just a few weeks, I was already riding on the rear wheel, dragging my feet on the ground to feel the balance of the bike. Those were my first steps towards becoming a stunt rider.

And how did you get involved with superbikes? The graduation from scooters to performance-based bikes to racing and, finally, to stunting?!
I was 16 when I bought my first superbike, a Yamaha R6, and started performing in competitions. I performed well in racing championships across Europe and the Baltic States, and my winnings started getting me noticed back home. But eventually I realised that racing wasn’t giving me the rush I got from stunting. So I switched back, went old school, bought a Suzuki GSX600R, and embraced my childhood passion.

This is your second visit to Hyderabad. The last time you were here, you performed for the Red Bull Showrun on Necklace Road, along with F1 veteran David Coulthard. What was that experience like for you?
It was great! The venue was packed with thousands of spectators and their energy was phenomenal. I’m elated to be back here,as I’ve always received a very warm and enthusiastic welcome. It was amazing to see a celebration of the biking brotherhood that brought people together when I was here the last time around. 

What about the preparation that goes into stunting? Do you schedule your performance and have a lineup, or is it all impromptu?
The first and foremost thing that goes into the preparation is to get geared – wear your helmet, gloves, shoes and jacket. I then have a warmup session, learn and understand the track and its nuances. Finally I throttle up and set the wheels rolling. Coming to stunts, they are impromptu. I start with the basics and gradually move to the more advanced ones, and then finally freestyles. It also depends on the crowd, and their energy level.

Tell us a bit about the current stunting scenario.
Even though it’s a difficult and dangerous sport, stunting is gaining popularity across the world. There are icons that inspire lots of fans and riders. I idolise Chris Pfeiffer, who rides for BMW Motorrad. Moreover, there has been an upsurge of talented riders from many other countries. And it is really hard to be on top of the game. But yeah, just be determined to win.

What are your thoughts on motorcyclists from India?
The number of bike users in India is phenomenal. But one sad thing that I noticed was that most of them do not wear their helmets. People must understand that safety is very important, you should protect yourself. Take care of your bike and the gear. Remember to ride safe and to always wear a helmet.     --- as told to Augustin