Prairie Profiles, Jordan Tuttle: Tuttle’s tires keep on spinning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2006

By Adam Hammer, staff writer

Some kids butt helmets in football for fun. Others might like driving the lane and shooting buckets in basketball. But Jordan &8220;Pigpen&8221; Tuttle enjoys throwing out 540 tire-taps and turn downs on his bicycle.

In the winter, Tuttle plays hockey, but said he doesn’t take his bike riding any less serious. In fact, he may take it more seriously than hockey.

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He competes competitively in freestyle biking in and outside of Minnesota, sometimes in divisions where he is years younger than most of the competitors.

&8220;I’ve taken some seconds and thirds, but half the kids are in college,&8221; he said.

He has also picked up a few first place awards at contests in Mankato and third place during the Third Lair

contest at the Albert Lea Skatepark on July 2.

Most of his awards come in the form of merchandise such as i-pods and bike parts, he said.

The young rider started getting competitive with the sport about five years ago.

&8220;I got into it through friends,&8221; Tuttle said. &8220;I used to race, but now I compete freestyle in Mankato and Wisconsin.&8221;

His first bike was an inexpensive Huffy. He now rides a bike made by Kink with more than $1,200 put into it.

Freestyle biking can be very dangerous, making some parents hesitant about letting their children get involved in the sport. Curt Tuttle, Jordan’s father, was cautious at first, but now rarely gets nervous.

&8220;The first time I saw it, I got really nervous,&8221; he said. &8220;I just kept thinking about insurance.&8221;

Curt has been supportive of his son and has helped fund most of his bike. He also finds himself sometimes defending Jordan and the sport’s reputation.

Freestyle biking is often seen as out-of-the-ordinary and not taken as seriously as extracurricular activities. Locally, Tuttle feels he and his crew are sometimes viewed as outcasts.

&8220;Sometimes, we’d get kicked out of the skatepark because kids down there would be doing drugs and smoking under the ramps,&8221; he said. &8220;But it wasn’t us.&8221;

Tuttle acknowledged that sometimes there is trouble at the skatepark, but the trouble-makers are usually not the skateboarders and bikers, he said.

&8220;Some of the cops are pretty cool about it though,&8221; he added.

Tuttle said many complaints and the ensuing conflict come from residents in the condominiums that neighbor the skatepark.

&8220;The skatepark was there before that condo was built,&8221; Curt said.

Tuttle is appreciative of the city’s skatepark, despite its bad reputation. He said he enjoys having a place to ride, but wishes it was bigger and better.

&8220;I wish we were more like Mankato,&8221; he said. &8220;I’d rather have to pay than have a free park so it could be bigger. It’s easier to ride big stuff.&8221;

The skatepark in Albert Lea includes banks, a funbox, rails, two 4-foot quarter pipes and an area for flat-ground tricks. It is outdoors near the City Beach and open seasonally.

The park in Mankato is indoor/outdooor and includes 8-foot quarter pipes and 14,000 square feet of rideable surface.

&8220;What we have is better than nothing though,&8221; Tuttle said.

Tuttle often finds himself going to parks in other towns to learn new tricks and ride on bigger equipment. When he learns new flip-tricks, he said he likes to go to parks in the Twin Cities area with foam pits.

Chris Ostrander, Tuttle’s friend and a beginner on the bike, has been riding for two years and said he would also like to have more equipment to help him learn tricks.

Since &8220;Skateboard&8221; Stan Sevaldson passed away in 2003, the skatepark has been in the city’s control. Sevaldson helped organize the Albert Lea Skatepark Association, solicited donations and worked with the city and area officials to make the skatepark a reality.

&8220;It would be nice to get someone to sponsor it again,&8221; Tuttle said.

For now, Tuttle said he’s just going to keep riding and trying to get better with the resources he has.