Back in 2009, six biker buddies from Toulouse in South West France decided to hit the road and ride to one of their favourite places, Biarritz.
Of all the picturesque coastal resorts in this part of the world, the former Basque whaling turned spa town, represented everything they held dear. Fabulous riding roads, stunning scenery, and the tumultuous Bay of Biscay, which catered to their other passion; surfing.
That very first run saw the original six, led by a founder member of the Southsiders MC, Vincent Pratt, joined by 20 friends. Little did they know, this was the nucleus of what would become Wheels and Waves. This year 2019 will see the festival enjoy its eighth successful stint, and judging by the buzz surrounding last year’s event, 2019 should be bigger and better than ever.
Wheels and Waves is a mecca for the new wave custom scene and now attracts exhibitors, artists, competitors and visitors from all over the world. Though, it would be doing the event a grave injustice calling it merely a bike show. With its eclectic mix of music, art surfing and racing, it’s more accurate to call it a meeting of two-wheeled, counter-culturist gear-heads.
Make no mistake, old and noisy motorcycles will always be at the heart of Wheels and Waves. The event is, however, not afraid to embrace the artistic side of life either. The side that depicts, and often inspires, riders to embrace temperamental, sometimes hard to live with café racers, bobbers, chops, low riders, flat trackers, and vintage bikes that are at the very heart of the show.
So what will the Wheels & Waves Festival in Biarritz look like in 2019? As always the festival has a packed agenda so you may wish to pace yourself
Wednesday 12th of June: The show opens the doors to the village at Cité de l’Océan Biarritz at 10 am. The LOG Invitational Surf Contest is first up at the Plage de la Milady.
However, if crashing Atlantic rollers doesn’t float your boat, an hour later sees Jaizkibel Hondarribia open to the public. Mount Jaizkibel is the location for (arguably), the highlight of the festival; the highly popular Punk’s Peak Sprint races.
If boards with wheels are more your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi and (for the first time), Tony Alva will be attending the ‘Hit The Deck’ contest which kicks-off on the same day. The trio will be offering encouragement to inspire the new generation of skaters.
Thursday 13th June: Day two kicks-off once more with further heats of the surf contest and introduces the first of three rides through the beautiful Basque countryside.
Thursday evening’s entertainment comes in the form of ‘ARTRIDE’ an exhibition of extraordinary motorcycles. The show takes place against a backdrop of photography, filmmaking, artwork, live bands and performances.
Friday 14th June: If you head into the woods you’ll find that, back for the second year is the ‘Deus Swank Rally X Wheels and Waves’ (Enduro race), at Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle. The Hit the Deck skate contest continues at 4 pm, with prior free sessions from 10 am.
Saturday 15th June: Getting sideways and dirt; if that’s your thing, you’ll probably want to head down the coast and across the border, to the Hippodrome de San-Sebastian. That’s where the new “El Rollo Flat Track Race” takes place. This event is new to Wheels & Waves and will be an official round of the European Flat Track Championship, held in association with the DTRA.
Sunday 16th June: The last day of the event sees the finale of the surf contests, a line up of bands at the Brunch Concert in the village, with ride-out through the mountain villages Pays Basque before slowing the pace, with the ‘Chill-out Village’. After which the show finally winds up for another year at 6 pm.
Aside from the exhibitions, contests and races; throughout the five days of the festival, there will be plenty of music performance and screenings of various films, inspired by custom and motorcycle culture; notably Oil in the Blood.
So, once again it looks as though the festival is going to be spectacular. If you’re not there this year like us – it’s definitely one to put in the calendar for next year.
Indian Motorcycle has returned for the third consecutive year, as one of the main sponsors for 2019. Be sure to check out the Wall of Death. Following-up last year when journalists got a sneak preview of the FTR1200 prior to launch – this year Indian is offering riders entry into a draw, to win a unique FTR1200. In order to enter, you’ll have to pick up a 5-day pass.