Join us at the Tall Bike Joust Oct. 15
- WHEN: Oct. 15
- WHERE: Cahaba Brewing Company, 4500 Fifth Ave. S, Birmingham, Alabama
- COST: $20 online or $25 at the door. Kids under 12 free.
- WEBSITE: tallbikejoust.org
The annual Tall Bike Joust in Birmingham, Alabama, is an event that makes you laugh, scream, and cover your eyes in fear — all while raising money for a good cause.
“It’s one of the craziest spectacles all year in the city,” said Matt Bright, who works in Quality Control at Storyteller Overland.
The Oct. 15 event, which is hosted by Redemptive Cycles and sponsored by Storyteller Overland, starts with each jouster taking a running start to climb aboard a custom-made tall bike — which is the height of two bike frames stacked together. Each jouster carries a long pole with a pillow fixed to the end, and as they race toward each other, they must stay in their lanes while attempting to knock their opponents off of their bikes.
Jousters have three chances to swing at their opponents. If there’s no clear winner, they climb aboard empty beer kegs and fight each other American gladiator style.
“It’s as crazy as it sounds,” Matt said, laughing. “It’s not particularly safe, and there’s not a whole lot of common sense involved. It’s just chaos incarnate.”
Ticket sales from the event go to Redemptive Cycles, a nonprofit bike shop in Birmingham. Its Earn-A-Bike program has provided hundreds of bicycles to mission residents and the homeless. It also has a Sliding Scale Repairs program, offering anywhere from 25-100% off repairs based on income.
The result? These recipients now have transportation to work and within their communities at little to no cost to them.
In the nonprofit’s first year, owner Marcus Fetch created the first tall bike by welding one bike frame on top of another using scrap parts within the shop. They had their first-ever Tall Bike Joust in 2012 with just two bikes and a small crowd.
Now, in its 10th year, they have a handful of unique tall bike creations. This is good, Matt said, because bikes often get damaged throughout the event and undergo repairs while the remaining bikes are used to joust.
“The event is almost always held at a paved parking lot, so when you have 150-200-pound rider get knocked off a bike, they basically ride it to the ground. You can imagine the impact the bikes take” — here Matt slams his hand on the table — “like that. Bent handlebars, wheels come apart, frames get bent, stuff like that.”
Last year, Storyteller Overland sponsored the event for the first time, and we’re back as the title sponsor again this year. There are a lot of reasons why this partnership makes sense.
“We’re all about telling better stories, and there are few stories better than when you come away from a Tall Bike Joust and witness the madness that has just occurred,” Matt said.
“People really get into it. Once you go to a Tall Bike Joust and just witness it, it’s one of those things you look forward to every year.”
The jouster representing Storyteller at the event will be Julie Camp, AKA Jouster Jules. Here’s her bio:
- Most useful superpower: Ever since I got laser eye surgery, I can shoot lasers out of my eyes, I’m hoping I can melt a tire or two
- Other powers: taught peppa pig everything she knows, single-handedly responsible for the sociocultural and economic decimation of the American middle class, puzzles
- Something interesting about yourself: My energy might send a chain reaction through the crowd! I’m wheely excited for jousting!
You can also see one of the Storyteller Overland vans in person and take a step inside while at the event.
The Tall Bike Joust is Saturday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m. at Cahaba Brewing Company, 4500 Fifth Ave. S, Birmingham, Alabama. Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the door. The event is family and dog friendly.
Visit tallbikejoust.org for tickets and more information.