Pro BMX bike rider pedals wisdom at Windham Middle School
WINDHAM — Sometimes the secret to living a happy life is simply a matter of switching gears.
That’s the message professional BMX stunt rider Chris Poulos passed along to local students during an appearance at Windham Middle School Friday morning.
Poulos, 42, a native of Rhode Island who took home the championship of the 1991 Bicycle Stunt World Championships in Denmark but was forced to quit competing due to injuries in 2006, has spent the past 13 years as a motivational speaker.
His lessons, spoken from the seat of his yellow BMX, are truly from the heart.
Sharing tales from his years spent in the competitive cycling world, Poulos admitted he’s experienced bullying firsthand.
“When I was younger, there were definitely some bullies at the competitions I went to,” he told the students. “They always made fun off the way I dressed, and it could be pretty intimidating.
During one particularly memorable competition, when the bullying became almost unbearable, Poulos said he almost walked away from the sport forever.
“They got me so scared, so nervous I messed up almost every stunt I attempted,” he said. “I said, never again.”
But after taking a brief hiatus from competitions, Poulos knew he could do better.
“I started attempting the stunts that came easier to me,” he said. “And I began to win. That really began to irritate all the people that tried to cut me down.”
During his 45-minute program, which was peppered with lively demonstrations of Poulos’ favorite stunts, he tackled the themes of respect, perseverance, self-discipline and living a safe and successful life.
His audience clapped in time to the music, many of them gasping collectively as Poulos launched himself atop the handlebars of a moving bicycle.
“In stunts and in life, you have to plan ahead,” he said. “We don’t have complete control over what happens in life, but we can control how we think and how we plan.”
Windham Middle School Principal Daniel Moulis said he hopes that message will continue to resonate with his students.
“Sometimes it takes seeing someone like Chris to really get that message across,” Moulis said. “We’re so happy he was able to stop by.”firstname.lastname@example.org