ANDOVER — He’s known as the “wheelie man” or the “guy who does wheelies” around town.
His name is Garth Lockhart and he is often seen riding his mountain bike around Andover and several surrounding towns and cities, doing wheelies — and not any normal wheelies.
Wheelie man Garth Lockhart photo
When most people “pop a wheelie” on their bike, within seconds the front tire hits the ground again. Lockhart, 30, of Hidden Road, can travel miles on one wheel.
“The kids in Andover kept asking me, ’How long can you do a wheelie for?’” Lockhart said. “And that challenged me to see how far I could actually go.”
Lockhart is frequently spotted doing his signature move along Route 28 in Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and Salem, N.H. He can sustain a wheelie up and down hills and can also ride one handed, often giving people high-fives or the peace sign.
On Sept. 12, he will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest consecutive bicycle wheelie in an hour. He will try to break the record by traveling from his home on Hidden Road along Route 28 to Buchika’s Bike Shop in Salem, a journey of more than 9 miles.
The current Guinness World Record is 8 miles, set by 14-year-old Aaron Stannage from England this past January by doing laps inside a gymnasium. Before that, the record for longest bicycle wheelie was 1.5 miles.
“The kids told me ’there is a record and you should see if you can break it,’” Lockhart said.
Over the past few months, Lockhart has become somewhat of a celebrity around Andover for both the young and the old. A Facebook page devoted to Lockhart has more than 1,300 followers.
Alex Patti, 18, a recent graduate of Andover High School, first saw Lockhart doing wheelies this spring.
“I saw him and I was very intrigued … he is doing a wheelie all the time,” Patti said. “Everyone just started calling him the ’wheelie man.’”
Patti, who works at Sotherland & Co. rug retailer, speaks with Lockhart frequently and said he is a goal oriented person. “He is very determined, it is awesome, it is pretty inspiring,” Patti said.
Selectmen’s Chairman Alex Vispoli even gave a shout-out to Lockhart at the last selectmen’s meeting saying he recently stopped on the side of the road to talk with Lockhart about his story.
“I was fascinated that he could hold a wheelie for so long, it looked effortless,” Vispoli said in a phone interview. “I remember as a kid popping a wheelie and making it two or three feet before the tire hit the ground again or I fell.”
Groups of kids gather around Lockhart to find out his story and how he learned to do a wheelie like that. “It makes me happy knowing I make people happy,” Lockhart said. “I like to make people smile.”
World Longest Bicycle Wheelie set Guinness Record – “wheelie man” Garth Lockhart video