TYPE Travis Pastrana’s name into YouTube and one of the very first things that comes up is a video of him attempting to backflip a pink kid’s tricycle between these two absolutely massive ramps, wiping out time and time again before finally landing the trick.
It’s the kind of video that makes it appear Pastrana isn’t all that interested in the idea of self-preservation.
In fact, the Nitro Circus mastermind and action sport champion has made a career out of defying death (or, at least, serious injury), pulling off even more dangerous stunts at his live shows or on his internet channel.
And as if to prove the point, Travis arrives for our chat with his arm broken and hoisted in a sling, evidence of another stunt gone badly.
But, true to form, he just laughs it off.
“It goes with the territory,” he tells me.
“I ran out of talent again — I crashed the dirt bike and it fell on me.”
But while Pastrana is fearless when attempting a stunt, it’s behind the scenes — away from the fans and cameras — where he says it is his focus on a healthy diet and maintaining his fitness which allows him to attempt the impossible.
Because as a father to two young girls, Addy and Bristol, Pastrana says he needs to stay healthy so he can keep up with his children as they follow in his footsteps.
“I’ve got a fused ankle and I’ve done my shoulders, but when my kids take off on their skateboards or scooters or whatever, I want to be out there with them,” he says.
FIT FOR FUN
WHILE Pastrana admits the idea of fitness in his sport is a relatively new one, he says it’s something that has become hugely important in recent years.
What started as a bunch of friends having fun has now turned into them eating better, training harder and trying to find ways to recover from the inevitable injuries as quickly as possible.
“The lighter and stronger you are, the bigger hit you can take, so these guys are now just taking these sports that were just hobbies, and turning into these true athletes doing incredible things,” he says.
“The biggest thing for us is the core. You have to throw a dirt bike that is 250 pounds (113kg) over your head, and you’ve got to pull yourself back onto it. For me, we get fit based on our needs. You have to be able to do certain things better, and that comes from strength.
“My uncle played NFL, and had a lot of concussion and injuries, but he then became a fitness coach, and his main advice was just to keep moving. He told me that I might be doing a stupid sport, but as long as I keep moving, I’ll be fine.”
FRIGHTENING THE FEARLESS
You might think someone who has forged a career in jumping off ramps the size of small office blocks is immune to fear, but that’s not true.
Pastrana says he only fears things he hasn’t truly prepared for, and a huge amount of practice goes into each and every stunt.
That’s not to say things don’t go wrong, though.
“Everyone thinks you need to be fearless. but if you’re truly fearless, you never get good enough at anything — you’re always injured,” he says.
“What you do need is an ability, when everything has gone wrong and you’re in the air, to giggle and figure out how you can make it hurt the least.
“Most people in that situation, 60 feet (18m) up, would just think it has all gone badly. But you’ve got to decide, ‘right, if I stay on the bike I could break my neck, but if I jump off, maybe I just break my ankles’.”
So in long career of crazy stunts, what’s the scariest thing Pastrana has ever done?
“That would be proposing to my wife. It’s always the normal stuff,” he says.
FORGET the platters of fried food and beers you might be expecting at the end of a Nitro Circus show. Instead, Pastrana and his fellow performers follow a much stricter regimen.
“I start off everyday with a smoothie and oatmeal, which always gets me going a little bit,” he says.
“For lunch, it’s a tuna sandwich but I’m snacking all day on protein bars. And at night, it’s pasta and chicken — that’s an awesome dinner for me.
“It’s not so much what we don’t eat, but what we do eat. With head injuries, I use a lot of fish oil, for example. For other injuries, it’s a lot of calcium. Everyone has their own thing.”
What’s your favourite healthy food?
It has to be fish. I love salmon, and I love my sushi.
What’s your favourite unhealthy food?
Ice-cream, but just vanilla. Keep it plain.
What’s your favourite alcoholic drink?
I do enjoy a beer. Beer is good.
What’s your favourite hype-up music?
I love my 1980s hair bands. Motley Crue Crew or something like that.
What’s your best motivation tip?
To set a goal. Every time I’ve set a goal in my life that’s something physical, it gets me out there a little more.
* For more details about Nitro Circus shows, go to nitrocircus.com
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