Robbie Maddison - Interview

28 year-old freestyle legend and long-distance record holder Robbie Maddison on back-flips, getting out of bed in the morning and that Las Vegas drop-off jump…

Something always hurts when you do freestyle motocross for a living...
I’m carrying some bad injuries at the moment, it’s always one thing after another. I’ve got ligament damage to my right shoulder, there’s no strength in it at all. I had a crash at X Games when I lost the bike upside-down during a back-flip and that smashed a few things up. I took a huge impact in my hip so my right leg’s really lazy as well. Freestyle is all about mental strength, so when you’re behind the 8-ball it’s tough to come out fighting.

Pain is my guide through each and every day
My physio is Dr Gee, he’s awesome, based down in Newport, California. He works with Kelly Slater and pretty much everyone in action sports – he puts us all together on a pretty regular basis! But I never take pain killers, they distort your perspective and create different emotions. I use pain as my guide, pain is an indication that you’ve got to rest and not do something you shouldn’t be doing.

The trouble is that freestyle is getting almost too dangerous for its own good now
This sport is way more dangerous than it was five years ago and the level guys are prepared to go to create their own legacy is getting crazier all the time. It’s unfortunate, because sometimes people aren’t doing it for the right reasons and they’re taking themselves out in the process. It’s great to raise the bar for the sport and it’s good for the spectators, but it’s way tougher than it was and this is only going to get worse.

We do circuit-training until we puke to stay fit
I do a lot of stretching and loads of core-work and aerobics. We do yard workouts, so we’ll do a series of exercises that keep your heart-rate up for 30 minutes to replicate what we do. I’m not getting any younger, so I have to work out harder than some of the other kids to stay on top of my game.

[#1.2]Sometimes my body just comes apart for no reason
I see more of a future doing the big jumps. My passion is going places people haven’t gone before, and I can do that with the big jumps. I think 400ft is definitely possible, but with the tricks my body is starting to fall apart. I’m only 28 and already it takes me 10 minutes to get going in the morning. In Texas my shoulder dislocated mid-air doing a trick – I didn’t crash or anything, but the shoulder just came out. I pushed it back in after landing and carried on with the show.

Seth Enslow is absolutely mental
Seth’s a daredevil, there’s not too much skill to him, he just gets on the bike and twists the throttle. I used to watch him on the Crusty Demons movies and was just amazed. He’s crashed and burned so many times! Evel Knievel and Seth used to smash themselves to pieces, I’m more of an athlete. I want to walk away from the landing.

The Las Vegas drop-off the Arc de Triomphe was definitely the stupidest thing I’ve ever done
There I was on top of the two-thirds-size Arc de Triomphe they’d built there, and I was thinking how fucked-up it was! It was retarded, to get up there was thing, but getting down was really horrendous. Someone might be mad enough to drop off the side, but not just anybody could have made that landing and rode away from it. I only just pulled it off.

My wife thinks it’s about time I got a proper job
She’s incredibly supportive but she’s definitely talking in my ear about getting out of this game. I’ve set up my own company – Maddo Enterprises – which will promote jumps and other riders instead of doing all the riding myself.

Two-strokes will be our weapon of choice forever
They’re simpler, lighter and more reliable than four-strokes. Four-strokes are just too complicated, there’s too many moving parts and too many things that can go wrong – you don’t need that shit in your head. Then there’s the extra weight and inertia of the fours – freestylers will keep using two-strokes until they stop building them. Besides, I like the smell of two-stroke oil.

Travis Pastrana and me together would be a bad idea
In a crazy competition I’d have to give it to Travis. I’d definitely give him a run for his money, but we’re two guys who shouldn’t hang out together because someone would end up dead for sure. He invited me to hang out on the Nitro Circus a couple of times, but he’s the kinda guy that says ‘hey, let’s try this.’ And I’m the kinda guy that says ‘sure, okay,’ and on it would go.

Valentino Rossi really pissed me off when I was a teenager and I asked for an autograph...
It was about 10 years ago and I went up to his motorhome when he was racing in the 125GP in Australia to ask for an autograph – and he slammed the door in my face. I’d cadged a lift off a friend and travelled three hours to get there, so I was bummed by that. But he’s proven to be the man, so I’ve had to let that one go.

I’ve got a bike licence but I very rarely ride on the road
I got a licence when I was a teenager, but a couple of my good mates have been rubbed out on the road so I tend not to ride bikes on the highway much. I still love track-riding, though. I’ve got an R6 that I do trackdays on back in the States. Going proper fast and dragging your knee round a corner is one of the sweetest feelings.

My next big jump is across a river in Australia
We’re just finishing details on doing a big jump back in Australia, jumping over the Yarra river from bank to bank in Melbourne. It’s over 300ft from one side to the other, and while I’ve done that kind of distance a bunch of times now, something like this is intense because you can’t start small, you just have to hit it first time. People think that doing a big jump is easy for me now, but believe me, it’s never easy. That’ll be an Evel Knievel jump for sure, that one.

...Travis and I should never hang out together, because one of us would end up dead for sure...