Skill, fearlessness, an adrenaline rush.
Forget about all that. The real interest in Extreme Freestyle Motocross — in which dirtbikers take off from jumps and perform tricks in mid-air — is in the broken bones.
- Matt Buyten: Jaw, humerus, tibia, fibula, four concussions, spine.
"Yeah, I fractured my spine and compressed a few vertebrae," he said
- Ryan Hansen: Leg, wrist, collar bone.
How many concussions?
"Oh man," he said. "Maybe five?"
- Wes Burr: Femur, both ankles, both wrists, collar bone, shoulder and "about three" concussions.
But forget about all that. The real kick in Extreme Freestyle Motocross is the skill exhibited by these riders and eight others who will compete Saturday in Metra. They will each have two minutes to use two jumps — one with a 50-foot gap and another with a 70-foot gap. They will perform tricks in mid-air. The best cyclist wins, as determined by crowd applause.
The headliner is Kenny Bartram, who has won Gravity Games and X Games competitions. Other competitors include Trevor Vines, Doug Parsons, Andy Jones, Jeremy Carter, John Distler, Jesse Olson, Steve Elrod, and Buyten, Hansen and Burr.
What are their signature tricks?
- Buyten: "The Stripper. It's where you put one foot on the seat and another through the handlebars and arch your back."
- Hansen: "The Supercans. You grab your bike and throw your body completely to the side."
- Burr: "The Sideways Seat-Grab. It's like when you grab your seat and do a Superman off the back, but you do it off to the side instead."
All done in mid-air, mind you.
But forget about all that. What Extreme Freestyle Motocross really takes is skill and devotion.
- Buyten: 23, from Reno, Nev. "I've been riding dirt bikes for forever. I'll always ride them. I hope I can do freestyle like this for another 10 years."
- Hansen: 19, also from Reno. "Motocross has been in my family for years. All I can remember is riding dirt bikes. The freestyle stuff I just kind of fell in to. It was what was going on at the time I was riding."
- Burr: 21, from Redlands, Calif. "My parents own a motorcycle shop, so I've been riding motorcycles for 15 years at least. … I just love riding my dirt bike. It's fun. And with this tour I get to travel and see new places, meet new people. It's cool because the kids really dig the sport. It's just cool to see."
A sport only for the young? Forget about all that.
Dylan Osmonson was helping set up Metra Friday. The 33-year-old from San Diego had been jumping with the kids until he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a dirtbike accident in San Diego two months ago. "This guy pulled out just as I was landing a trick," he said.
What's it like traveling and competing with these young men?
"These guys like to have fun and party," he said. "It keeps me young. There's never a dull moment."