by Abbi Berry
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Circus performed live at the SAP Center. Hosted by Australian Bruce Robson, the night consisted of an array of tricks performed by dirtbikers, BMX bikers, scooter riders, skateboarders, roller skaters, and more.
To begin the show, riders, including Jolene Van Vugt and Ryan Williams, took to the 50 foot Nitro “Gigant-A-Ramp” with flips, twists, and various tricks. After sending their riders down the slope, Nitro decided to get creative, with mobile bathtubs, and tricked out tricycles.
Introducing a new vehicle, the whiskey barrel, they showed a video of their first test in which the barrel went off course, slamming the rider’s head into a metal beam. Robson claimed if the rider had not been wearing a full face dirt biking helmet, she would not have walked away with just a broken elbow and in need of only facial reconstructive surgery. Having proven the danger, Robson’s next line was, “But for some reason we’re still crazy enough to try it again.” Sending the barrel down the 50 foot ramp, spectators watched wide eyed as the barrel flipped and landed without any issue.
The crowd roared as Nitro continued to perform daredevil tricks off their Gigant-A-Ramp. Another act featured a Nitro roller blader going off the ramp and landing in a hamster ball, a feat that had been tried by several other riders, including those on skateboards and BMX bikes.
In the next segment, Robson introduced the Nitro dirtbikers, in which Pastrana performed. The motocrossers each came out to the floor to perform personalized in-air tricks, which included hip thrusts, flips, holding onto the bike with only their hands, and complete mid air suspension. A special trick performed on a bike with two riders showcased them switching positions in mid air.
During this motocross portion of the show, Robson asked the audience for volunteers. He did so in a Nitro way in which he proclaimed, “raise your hand and there is a high percentage chance that you will leave this arena in an ambulance.” The crowd was more than pleased by this and so volunteered three teenaged boys to suit up for a trick.
After several performances the volunteers returned to the stage with their rider Cam Sinclair. Robson and Pastrana explained how the trick had been performed with only two volunteers with Sinclair, ending in an unfinished flip almost every time. So, according to their “Nitro physics” adding someone to the back would hopefully balance the ride out.
The volunteers loaded onto the one person dirtbike with two people in front of Sinclair, and one behind. Pastrana told the two volunteers three things to look out for on the bike, and that if they hit any of them they’d find certain death. The rider on the back was told to hold onto Sinclair for dear life. The four person contraption took off down the slope and rode around until Sinclair gave it a thumbs-up. The crowd sat in suspense as the bike’s speed climbed and the four riders were suspended in the air with a flip, only to land perfectly with the back volunteer falling off on impact. With no broken bones and only smiles, the Nitro crew deemed it to be a success.
Another incredible performance that night showcased freestyle motocross rider Bruce Cook. In 2014, Cook had attempted the world’s first ever double frontflip on a motocross bike. In doing so, he failed to land and crashed, breaking a vertebrae, paralyzing himself from the waist down. A year later, the Nitro performers wheeled him out to the stage to meet the crowd. Cook spoke of his recovery and said, “I don’t believe in the word ‘can’t.’” With the help of the Nitro crew, he then got out of his wheelchair and strapped into his dirt bike. Robson described the difficulty in doing tricks without the use of your legs. He said riders flip by pushing themselves off the bike, a maneuver Cook is incapable of doing. Cook also needed to be strapped to the bike, meaning he could not eject himself if things went wrong, this being another Nitro Circus hazard.
Once Cook was properly strapped in, he took off down the ramp. The crowd waited as he warmed up to the bike. He gave the thumbs up to Robson and Pastrana, and went for it. Cook rode with speed as he approached the jump, hit the ramp, and flipped with a perfect landing, an almost impossible feat performed by the man who does not believe in the word “can’t.”
The night progressed with “Total Anarchy” in which riders on both sides flipped through the air continuously. In returning to the “Gigant-A-Ramp,” Williams executed incredible tricks “never done before.” Robson introduced the riders from around the world and from America, in an effort to host a competition. The two sides competed on both courses, with the American team winning.
The night concluded with each rider doing one last trick and waving their goodbyes to San Jose.