Words by Andy Bell
“My life is 100 percent about competition,”
says Travis Pastrana, sort of yelling above the sounds of the raucous Nitro Circus Live crew partying around him deep in some bar in Nagano, Japan. It’s 5 a.m. my time and something like 11 p.m. his time. I’m sober as can be driving up the 405 freeway, headed to LAX to catch an early-morning flight, and his scene—at least for the people he’s surrounded by—is for sure on the exact opposite end of the spectrum right now. I can hear in his voice that it’s been a long couple weeks’ worth of partying—something that happens a lot for the riders with the Circus, a nightly celebration after succeeding in not killing yourself while trying to one-up the top athletes and gnarliest kids on the tour. I’m not sure if “meat hucking” is a real term or not, but if it isn’t, I’m coining it now as the explanation for what happens every day of the Pastrana-led freak show that is the travelling Nitro Circus Live tour.
“You know me better than probably anyone on the face of the Earth,” he says to me when I ask him for some insight into his life lately and what keeps him ticking even after just having his second daughter. “Besides my wife,” he quickly adds. He is so damn competitive that he probably had to have another daughter because I had one, and he wanted to beat me at that as well. “When I’m around Bilko, all I want to do is compete with him at go-carts; when I’m around Kenny Bartram, all I want to do is beat him at foosball; and when I’m around you, all I want to do is try to drink more beer than you,” he says—his reasoning behind what pushes him in his life. Adding daughter Bristol to his already girl-filled family of wife/skateboard phenom Lyn-z and almost 2-year-old first baby Addy has actually fueled his drive to live and act more passionately—no, not the 50 Shades of Grey kind of passion, but the passion to live life to the fullest, to push the sports that he is involved in to the absolute and total limit (and beyond, most of the time).
Outsiders usually see this kind of behavior as a death wish, or as coming from someone who is playing with fire—a practice many would say is reckless or not conducive to being a father. But Pastrana sees it as the opposite: He sees it as a way to teach his girls passion and competitiveness, two traits that he values more than anything else. He brings up Shane McConkey as we discuss this—a top skier, BASE jumper, and Red Bull teammate who was a huge inspiration to Pastrana (and myself), tragically killed living his passion for ski BASE jumping. Many people can find fault with McConkey for risking his life and paying the ultimate price for following his passion while having a wife and young daughter at home, but not Pastrana; for him, McConkey was the kind of man and father that Pastrana wants to be (and is). Holding back and not following what you believe in is more detrimental to your family than the slight possibility of paying the ultimate price...