Catching Up with Travis Pastrana

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Its been one heart break after another for Travis Pastrana. His latest injury is a blown out knee, an injury he incurred at the Gravity Games two weeks ago. One has to wonder what could possibly be going on inside the mind of the 19-year-old from Annapolis, Maryland. With such a bright future ahead of him in racing, why would he risk it all at a freestyle event? His main sponsor, Suzuki does not even support him when he competes in these made for TV events, so why does he do it? You could say that Travis is bent on having fun doing what he does best–having fun.

TransWorld Motocross: What did you do wrong at the Gravity Games?

Travis Pastrana: I should have just leaned back. I have no idea what went wrong. My mechanic Lee said, “Travis, you did 50 flips today and you crashed going over a bar!” I don’t know what to say–I am bummed.

TWMX: When you crashed, what happened to your knee?

TP: It dislocated really bad. That is all I thought I did. When it popped back in, after the medic pulled on my leg I wanted to go back out there and continue. As I got to my feet I realized it was worse. The medics told me that I had to go to the hospital right away. They put me on an I.V., and when I got to the hospital, they told me that I had to go in for surgery! I could not believe this was happening. I went in for emergency surgery two hours after the crash. The main artery in my leg was in danger, so they wanted to go in and adjust some things. There were so many probes and needles sticking in my knee. It looked like a pincushion. Now I have to wait for the swelling to go down (which should be about three weeks), then I go in to have my ACL reconstructed and some work done on my LCL.

TWMX: After you have the surgery, what is the prognosis on when you will be back?

TP: I should be back to walking almost normal, six weeks after the surgery. By then, I will be able to ride a stationary bicycle to try to get some of my fitness back. Within 3-4 months, I will be back on my motorcycle riding.

TWMX: What are your goals as they pertain to racing and freestyle? Looking forward to 2003, will you give more time to racing or more time to freestyle?

TP: I am 100 percent focused on racing from November to until a week before the X Games. I don’t think about freestyle. I don’t do any freestyle up until the games. I do fewer tricks that Ricky Carmichael does during the season. I practice for one week out of the year on my freestyle moves, then I go to Gravity and X. That is the only freestyle that I do during the season. After the season is over, I like to go jump in canyons, or do whatever. Freestyle is something I do for fun. I really enjoy it and I like to go out and prove to everyone that I can do it. Believe it or not, freestyle has a relatively low danger element to it. I know I am sitting here with a blown-out knee from it, but I missed the entire year of racing because of over exertion and then a broken wrist. It wasn’t from freestyle. Going into a turn with 39 other guys is much more dangerous than doing a backflip. Everyone tells me that I should quit doing freestyle, but that’s okay, let them say what they want. Racing is my number one priority and I will never do a freestyle event that interferes with a race.

TWMX: There are riders that have been competing much longer than you have on the racing circuit, yet at the races you have one of the largest group of fans. There is no doubt that is due to your popularity at the X Games and Gravity Games.

TP: I love the sport. What ever I can do, I will do. If I can race, I am going to race. If I can compete in freestyle, I am going to compete in freestyle. I am just fortunate that I can do both of them well. Both racing and freestyle are a lot of fun. Racing is a lot of work, and I am glad that it is getting more notoriety in the past few years. Whatever the sport, I like spending time with the fans. I feel I am a showman.

TWMX: What do you think Suzuki’s take is on you getting hurt again. The press release that had your latest injury in it sounded like Roger DeCoster is really disappointed.

TP: At the beginning of the Supercross season Suzuki had the fastest bikes–no if ands or buts. Kevin was struggling a little bit with different stuff, yet he was the fastest guy in every practice, and I was the second fastest. Then, in the main events, we would choke or blow up. All of a sudden, Kevin got hurt and I got sick. Sean Hamblin stepped in, he’s a great rider, but at the same time, Suzuki wants someone that can make the bike do what it is capable of doing. I’m not taking anything away from Sean, but it is very difficult for someone to come in the first year and be a player. I can see why everyone would be extremely disappointed.

TWMX: There have been a lot of rumors going around on the internet about you and Suzuki.

TP: Suzuki has been with me through everything. When they hired me, I was in a wheelchair with a broken back! There is no evidence that any of that stuff on the internet is true.

TWMX: We heard that you had to purchase your own bikes for doing freestyle, because Suzuki did not want you to use their bikes. Maybe that is where it all stems from.

TP: I did have to buy my own bikes for the Gravity Games. Suzuki told me go ahead and freestyle, but they were not going to support me in that discipline. Obviously they don’t like freestyle, but they have been really good about it. I understand completely where they are coming from, but I do freestyle too.

TWMX: How do your other sponsors feel about what has happened?

TP: It’s funny, I have Suzuki in one hand that only cares about racing, then there’s Puma that only cares about freestyle. I met the owner of Puma North America and he said, “Oh you race too? Bonus!” Then there are the sponsors like No Fear and Sobe that like the crossover. Puma’s attitude is, “What ever happens have fun! Thanks for promoting our product.” Suzuki’s attitude is just as supportive but in a different way, they would say “Hey, we have to win races. We don’t care how you do it, or what you have to sacrifice, that’s what we are paying you for.”

TWMX: Good luck healing up. We’ll see you in January at Anaheim for the opener! In the mean time have fun!

TP: Thanks. You have to have fun with what you’re doing in life, or else you might as well get a desk job. Come to think of it, a desk job would be safer!

TWMX