How I did it: Robbie Maddison

How I did it

Here's how Robbie Maddison became a record-breaking FMX motorcycle stunt rider, and inspired millions to follow their passion.

I’ve wanted to be Evel Knievel since I was old enough to ride. All I ever wanted was to be a world-renowned motorcycle rider. I got into some pretty shady shit as a teenager. Growing up in Australia, I was hanging out with guys who were going nowhere. All we did was party and all the stuff that comes with that. I hit the bottom of the barrel before I realised life could be better. My dad saved me. He was hard in a loving way. When I was 16, he kicked me out and said, “I’m not gonna wipe your ass for the rest of your life. Go and make it happen, son.” At first I thought it was bullshit. Then, one day, I was out of my mind at a motorbike event and I thought, “Why the fuck am I hanging out with these losers?” The next day I bought a motorbike. And instead of going out and getting wasted at the weekend, I got up early to practise on my bike. From that day I started having fun. The first thing I ever jumped was a football field.

When I did it I started to believe in my dream for the first time. Before I knew it I was backflipping over Tower Bridge. My mates call me Maddo. It’s because of my surname, but it’s also because they think I’m a crazy bastard. They’re right. Being Daniel Craig’s stuntman in Skyfall was gnarly. There can’t be many people who can say they’ve driven a bike at full speed over the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Dream wild. That’s really what I’m doing, making all these daydreams and big ideas I have a reality, bringing them to life. The one thing I’d like to jump before I die? The Grand Canyon. I mean, you can fly from the UK to LA non-stop, so I’m sure jumping over that little thing isn’t too hard. I never wear red. I used to have this red motorbike gear, and whenever I wore it I came home with a concussion.

When I moved to the US, my sponsor had a red kit and I decided to wear it. I rode better than I had ever ridden, but the next day I had a huge crash. I don’t think when I’m in the air. It’s better to allow yourself to be consumed by the moment. The second you think about things, they start going wrong. Flying through the air with a bike between your legs is like no other feeling. The wind rushing over your face and neck, the bike beneath you. It’s fucking gnarly. But you can’t think about breaking records. If you do, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve got a foam pit the size of an Olympic swimming pool in my backyard. The neighbours didn’t know what to make of it… until they saw me doing backflips into it.

The furthest I’ve ever jumped? 394ft over San Diego Bay. Five seconds in the air. It felt like longer, especially as I saw the boats underneath me. I was like, “Hooollly shiiiiit.” The biggest mistake you can make is doing something risky when you’re not ready. You have to know you can do what you’re about to do. If you don’t, you can die. I’ve seen one of my best buddies die. Before his jump, he complained about the wind, light and ramp but he did it anyway. The universe was screaming at him not to jump. Be accountable when anything goes wrong. Learn from your mistakes. Face your fears, live your dreams. That’s my motto. 

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