If it had wheels, it went flying

Gregg Duffy holds on tight during a double-seat grab. Photo by Adam Pardee

Legendary motocross and freestyle dirt bike rider Travis Pastrana brought Nitro Circus—the daredevil stunt variety show—to the SAP Center in San Jose on Thursday night. In tow were some of the most daring and talented extreme sports athletes in the world, performing a wide range of gravity-defying maneuvers for an amped-up Bay Area audience.

You may recognize Pastrana as the stunt performer who replicated three of Evel Knievel’s most famous jumps, earlier this year in Las Vegas. Nitro Circus keeps with that same sense of high-risk vertical challenge. The show involves a host of sizable ramps and landing pads that give the athletes room to progress their stunts from night to night. So while the circus showcases some stunning choreography, many of the stunts are active challenges that have evolved over the course of time. In fact, this particular tour of Nitro Circus has already seen its collection of “firsts” and Thursday night was no different (see below).

In case you missed the action, we sketched out the highflying highlights in vivid visual form. Take a look….

The choreography of 18 people back-flipping on dirt bikes, BMX bikes and mountain bikes is no easy task, but that is what Nitro Circus is all about. Photo by Adam Pardee

#5 Back-flip by Bruce Cook

It’s been 17 years since back-flips were first being done on dirt bikes, but the one performed by Bruce Cook at SAP was very different. In 2014, Bruce crashed while attempting the world’s first double front-flip on a dirt bike, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Nine months later, he was back on a dirt bike, and only one month after that he was attempting back-flips again. At Nitro Circus, Bruce rides a custom-built dirt bike that keeps him strapped in while he performs his stunts.

#4 All the Contraptions

If you can put wheels on it, chances are it was flying through the sky at SAP. There was a flying trash can, boogie board, skis, a children’s toy car and even a VW Bus replica. Seeing these objects piloted thirty feet into the air was not something many people expected to see, but was met with big cheers.

Clockwise from Top: Josh Roberts completes a back-flip in a trashcan. Dusty Wygle covers his eyes midair as he soars through the air on a child’s toy car. Ethen Roberts jumps a VW Bus he barely fits in across the gap. Dusty Wygle hangs ten off his boogie board 30 feet in the air.

#3 Front-flip Nac-Nac by Greg Duffy

Front-flips are a rare trick on a dirt bike that very few dare to attempt (let alone master) but Greg Duffy is one of those rare athletes. On Thursday night, Greg pulled a front-flip nac-nac, one of only two variations attempted at Nitro Circus.

Greg Duffy pulls a front-flip nac-nac, one of few front-flip variations being performed on dirt bikes. Photo Illustration by Adam Pardee

#2 Bike-flip by Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams has performed a number of “World’s first” and his bike-flip is no exception. Ryan first performed this uncanny mid-air bike twirl last year and has since made it one of his signature tricks (and a standout highlight of Nitro Circus). His stunt came in second place for Best Trick of the event and Ryan even tried to add a combination of bike-flip to tail-whip on his second run, but was unsuccessful.

A midair Bike-flip by Ryan Williams where the bike completely flips forward until back in riding position. Photos by Adam Pardee

#1 X-Up Triple Back-flip by Brandon Schmidt

A world’s first at Nitro Games on Thursday night was the X-Up Triple Back-flip: the first triple back-flip variation. Triple back-flips have become a highlight of Nitro Circus, but the progression started with the first variation by Brandon Schmidt. The X-Up Triple Back-flip won Brandon best trick of the night on Thursday.

Brandon Schmidt completes an x-up mid-flip and then continues to complete two additional back-flips. Photos by Adam Pardee
Two no-handed back-flips on BMX bikes during a huge simultaneous can-can on dirt bike. Photo by Adam Pardee
Left to right from top: Two huge superwhips by Steve Mini (left) and Jarryd McNeil (right). The Nitro Circus athletes pump up the crowd as the show starts. Travis Pastrana (left) and Trevor Piranha (right) head out into the crowd in search of volunteers. Steve Mini midair during a back-flip heart attack on his dirt bike. Photos by Adam Pardee
Ethen Roberts fully extended during a one-handed superman seat grab on a mountain bike. Photo by Adam Pardee

The Nitro Circus: You Got This tour has two stops left on its North American journey before ending in Denver, Colorado, on October 16th. The Nitro Circus tours extensively through much of the world and has just announced a permanent residency at Bally’s Las Vegas starting in 2019.

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Adam Pardee

Adam Pardee is a freelance photographer and photojournalist currently based in Mountain View, CA. Adam operates and shoots photos in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. When Adam is not shooting news stories and bands, he enjoys taking pictures of nature, dogs, and portraits. Adam has been published by the Palo Alto Weekly, the Mountain View Voice, The Almanac, and TheSixFifty.com. Adam grew up in Newbury Park, CA and went to California State University Monterey Bay where he graduated Cum Laude with a degree is Music Technology.

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