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Arts and Entertainment

Motocross Legend Travis Pastrana Gets Toasted And We Talk To BMX Star Daniel Dhers

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Travis Pastranahas been the only person to land a double back flip on a motorcycle, enjoys jumping out of planes without a parachute, has done a back flip in a monster truck, won nine X Games gold medals and three Rally America championships, has a show on MTV where he and his crazy friends do incredibly dangerous (and exciting) things called Nitro Circus, and has pretty much beaten everyone around him in every sport he's ever tried - and he’s only 25 years old.

Due to the fact that Pastrana might not live to see his 26th birthday, and the fact that it's been ten years since he first emerged as a motocross star (Yes, he won his first X games gold at the tender age of fifteen) Red Bull and MTV and God knows who else, decided to throw a lifetime achievement award party/ roast for Mr. Pastrana at the Avalon in Hollywood in order to honor the living legend, while he's still...you know living.

Before the show got started, I was allowed back stage for media hour to talk to some of the athletes who knew Travis. As usual it was a mad house. Crammed into the upper levels of the Avalon were uptight Red Bull representatives in black with head sets ushering press people from athlete to athlete. The press were waving microphones, video cameras, and recording devices at the athletes, who were all in their teens and early twenties, desperately trying to get an interview over the din. Family members and girlfriends were dressed to the nines keeping a watchful eye over the interviews. Waiters in black were rushing around with plates of tiny hors d'oeuvres, launching some futile attempts get noticed by the important looking agents/mangers in suits. It's a wonder I managed to get an interview at all.

One of the anxious Red Bull reps grabbed me by the arm and sat me down next to Daniel Dhers, a Venezuelan BMX star, who was having a pleasant conversation with fellow BMX legend, Kevin Robinson. Robinson was quickly led away to be interviewed by ESPN, and Dhers was kind enough to answer my questions.

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Hey, sorry to interrupt your conversation.
It's cool. We were just talking about injuries.

Injuries? What was your worst injury?

Well, I mean usually I get like a pedal to the shin or a really bad fall every day, but maybe one of my biggest was knocking all of my front teeth out.

Really? When did you do that?

It was within the first couple months I started riding.

How old were you?
I was thirteen at the time. Yeah, my whole family was like "You're never riding again." I was in Argentina at the time and my grandma didn't let me ride until I left for Venezuela. And when I went back, my mom was pretty skeptical, but slowly they kinda let me ride. But it was hard. I mean, your family doesn't want to see you get hurt, especially at such a young age.

Do you have any brothers and sisters who ride as well?
I do. I have a brother and a sister. My brother just started riding recently. I haven't seen him ride yet because I live here and he lives in Argentina, but he seems pretty interested in it. My friends who have seen him ride, have all called me up saying, "Dude, you're brother's crazy!"

Are you worried he's going to get better than you?
Not really. Maybe a little. (laughs) I'm just happy he's interested in it.

That's really nice. Do you have a ritual before you go out and compete?

I don't think that I'm that superstitious, but I think how you ride depends on where your mind is. When you go into a run and your mind what you want to do...your mind is like a computer. Every program that you run means it's going to go a certain way, so I do do certain things before I drop in.

Like what?
Usually I tug on my gloves, I play with my handlebars, and I stare at something to get my focus. I think about my run over and over and over, making sure that my body is ready to do all of that stuff, because usually I do simpler tricks, so when I'm going to do a 1020 I've got to make sure that I'm not going to over rotate or do something stupid.

What music do you listen to when you practice?
I have a lot of rap that I listen to, like Lil Wayne, Kanye, and The Game, although recently I've gotten into rock a lot because I've been playing a lot of Guitar Hero. I feel like that game is helping me out and really letting me focus. I'm serious. It's a great game. I just got a new Metallica game, so I've been listening to them a lot.

What is the weirdest thing a fan's ever told you?

Probably, "Do you want to marry me?" or they want to give me their underwear or sign their kid's forehead.

Did you sign their kid's forehead?

Hell, yeah! Hell, yeah I did.

So do you think Travis deserves this award?

Are you kidding? Yeah, totally! He totally does. He's one of the best athletes ever.

He's only 25. That's kinda young to have a life time achievement award.

I know. I was thinking about that. He's just so dedicated to what he does, you know? He's just showing that you don't really need to be forty years old to be what he is right now.

But once you've got that life time achievement award, where do you go from there?

Yeah, but Travis is so great, you know, that he'll never just stop there. At first he did motorcycles, but then one day he came up with the double back flip, and that was pretty much it. I mean, what else can you do? But now he's doing some sort of crazy trick, I don't even know if I'm supposed to talk about it.

I figure the reason they're giving it to him so early is that they're worried he won't be around to receive one if they wait any longer.

Yeah, hopefully not, but it is a possibility. Especially when you watch Nitro Circus. I can't believe the stuff they do on that show.

At which point a pinched blonde woman in black showed up with a clip board, announced that our five minutes was up and whisked Dhers away to talk with ESPN. I went into the Avalon and waited for the roast to begin.

You know for a man with hundreds of broken bones, Travis Pastrana has very few flaws. They really should have picked an athlete who was a bigger asshole. Pastrana took the stage and was lead to a giant throne where he watched his friends, family, and three random comedians, who had no idea who he was try and rip him apart. Not that there was much to rip. Here are Travis Pastrana's major flaws in no particular order. First off, he's a huge dork who likes giving the thumbs up (or thumb boner as it was delightfully renamed) a lot. Apparently this is a flaw. Secondly, he's kind of awkward around the ladies, but considering he's a dork, that's not all that surprising. And thirdly, he's a mama's boy. Really? That's a flaw? Sending your mom flowers? Since when?

It didn't help that the comedians picked for that night has no idea who the hell Travis Pastrana was. Each speech was prefaced with, "Travis, I don't really know you that well but..." which lead to some really awkward jokes. Even the host made no sense. The event was hosted by Arj Barker of Flight of the Conchords fame, who seemed really uncomfortable on stage. They clearly didn't pay him enough money to be there.

It's sad when the jokes by the motocross stars, who actually had spent time with Pastrana, are funnier than the ones that the comedians could come up with. In fact there was no real reason this should have been a roast at all. The comedians spent most of the time heckling Tony Hawk for being old, Ryan Sheckler for crying on his TV show, and Brody Jenner (who was there for some unknown reason, probably an MTV thing) for being a waste of space. Basically, no one wanted to pick on the nice guy. There is really nothing all that funny about that.

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What was impressive was the videos that they ran during the intermissions. We saw the span of Travis Pastrana's career from when he was five years old getting his first motorcycle to his latest rally car races, and all of the spectacular tricks and gruesome crashes in between. Tribute should be made to Pastrana. He is truly one of a kind. But next time, let's leave the roast behind. Sometimes nice guys do finish first.