The Big Jump

Title: The Big Jump: The Tao of Travis Pastrana
Published by: Random House Publishing
ISBN13: 9781933060323
Buy the Book: AmazonBarnes & Noble


Travis Pastrana, the most celebrated freestyle motocross rider in the world, knows no bounds. In 1999 he celebrated his first X Games gold by launching his bike into San Francisco Bay. Three years later, he rode straight into the Grand Canyon. On purpose.

In The Big Jump: The Tao of Travis Pastrana, he makes his biggest leap yet, revealing for the first time the methods (and madness) that fuel his amazing feats. At 14 Pastrana was the youngest World Freestyle Motocross champion. At 17 he was the youngest racer ever to represent Team USA in the Motocross des Nations. Each of The Big Jump’s chapters builds toward another breathtaking accomplishment, ending with the “impossible” double backflip during X Games 12 that brought Pastrana not just gold but certified legend status.

With a foreword by Mat Hoffman and contributions from Ryan Sheckler, Kenny Bartram, Bob Burnquist and Mom and Dad, The Big Jump is a fuel-injected ride into the mind and heart of Travis Pastrana.


In five years covering action sports, I’d written a lot about Travis Pastrana. But I’d written—or read—very little about Travis Pastrana. I knew what he did; I knew the records he’d set, the injuries that had plagued his career and the contests he’d won. But I had no clue who he was, what motivated him or who he looked to for inspiration. That’s the side of sports I’m interested in writing about.

What I gathered in quick gets was that Travis was accommodating, agreeable, a good quote—and absolutely dreaded every minute he spent giving interviews. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the press. I just got the feeling I was keeping him from doing something much more … fun.

The first time I met Pastrana in person, at the 2003 X Games, I had such a hard time reconciling the Eddie Haskell look-alike shaking my hand with the phenom I’d just watched tear up a freestyle course, that I was instantly intrigued. This kid was different. (At the time, he was 19. But a young 19.)

Then, in July 2006, I flew to his home in Davidsonville, Maryland, to write a piece on his fabled backyard playground. By the time I left, I knew I had much more than would fit into the story I’d been assigned. When Pastrana was at his best was not when he was talking about freestyle tricks or the X Games. He was the most thoughtful and animated when we began musing on life, what it was like to conquer the impossible, inspire others and face death. He was now 22, but he spoke like someone far beyond his age. He understood things about life most people spend their whole lives trying to figure out.

A month later, at the X Games, I watched Pastrana pull off the greatest feat in action sports history—and one of the coolest things to happen in sports, period. The best guys in freestyle motocross believed a double backflip was impossible, begged Travis not to try it, but he believed in its possibility … and then he proved it to the world.

When Travis Pastrana landed the first double backflip on a dirtbike, the electricity inside the Staples Center could have lit Los Angeles for a week. I knew every person who witnessed the flip walked out of that arena inspired, changed, ready to tackle their own version of the impossible. I’d witnessed his magic touch in person, the way he transfers his own energy and confidence to everyone around him. Maybe, I thought, he could have the same effect through a book. Maybe, I thought, I should write it.