Riders pay a price for stunts
Australian stunt rider Steve Mini has a high-octane, high-risk and high-reward job, the Nitro Circus Live star tells MIKE HOULAHAN.
He thinks he has had 13 different broken bones beneath the knee and let's not think about what he's done to the top half.
"My back's completely buggered and I've got the ugliest legs in Australia," freestyle motocross bike rider Steve Mini said with more good cheer than you might expect.
"I try to avoid wearing shorts. There's not much meat on my legs and they are a bit misshapen but that's what happens when you do what we do . . . if you walk into the changing rooms at the Nitro Circus you'll see pretty much everybody is bent out of shape and has bones sticking out somewhere they shouldn't be. There are probably hundreds and hundreds of broken bones between us. It's the price we pay but we love it and we love keeping on doing it."
Kids, don't try this at home.
Mini has lived the dream for 20 years and doesn't want it to end. A former plumber's apprentice from Mudgee, Mini abandoned the tools as a teenager after discovering the tricks he had taught himself as a kid riding BMX could translate to a living as a professional motorbike rider. After winning competitions, Mini took a job riding at a Chinese amusement park, honing his technique.
Back in Australia he was recruited by the Showtime Yamaha FMX Team, going on to join the famed Crusty Demons Tour. These days, home is the extreme sports cavalcade that is the Nitro Circus.
"I always wanted to do shows rather than competitions," Mini said. "For me, competitions are boring, one guy doing his jumps the another guy doing the same jumps. With the shows, you get 10 guys out on the floor at once and the entertainment value is phenomenal. That's why the Nitro Circus format is so successful, it's non-stop and it's full-on."
Every show is new and the stunts a product of trial and error - a lot of error if the broken bone tally is anything to go by.
They are also the product of constant practice - a necessity in what is, despite the jocularity about injuries, an extremely safety conscious sport. For Mini, that means a couple of practice sessions every day until he goes out on tour, and for the Nitro Circus crew it means precise measurements of each venue so they know if the dimensions allow each and every stunt to be performed.
"We had amazing crowds in New Zealand last time so we're really looking forward to coming back," Mini said.
"Dunedin was one of our best crowds . . . the new stadium will be great as indoor shows always create a great atmosphere. For the people who went last time, it will be even better. For us, we'll also be able to ride better because we won't have to worry about the weather and can give it 110 per cent. It will be the best show of the tour, I'd say."
Nitro Circus Live, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, January 25.