When we first arrived at Travis’ house, the place looked relatively calm. Set just off a winding highway within a lush, green forest, the house itself is actually quite normal looking. Until, that is, you begin to notice several large “No Trespassing” signs around the surrounding fence, each one more foreboding than the next. But this is just the beginning. Walk around to the back of the house, and a monstrous wooden tower stands at the top of a steep hill covered in plastic (later to be revealed as the “slip and bleed” for obvious reasons). Below the hill, a large building is surrounded by an assorted fleet of trucks, motorcycles, ramps, go carts, rally cars and bulldozers, each parked haphazardly and sitting in various stages of destruction. An Olympic-size trampoline rests in the nearby lawn, and several dirty skate shoes and bicycles surround the house. It looks like something big went down here, but oddly enough, there is not a person in sight. As I follow Todd and the three bewildered contest winners down the wooden stairs to the shop, I can’t help but feel the nervousness that’s in the air, not to say that I blame anyone.All our apprehensions disappeared when Travis poked his grinning face out of the open shop door. Quite possibly one of the only celebrities to act the same on television as they do in real life, TP is one of the most real people on earth. He shook everyone’s hands, said that he was extremely happy to have some new guests at the house and enthusiastically motioned for everyone to follow him to the trampoline. Minutes later, he was thoroughly critiquing the backflip skills of each member of the group. “More than anything, getting someone to backflip on a trampoline shows their ability to commit to the trick,” Travis told me in between encouraging shouts to a bouncing Jeff Julio. “If someone can’t flip here, they most likely won’t be able to do it into foam.” Well, he was half right. We spent the next hour jumping anything with wheels into the pit, and saw a wide variety of overrotated, underrotated and not-even-close-to-rotated flips. That was more than fine with Travis; anyone who didn’t flip was promptly shot with a paintball gun. Eventually, this turned into a war of paintball capture the flag, where teams were made up, welts were inflicted and Travis revealed that, under the right circumstances, he actually knows some cuss words. Adding insult to injury was the fact that two contest winners, Shane and Jason, were able to go undefeated against Pastrana at his own house. Travis accepted defeat gracefully, but you could tell that he wasn’t happy about it. As a result, he took the crew on a merciless trail ride that involved more creek jumps and sloppy hillclimbs than a hard enduro. Satisfied, he led us back to the shop for pizza.Casualties
After lunch, TP found a bike for everyone and rode the group over to his private freestyle practice area. Within a minute of arriving he began throwing huge backflip tricks, which was enough to drop the jaws of everyone in attendance. After putting on a private freestyle demo, Travis invited anyone with a helmet on to give the ramp a shot. I did a few jumps on the haggard RM250 foam pit loaner and then turned my attention back to the ramp, where I saw one of the guests hit the dirt harder than I have seen anyone crash in a while. Dusting him off, Travis decided to move the party to the slip-and-slide, where conditions might be a little bit safer. Yeah, right.Let’s just say that the slip-and-slide (also known as the slip-and-bleed) is one of the scariest rides ever created. A 20-foot vertical drop-in leads to a high-speed, winding path of plastic that guides frightened sliders off of a well-placed jump into a shallow pool of frigid, soapy water. I won’t go into too much detail here, but the shenanigans that took place were at once utterly horrific and incredibly amusing; the ride is much scarier in person than it is on a DVD! It looked like everyone was going to make it out somewhat unscathed, but as soon as I thought we were in the clear, Travis’ dad showed up. Robert Pastrana is big, loud and very, very pushy. Within minutes of his arrival, everyone who had not yet been down the slip-and-slide was lined up to do so. Fifteen minutes after that, we had a “mishap” big enough to warrant an emergency room visit. If I told you who it was that made the trip, it would really surprise you.All the while, the EVS contest winners were having a blast. Simply being able to meet one of your heroes is one thing; getting to interact with them in their element is wildly different and extremely cool. Julio, who had only seen Travis from a distance at the races, was astonished at what a humble guy #199 is. “Travis is exactly like you see him on TV,” Jeff commented. “He is very down to earth, and he definitely gives it his all. I mean, how many people out there will let total strangers come over to their house and let them use everything they own? That is too cool.” Markham was equally impressed with our host. “He is out here just to make sure that everyone has a fun time. I am blown away by his hospitality.” To this, Travis just threw a huge thumbs-up. It was obvious that he was just stoked to have company over.The Circus
As the day went on, Travis continued to impress the group with his erratic mix of perfect manners and insane stunts. Fellow Nitro Circus carnie Streetbike Tommy showed up, along with the green-foam-cowboy-hat-wearing Hubert. Both characters were also just like they appear to be on the DVDs, and Tommy didn’t hesitate to let loose with a series of senseless acts which left everyone roaring with laughter. When the crew needed a few minutes to recover, Travis took everyone inside for a sneak peek of his new video, Lock and Load. The DVD was amazing, but even more incredible was that after the flick, Travis turned to the audience and asked for everyone’s opinion. “The video isn’t 100 percent finished yet, and you guys are the first ones to see it. So give it to me straight: What did you think?” This was the chance for Travis to hear from normal, everyday viewers about what they thought of the video they had just witnessed, in his living room, on his TV set. Too cool.Feeling refreshed, Travis took everyone back outside for another foam-pit session. With the sun beginning to set, several of the more reserved guests began to step outside of their comfort zones and try some shenanigans of their own. Travis patiently talked me through a double backflip and then watched in utter amusement as I attempted to nail the trick myself. Even Yeagin, who was actually nursing some broken bones in his back from an accident suffered before the trip, threw caution to the wind and launched into the foam. As the day came to a close, Todd Lentz stood in the same wise position that he had been in all day–off to the side, with arms folded casually and a slight grin on his face–while one of the sport’s biggest heroes treated a group of complete strangers like they were his best friends.Day One: Complete
As luck would have it, this was only the first day of our safari into Travis’ stomping grounds. Obviously, the exuberant TP didn’t stop there, and the wild adventures just kept coming the next day. When the weekend finally ended, it was more than clear that the Pastranaland contest had been a major success. In pairing up three lucky supporters with one of the most popular two-wheeled athletes on the planet, EVS provided one of the most off-the-wall promotions ever attempted–and they got away with it. Everyone went home (relatively) unharmed, and Travis mentioned that he already couldn’t wait for next year’s contest to kick off. I can’t imagine what tomfoolery he has in mind to top this visit!A huge thank-you needs to be given to EVS for their daring promotion, as well as to Travis for his genuine hospitality and amusement. Stay tuned to an upcoming issue of Dirt Rider for more photos and the complete story on our adventures in Pastranaland.