You’re probably aware that earlier this month, X Games legend Travis Pastrana jumped some stuff. Specifically, some stuff that Evel Knievel could not: the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He also jumped 52 crushed cars – two more than Evel managed in 1973 – and 16 Greyhound buses, which was two more than Evel managed in 1975.
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I suppose that’s impressive if you’re inclined to be impressed by such a thing. Certainly it’s more fountains, crushed cars, and buses than I’ve ever attempted to jump. The most impressive jump I’ve ever managed on a motorcycle was an accidental 8-foot hop on a Triumph Tiger 1200 at the Triumph Adventure Experience earlier this year.
Personally, I was never all that interested in Evel Knievel when I was a kid. His active career had ceased before I was born, he wasn’t from Texas, he wasn’t on “Dukes of Hazard,” and he wasn’t a wrestler, so I wasn’t interested. Equally, I have never been all that impressed by people jumping things in cars or on motorcycles (in a semi truck, though – maybe).
Travis Pastrana is eight years younger than me, so I suspect Evel was even less relevant to his childhood. But that didn’t stop him from recreating a number of the daredevil’s stunts for a History channel special called “Evel Live,” which aired the first week of July.
“I’m thrilled to have had this opportunity to honor Evel Knievel, whose guts and showmanship created the foundation for action sports,” Pastrana said at the time.
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I didn’t see the show because I was riding around Europe on the Street Bob at the time, but I probably still would have skipped it because it inevitably had a run time that would have exceeded my interest in watching stunts. I mean, I remember trying to sit through “Guy Martin’s Wall of Death: Live” a few years ago and it was excruciating.
After the fourth or fifth video package trying to explain to me how dangerous it was to ride a bike on a wall I was pretty much screaming at the television: “STOP TALKING ABOUT THE THING AND JUST DO THE THING.”
Thankfully for people like me, Indian this week put nice, short, comment-free video of all three jumps on its YouTube channel. And although it’s impressive I’ll admit that I’m not all that impressed. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’m not all that surprised. The Indian FTR750 Pastrana used is a markedly better motorcycle than any of the machines Evel ever had access to, and Pastrana is a markedly better rider.
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Whereas Evel seemed to approach his stunts with a sense of “Hang on and hope” you can see Pastrana adjusting his body throughout – on the run up, in the air, on the landing. He knows what he’s doing, and he does it so well that he’s able to pull stoppies at the end. Indeed, during the fountains jump there is something about his body posture that suggests he’s fighting the urge to showboat in the air.
What do you think? Am I being too cynical? Do these “jumping over stuff” kind of stunts still impress you?