Skill, danger, injury? Just part of being a Nuclear Cowboy
By Michael Machosky
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Nuclear Cowboyz aren't poised to detonate, and don't give off radiation.
They're mostly nice kids from normal middle-class families, who just happen to be able to turn off the parts of their brains that are supposed to say, “Hey, don't do that. That's dangerous. You could get hurt.”
Not everybody has that particular quirk, so being a Nuclear Cowboy is kind of a specialized field.
“When I started when I was 14, 15, I never thought about getting hurt, or crashing never crossed my mind at all,” says freestyle motocross rider and Nuclear Cowboy Brody Wilson. “Now, when I'm 27, yeah, I think about it more.”
So, that “avoid danger” part of your brain can grow as you get older, at least a little.
Still, Wilson is paid to thrill audiences with death-defying jumps. Plus, he really enjoys it. A broken wrist or two is just the cost of doing business.
“My worst (crash) was my wrists — I broke and dislocated both of them at different times,” says Wilson, whose Nuclear Cowboyz will be at the Consol Energy Center this weekend. “I was in casts for four months, five months off the bike. That sucks. It takes so long to rehab it.”
Freestyle motocross is a sport, and quite competitive at the top levels, which would include the X Games. Wilson rode in the 2010 X Games, and hopes to get invited back. The Nuclear Cowboyz is more of a show. It's kind of like the Ice Capades — but with fire.
There's a story about two rival post-apocalyptic biker gangs in a future Los Angeles, and a nefarious Cyborg Army. Plus, dancers, loud rock music and plenty of pyrotechnics.
Really, it's just an excuse for these riders to try their most difficult jumps and tricks, sometimes at the same time. Of course, those that require the most concentration tend to coincide with flaming fireballs and explosions going off all around you.
“All week at rehearsals, we go over the pyro — where they're going to be blowing up things and shooting flames,” Wilson says. “After the first few, you get used to it. You hit the jump and see a fireball and it startles you, at first. Then, you kind of don't even notice it anymore.”
This weekend at the Consol Energy Center, there will be plenty of teenage and preteen boys, thinking, “I can do that.” Their parents, equally amazed, will fervently hope that another fantasy/hobby/obsession gets moving, and quickly. “Anything else, really.”
A select few will say “Sure, go for it.” And perhaps another Brody Wilson, somewhere, will get started jumping off a backyard ramp.
Wilson's parents were more than sympathetic.
“They got me my first bike,” Wilson says. “I raced for five years, and my dad would take me to every race. My mom was (supportive), too — she just doesn't like to watch it as much. She gets nervous. My dad is always building ramps and jumps in the backyard. He has some construction equipment — a loader and bulldozer and dump truck.
“A new bike costs so much money, around $8,000, for a kid to try to get into it. Then you've got to find a ramp or build one. You've got to be pretty lucky. Then learn the tricks. To learn the flip, you have to have a foam pit. And they're still pretty rare.”
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7901.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Still waiting on Crosby, Malkin
- Rossi: Lack of together time showing for Penguins’ defense
- 3 ejected after Pirates, Brewers brawl
- Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- Police fatally shoot man in Wilkinsburg after chase
- Washington County crash causes chemical spill into Chartiers Creek
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Attorney wants lesser term for woman in Greensburg torture death
- Egg decorating turns to fight, charges in Brookline, police say