Marshall native's hobby turns into high-flying career

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Adam Jones doesn't fly — but does he float for a second on his Yamaha YZ250.

He's one of the X Games medalist riders in the Nuclear Cowboyz FMX production, which will bring another show to Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center this weekend.

Before and after the show, Jones, 28, will return home to Marshall Township. The son of Dave and Diana Jones, he grew up in Marshall. Jones lives in Reno, Nev., with his wife and their two children. He graduated from North Allegheny High School in 2002.

“I barely made it out of high school,” he said. “I was too busy riding my bike.”

His childhood hobby of riding dirt bikes — and jumping them — at local tracks turned into a career.

“I was not a daredevil as a child,” Jones said. “In fact, I was scared of everything when I was real little.”

He was always jumping “at the end of the day and at the biggest jump,” he said, to a chorus of disapproving shouts from his parents.

At age 10, he decided to make bikes a permanent part of his life.

“Through dedication and a lot of luck, it worked out,” Jones said.

He understands an audience member's wonder as bikes and riders reach new heights.

“Everything we're doing now used to be impossible,” he said.“On a 250- to 300-pound bike, are you kidding me? Now, we do it 10 times a night.”

One of his signature tricks — his own invention — is the Cordova flip. This is where the rider with both hands on the grips brings his feet up under the bars and contorts his back, so he is looking upside-down.

“Some tricks have been a breeze,” he said. “Some, I immediately have them dialed.”

It's a matter of practice.

Jared Beek, 29, is a friend and rider, although he never went the professional route.

“Adam is an unbelievably talented rider. He doesn't make mistakes. He's naturally smooth, and he makes you think you can do it,” Beek said.

They both attended North Allegheny Middle School and High School.

“I had seen and heard his name on the riding circuit,” said Beek, who now sports a RIDE tattoo in honor of his passion. Out on the track, “he'd lead the way, and we'd follow.”

Beek's twin brother also is a bike enthusiast. The brothers still ride once or twice a week, and they attend the shows whenever Jones comes to town or performs in a neighboring state. That's when they get the backstage passes and do all of the VIP fun stuff, he said.

But out in the spotlight, Jones keeps the crowds pleased.

“I'm pretty focused doing a trick and concentrating on what I'm doing,” he said. “I'm more conscious of the audience as I land it.”

For that 10-year-old who's interested in motocross as a career, Jones cautions: “Stay in school and pay attention.”

It's good advice, but there's an underlying motive.

“I'm eliminating competition here, so at 70 years old, I can still be doing this.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or

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