As Nate Adams and I talked on the phone, the 25-year-old motocross rider was waiting for a doctor to check out a ride-altering injury — a battered thumb.
“It’s a lingering injury. I dislocated my thumb and every time it comes out, I have to come get it treated,” he said. “It seems like such a little injury, but you really can’t do anything without a thumb.”
Such is life on the road with Nuclear Cowboyz, the motocross show that comes to Philips Arena this weekend. He’s one of 16 “X Games-worthy” riders on stage during the two hour show, along with a lot of pyrotechnics and dancing women in skimpy clothes. This is a show aiming for the extreme — even with its spelling.
As Adams explains it, it’s the story of how freestyle riding grew, and became its own type of entertainment. (Here’s an interesting Associated Press story about whether motocross can become theater.)
“The show tells the story of how the tricks came up. We didn’t start out doing backflips and Supermans. It took time. It’s everything they’ve been seeing since the 1990s till last summer.”
His favorite part comes, naturally, toward the end of that story. The audience will see racing and the type of tricks these riders mastered as teens, but as their skills grow, they they can let loose in the air.
“Everything we can do right side up, we do upside down,” Adams says. “That’s when everybody gets out of their seats.”
Adams himself came from the racing tradition. He grew up in Arizona and his dad was into motocross. By the time he was 8, he was on a bike. But as the grew older, he developed along with the sport. Freestyle, he has learned, is more his style. By the time he was 17, he made his first X Games appearance.
“When I look back on it, it couldn’t have happened more perfectly,” he says. “As I was learning and figuring out the sport, it was growing. I came in at the perfect time.”
The stunts they do now are more technical and more dangerous, he said, but he’s gotten smarter as he’s gotten older.
“My riding is better than ever,” he said. “When I was younger, I would look at a jump and I wouldn’t even looking at the landing. I would just go for it. I was so stupid. I’m smarter, though. I get hurt less.”
Now, if he could just get that thumb worked out…
Want to go? Nuclear Cowboyz. Doors at 5 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Feb. 13. $15-$45, $20-$50 day of show. Georgia Dome, 1 Georgia Dome Drive, Atlanta. www.nuclearcowboyz.com.
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