FMX backflip teaches us about life

FMX backflip - another extreme trickI’ve been a lounge room FMX fan for a bit over a decade. I’m just fascinated by the amazing tricks they do in FMX (Freestyle Motocross). They ride motorbikes and do enormous jumps over ramps and dirt mounds and do amazing tricks while way up in the air. One of the most interesting things is observing how the difficulty of the tricks increases each year. It’s also interesting that this can teach us some things about life as well.

The FMX Backflip

I can remember watching FMX when the first riders were thinking of doing a backflip. That’s right, a backflip on a motorbike. Sounds crazy, and it is a little. On this web page you can find a bit of a history of FMX. Here are a few of quotes from that page regarding the backflip;

The Backflip was once considered the “holy grail of FMX”. It was a trick that every rider considered impossible and was considered more appropriate in video games than in real life.

In 2000, Carey Hart attempted the first ever backflip on a full size motocross bike off a modified dirt landing ramp at the Gravity Games 2000. The landing was less than perfect with Carey crashing immediately after.

FMX backflip in mid flipRegardless of the outcome, Freestyle Motocross was forever changed. Many people started to attempt it themselves, such as Travis Pastrana, who attempted the backflip off a Step Up jump at Summer X Games Freestyle. He bailed off mid flight, breaking his foot. The trick was still not attempted on a normal FMX setup, off a ramp to dirt setup. Carey Hart attempted the backflip again at Summer X Games in 2001, during the Moto X Best Trick competition, but bailed off the bike 45 feet (14 m) in the air.

In 2002, Caleb Wyatt (born January 1, 1976) is the first person to ever perform a successful backflip on a large motorcycle. On April 25, 2002 at the Rogue Valley Motocross track (RVMX), Caleb Wyatt executed the backflip

2002 saw the backflip taken to X Games glory. Travis Pastrana and Mike Metzger were both capable doing flips off ramps.

The unthinkable had become reality; a backflip was now common place in freestyle competition. Mike Metzger had achieved a back-to-back backflip, which won him Freestyle Gold, at Summer X Games 8.

Today, backflips are a standard part of every FMX riders repertoire. It’s considered completely normal and not that much of a problem.

FMX backflip in mid flipNew FMX riders exist in a different world

Imagine somebody born today who wants to be an FMX rider. They are born into a world where FMX backflips are normal and known to be very possible. It’s a much different world compared to the one into which the pioneers of the FMX backflip were born. This is a very simple example showing us that the world changes. The world today is different to the world of yesterday in fundamental and important ways.

There’s no point wishing that the world went back to the way it used to be. Could you imagine the possibility to go back to a world where everyone thought the FMX backflip was impossible. That doesn’t make any sense. Once the backflip was done, you can’t go back. It’s been done.

We humans act as a collective entity

This history of the FMX backflip also teaches us that humans aren’t really separate people, we actually act as a collective entity, a single organism of some sort. I say this because the “collective human entity”, “us”, is learning as a single entity. In this simple example, we’ve learnt that FMX backflips can be done. We pass this knowledge onto new people that are born, and this is the base they start from. They try and extend the knowledge and capability even further, and then they’ll pass that on. People can contribute to the knowledge and capability of the collective human entity while they are alive and nothing really serious happens when the die (although terribly sad for close friends and relatives). The knowledge and capability is passed on to new generations.

You can see that we have “collective” knowledge because we often say things like “well everyone knows xxxx and yyyy!”. There are definitely “commonly held” beliefs and disbeliefs and, just because we collectively believe something to be true, doesn’t mean that it is. Just as a single person can be wrong, the collective human entity can be wrong. For example, in 2000, the collective human entity thought FMX backflips were impossible. They were wrong. It took a single person within the collective human entity to visualize the possibility of doing it and prove it to everyone else.

FMX backflip - another tick called a TsunamiThe collective human entity is evolving and growing

The same process is happening in all parts of life. The FMX backflip is just a simple example that highlights how this works. Individual humans are adding to the knowledge and capability of the collective all the time. The collective human entity is evolving, developing and growing all the time. It’s normal, can’t be stopped and it must be what’s expected. Maybe our job is to help the collective entity develop in a positive way while we’re alive. Maybe that’s our charter.

We are all interconnected

Every person is born into a world that has benefitted from all the humans that have gone before. The new born do not have to learn everything from scratch every time. They have a solid base (all the knowledge recorded in books, videos, stories, memories, etc.) and plenty of older humans to help them along the way. This is just a simple way to see that every person is linked to every other person.  We can’t be who we are today without all of the other people in the world and all those who have gone before (see the video Ubuntu – I am because of you and the post A Table and the Universe).

So let’s just enjoy the evolution of the collective human entity and our part in it. We’re uncovering new knowledge (see Original Knowledge – where does it come from?), experiences and capabilities all the time and adding these to the overall knowledge, experiences and capabilities of the collective human entity. We pass them on for the good of everyone else.

The story goes on, with the double backflip

Of course, people are always trying to push on and uncover new experiences and capabilities. So, once the backflip was proven to be possible, some people wanted to do a double backflip. Once again, on this website we see the following quote;

2006: Early 2006 saw footage emerge of Travis Pastrana completing a double backflip on an uphill/sand setup on his popular Nitro Circus Freestyle Motocross Movies. On August 4, 2006, at X Games 12 in Los Angeles, he became the first rider to land a double backflip in competition.

In this video of three people doing double backflips, you can see the excitement and the life in all of them.

And the front flip

The FMX front flip (hard to even imagine) was a very dangerous activity to try as is clearly seen in this quote from;

At the 2008 Summer X games Jim Dechamp tried a front flip. He was not able to land it and crashed during the attempt, also breaking his back. And then just over 3 months later during Nitro Circus season 1 on MTV Jim landed the front flip successfully during the guinness world record episode.

Here are a couple of videos showing the “crazy” people doing front flips. It seems crazy, but there’s also a large part of me that admires them for their life and desire to get out there and try new things.

2 Responses to “FMX backflip teaches us about life”

  1. jefferson

    Those people are crazy…
    … but awesome 🙂

    You make a great point about the evolution of humans and how things that were once deemed impossible can become commonplace. I notice the same thing every year at the olympics when world record after world record will certainly fall.

    How is it that we can just keep getting faster and faster? Will we plateau at some point?

    • Pete

      You would think that there has to be a limit to what humans can do. But where is that point? Nobody knows. There’s always somebody trying to do more, or go faster.

      I think the fun part of life is in the doing. It’s the act of achieving something new. The fun part is winning the gold medal, not having it afterwards.

      In a similar way, I’ve realized lately that learning something is more fun than knowing something. It’s the act of learning that is fulfilling.

      So, just as there always seems to more to learn, no matter how much we have learnt, maybe there’s always more to achieve in the physical arena, not matter how much we’ve achieved. Will we ever find a world record that can never be beaten?

      I agree with you completely, those FMX guys are awesome.


Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS