Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Choreographed Chaos...Jarryd McNeil.

What does it take to make a name for yourself in this sport? They thought he was just some kid who could throw whips. An Aussie who wanted to make a life in moto. His whips are the biggest I've ever seen, but there is so much more to Jarryd McNeil.

Natural talent is something that every professional athlete posses. A guy by the name of Travis Pastrana comes to mind. Proven as a racer but so much more to show us on a motorcycle, hell, anything with wheels. Following a short and successful run in professional motocross, Travis is now known for his Nitro Circus. Currently on tour through North America. Like Pastrana, McNeil is a rider who you will spot a number on during a freestyle event. A stop in Detroit gave me an opportunity to sit down with McNeil, talk about tour life and his passion for moto.

Jarryd's bike at the MEC. Photo: Will Topete.
He has become a household name in freestyle. Choreographing his riding has made Jarryd a five time X Games medalist and most recently the winner of Best Whip at the Monster Energy Cup. In fact his best whip was won the night before our talk. He had traveled from a Nitro Circus event in Montreal, Canada to Las Vegas, Nevada and back to Detroit all within 48 hours. Tour life can be tough. "Going from airport to hotel to bus to venue to bus to hotel" sounds hectic but being surrounded by friends and having fun on tour makes it all worth it. 

Freestyle is what pays the bills and moto was put aside to focus on a two wheeled career. Jarryd won't forget why he originally came to America though. His childhood dream was to race nationals in the states, to just qualify. Something he looks forward to doing at least once a season is lining up for a round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jarryd made his first run at qualifying back in 2010 but was injured while testing before the Pala National. He'd take a break to focus on his freestyle but come back in 2014 to prove that he has the speed for the highest level. Jarryd would qualify for both Utah and Washougal, where he'd score a career best 23rd in moto 2. This season he'd again attempt and qualify at Washougal, going 26-30 for 28th overall. 

"I'd love to make Washougal a yearly thing." It sounds like we may get used to seeing the number 974 Yamaha in the 250 class. "A 450 for 30+2 is a lot of bike for somebody who's 125lbs." Jarryd only gets a short time off of touring and gets about a month to actually train for moto. He is happy to get to where he can throw down a full 30 and still hold on.

His abilities in contest rather than the track are what have attracted sponsors such as Alpinestar, FMF, 100 Percent, Motul, MB1 and more that carry their support in to his racing adventures. It's a win win for the companies who gain publicity from Jarryd's freestyle but also make it possible for him to continue chasing his dreams in moto. 

Cliffhangers, back flips, superman seat grabs and huge HUGE whips, but he's more than just a "whip kid." He is Jarryd McNeil. Down to earth, funny, crazy, fast and a privateer.

Jarryd (left) performs in Detroit. Photo: Michelle Pesci

We #cheerprivateer for Jarryd McNeil.

Follow @jarrydmcneil on Instagram.

If you haven't seen a Nitro Circus Live event, you are missing out, but it's not to late. Tickets for the remaining shows can be found at nitrocircus.com.

-Kyle Pesci

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