The dude has some serious balls.
Suited up in full freestyle motocross gear, Robbie Maddison stood on the deck of a barge bobbing off the coast of Tahiti and prepared to live out a very literal pipe dream: Riding his motorbike directly into the maw of the world’s heaviest waves. Despite the presence of a full camera crew, and a rescue team in position along the menacing saltwater terrain of Teahupo’o, the man known as “Maddo” was understandably nervous.
“I’d become quite terrified, trembling in my boots,” he confessed. “But I made my bed and it was time to lie in it.”
Risk is nothing new to Maddison, a 34-year-old Australian motorbike stunt rider whose resume includes a legendary New Year’s Eve jump onto the top of the Arc de Triomphe in front of the Las Vegas Paris hotel and a history-making leap over the Corinth Canal in Greece. But this was something different; aside from its recognition as having the world’s heaviest reef breaking waves, Teahupo’o is also one of the most dangerous surfing spots on the planet, with five recorded deaths since 2000. Loosely translated from Polynesian, its name means “the pile of heads.”
So what drove Maddison to tempt fate – and push the limits of technology? It all started during a wakeboarding adventure with friends. While riding on the water, Maddison realized that with the right mechanics, he could combine his love for moto and surf. His epiphany let to the development of a dozen different versions of custom skis that attached to his dirt bike, with skegs beneath to act as rudders for maneuverability and control. A paddle tire on the rear wheel would propel the bike forward on the water, but also handle well on land. After two years of trial and error, Maddison approached DC Shoes’ global brand leader Jeff Taylor with his idea of surfing on a motorcycle. Familiar with Maddo’s previous successful rides on water – he’d managed to go for several miles in Mission Bay – and his mechanical aptitude, Taylor wrote a check on the spot to support the project. Months later, all efforts paid off, as Maddo took to the ocean on his KTM 250 SX, making surfing on his motorbike a reality.
On Sunday, DC finally unveiled footage of Maddison’s historic ride – a clip very aptly titled Pipe Dream. And having survived unscathed, Maddo spoke with Rolling Stone from his Temecula, California home about his most defiant stunt to date.
Read more: Rolling Stone