Metzger performs a backflip during Winter X Games 8 in Aspen.
AP Photo/Nathan Bilow
He is the godfather of freestyle motocross; he is an X-Games Gold medalist; he races supermoto; he's starred in television shows. So what hasn't Mike Metzger done? How about endurocross? We caught up with Metz recently to talk about his new bike, freestyle motocross and how he feels in the morning.
Tell us a little about your latest venture.
I have been wanting to do Endurocross for about three years now. It's something that is very appealing to me. I turned down racing the Baja 1000 this year and signed up for Endurocross. I am riding KTMs for Three Brothers Racing and KTM of Temecula. I was hoping to do the entire Endurocross series but it hasn't been very far out from breaking my back on Discovery's Stunt Junkies. I am still sore. Every day I wake up sore.
Are you confident that your body can hold up to Enduro?
I ride singletrack the majority of the time now. I enjoy riding gnarly trails more than the motocross track now. As I said, I have wanted to do this for three years now, but with freestyle and racing trucks, it just wasn't an option. I think now is the right time.
How did the relationship with Three Brothers and KTM come about?
I have wanted to ride KTMs for a while now. Several years ago I had a deal lined up when I was in Europe, but when I came back to the U.S. it didn't work out. I have known the guys at Three Brothers for quite some time now...probably since the first Crusty video came out. They are really good people, down to help me out with whatever I need whether it's a Supermoto bike, a 2-stroke for freestyle, or a bike for Endurocross.
How did you get involved with the Epic Ride Series?
Ricky Johnson asked me if I was interested in doing a show, and the next thing I knew the producer of the show got a hold of me and had a schedule for me. It was a lot of fun. I hope I get the chance to do it again this season, but it's still up in the air.
You shot with Epic Ride not too long after your wreck on Stunt Junkies. Were you still in a lot of pain?
It was under two months after the wreck. So it was only eight weeks before I was trying to get back on street bikes and quads, but I was able to ride somewhat. We did one ride up the coast on a Suzuki Boulevard and we got about halfway and we stopped at a gas station. I got off and had to lay down on the asphalt in the parking lot and couldn't get up. The guy who was driving the motor home ended up taking over my spot and I relaxed in the motor home.
Has your last injury allowed you to spend more time with your family?
I have two children. My daughter is 6 years old and my son will be 5 in December. He has the same birthday as James Stewart, so that's pretty cool. Hopefully he will grow up to be a smart rider, because if he doesn't, he will end up following in my footsteps and be out of control. He has raced about eight races so far at StarWest. He is only 4 years old but he has, I think, seven motocross trophies and two from BMX. Everyday when he comes home from school I hear, "Dad, can we go riding? Can we go to the track?" I'll take him to Lake Elsinore and when we leave, he'll ask to go to StarWest too.
Now that you have taken a step back from Freestyle Motocross, what are some of your thoughts of the progression of the sport, what it has become and where it is going?
Freestyle has become severely commercialized compared to what it was when it started, thanks to ESPN and now guys can make a good living.
What do you think about a guy that may not have the skill set of an Adams or a Jones being invited to the largest event in the sport because he is willing to try a double backflip?
Television is produced to have a storyline. If they can grab a kid that is willing to put his life on the line for a double backflip and follow in Travis Pastrana's footsteps, that's a great story for TV. There may be guys all over the world that can do tricks that Nate Adams and Adam Jones can do and are not invited to the X Games. But if there is a guy who is willing to step up and say "I'm gonna double backflip," then that's a perfect story to be told on television.
Do you think FMX has reached, or will soon, a level that is too big of a risk? At what point is the risk too great?
The risk is too high already, but that's not going to stop kids from pursuing what they want to do. I wake up everyday with metal rods in my body but when I feel good, I can't help but wish I was trying a barrel roll or a 360.