Moto X God Travis Pastrana made his name on the edge -- then someone else paid the price.

Updated: September 18, 2003, 5:22 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
The freshly paved driveway curves 100 yards to the left and ends at Travis Pastrana's motocross laboratory: a 2,000-square-foot minihangar stuffed with motorcycles (15 of them), BMX bikes, four-wheelers and an indoor skatepark. The 20 wooded acres behind the garage in rural Maryland are cut with Supercross and motocross courses.

It's a morning in late July when Pastrana, ignoring an advanced case of bed hair, pulls on his boots. His right knee is creaky, the unavoidable consequence of a December crash that destroyed his ACL and LCL, leaving the 19-year-old's tibia and fibula to rub together when he walks. Country music billows from wall-mounted speakers as the temp creeps toward 90.

Pastrana's brown eyes brim with anticipation, despite the inconvenient fact that his considerable skills are covered with rust and he's way out of shape. Worse, his confidence is shaky and the XGames are only three weeks away. Today's goal: learn the 360. But there's a problem: the 360 is supposed to be impossible, particularly for a rider with a grapefruit for a knee. "I gotta get this trick down," Pastrana says. "I have to destroy everyone else, and the 360 is the only thing that's gonna do it." Nearby, in front of a giant pit filled with foam blocks, are two 12-foot Super Kicker ramps. The 35 kicker on the right will shoot you high enough to stick your head through the hole in the ozone. The one on the left, meant for distance, will launch you to the Chesapeake.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine