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Working Hard and Playing Hard: Dirt Bike Surfing with Robbie Maddison [Interview]

by Cristina Costea

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To say that Robbie Maddison (known to many as Maddo) is a living legend is not an overstatement. Dubbed the modern day Evel Knievel, Maddison is a prolific biker, stunt man and thrill seeker. Last summer, he partnered up with DC Shoes and released a video called Robbie Maddison’s Pipe Dream that showed him surfing on his dirt bike in Tahiti. 

The clip gathered over 22 million views, becoming one of the most watched surf videos ever and making Robbie even more famous than he already was. The team at BookSurfCamps.com is honored to have had the chance to chat with Robbie about stunts, family life, and fear. 


It All Started When Robbie Was Young… Very Young


At an age when most children are still wobbly on their feet, Robbie Maddison got his first dirt bike. We asked him what made him want a bike when he was only three and his answer didn’t surprise us. “My dad rode a dirt bike/trail bike to work every day and infected me with the love by popping wheelies when he would leave and when he would return.” Popping a wheelie is a maneuver in which the front wheel of the bike comes off the ground and into the air, while the bike continues to advance on the back wheel. “One day, a young boy from up the street rode past our house on his child-sized dirt bike.” That moment was a defining moment for Robbie, as he realized that he, too, could ride a dirt bike, just like his father. “Feelings of love and freedom overtook my body”, he remembers how when that realization sunk in. From that moment on, dirt bikes became a permanent fixture in his life.


Robbie Maddison interview

Image credit: DCShoes.com

“I Feel Fear in Every Situation”


Don’t think for a second that Robbie Maddison doesn’t get afraid; he’s only human after all! But Robbie uses his fear to guide him: “I feel fear in every situation, and I’m mindful of it, but I also let it guide me to the potential things that could go wrong. Then, I focus on these things to make sure I have done the quality assurance to satisfy myself we are prepared correctly.”


Robbie Maddison interview

Image credit: nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net

Once he goes through all the things that could go wrong, “I let go of the fear and enjoy the feeling of living freely, in touch with the wishes of my heart and guided by my soul. I try to be mentally and emotionally free, believing that our creator had this plan for me and I try to be a happy being of energy, living out my existence, true to who I am.” And a happy being of energy he is!

Robbie understood that in order to be successful in whatever it is you want to do, there needs to exist a balance. The body needs to be in tune with the mind. The thousands of hours training wouldn’t amount to success, if not for the preparation of the mind. “I constantly remind myself that as long as I’m following my heart I can walk the tightrope of danger that surrounds every milestone I embark on.” Before a stunt, “I focus just on the moment, the wind, what my heart and senses are telling me, I block all the negative thoughts and I'm at peace with the possibility of the situation not going the way I planned it to. Then, I mentally picture everything going as I plan it to and I stay in touch with these feelings, I don't allow letting ego, emotions or fear playing any role.”


Robbie Maddison’s Pipe Dream



Pipe Dream is Robbie Maddison’s most famous stunt and also his most ambitious project he has ever pulled off. He teamed up with DC Shoes to do something that has never been done before, surf on a dirt bike. The preparations for the stunt took a whopping two years and Robbie almost lost his life when a big wave pulled him under.

“I thought my time was up, so I just let go and was at peace with it. Then I resurfaced for a split second to catch a breath before the next wave took me for a hell of a ride. At this point with lungs full of fresh air I knew I was coming back for another shot at living out my dreamy existence.”

How did this crazy idea of surfing on a dirt bike come to him? “From surfing and riding dirt bikes my entire childhood.” Naturally, when you’re on a dirt bike half of time growing up, and the other half you’re on a wave, you eventually come up with the idea of combining the two. What truly made this idea a reality is Robbie’s determination and hard work: “I believed in it and I successfully envisioned how to make it happen.”


All the Support One Can Get


Following in Evel Knievel’s footsteps has always been a goal of Robbie’s. Now that people are calling him the modern-day Evel Knievel he says he feels blessed. But getting to where he is now, Robbie has had to work hard, because to achieve what he has, you need more than a dream; you need lots of hard work, people who believe in you and who support you. He admits that what makes him stand out is all of the above, combined: “Others may have dismissed this path, or their heart just didn't desire it and make them go to the lengths I went to, to make this all come together.”


Robbie Maddison interview

Image credit: DCShoes.com

You also need all the support you can get from the people that matter in your life. “Today I'm making my childhood dreams my reality. My parents gave me the foundation to bring this dream to life by taking me racing every weekend from when I was 6 till I was 16 years old. That foundation and by working hard as an electrician to save for my first house has put me in a position to self-fund the beginning of this adventure that has been going on for 14 years now. I'm honored to have my loving wife by my side and that we have weathered this crazy storm and endured this rocky road to bring these dreams to life.”

Robbie Maddison’s wife, Amy is an avid supporter of his career and is often a spectator at his stunts. Together, they have two young boys, who are already showing an interest in dirt bikes and jumping. Robbie supports them, the same way he received support from his parents when he was young. He is also aware that they may not be actually following in his footsteps; instead, he will be following them.


Robbie Maddison interview

Image credit: cdn.motocross.transworld.net


“Both my boys love bikes and jumping, I will do my best to enlighten them that my current situation is the combination of elements that will never exist again. I was at the right place at the right time and did what I knew I could do. I can’t wait to follow my boys on their personal journeys as a spectator, helping them with the totality of my presence to make their personal dreams come true. Just like my parents did for me.” It appears that the Maddisons, a family that supports each other, stay together.


What’s Next for Maddo?


Many people may not know that Maddison was Daniel Craig’s stunt double for Skyfall (2012). Remember the crazy rooftop bike chase at the beginning of the movie? Robbie Maddison donned a blonde wig and helped create the most exciting and well-coordinated bike stunt in the James Bond franchise.

The stunt earned him a SAG award for “best stunt ensemble” and also a Taurus world stunt award for “best stunt with a vehicle”. Stunt doubling is something Maddison wishes to pursue in the future, but even more than that, he wants to try his hand at acting and do all his stunts. No surprise there!


Robbie Maddison interview

Image credit: cdn1.bikebandit-images.com


Asked about any future stunts, Maddison is secretive, saying he’s got a “super exciting stunt” in the works, but that he can’t talk about it. Who can blame him? It’s probably going to be another record-breaking stunt!


“Stay in Touch with Reality!”


So what advice does Robbie have for bikers and surfers who are just starting out on their journeys? “Believe in yourself, you are amazing! Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do anything. You can do anything you believe in as long as you take the right path, make the right steps at the right time and are in touch with reality.”


Robbie Maddison interview

Image credit: DCShoes.com


It’s not just a desire or a wish, that can make things happen and bring success, it is making the right steps, staying true to yourself and always be grounded. Robbie Maddison is not just a biker/surfer with a dream, he is a man who worked hard to get where he is now. A man who still has plenty to show the world. His life philosophy is simple, clear and effective: “I just take each day as it comes, but always mindful of what I want to achieve and always trying to figure out how to make it happen with the tools I have access to, at any given point. […] Never say never!”

Robbie Maddison is not going to stop doing what he’s doing because passionate people like him don’t do that. His inspiring words, his determination, his passion and his achievements make him not just a great stunt rider, but also a good role model for others to follow.  


If reading Robbie’s story gave you an insatiable appetite for a surf adventure, then we urge you to head over to BookSurfCamps.com, and browse through our vast offers to find the perfect surf vacations and surf camps that you’ve always been dreaming of! 

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