Back to News

VIDEO: Road to the Unthinkable: The Quest for the First Motorcycle Triple Backflip

September 3, 2015

On April 28, 2015, millions of people around the world were blown away by Nitro Circus star Josh Sheehan’s massive triple backflip on a motorbike. Over 11-million have seen the unbelievable world’s first on YouTube alone. Yet, even after all the viral views and the global media coverage, no one outside a select few knew the risks that Sheehan – and other athletes who push the limits like extreme sports icon Travis Pastrana - faced. Or how much bravery, skill and sweat went into making the attempt. Until now. 

“Road to the Unthinkable: The Quest for the First Motorcycle Triple Backflip,” details the odyssey to conquer the most dangerous trick in the history of action sports. The 90-minute special gives viewers a behind the scenes look at what it took for the best FMX riders on the planet try to defy gravity and make history. It airs Saturday, September 12 at 11:30 pm EDT / 8:30 pm PDT on NBCSN (after NASCAR).  


“After all of the stress and apprehension, it was such a relief to finally land the triple,” said Sheehan. “In the moment I was just so focused. There was so much adrenaline it felt like time slowed down. It was only days later that the full extent of what happened set in.”  

“Josh definitely put everything on the line here,” said Pastrana. “In Nitro Circus, it’s all about risk and reward, and a triple backflip maxes out on both. It requires total commitment in addition to an incredible amount of courage, strength and skill.  To see Josh crush it was amazing.” 

”This stunt actually scared the hell out of me,” said Michael Porra, Nitro Circus CEO and creative director. “The whole time I was just worried about Josh. The courage and calmness under the most extreme pressure that he displayed just blew my mind.”

“Road to the Unthinkable” documents fifteen years of progression in the always-evolving sport of freestyle motocross. From Carey Hart, Caleb Wyatt and Mike Metzger setting the tone with their groundbreaking backflips in the early 2000’s through Travis Pastrana’s epic double backflip at X Games XII in 2006, FMX exploded in creativity and difficulty.

Just four people have ever landed the double, and only Sheehan regularly performs it today. In fact, Nitro Circus’ Cam Sinclair crashed on a 2009 attempt, sustaining severe head trauma that required him to re-learn how to walk and talk before he made an incredible comeback and rode again. But in action sports, innovation is everything, so despite the danger Pastrana soon had his sights set on another seemingly impossible milestone: a triple backflip. He would spend years working to make that dream a reality.  

In “Road to the Unthinkable,” viewers will see how far a champion will go to achieve his goal. In 2014, Pastrana self-funded a new ramp setup and teamed up with the supremely talented Josh Sheehan and Tom Pagès. Featuring a takeoff ramp over three times as high as the one for the double flip (set at a staggering 85-degree angle and 37-feet tall) and with a takeoff speed of 50 mph launching the rider 90-feet in the air, there was no margin for error. Just practicing to an airbag risked serious injury or worse. Pagès, one of the most exciting FMX riders in the world, took one look at the setup and said, “There’s a word in my head: ‘why?’” Then Pastrana – the world’s greatest extreme athlete and the driving force behind the attempt – was forced to bow out on doctor’s orders, leaving only Sheehan to continue the pursuit.

With commentary from action sports legends Tony Hawk, Matt Hoffman and Brian Deegan as well as renowned broadcaster Sal Masekela and narration by Johnny Knoxville, “Road to the Unthinkable” is a riveting document of a defining achievement in action sports history.  

As previously announced, NBC Sports Ventures, a division of NBC Sports Group, and Nitro Circus formed a multi-year partnership in May. “Revolution Day,” which revealed Jed Mildon’s epic battle to land a record-breaking BMX quadruple backflip, was the first all-new production as part of this agreement. “Nitro Circus: Crazy Train,” a new eight-part reality series, will debut October 15 on NBCSN.   

Nitro Circus Live returns to North America with an all-new live show on October 8, kicking off in Travis Pastrana’s hometown arena – Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center -- for a 24-city tour that will run through November 21. Go to for a full list of tour dates and to purchase tickets.

For additional Nitro Circus news, exclusive behind-the-scenes content, tour updates and more, go to  Follow Nitro Circus Live on Twitter: @nitrocircus and Facebook: