Spectators who tuned in to last week's X Games in Los Angeles might assume that some of the athletes survive on guy staples such as pizza and beer, with little more to give them an edge than sheer guts. The games have a counterculture, daredevil edge that seems somehow at odds with a training regimen as pedestrian as working out six days a week.
But that's what BMX rider Kevin Robinson does. Robinson, 34, has been participating in the games since 1995 -- landing 25-foot-high jumps and sideways back flips. This year, his events were the BMX Vert (two 60-second runs in which riders are judged on technical skills, height and difficulty), BMX Vert Best Trick (just what it sounds like ... best trick in the air) and BMX Big Air (a new event in which riders do either a 70-foot or 50-foot roll in, fly across either a 60- or 80-foot gap, and then fly up a quarter pipe and do a stunt). Final results were not available at press time; for full coverage, see Sports.
Interviewed last week during practice in Tehachapi, Robinson said his workouts had changed with the times.
How fit do you have to be to do this?
Very. Especially when you get to be close to my age. A lot of guys now are 30 and over. We do get injured a lot. So we have to be strong and fit enough to recover from injury quickly. When I started out, I was 118 pounds. I was a little beanpole, and I was definitely getting hurt. I kept breaking stuff all the time. I started lifting weights. I started doing body building. Now I am 6 feet tall and weigh 192 pounds.
How do you train?
I don't do anything different for this event, compared to everyday life. It's all about lifestyle. I lift weights six days a week. Eating is probably the most valuable thing. Proper nutrition is huge. I'm living a healthy lifestyle. I stay away from drinking. I get enough sleep, which is hard because I have two little ones. And I ride. I don't call riding my bike training. I just love it. I've been doing it since I was 10 years old. Obviously, the most important thing is to ride my bike two to three hours a day, five to six days a week. When I was younger I did a lot more.
What are some of the dietary rules you try to follow?
I take 1 gram of protein per body pound per day. I watch my carbs. I try to take in all my carbs before 5 p.m., because your metabolism is not going as quickly at night as during the day.
Has your workout changed over time?
I can't ride as long as I used to be able to. I've got to face the fact that I am getting older. I can only ride two to three hours. In my early 20s, I could ride six hours a day. If I do that now, I am done for three days. It's changed also because of my injuries. There are parts of my body I favor. Right now I have a shoulder injury, so I have to make adjustments.
What is the most important muscle group for you?
I believe the legs. You use your legs so much to pump the ramp. You pump similar to pumping on a swing set to get up in the air. That, and shoulders. Because your shoulders take a beating.
Do you practice falling?
I don't actually fall on purpose. But you fall so often, you get good at it. I've been falling for 23 years. I think I have gotten the best I can be at it.
What do you do when you get thrashed?
I get a massage very frequently -- say once or twice a week. And I do chiropractic visits, too, as needed. When things start feeling locked up, I go.
How many bones have you broken?
Seventeen. I have broken my ankle, my leg, my wrist and my pelvis. I have shattered my pelvis twice. That is the worst.
Your daughter is 2, your son is 8 months. Do you hope your kids do BMX?
To say no would be contradicting my whole life.