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The Ride of My Life

The Ride of My Life

4.6 6
by Mat Hoffman

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I had seriously reached a point in my life where I wasn't scared of anything. Panic was replaced by awww, shit, how can I fix this before I hit the ground?

Childhood for Mat Hoffman was packed with hazardous behavior and a constant searching for a new rush: sliding down the laundry chute, blatantly misusing a trampoline, leaping off the roof holding an


I had seriously reached a point in my life where I wasn't scared of anything. Panic was replaced by awww, shit, how can I fix this before I hit the ground?

Childhood for Mat Hoffman was packed with hazardous behavior and a constant searching for a new rush: sliding down the laundry chute, blatantly misusing a trampoline, leaping off the roof holding an umbrella, executing a two-story bomb drop into a swimming pool on a bike, and more. After experimenting with his bike on a plywood ramp at age eleven, Mat found his true calling. He became addicted to aerials.

By the time he was fourteen years old, Mat had earned national notoriety with his ramp skills and landed a factory sponsorship from Skyway Recreation. He was consumed by a love of bike riding, a passion that took him around the globe and beyond the limits of what people said was possible. Always pushing for more height or another way to turn air into art, he's shattered world records, conventional wisdom, and his own body in a quest to experience all that life has to offer. The price? More than a dozen major surgeries, fifty broken bones, countless concussions and knockouts -- Mat's sacrifices are evident in a medical file that's 400 pages thick.

When the boom years of BMX freestyle bottomed out during a bike industry recession in the late 1980s, Mat's enthusiasm never wavered. To save his sport, he bought a semi truck when he was seventeen and became his own sponsor, spreading the word one demo at a time. He and his friends formed Hoffman Bikes and began running bike stunt contests. It was an era of progress for Mat as a rider, as he unveiled jawdropping tricks like the no-handed 540, backflip fakie, and flair, and became the first rider in action sports to pull a 900.

In The Ride of My Life, Mat takes readers on his humorous, hardcore, harrowing journey to the top as a bike stunt pioneer, ten-time world champion, video game superstar, X Games ambassador, recreational ninja, and the most innovative rider to ever hit a ramp. He shares stories of the wild experiences he's had while touring with some of the best riders around -- Dennis McCoy, Dave Mirra, Rick Thorne, Kevin Robinson, Mike "Rooftop" Escamilla, and many others.

Spanning two decades of action sports history, as Mat crosses paths with high-risk heroes like Tony Hawk, Johnny Knoxville, and Evel Knievel, The Ride of My Life is the insane, true story of Mat Hoffman, the greatest bike rider of all time.

Editorial Reviews

As a BMX stunt rider with a career spanning nearly two decades, Mat Hoffman is the perfect example of someone who will do almost anything for the love of sport. Hoffman's early life was filled with the never-ending quest for a thrill. Raised on trampolines, motorcycles, and the wrestling mat, Hoffman discovered that freestyle BMX biking combined the mental focus that he desired and the adrenaline rush that he craved. His acrobatics and bike-handling skill soon landed him a sponsorship from a bike factory, but the turning tides of the recreation industry left him with no other option than to support his habit himself. Luckily, the invention of the X Games and shows highlighting dangerous stunts came along, resuscitating his sport and placing Hoffman at the top of the industry once again. With random graphics, oddly placed images, and changes in font styles that seem to have no pattern, this book is visually problematic. A poor choice in cover art makes it unlikely that even a freestyle enthusiast will select it from the shelf. Rapid-fire topic changes and awkward writing make the book difficult to begin, much less to complete. Two appendixes serve as an inventory of bike tricks and a testimony to the power of fame. Black-and-white and color photos capture everything from Hoffman's family to bike jumps. The subject matter of this book might be interesting to teen readers, but its treatment makes it nearly unreadable. Illus. Photos. Appendix. VOYA Codes: 1Q 1P S (Hard to understand how it got published; No YA will read unless forced to for assignments; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Regan Books/HarperCollins, 311p,
— Heather Hepler
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-It's no exaggeration to say that the sport of BMX freestyle couldn't exist as it does today without the efforts of Hoffman, the first rider to "pull a 900" (rotate the bike in the air two and a half times after escalating off the ramp). At age 17, he bought a semi truck and put together a touring team of trick riders. Two years later, he started Hoffman Bikes (it still exists) with a loan from the Small Business Administration, a few friends, and an immense amount of desire. He helped ESPN2 produce the early X Games. He's broken countless bones, had several concussions, and undergone an experimental ACL reconstruction without anesthesia. Hoffman tells his story from the time he dropped out of school to ride in BMX tournaments professionally until late 2002, when he was 30 and he, skateboarder Tony Hawk, and many other extreme sports superstars took the "Boom Boom Huck Jam" music and sports production on the road. Nearly every page of the book has at least one black-and-white photograph showing Hoffman in action; a few color photos are also included. An appendix defines the more complicated tricks. Though Hoffman's tale will be enjoyed mostly by extreme-sports enthusiasts, anyone could find inspiration from the success and pleasure he has gotten from hard work, passion, and desire.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
--Tony Hawk
“The godfather of going big reveals all in this incredible autobiography.”
--Johnny Knoxville of Jackass
“Today I have a new American hero, and his name is Mat Hoffman. Read this book and you’ll know why.”
--James Parker
“[T]he autobiography of an extremist--narrow, fierce, and in flat contradiction to most of the laws of nature.”
—Tony Hawk
“The godfather of going big reveals all in this incredible autobiography.”
—Johnny Knoxville of Jackass
“Today I have a new American hero, and his name is Mat Hoffman. Read this book and you’ll know why.”
—James Parker
“[T]he autobiography of an extremist—narrow, fierce, and in flat contradiction to most of the laws of nature.”

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Chapter One


My dad, Matthew Hoffman, is the original take charge, do-it-yourself guy. He grew up with nothing. Dad's family were hardworking, salt-of-the- earth midwestern folk, but they were superpoor. The "House of Hoffman" was literally a shack in a field -- no plumbing or doors, --it was barely a step above camping. My father quickly learned that determination was the way to overcome hardship. As is the case with young people who possess a lot of raw willpower, my dad clashed with authority on occasion. He was not really a juvenile delinquent, but definitely someone with a defiant, reckless streak inside. "Never back down" was his modus operandi. When he was eighteen years old, he'd do stuff like bet his friends a quarter that he could lie across the hood of a car and hold onto the windshield wipers while one of the guys drove it down the street at one hundred miles per hour. Although cashing in on these wagers didn't make him much money, it is how he earned his reputation: wild man.

My mother's family comes from the southern part of Italy. Both her parents' families jumped a boat for America, Land of Opportunity, and wound up in Ridgeway, Pennsylvania, an industrial mining town. My grandmother's family lived on top of the hill on High Street, which was the prosperous section of town. My grandfather's family came from the "other" side of the tracks in Ridgeway. He met my grandmother and the two courted, which started a long tradition in my family of proper, respectable young ladies falling for disreputable young men. My grandfather, Al Papa, began to get restless in Ridgeway, but he had no money to leave town. He hopped a boxcarand rode the rails west, leaping off in Elkhart, Indiana. A small Italian community took him in. It took Al two weeks to get himself settled and then he went to a used car lot to test-drive one of their cars. He cleverly unhooked the odometer and headed back to Ridgeway to give my grandmother a plush ride to their new home. Young, married, and on their own for the first time, they stayed in Elkhart and started a family. My mom, Geovanna Teresa Papa, was the youngest of their three children. She grew up in a house flush with ethnic pride, old country traditions, and heritage.

Dad met my mom when he was a cook in an Elkhart restaurant -- he was seventeen, she was sixteen. He loaned his car to a buddy in exchange for getting set up on a date with her. Almost immediately their relationship aroused the suspicion of Mom's father. Her dad did everything possible to discourage the two teenage lovebirds from seeing each other. My grandfather tried intimidation, Italian style, to convince my dad to back off: "If you don't stay away from my daughter, I'll have your legs broken." But my mom and dad were in love, and that's a hard force to disrupt. When their love was forbidden, that was the proverbial gasoline on the fire.

My parents got married in a secret ceremony in 1962 and hit the road in a beat-up Oldsmobile. My dad's instructions to the minister were to wait three days before submitting their marriage license, so their names wouldn't show up in the newspaper until after they had made a clean getaway.

The newly wed Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman left Indiana and made brief detours through Minnesota, then Nebraska, finally stopping at the outskirts of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma is the dead center of the United States. It's where the original "forty acres and a mule" concept of post-Civil War American freedom started, and it seemed like the perfect nesting ground. My dad figured that nine hundred miles was enough distance from their past to allow them to start their life together. When my parents settled here, they had nothing but a car, some clothes, and their dreams. There was no turning back --their only option was to make it.

Equipped with an outgoing personality and a drive to succeed, my dad was a natural salesman. He got his break selling hospital supplies for Zimmer, a big distributor of everything from ankle braces to artificial hips. He rolled over whatever stood in his path like a tank, closing sales, earning customers, and reaping plenty of commissions. He became the number one salesman in the country. He had found his true calling, and before long he struck a deal with Zimmer to run a distribution hub in Oklahoma and West Texas. Things were looking up.

When my mom found out she was pregnant with their first child, Dad bought her a diamond ring to celebrate. After Todd was born, they made amends with my mom's parents. Having proved his good intentions and ability to provide for his family, my dad even smoothed things over with Grandfather. In the next fiveyears my dad and mom had two more children: my sister, Gina, followed by my brother Travis. The Hoffman kids were spaced two years apart ... boy, girl, boy ... like a beautiful flower arrangement.

Then I showed up. I was an accident, right from the get-go. This time, when my mother announced she was pregnant, there was no diamond ring. She sent my dad out to get a vasectomy. I arrived kicking and screaming on January 9, 1972. My parents wanted to call me Matthew, but rather than make me a "Jr." they left out a T: Mathew. Easy enough, but they also needed a middle name. Both my brothers' middle names are Matthew, so each brother thought it was only fair that their first name be my middle name. My mother, being the great mediator, came up with an idea. Instead of calling me Mathew Todd Travis Hoffman, they shortened my middle name to the letter T and told my brothers that it stood for "Travis and Todd." It sounds a little odd, but I was a product of their environment. My parents were freethinkers, and it was the seventies.

When Todd was born baby bottles were sterilized. He drank out of a cup at six months, walked at ten months, and was potty trained by eighteen months....

The Ride of My Life. Copyright © by Mat Hoffman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Mat Hoffman divides his duties as a father, rider, action figure, and the H.M.F.I.C. of Hoffman Bikes. He continues to develop, promote, and organize BMX stunt riding events around the world. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and daughter. He still rides every day.

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Ride of My Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Linfordmat More than 1 year ago
This book is about Mat Hoffman and his life it talks about where he was born and his road to success and many of his injuries and how they happened I liked this book a lot especially when he talks about injuries I can relate to. I do recommend this book to people who like action sports.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book to read.It tells you how Mat Hoffman ever came to be a pro BMX rider.He really had a fun life from what I read.He had a brother that just got him in to trouble all the time.He told is brother not to blame everything on him but he did anyway's.Mat hoffman today leads everyone to the BMX world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who has more scars than Mat? Here's the story behind them all. The title is perfect, and in fact so are the other 300 pages. This book is crazy freakin great. You don't just read it, you feel it. It makes you want to say screw the the rules and follow your fire.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've ever read.I've been into BMX almost all my life and I can relate to Mat in many ways.Im 16,and I hope to live up to him by the time im his age.He is the best rider ever to hit the sport,or should I say hes the best rider to ever help make to sport.Thanks for writing this book Mat.You are no doubt my favorite rider.Ride to live,Live to ride.