We talk to Josh Sheehan about winning Spartan, motorbikes and skydiving
Seriously, is there anything Sheeny can’t do?
He’s fit af, has balls the size of grapefruit, and his inner circle calls him The Unicorn. We’re talking about Nitro Circus FMX athlete and Australian Spartan winner, Josh Sheehan, of course. And it should come as no surprise that the Donnybrook Daredevil is also a licensed skydiver.
Sheehan learned to skydive with Skydive Geronimo in late 2014, not long before he made history books by landing the world’s first, and only, triple backflip on a motorbike in April 2015. Since doing the Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) Learn to Skydive course at our Busselton drop zone, he’s completed 150 skydives and counting.
We recently talked to the 32-year-old South West native about his life as a self-confessed adrenaline junkie and how skydiving helps him be a better FMX rider.
Geronimo: Firstly, congrats on the Australian Spartan win with your team X Games Sydney. That’s massive!
Sheehan: Thanks. It was awesome fun. I was stoked just to get over there. I didn’t think we’d do quite so well but yeah, I had an absolute blast. It was awesome.
Geronimo: All those FMX acrobatics must keep you super fit.
Sheehan: Yeah, it does. Landing jumps on a bike can be hard on your body so I do a lot of stretching and running to keep my muscles and joints in shape. I do some kind of fitness daily and weight training a couple times a week. Riding and training on the motorbike is a workout too.
Geronimo: How did you get involved in motorbikes?
Sheehan: I grew up on a farm surrounded by apples, plums, nectarines… I never liked working on the farm but I loved the space and we had the freedom to do what we wanted. My brother and I, and even my sisters, were pretty active, ADD kinda kids who always wanted to do stuff. I remember being on the bike with my dad and steering while he rode at a very young age. The first bike I rode myself was a postie bike. I must have been around 8 years old, probably younger. At around 13, I had a go on my brother’s motocross bike and that’s when it all started, I guess. Once I got my car license at 17, I could drive to the motocross races to compete.
Geronimo: How did you go from being a farm boy racing dirt bikes to a freestyle motocross rider?
Sheehan: I never thought it was a possible career, I just liked riding bikes. Showing off was a big thing [that I liked to do]. There’s something about being in the air, whether it’s in a plane, jumping out of a plane, or jumping a bike or a car. Floating has always appealed to me. I was a little adrenaline junkie; I loved pushing the limits.
Geronimo: Skydivers are often called “adrenaline junkies”. Is that why you got into skydiving?
Sheehan: I always thought about how awesome it would be to do my skydiving license but it wasn’t until I was in New Zealand with Nitro Circus that I really knew how much I wanted it. A few of the American guys got to jump with their own rigs and I did my second tandem. I thought, ‘it’s so awesome’ but I couldn’t help thinking about how more exciting it would be knowing I was in control of everything. Tandems are fun but you don’t have to worry because someone else is taking control of everything. So when I had some time off after winning the Red Bull X Fighters series, I thought, ‘beauty, I’m going to do this’.
Geronimo: Our director, Glenn Stutt is a massive motocross fan and rider. Did he teach you to skydive?
Sheehan: Yeah, I got to know Glenn. He was stoked because he knew that I came from an action sports background. He was pumped. He was keen to help me out and get me into skydiving.
Geronimo: How many jumps do you have now?
Sheehan: Just over 150. I don’t get to jump at home that much because when I’m there I’m training and riding and I have too much on. Now, a lot of my jumps happen in Europe when I’m competing there in the winter.
Geronimo: How often are you skydiving?
Sheehan: My friend Tom Pagés lives close to Skydive Empuriabrava in Spain so whenever I’m training and riding with him, I make an effort to get to the drop zone. Tom and I are at the same level so we jump together and have a blast. Every now and then I can charge it and get a bunch done. There’s a wind tunnel there as well but lately I’ve been snowed under with shows and travel.
Geronimo: How does skydiving help your FMX career?
Sheehan: Being upside down, the aerial awareness helps a lot with knowing where everything is while you’re spinning around. We do a lot of spinning around and getting into funny positions on the bikes these days. Skydiving helps clear the mind as well. It’s like a holiday. If I’ve been riding a lot, my body’s so sore but then I go skydiving; it’s relaxing and I can de-stress.
Geronimo: What are your skydiving goals?
Sheehan: My skydiving goals are just to have fun. I just love adrenaline, having fun and doing new things.
Geronimo: Nitro Circus is coming to Perth and Bunbury. How excited are you to perform at home?
Sheehan: Really excited. It’s the pinnacle of my career; to be able to do what I do, at the top of my game, in my home town basically. I know a lot of the community and my family and friends are all excited for it. It’s going to be a good show.