Radislav Mihajlov - Rade (25) from the Serbian town of Zrenjanin, is the only professional stunt rider in Serbia, who recently he showcased his skills at the Moto GP Netherlands in front of more than 100.000 people. His show in Assen was one of the biggest successes in his career, and now this guy can freely say he’s leaving a dream – and in his case, it’s not just a cliché. You need to have guts, attitude and a talent to be equally good and motivated while you are training alone, while the others are shouting “quit fooling around on a bike and find a proper job,” but also when all eyes are on you, and the sound of applause is almost overpowering the noise of your motorbike! Rade managed to do it, and thanks to Monster Energy and our friend Marija Joksimovic, we're bringing his story.
“Just before my show in the Netherlands I told myself: You worked for this in the last 10 years, now enjoy it. I wasn't staged fright or anything, the atmosphere was excellent, I gave the best I can, and the feeling is amazing” – Rade starts his story.
Stunt is moto discipline in which rider do acrobatics on his motorbike, or - to be precise - on the rear wheel of his motorbike, on the flat, concrete surface.
“I have to, literally become one with my bike, and that is the feeling that will remain unknown to people who are not riding. It is challenging to manipulate the bike that has 170 kilos, and you know you can’t keep it under control once it is unleashed” – says Mihajlov, who perfected his show, so everything that he is doing looks so fluid, almost easy.
Stunt is a discipline that is more a performance than a competitive sport, although there are competitions, even a World Championship. Stunt riders usually do their shows on moto races or other similar sports events. Like all other moto sports, stunt is expensive because you need to modify your entire bike. For example, Rade is riding Kawasaki 636, and in his own words, it looks more like a KTM on steroids. Because of the nature of this discipline, the bike can be easily damaged, and tires are literally melting. Mihajlov spends between 30 and 40 rear tires in a year, so when we say that stunt riders are “tires and tricks slayers,” we really mean it.
Serbia has around 7 million people, and you can count those who are doing stunt bike riding on the fingers of one hand. There are no competitions, no moto clubs in which you can learn this discipline, so if you want to do stunt biking – you are on your own. When in an environment like that one teenager says that he wants to be a professional stunt rider – you can see a couple of raised eyebrows and taunts, but Rade knew he chose the road less traveled and he was courageous enough to go that road. A decade later he can proudly say he made it because stunt bike riding is now his job.
“People here still don’t know what stunt biking is, and when I say that doing tricks on my bike is my job, they find it weird, unimaginable. There were always those who were saying - "quit fooling around with that bike, you won't accomplish anything, find a proper job." It was hard, but I wasn’t paying attention to them. I was focused on becoming a professional stunt bike rider from day one, and have invested everything so I can accomplish that. I never doubted myself, and with this performance in the Netherlands, I have proved it. All doubts are now sunk.”
Photo: Sebastiaan de Vries
He started riding a bike when he was 14, and he started to ride stunt a few years later. He watched all tricks on YouTube and then perfected them on the streets of his hometown of Zrenjanin.
“At first I had a scooter which wasn’t really suitable for this kind of riding, and then my mom took a loan from the bank, so we could buy me a new motorbike that we have modified for the stunt. Since there were no competitions in Serbia, I started going to foreign countries which turn out to be a good decision since I started achieving good results immediately.”
It didn’t take him long before he became the champion of Croatia, Hungary, and Bulgaria in categories with a smaller bike, and a few years later he became the champion of Hungary in Class 6 with a big bike. Successes in the competitions were coming one after another, and one of the most important was a placement in the Top 10 stunt riders on the World Championship in 2017. Stunt riding took him all over Europe. The talent was there, it was undeniable, but there are always two sides of the medal. Hero of our story got a serious injury that put a huge question mark onto his further career and threatened to keep him away from his bike. But the power of his will was stronger.
“Everything looks perfect now, but four years ago, things in my life were completely different, and my career was uncertain because of the injury. During 2016 and 2017, I had three shoulder surgeries, and the doctor has advised me to reconsider bike riding as my career choice, but then I told him that I only live for that and that my life doesn’t really have meaning if I wake up tomorrow and I can’t ride my bike. He then realized I am completely dedicated to it, and we talked, made a recovery plan, and thanks to him, and to my physiotherapist, I made a full recovery. Monster Energy has supported me long before that, but it was around that time that I became their official athlete and signed the contract that strengthened our partnership. They believed in me the whole time.”
And then the Dutch Moto GP in Assen came at the end of June this year.
“It’s hard to describe it with words. It is the biggest moto event that I could possibly participate in. On the race day, on Sunday, there were around 105.000 people in the audience, and during the entire weekend, more than 150.000 people pass through. I was riding a show all three days, together with my teammate Adam Kun who rides flatland - a very similar discipline but on a BMX, and every show that we did was perfect. People there are just crazy about motorbikes, they love pretty much everything that has two wheels, they made noise, and the atmosphere was unbelievable. On the race day, I was performing on the Moto GP circuit, and while I was doing my show, Moto GP riders were lining up on the grid. When I finished, I was walking alongside the track and saw Valentino Rossi passing by, which was a pretty surreal moment for me because he is one of the riders who inspired me to start riding a bike in the first place. I would like to thank the Monster team from the Netherlands for the opportunity and hospitality.”
Photo: Sebastiaan de Vries
We were curious to know what it takes to turn your hobby into your profession and to “live your dreams?”
“When I started riding, if someone has told me that one day I’ll be riding a show on a Moto GP race, I don’t know if I would have believed him. Without the bike, training, and shows, I wouldn’t have a reason to get up in the morning. But now, I can say I'm living my dream. There is no recipe for that, you just have to believe in yourself, and your dream no matter what other people say. Do your thing. Live the life the way you want to. It is how I live. I’m persistent in my intentions. There are many obstacles and injustice on that road, but I learned to overcome them and move on. Or you can always choose the easier way and say: It wasn’t meant to be.”
The life of a professional athlete brings a certain lifestyle that you have to keep even before you become a professional.
“I train six days a week, twice a day – no exceptions, I just leave one day in the week to rest. In the morning I usually go to the gym, it is really important, because my body is under a lot of stress on the bike, and falls and injuries are common in this sport. Depending on the weather conditions, I either ride a motorbike or a bicycle in the afternoon. Even when I am training, I have to give my best like I am in the contest or when I am doing a show. I can’t spare my body, and I can’t spare my bike. As a professional athlete, you have to renounce a lot of things, and from a certain point of view - that kind of life is pretty boring. For example, I spend most of my time in practice, and I spend my free time with my girlfriend and my friends. Sometimes, I play video games, but I rarely go out at night. Some can do it, others can’t.”
But it seems like that sacrifice, discipline, and persistence are key characteristics of true champions, winners, and great athletes.
“I believe that hard work always pays off. Stunt is not the only thing that inspires me, I am motivated by other sports, other athletes, and their achievements. One of my role models is Conor McGregor who used to be a plumber, and he became world-renowned fighter and athlete. Probably, at some point in his life, he was the only one who believed in that dream. It is an honor to be a teammate with people like him since we are a part of the Monster Energy family. You can’t buy that with money, you can only earn it with your work, and it motivates you to keep going.”
After the show in Assen, Rade had a performance in Croatia, and there are other shows and some video projects in his plan for this summer. He says that the door has now opened for him and the best part of his career is yet to come.
Photo: Sebastiaan de Vries
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