WINTERVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Dave Mirra is an extreme sports superstar, but his challenge on this day had nothing to do with the X Games, the Gravity Games or even the new Dew Action Sports Tour.

No, he was determined to teach one of his childhood pals how to do a back flip on a bike.

On his first try, Mirra had no trouble accomplishing the trick, landing softly on two wheels in a large pit of cushions at his training complex in this small town about 90 miles east of Raleigh. His friend, Ray Newkirk, who first ran into Mirra on the streets of Syracuse, N.Y., about 25 years ago, wasn’t quite as fortunate.

He hadn’t been on a bike in many years, and on one of his attempts he flipped Mirra’s bike up in the air before it came crashing down on the concrete floor. Another bike was brought out and Newkirk eventually got it done, so Mirra was able to smile.

“Way to go, Ray!” he yelled with glee as he threw his arms up in celebration.

The 31-year-old Mirra clearly enjoys his life these days, and who could blame him? He’s one of the featured attractions of a national tour and the host of a reality show on MTV. And on Nov. 12, he and his fiancee, Lauren Blackwell, will be married.

“I’m just very blessed,” Mirra said.

This weekend, he and the rest of the competitors for the Dew Action Sports Tour traveled to Denver for the Right Guard Open, the second of five stops in the inaugural season. Mirra competes in two disciplines -BMX Park and Vert – and didn’t fare so well at the first event in Louisville, Ky.

He finished fourth in Vert and 11th in Park, also known as Street.

“I didn’t ride as well as I wanted to ride,” Mirra said. “I was kind of bummed about myself. Street, I kind of lost my psyche to put my second run of the prelims to the test and go big. Vert, I was trying my best, but I just couldn’t link my stuff together.”

That usually isn’t a problem. He has won more medals in the X Games than anyone – including 10 golds – and finished first in both his events last year in Los Angeles. He also has a host of victories in similar competitions around the world.

“I think Dave’s really got the whole package,” said Wade Martin, general manager of the Dew Tour. “I think more than anything else, he’s got all these trophies. He’s won more than anyone else, and he’s backed all of that up.”

No wonder people flock to Mirra, and not just fans. He followed his brother, Tim, to Greenville, N.C., in the mid-1990s, and he’s stayed ever since, making the town of about 60,000 home to something more than East Carolina University.

Mirra built a 15,000-square-foot training complex in an industrial park just outside town in Winterville, and it’s already proven to be one of the top facilities of its kind. At the Louisville event, seven competitors besides Mirra were from Greenville, and they all work out at his warehouse.

“It’s just an awesome place to practice,” said Mike Mancuso, who finished 13th in Vert.

It also allows Mirra an avenue to entertain friends such as Newkirk. A former boxer and competitor in Ultimate Fighting competitions, he stayed in touch with Mirra sporadically over the years and made his first visit to Greenville last month.

Newkirk marveled at the size of the training facility and the complexity of the ramps, then quickly tried his hand at some tricks he remembered from his childhood. It was just like old times as he and Mirra took turns on the bike.

The only difference? Now Mirra is a national star.

“When we were young, he always had the heart,” Newkirk said. “The kid would pull out any trick, and do it over and over. I knew he had it in him.”

Off the bike, Mirra has enjoyed other success. He took part in a couple of MTV projects that led to him hosting “The Inferno,” a competition between cast members of two of the network’s other reality series, “Road Rules” and “The Real World.”

He enjoyed his time in front of the camera and did well enough that MTV asked him to come back for the second installment.

“I think TV’s cool,” Mirra said. “I think it’s a good avenue, and I’m going to have fun with it.”

So far, he hasn’t looked much into his future, even though he realizes his time as a top competitor might be limited. He points to 38-year-old Dennis McCoy as the oldest of the top pros, leaving Mirra unsure about how much longer he’ll ride.

“I’m just going to keep holding on,” he said. “It could last me forever. In terms of riding, I could have two years left or five years left, I don’t really know. Age is all in your mind, anyway.

“This sport is more about lifestyle and individualism. Nobody’s trying to be like anybody else. Everybody tries to be themselves, and that’s what’s so cool about it.”

AP-ES-07-06-05 1536EDT


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