BY ANTHONY STOECKERT
Ronnie Faisst has a lot on his mind when he's riding in the motocross extravaganza Nuclear Cowboyz. He has to do his tricks, be in the right spot at the right time and coordinate with other dirt bike riders.
Oh, and one other thing.
"There are girls out there dancing, you need to make sure you don't run over a dancer," he says.
Nuclear Cowboyz — coming to the IZOD Center Feb. 26-27 — is a choreographed freestyle motocross show featuring dirt bike tricks, pyrotechnics, music and those dancers (knowns as the Nuclear Cowgirls). As Faisst explains it, traditional motocross involves dirt bike riders racing. In freestyle motocross riders perform individually and are judged, based on execution, the difficulty of jumps, and other factors.
"So it's not about going fast — it's about how many jumps you can get in and what tricks you can do with the jumps," he says.
Faisst grew up in Mays Landing and started riding dirt bikes when he was 8 years old. "We had five acres where I grew up and we had a little place to ride in the backyard," he says. "And there was a gravel pit up the street from my house so I'd ride there."
He rode at motocross tracks in Englishtown and New Egypt and in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. He turned pro in 1995 and moved to California in 1997. He's gone on to compete in the X Games and Gravity Games — winning a bronze medal performance at the 2006 Winter X Games. Nuclear Cowboyz is a change for him because it's so tightly choreographed.
"It's a big, big show, a great show for entertainment," he says. "It's never been done here in America and to bring our sport and put it in a choreographed show, if you want to see a freestyle show, this is the best one to see."
Those dancers Faisst steers his bike away from are the Nuclear Cowgirls, whose ranks include Adar Wellington, who grew up in Cherry Hill and studied dance at Rutgers. Ms. Wellington describes the show's story as "Michael Jackson's ‘Beat It' on bikes" with two gangs competing against each other on dirt bikes.
"The guys are incredible, they do tricks that are phenomenal," Wellington says. "I've been doing this with them a couple of months and it never gets old for me. It's explosive, these guys are fearless, they do the craziest stunts on these bikes."
Being a Nuclear Cowgirl means dancing in dirt amidst all the special effects and dirt bike riders. Ms. Wellington, who was captain of the New Jersey Nets Dancer before moving out to Los Angeles, says she wasn't exactly sure as to what she was auditioning for on her Nuclear Cowgirl tryout.
"We didn't know what we were getting into until we already made it," she says. "Once it was explained to us, we still didn't really get it until we were actually in the arena with the motorcycle guys and we actually saw them doing what they do. It wasn't clear until we were actually in it. It's definitely one of the most interesting jobs I have to put on my resume."
She's particularly excited about coming to New Jersey and having her family see the show. She promises audiences will be on their edge of the seats throughout the action.
"I'm nervous the entire time, my jaw is clenched the entire show," she says. "And when the show's over, I let out a deep breath, it's pretty scary."
The Nuclear Cowboyz will perform at the IZOD Center at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, Feb. 26-27, 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25-$75. 800-745-3000. For information on the Nuclear Cowboyz, go to www.nuclearcowboyz.com