The last time Texas BMX pro Morgan Wade rode the MegaRamp in Brazil, things did not go as planned.
It was July of 2011, and Wade, then 27, was in Sao Paulo for the Nescau MegaRamp Invitational. During practice, Wade attempted a double tailwhip air somewhere in the 18-foot vicinity above the quarterpipe portion of the MegaRamp. His bike hung up on the lip, and he was catapulted straight to the bottom of the ramp. Wade, an accomplished ramp, street and park pro that has endured more than his fair share of crashes and bails throughout his career, laid at the bottom of the ramp and performed breathing exercises, eventually getting up from the crash and walking away on his own.
He was done riding at the event. That much was clear. Unfortunately, the results of the fall were much worse than expected. Morgan suffered a broken wrist, broken rib and ruptured his spleen. He was rushed to the hospital, and once stabilized, doctors performed emergency surgery on him to control the amount of blood that leaks into the abdominal cavity after a splenic rupture.
"I got to keep the spleen," said Wade following the crash. "In the U.S. they usually remove your spleen because for three days you have a good chance of rupturing it again and the doctors don't want to risk another surgery or a lawsuit, but in Brazil they fixed my spleen and I had to stay in the intensive care unit for three days."
He called his wife Natalie at home in Texas, and he made jokes about his crash with her from his hospital bed. Morgan spent four days in the hospital, missed the fourth of July back home in Tyler, Texas, and was ordered by doctors to not fly home for five to seven days. He spent his days in a hotel in Sao Paulo, and returned home to Texas on July 11, 10 days after the crash.
He missed X Games 17, and was off the bike for 10 weeks. In 2012, Wade returned for X Games Los Angeles and placed fifth in BMX Big Air. "I love riding the MegaRamp but I've never podium'd in it. Flipwhips and 20-foot flairs are hard to beat," Wade told The Albion BMX Magazine last month.
Wade's approach to riding the MegaRamp (actually, his approach to riding anything) is all-or-nothing. There is no "play it safe, get a run down, then go for it" style to Morgan Wade's contest runs -- he goes for it every time he rolls down the MegaRamp roll-in. "I'll never forget my first roll-in down the MegaRamp," said Wade. "That ramp is nothing but adrenaline and fun, because it is so easy to go really high."
And this is why Morgan Wade is invited back each year to compete in BMX Big Air. His edge-of-your-seat quarterpipe airs channel the big air legacy of Mat Hoffman, and when things go as planned, his runs are pure insanity.
Later this week, Morgan Wade returns to Brazil to compete in BMX Big Air at X Games Foz do Iguaçu, with his spleen intact. And he's not at all worried about crashing. "I'd almost rather be in Brazil because the MegaRamp organizers are able to get us out of country insurance coverage that isn't available in the U.S.," says Wade.
"That pays for everything if I get hurt, and I still have just as much fun."