Motocross is a relatively new sport, so it's difficult to say how long a career in it can last.
It's not easy to imagine motorcycle riders sticking around deep into their 30s, since the money doesn't exactly pile up and younger performers are typically the most innovative.
Sean Nielson, who will be at Intrust Bank Arena this weekend on tour with Gravity Slashers, a freestyle motocross organization, has been a professional for seven years. He's 26 and believes he has plenty left to offer the sport.
"It's kind of a young sport, as you can imagine," Nielson said. "But we've got guys who are like 32 years old and who have been doing it for about 12 years. It all depends on how healthy you are, how physically strong you keep your body and prevention of injuries — everything can go into play of how long your career is going to be."
Nielson began riding as a child in bicycle motocross (BMX), in which athletes ride on a dirt obstacle course.
When he got his driver's license, Nielson switched to freestyle (FMX), which involves tricks and stunts. Nielson took to the sport immediately and found he had a natural talent, turning pro three years later.
"It's a good rush," Nielson said. "It's become kind of the norm for us to go out there and do the dangerous stuff we're doing, the backflips and all the different maneuvers. That's what keeps me going, and just the love of it."
Motocross is a plenty perilous endeavor, so riders take precautions before debuting a trick in competition.
Performers are constantly helping the sport evolve by pushing the limits with jumps and flips, so every rider faces the danger of falling behind.
For Nielson, the process of showing off a new trick involves almost endless repetition.
"Some tricks probably take 100 or 200 repeated attempts before you get it to where you want," Nielson said. "Then, when you do get it, still doing it all the time and doing it on different jump sets is a whole other deal."
Competing in motocross is often an extension of a rider's personality.
Nielson is no different. He looks for a rush in other aspects of life, turning relaxation opportunities into extreme moments.
"We're always trying to find something to do here, whether it be jumping the lake on the BMX bike or going to the skate park or snowboarding," Nielson said. "I played team sports in high school, but I just fell into action sports when I was a teenager."
Though he's considered young by most standards, Nielson is a grizzled veteran in motocross. He's not ready for his career to wind down, though.
"I'm about seven years in now and I'm hoping for about another five," Nielson said. "I'd like to do it as long as I possibly could. As long as my body can go, that's probably what I'll do."
If you go
What: Gravity Slashers freestyle motocross
Where: Intrust Bank Arena
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; doors open at 6:30
How much: Gold Circle tickets $25; midlevel tickets $20 for adults, $10 for kids. Does not include $2 facility fee per ticket. At selectaseat.com, all Select-a-Seat outlets, 316-755-SEAT or at the arena box office.