Six months ago, very few people within the FMX movement knew the name of Mark Monea. "Monz" -- as he is known to his friends -- was infamous mostly for being frequent mechanic to X Games gold medalist, Cameron Sinclair. Then Monea did something that no one expected from the guy with the wrench: He rocked the FMX world with a brand new trick, a 360 front flip that he later named the "Carry On." Not long after he was performing for sell-out crowds on the Nitro Circus Live tour, and he just got word that he's been invited to compete in Best Trick at X Games 17.
I caught up to Monz at home in Australia. He grew up in a town called Koo Wee Rup, ten minutes from his friend Sinclair and forty-five minutes away from the city of Melbourne. This particular morning, they were waiting for the rain to subside so he could head out and work on his newfound freestyle career.
ESPN.com: How did you feel after getting your invitation to X Games?
Monea: Stoked. So happy. It was a little bit weird, not knowing what was going on in my life, but happy to have it planned now.
What do you think will happen for you when you come into X as a competitor?
I don't know, I haven't really thought about that just yet. I'm more going into it as a fun thing I think than trying to stress out about it.
Has this whole episode felt like just a bit of fun for you?
Yeah, Oh yeah, it's been so much fun. Like one day playing around with Cam in the foam pit and then all of a sudden s--t's getting blown up on the internet.
Even the name of the trick, the Carry On, kinda tells the story, right?
Yeah. I was just playing around with that.
The trick looks so strange, but you said you feel like you are doing a regular front flip? What do you think it is that brings it so far off axis?
I'm not sure (laughs) I really don't know. It just feels like I am doing them on my BMX bike. I think it's because you have to throw so hard to do that, to get it around. It's weird. I still can't explain it really.
So you're normally used to being at an event as Cam's mechanic. What's it going to be like, lining up next to him and trying to take him down for the gold?
Well we're used the playing around in the foam pit. It's like, "Alright -- three jumps. Go." Or,"You do two and I'll do two." I think that's what it's going to be like on the day: "It's time, let's do it." I'm just going to play around. We ride together every day. We're going riding together this afternoon. We don't have anything to hide from each other, he knows what I'm going to do and I know what he's going to do. When you've grown up with each other since four years old it's no big deal. You're basically like brothers from another mother.
How much other freestyle riding have you done?
Not much. It was more like I rode my BMX in freestyle events like Crusty Demons live shows. But I have been working, when I can and it's not too wet around here -- it's been raining for the last two weeks. I have been trying to get all other tricks down as well. Just to pick things up so I am not known as a one-trick-wonder.
Well obviously you have seen the real downside of the world of freestyle. What has that done to you mentally in the way you prepare to go out and ride these days? Note: Monea was Cameron Sinclair's mechanic during his life-threatening double flip crash in Madrid in 2009.
If I'm not feeling it that day I won't do it. Everything's got to be working perfect. I know Cam wasn't right that day and he just went and did it. If my mindset is not right then I'm not going to do it. It's like before I actually threw the Carry On for the first time: I wanted to do it a few days before and nothing was going right, so I was like, "Today's not the day I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it another day when it's all right, because I have seen what can happen." So I'm just more mentally focused I would say. If it ain't the day, it ain't the day to do it, so don't be stupid and just go for it.
So we have already seen the Carry On, what else are we going to see when you get to X Games?
Umm -- I'm working on that at the moment. I did it yesterday, so I know what's possible, but I'm not going to say anything just yet.
Who worries you at X Games in terms of competing against them for gold?
If Clinton Moore gets in, he has been telling me that he's trying a few things. Then you've got Travis (Pastrana) that's always a threat. He can just come out of nowhere and do something big and of course Cam's going to be there.
How much riding are you planning to do before X?
Well, we have the Nitro Circus show in Vegas in June and then I plan to stay over in California and ride.
So what did Sinclair say to you when you told him about your X Games invite?
(Laughing) He was joking around and said, "Oh, you're not going to wake up from the night before. S--t's going to happen to you." We play around like that, it's pretty good.