"Did you hear
that?" he asks no one in particular. "And I'm going to ride that thing?
Over there?" And he points across the gaping black canyon into the
sagebrush distance where dust devils spin. "You damn right I'm going to
ride it. I'm going to go over that canyon like a frozen rope."
And so the stage
is set, for what it's worth. (About $32 million, gross, Bob Arum reckons.) The
monster is alive and growing, nearly mature now, ravenous and snapping, waiting
to be turned loose. Whether Robert Craig Knievel can control it remains to be
seen. But even if he cannot, even if the monster of his own device turns
finally and destroys him, he will have achieved his aim: true fame through
excess. As he likes to say, paraphrasing Teddy Roosevelt, "I think it's
better to risk my life and to be a has-been than to never have been at all.
Even though crippled and busted in half, it's better to have taken a chance to
win a victory or suffer a defeat than to live like others do who will never
know victory or defeat because they haven't had the guts to try
The night after
the static test of the Sky-Cycle X-2, Evel sat with his wife and friends in the
lounge of the Blue Lakes Inn, sipping a beer and telling a few hundred more
tall tales. The lapels of his blood-red jacket spread like the wings of a giant
bat; gold and diamonds winked on his broken hands; the trusty, $22,000 walking
stick stood at his side. Then the cocktail guitarist introduced a song he had
written just that day.
Evel is his
Danger is his game,
The canyon is his aim.
I never knew a man
So determined to take a stand
Jumping from land to land,
On a motorcycle.
Evel Knievel is the man of the day.
He stands courageous in his suave but robust way.
He knows where he's goin', you can bet on that.
You never know, he might outlive us all at last....
Evel shook his
head and took a final swallow of beer. "No way," he said. Linda just
smiled and smiled.