BY: ROB HOFFMAN
In 2012, Trevor Jacob—an American Olympic snowboarder and Nitro Circus Rider—cut up his credit cards, ID, packed a small bag of essentials and walked to the nearest highway. Jacob hitched rides at first, but when rides became sparse, he found a train-yard to catch out of the state, using a go-pro to document the experience. “I’ve always been drawn to the rush to leave everything behind, and just take off with nothing but what’s on your back,” he opens the video with, which has since been removed from the internet. Hopping freights is not merely frowned upon by state or railway companies—veteran train-hoppers share the frustration of overcrowding, and thus endangering the surreptitious mode of travel. Jacob could have removed the video for legal reasons, but more likely, he empathized with the concerns of other train hoppers. “It’s important to constantly analyze your own perspective,” Jacob tells me, who emphasizes the importance of graciousness and remaining humble.
It’s increasingly difficult to pinpoint Jacob’s primary sport. Though his roots are in snowboarding, Jacob moves effortlessly between skateboarding, surfboarding, BMXing, dirt-biking, skydiving and snowmobiling. His diversity in action-sports has earned him comparisons to icons like Travis Pastrana, whom Jacob has grown close to since joining the Nitro Circus team in 2012.
Jacob’s involvement in Nitro Circus was partially due to freak-chance. Jacob grew up in the same town as Travis’s wife, Lindsay Pastrana, before the two had even met. When they got married years later, Jacob expressed his keenness to participate in Nitro Circus. “It was super random, but on thanksgiving about 3-4 years ago, we were towing in the desert on snowboards with a razor just having a ton of fun and my phone kept ringing, kept ringing, kept ringing and I was having so much fun I decided not to answer it. But it turned out it was Lindsay, saying ‘hey, a bunch of people got hurt on our tour and we’re in Europe—can you be here tomorrow?’ And I was just like ‘I’m on my way to LA right now, I’m there.’ And the rest was history.” Says Jacob.
These days, Jacob tries to maintain a low profile. At 22, Jacob possesses insight beyond his years. “I’ve been around a lot of people who have had the fortune—or misfortune, whatever you want to call it—of being huge and in the spotlight, and most of those guys tell me that they wouldn’t wish that upon their worst enemies. One friend told me ‘you can’t buy your privacy back.’” Not only does anonymity grant the freedom to pursue unique rushes (like hitchhiking), but Jacob believes it can be a greater outlet for positive change. Despite his reckless persona on camera, Jacob is down to earth as it gets. In his eyes, activities that force one to think on their feet, like hitchhiking or train-hopping, can mean opportunities for growth. “I always believe that mistakes are the best gifts because you learn from them.” On the road, this can mean “anything from getting ripped off trains at gunpoint, looking down the barrel of the gun, or getting into the car with the wrong person. Or maybe they’re the right person I guess because you get taught a lesson.” Jacob contemplates.
According the Jacob, his family has a history of alternative travel. “My Grandpa used to ride trains with his hard working harvesting money from Oklahoma back to California and vice versa, and my other grandpa who’s still alive was doing the same thing—so I guess it’s in my bloodline.” Though he’s considered getting back on the road himself, Jacob is still somewhat uncertain where he wants to focus his passion next. For the meantime, he tells me, he’s doing his best to stay busy. “There’s nothing more that I want than to take home a gold at the next olympics,” Jacob admits, but it’s hard to commit to any one option. Ultimately, Jacob plans to follow his intuitions and let his passions lead the way. “Whatever purpose you choose to have in your life, I think the important thing is to make the best of it, love other people and try to remain stoked on life.” Says Jacob. Recently, Jacob has sought fulfillment in selflessness. “I heard the quote the other day: ‘giving is living’. I really find a big place in my heart for giving.” According to Jacob, sometimes this can mean something as simple as a good conversation with someone in emotional distress.
Jacob admits that he’s still learning himself, and uncertainty about the future is an inevitable part of the equation. He muses on a number of interesting ideas and directions with me, but ultimately, Jacob doesn’t seem too concerned with what he ends up doing. Rather, wherever he decides to take his career next, Jacob is content to focus more on the ‘why’. To ensure that, whatever he pursues, he does so from a place of passion, genuineness and personal fulfilment. Whether this means signing on for more Nitro Circus tours, striving for the gold in the 2018 Olympics, or dropping off the map to thumb rides across the west—we’ll just have to wait and see.