When he made the switch from racing to daredevil trick riding, Ronnie Faisst got sponsors, pay, notoriety… and a drug habit.
“You can’t become a top professional racer if you’re a partier. Tight diets and training everyday — that’s the background I came from. Didn’t do any drugs, didn’t drink, didn’t want to,” Ronnie says on This is Me video.
“But then when you got into freestyle, all you really needed was to be willing to take some risk. So we found you could party and still do this. We all got caught up in girls, drugs, alcohol, late nights.”
For 10 years, Ronnie soared at the top the emerging Freestyle Motocross, or FMX, pioneering tricks and competing on tour. But while his motorbike flew, his soul was sinking into the depths of sin.
Ironically the thrills-seeker who thrived off of the adrenaline rush found Jesus in a very ho-hum way, watching a televangelist explain the gospel. What drove him to the arms of Jesus? His greatest obstacle in freestyle: fear.
“If you’re a free-style riders, there’s gonna be tricks that scare you a little bit. You have to push through that fear to learn the trick. Right at that time, the back flip came out which to land one you might crash five,” Ronnie says.
“This dude speaking on T.V. was talking about faith, and it spoke to me because he was speaking about fear. I experienced fear everyday,” he says. “I thought, ‘This dude has such a cool view on life. I’ve never really looked at it that way.’ I got saved in my bedroom just watching this program. It makes you feel good. God’s on your side. God starts blessing you.”
Ronnie, from Murrieta, California who now lives in Kansas, is an X Games regular since 2000, winning Moto X bronze medal four times. The 42-year-old was featured in the original Crusty Demons daredevil videos.
He was living his dream, getting paid to ride his motorcycle and perform tricks and compete — and God was on his side.
Initially he didn’t realize there was much more to the Christian life.
“Wait a second,” he realized. “I’m not even close.”
After two or three years of stagnation in Christianity, he almost gave up. “I suck at this,” he thought.
Then he remembered training. “If I go to the gym and I’ve been trying to get in shape but I’ve been doing the same workout, you plateau, you stay there,” he says. “So I changed up my whole routine. I did fasting, new teaching, more time in prayer. I did a one-eighty. People thought I was crazy because they knew where I came from.”
His Christian life began to rise.
As it did, speaking engagements started opening for him to testify about Jesus at events. Fans started getting saved. At first he shied away from public speaking, but he realized he wanted more of what God had for him.
“Now I want to share with people,” he says. “Standing on a podium winning a huge event, none of that compares to when the Lord touches your heart. I’m making sure God is first. God, I want your dream. It’s gotta bigger than just a dirt bike.”
Bryan Gutierrez studied at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.