HOUSTON—Extreme sports can be extremely fun and are not just for super athletes.
One of the largest action sports parks in the country is just outside Houston in Conroe. Even an everyday Joe or Jane can pretend to be an action hero at 3 Palms.
When we visited the action sports park, Travis Thompson and Greg Moody were snaking through a race course on stand up jet skis.
“You feel alive. You forget about your workday, forget about the work week. You can’t think about anything else,” Moody said.
“It’s something you can do a little longer without getting hurt,” he said.
3 Palms is the perfect place for adrenaline junkies. If you don’t like the water, there’s good old fashioned dirt bikes. There are six tracks for fun and serious competition for adults and kids.
Brett Munoz, 10, trains here and pointed with pride to the sponsors decaled on his bike.
He started motocross racing at age 5.
“I just love to do the jumps and everything,” he said.
The 4th grader is a veteran now and has had his share of bumps and bruises.
“I had to have plastic surgery on my lip and I chipped my collar bone before,” he said. “Any injury can usually be fixed.”
His chief mechanic and partner is father, John Munoz. Brett likes the bonding that’s done off the course.
“A lot of time we just like to sit on the tailgate and talk. It’s pretty fun,” he said.
Less than 5 percent of the riders are girls. Alex Bass, 12, has been racing for about two years.
“I saw this kid on a dirt bike, and I’m like, ‘Daddy, I want to race,’” she said. She’s home schooled now to accommodate her training schedule.
The 3 Palms playground is the brainchild of motocross rider Emil Shebelbon. With all the mud and the engines in the sport, some have nicknamed them the ‘redneck’ x games.
“It’s not just something people do in the back woods somewhere. This has really grown into a lifestyle.” Shebelbon said.
Twenty-two years ago he built a private track, but other riders broke in to use it.
“Instead of us keep trying to repair the gate, why don’t we let them in and make a business of it?” he said he thought at the time.
That grew into 255 acres, four competitive race tracks, two pee wee tracks, camping facilities, two lakes, wake boarding, slalom skiing, fishing, zip lines, mud runs and more.
It’s family business. His wife Wendy works there too.
“My wife and I we have five kids. We come out here we bring our kids and our kids never get bored,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about wearing out their thumbs playing video games.”
Nearly all ages and skill levels are welcome.
“We fit you from head to toe with gear. We fit you with a motorcycle and within two hours of the program you’ll learn to ride a dirt bike,” he said.
The cost for training, gear and bike rental is $90.
Then there are the obstacle courses. It’s kind of like basic training, but it’s race: a test of strength, skill and simple desperation. Ryan McPherson, 24, and Brian Murray, 25, barely escaped dropping into the mud pit from an overhead rope contraption.
The last time 3 Palms hosted an adventure race about 5,000 people showed up. About 40 percent were competitive athletes, people who routinely work out. The other 60 percent were regular Joes or Janes just trying to make it to the end.
It’s a chance to be a kid or an action hero, if only for a day.
Bring your own gear and day fees range from $7 to $19 depending on the sport. Dry camping is $10 a day. RV Hook Ups are $30 a day.