Beating the Odds - from Injury to Inspiration
What he thought would be a one-year wonder became a decade-long successful career as a pro mountain biker. Unfortunately, it came to an abrupt halt at the Redbull Rampage in 2015, where Paul suffered a severe spinal cord injury. Nearly seven years later, he is back on the bike and says, “biking isn’t just about me anymore, its about getting others out there,” - this is Paul Basagoitia’s story.
Paul started riding BMX when he was six years old and later transitioned to mountain biking with encouragement from his best buddie Cam Zink who was already in the scene. The funny thing is, Cam’s bike actually started Paul’s career. It was 2004 - Paul rocked up to Crankworx bright-eyed and ready to race and he ended up winning the whole thing. It was the first ever slope-style event and from there the sponsors came pouring in.
“It was like a dream come true,” explains Paul. He had been competing from such a young age, watching the pro-athletes dominate the riding scene, “I had their posters in my bedroom and now I’m in that mix.” It was so surreal, it almost felt too good to be true and he was certain it’d be over in a year. But then, the following year, he went and did it again, he returned to Crankworx, now with a big factory team behind him and a lot of endorsements and he came out with the number one spot. From there on Paul knew he was going to be doing this for as long as he possibly could.
The Redbull Rampage was a race Paul was never able to win, he was always so close to making it happen, and in 2015, he thought “this is the year for me.” It was a good day, he was stoked with how everything was going and he was feeling confident. Then suddenly, at the very end of the race, an overshot drop caused him to go off course, flip over his handle bars and land on his back. “I was so pissed off,” Paul explains, he knew he had to go back and do his second run, and when he did and couldn’t move from his waist down, he knew his future was going to be completely different from that moment forward.
The first couple of years were rough, he couldn’t walk and getting back on the bike wasn’t even a potential option. Paul knew very early on that there were two ways he could go about this, he could “get addicted to pain pills, be depressed and give up” or “give people hope and inspire them to do the impossible.” “My whole life has been doing the impossible.” He was a small town kid who borrowed his buddies bike and won the biggest mountain biking event, and now he just had more odds to beat.
Looking back, six years later, “to sum it up, my injury has made me a very strong person.” With the help of e-bike technology he is able to ride again. But riding is different now, what used to be an isolating activity is now very much a social thing. At the beginning of Paul’s career, it was all about him winning, learning new tricks and being the best. Now, biking is about inspiring others to get out there, often people who are experiencing adversity in their own lives. “I always used to train by myself, Paul explains, but now “I never ride alone.”
A huge music fanatic, Paul is blasting tunes through his Earshots any chance he gets. “Like people need coffee in the morning, I need my music,” he laughs. Paul was super stoked to join forces with Earshots, “it’s refreshing to see an earbud company in the riding scene that is actually passionate about the sport.”
Before Earshots, Paul hadn’t come across any earbuds that were truely wireless, “I used to blast music on my phone speaker because I never felt comfortable wearing earbuds.” But with the magnet technology that Earshots apply, Paul can hands down say they’re the best earbuds he’s come across for riding. What was important for Paul was that he was still able to hear his bike whilst having high-quality audio and Earshots ticked all those boxes.
Looking ahead in 2022, Paul is keen to make Venice his home after recently moving there. He’s happy where he is in life and will continue to “keep doing what he’s doing.” He’s excited to continue to crush milestones on the bike and inspire others to do the same.