It’s a two-year trip that will take him around the world from the Gulf of Arabia to the Indian Ocean, from the world’s tallest bridge to the top of the vertiginous cliffs of Avoriaz in the French Alps – and see it work with some of the true legends of BASE jumping.
One of the greatest FMX racers in the world, PagÃ¨s has mapped out tracks for Avoriaz, the ski resort in the heart of the Portes du Soleil in the French Alps that rises steeply atop a huge cliff. There he had to attempt – and ultimately succeed – an incredibly difficult and dangerous FMX tour, which even world champion Red Bull X-Fighters calls “the project of a lifetime”.
“At the start of the project, I had done about 200 parachute jumps, but Vince wanted me to have at least 300 under my belt before I could even try BASE jumping,” PagÃ¨s continues. âSo in early 2020 I flew to Dubai to join the Soul Flyers in their Jetman training camp. That way I was able to do the jumps with Vince by my side to practice.
I don’t need to compete to be happy, I want to do new projects like this
The basics of BASE jumping in Reunion
âWhen it comes to BASE Jumping, a bridge is the place to be as there are no walls or cliffs to collide with which is more likely, especially if you do a big twist during the opening of the parachute. I also learned to fold my own parachute to be as independent as possible during training. The idea was to master the discipline because I knew that I could not do a jump test with the bike.
Jump from the highest bridge in the world
The idea was to master BASE jump because I couldn’t do test jumps with the bike.
âIt was just the basics. I still wasn’t ready. I needed to develop my skills by jumping from as many different places as possible because at this point I wasn’t sure exactly where I would be doing. the final jump or where I was going to land.
âUnlike skydiving, where you land in large, flat fields, BASE jumping is complicated by the fact that you often have to land in hard to reach places that are difficult to access. situations as possible in a short time – and that’s what I did!
âThe jump was always to take place in France and the shortlist consisted of just two places: Millau and Avoriaz. We chose the second one, not only because it is a place of spectacular beauty, but also because I learned that it was an iconic place after stuntman Alain Prieur jumped there in the 80s. L The team greeted us warmly and gave us carte blanche to go around.
âThere were still a few obstacles in the way. First, we only had 130m of cliff for the descent, not 150m as initially planned, and the landing was going to be very technical. We also needed a huge ramp: it had to be very high so that I had more time and safety in the air. Usually, we work more with three-meter high ramps, but here we needed a seven-meter ramp, so there was a lot of logistics to sort out if we were going to bring it in.
âAlthough I had a good idea of ââhow to ride the bike, I’m not used to riding so fast on such a big and high ramp. With one hit, there was no room for error and if you don’t get it right, you are heading for disaster.
âI worked a lot in my personal enclosure, especially in the foam tank as I prepared for the motorcycle jump. This element was still one of the many unknowns in the project. To begin with, we didn’t know how. the bike would take care of the descent. StÃ©phane Zunino, another founding member of the Soul Flyers, installed a reserve paraglider – essentially a square parachute – in the saddle. I had a handle that I had to pull during the ejection to remove a velcro panel in the saddle and deploy the parachute. And I had to adjust all the straps to keep the bike balanced after deployment. Even so, we didn’t know how fast it would fall.
âI didn’t even know if I needed to do a straight jump, without tricks, to regulate the speed. I had originally planned to do a Frontflip (not a double) Double Grab, in which I would have grabbed the saddle ready to pull the rope But, of course, when we got to Avoriaz, nothing went as planned!
âThe production was a huge operation, with almost 50 people on site. There were lifeguards at the foot of the cliff, ready to rescue me from hard-to-reach places, a team of motorcycles in charge of recovering the bike and a whole aerial team with Fred, LoÃ¯c and the others, the film crew, les Avoriaz and the team responsible for installing the ramp.
“I was able to do a straight jump which went very well, but on the second attempt I realized coming off the ramp at 80 km / h that my bike was spinning faster than I expected. J pulled a Double Front Flip which was a bit tricky to deal with as I was mid-jump and in the air I had to judge the right time to open the spinning parachute and make sure I didn’t shoot the rope while I was upside down.
âWe had to try again the next day, but at that point I didn’t want to go back too much because, honestly, I had scared myself. I used the time to think about the jump, stabilize my nerves. and focus on whatever I had to do.
âThe next day everything went as planned, even for the bike. She fell in one piece after each jump. In fact, it would have been in worse shape after a day of driving on the gravel in front of my house.
âI’m so proud of this project. I love innovating in my sport, but I found that even though I kept making things up, they all felt the same. It was completely new. I realize now. that these days i don’t need to compete to be happy, i want to do new projects like this. i thank all the bands without that it wouldn’t have been possible like red bull, soul flyers, alright of course, the people of Avoriaz and many others. “
Part of this story
French freestyle motocross rider Thomas PagÃ¨s …
Member of the Soul Flyers, FrÃ©dÃ©ric Fugen isâ¦