Tom Pagès wins the world’s first FMX BASE jump

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.

Some do motocross, others BASE jump, few do both. Fewer still combine the two in a unique combo of massive FMX tricks and daring BASIC jumps. That’s why they call Tom Pagès ‘The inventor’.

Tom Pagès: taking FMX and BASE jumping to a new level

© Antoine Truchet

One of the greatest FMX racers in the world, Pagès 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”.

“The idea was conceived in the summer of 2019 with the help of fire Vince Reffet, the legendary Jetman and Soul Flyer. It was a crazy idea, “says Pagès.” We knew that the bike-BASE jump had already been done, but nobody had done it by doing tricks, so that was the starting point. “

The only way is … to go down

© Antoine Truchet

“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,” Pagès continues. “So 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

Pagès was meticulously coached by Fred Fugen of the Soul Flyers

© Olivier Godbold

The basics of BASE jumping in Reunion

“After Dubai, I flew to Reunion Island to meet Loïc Jean-Albert. He is one of the founders of Soul Flyers. In fact, he was the one who taught Vince and Fred fugen all. I spent 10 days on the island polishing my technique with him, training in chopper and doing my first BASE jumps.

Back on dry land, a famous elated Tom Pagès

© Olivier Godbold

“When 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

“I started training with Black bras – Aurélien Chatard – who is one of the pioneers of BASE jump in France. He jumps all the time with Fred, who was also on hand to guide my overall training. They guided me through the next steps in my learning as I BASE jumped from the spans of the world’s tallest bridge, the Millau Viaduct in the south of France.

This is called a jump!

© Antoine Truchet

The idea was to master BASE jump because I couldn’t do test jumps with the bike.

“It 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.

“Unlike 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!

“The 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.

Tom Pagès makes a final inspection of the ramp

© Antoine Truchet

“There 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.

“Although I had a good idea of ​​how 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.

“I 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. Stéphane 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.

“I 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!

“The 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, Loïc 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.

Flight training: Tom Pagès

© Olivier Godbold

“We 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.

“The 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.

Flying high: Tom Pagès after completing his FMX BASE Jump hybrid

© Olivier Godbold

“I’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

Thomas Pagès

French freestyle motocross rider Thomas Pagès …

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Frédéric Fugen

Member of the Soul Flyers, Frédéric Fugen is…

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