Paul Basagoitia: The E-Bike is my Tool of Freedom

Paul Basagoitia: The E-Bike is my Tool of Freedom


– It’s been three and a half years since I sustained a spinal cord injury. I got hurt at the 2015 Red Bull Rampage. I was told that I was
gonna be in a wheelchair my whole life. I ended up burst
fracturing my T12 vertebrae and compressing my spinal cord. Right when I hit the ground,
I was immediately paralyzed from the waist down. The bike brought the best
memories of all time. In the early days, when you were told you’re gonna be in a
wheelchair your whole life, like thinking to ride a
bike ever again was kind of like out of the picture, but
when I slowly got stronger I realized that, hey,
there might be a chance that I’m able to ride a bike again. I’m currently walking with a cane and able to pedal an e-bike. The e-bike is the best thing
that’s ever happened to me. Never in a million years did I think that you’d be walking in my garage and every single one of my
bikes would have a motor. The first time placing
the feet on the pedals it was the most awkward thing ever, because I felt like I was
just floating on the bike ’cause I couldn’t feel the pedals. I just remember, like,
being on the twelfth gear trying to pedal up this super-mellow grade and I couldn’t. Once I started carrying momentum and feeling the wind slap my face it kinda just like came around full circle and it was like I never
left the bike ever again. Before my injury I would
ride a bike to be the best to learn new tricks, to go to competitions and try to win these events and now, after my injury, I use the bike for a tool of freedom. To be able to go and ride these trails
now, it’s a huge blessing. I used to hate to pedal. Like, I would never go on a trail ride I would never go on an XC ride like I hate pedaling. And now, I go on these crazy pedal rides and I get the biggest smile on my face when I feel my legs getting sore ’cause I know they’re working. The bike is a part of
me, and it kinda sucks that the bike kinda created this situation where I’m at today, but it also brought the best memories of my life. I’m not out there to go
try to be the best guy on the trails, or try to win contests, or try to progress my riding. It’s more in the fact that, hey I’m able to go ride this bike with friends and have a good time. If it wasn’t for this
technology, there was no way I’d be able to ride about
80% of the local trails here in Reno. I still deal with a lot
of paralysis in my legs. Usually when you are jumping,
or going around turns and stuff, you’re actually using
a lot of your calf muscles. So since I don’t have that,
I use a lot of my upper chest my forearms, my biceps. I enjoy riding the bike more than ever. I think in fact, I appreciate the bike way more than I ever
have before my injury. It’s so crazy to me that a lot of people hate on the e-bikes, right? Like, there was a time that, last month I was riding my local trails and this guy come up to me,
and he was giving me shit about riding an e-bike. When I rode down to the
parking lot to load my bike up in my truck, he rode
past me and saw that I was struggling, and he realized there was something wrong with me and he wrote me like a
two-page email just like super, like apologetic and saying he was super sorry, whatnot. You should never hate anybody on something that they enjoy doing whether it has a motor
on their bike or not. Respect everybody on the trails. Just be a good person and
let ’em do their thing ’cause you never know what they’re facing.