Professional mountain biker Paul Basagoitia recently notched a historical footnote in the desert hills along the border of Arizona and Utah—literally—when he landed the first-ever double backflip on a mountain bike using a natural-terrain takeoff and landing.
Basagoitia’s accomplishment bounced around the internet early this week, and was soon called into question by the cognoscenti of the online MTB community. What exactly was the difference between what Paul had accomplished on natural terrain versus what others have already done on man-made dirt jumps? Was this marketing run amuck, or truly something pioneering?
To be clear, this isn’t the first time a double backflip has been performed on a mountain bike with 26-inch mountain bike wheels—that honor goes to Greg Watts, who first nailed a double backflip on a man-made competition course back in 2008. But that was on a hardtail, which to some are just glorified BMX bikes—and riders have been double-back-flipping BMX bikes for more than a decade.
But Basagoitia pulled off his double flip on a bona fide full-suspension mountain bike, and the course was built by mother nature. So who done it? How can we qualify what Basogoitia accomplished?
Pinkbike.com recently posted a follow-up interview with the Kona rider for some perspective.
“This project addressed a personal goal for me—to do what I believe is one of the most dangerous jumps, on a dual-suspension bike, in the mountains versus on a course built by professionals,” said Basagoitia.
“For me this was about the essence of mountain biking and progressing the sport at its roots. Yes, the lip of the jump was shaped by me because the success of a double relies on everything lining up perfectly…there is a very, very small margin for variations in this jump as those who have done or attempted will know. Call it what you like —big mountain double flip, backcountry double flip—either way, I’m stoked to have had the support and opportunity to accomplish something that I’ve wanted to do for some time.”
Fellow Red Bull teammate Travis Pastrana, who landed the first double backflip on a motorcycle, lauded Basagoitia for pulling off the difficult move. "The double back flip isn't the most technical trick but it takes a lot of airtime and even more commitment,” he said. “Once you leave the takeoff, there is no turning back and no way to bail out. Paul has guts and it's great to see that he's pushing the limits,” said Pastrana.
Veteran action sports photographer Scott Markewitz was there to capture the critical moment when Paul nailed the move, but the glory shot was preceded by some fairly serious crashes that left Basagoitia with several bruised ribs, and knocked him unconscious a couple times.
"It felt great when my wheels touch the ground because I don't think my body could have handled another hit," said Basagoitia. As for the trick, and what it was or wasn't, the performance in the video speaks for itself.