Some dudes are just cooler than the rest of us. One of those is Tom Pagès, a French freestyle motocross rider. Earlier this week, he jumped his motocross bike off a huge cliff in a ski resort, with two front flips just for good measure. It sounds mad, and the video is equally breathtaking.
In a world first, Pagès combined motocross with parachuting, with a specially modified bike and a huge parachute to stop him becoming a Red Bull-sponsored pancake. He hit 50mph on the start ramp, and hung in the air for half a minute before releasing the chute. It seems a 135-metre cliff wasn’t quite enough for the stunt, as the end of the ramp was a whole seven metres in the air. A standard ramp, we’re told, is under three metres.
Pagès is a 36-year-old motocross rider, and a big name in the sport. As well as being a multiple Red Bull X-Fighters champion, he has a total of eight X Games models - five gold, two silver and a bronze.
The jump, in a French ski resort called Avoriaz, marked the start of the 2021/22 winter season. Avoriaz is now familiar with fearless stunt riders, as last year a speedrider called Valentin Delluc performed a whole range of stunts with skis and a parachute around (well, mostly above) the resort when it was deserted.
The parachute was specially developed for the bike, and featured a manual release in the seat. A standard BASE jump is hard enough, we’d presume, but this one was made even harder by the weight of the bike and all the protective gear, and the helmet obscuring vision.
Pagès enjoys parachuting when he’s not riding. See, ice in his veins. Having started in a wind tunnel, he progressed to skydiving, BASE jumping from a helicopter and then from a bridge. Then, he learnt how to jump off a cliff. Just thinking about that is making us feel a bit clammy.
“I was petrified by the idea,” Pagès said, “but I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like jumping on a motorcycle. In 2020, I went to Dubai with this in mind, but COVID hit so everything was put on standby. Finally, with the support of my sponsors and, in spite of the complexity of the project, I’ve had the opportunity to realise my dream.”
“It’s a career-defining project: combining the two universes that I adore, [freestyle motocross] and parachuting in the same performance. It’s also a life-defining one, mixing influences in order to surprise people and showing up where they least expect it. For a freestyler like me, creating isn’t just inventing a new trick, it’s following through on an idea, whether a physical or technical challenge.”
Why Avoriaz? Does Red Bull have a clause that it must do a yearly stunt there? “It’s a magical spot: surrounded by nature, with wooden architecture and great infrastructure,” Pagès continued. “The resort really lends itself to freeriding, and it’s the only place I found a vertical cliff face over 130 metres high. All the conditions had to be met, because we couldn’t leave anything to chance. The hardest element to manage was the one you can’t see in the video, the wind.”