French Red Bull X-Fighters rider Tom Pagès combines motocross and skydiving for a world first
Some guys are just cooler than the rest of us. One of them is Tom Pagès, a French freestyle motocross rider. Earlier this week, he jumped his motocross bike off a huge cliff at a ski resort, with two front flips just for good measure. It sounds crazy, and the video is just as stunning.
In a world first, Pagès combined motocross with skydiving, complete with a specially modified bike and a huge parachute to keep him from becoming a Red Bull-sponsored pancake. He reached 50 mph on the start ramp and suspended in the air for half a minute before releasing the parachute. It seems that a 135 meter cliff was not quite enough for the waterfall, as the end of the ramp was seven meters in the air. A standard ramp, we are told, is less than three meters.
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 one bronze.
The jump, at a French ski resort called Avoriaz, marked the start of the 2021/22 winter season. Avoriaz is now used to intrepid stuntmen, as last year a speedrider named Valentin Delluc performed a whole series of stunts on skis and by parachute around (well, 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 pretty tough, we guess, but this one was made even harder by the weight of the bike and all the protective gear, and vision obscuring helmet.
Pagès likes to skydive when he’s not riding. You see, ice in his veins. Having started in a wind tunnel, he evolved into skydiving, BASE jumping from a helicopter and then from a bridge. Then he learned to jump off a cliff. Just thinking about it makes us feel a little sweaty.
“I was petrified by the idea,” Pagès said, “but I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to jump on a motorbike. In 2020 I went to Dubai with that in mind, but COVID hit so everything was put on hold. Finally, with the support of my sponsors and despite the complexity of the project, I had the opportunity to realize my dream.
“It’s a structuring project: combining the two worlds that I love, [freestyle motocross] and skydiving in the same performance. It’s also a life-defining moment, mixing influences in order to surprise people and show 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 physical or technical.
Why Avoriaz? Does Red Bull have a clause that it has to do an annual stunt there? “It’s a magical place: in the middle of nature, with wooden architecture and beautiful infrastructure,” continues Pagès. “The resort really lends itself to freeriding, and it’s the only place where I’ve found a vertical cliff over 130 meters high. All the conditions had to be met, because we couldn’t leave anything to chance. The most difficult element to manage was the one we don’t see in the video, the wind.