SCI Superstar: Martyn Ashton

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By: Tiffiny | July 9th, 2015 @ 8:18 pm | SCI Superstars |


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Considered one of the best mountain bike athletes in the world, Martyn Ashton is new to living with a spinal cord injury but his spirit is strong as ever. In 1993 when he was just 19, he sprang on the mountain bike scene, and in later years he became one of the biggest YouTubers doing his long beloved sport.

But in 2013 his story took a turn, and Martyn, while filming a sequel to his all-time popular videos, broke his back. He hasn’t stopped doing what he loves though thanks to his longtime riding buddies. Read his awesome story below.

Why he’s fearless

Martyn, when he was a young boy from England, began his obsession of riding on bikes with motorbikes, but everything changed when in 1992 he discovered his true love – mountain bikes. He began competing in the mountain bike scene, and before he knew it he became the British trials champion. And in 2008, he was inducted into the UK Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

As a YouTube star, his infamous 5 minute “Road Bike Party” video it what shot him to fame. Full of amazing stunts, it received over 11 million views. And it was riding a rail in September 2013, falling 3 meters, while filming the sequel to Road Bike Party when he broke his back.

Ironically, Martyn fractured vertebrae in his back 10 years prior, but was able to walk away without damage to his spinal cord. This time he wasn’t so lucky. After being rehab for five months, he went home, and the transition was tough.

Remembering all the Paralympic sports from the London 2012 Paralympics, he knew adaptive sports were something he could get into. But after trying several of them, including kayaking which he failed miserably at, he knew only one thing would make him happy, and that was returning to mountain biking.

And in early 2015, he finally made it happen. On an adapted 650 cc bike with a bucketed seat, much like the one you see on a mono-ski, he and four of his longtime buddies took a spin. And despite  being a T7 paraplegic with a minimal trunk control, he was able to balance the bike as it went down the mountain, using gravity as his minion.

They also strapped his legs to the bike, and after a quick lift onto the bike, he was ready to go. Red Bull was a sponsor and a GoPro captured the entire ride, including the huge smile on Martyn’s face which absolutely rocks. He may never be the elite athlete  he once was, and it may never even feel the same again (which he will admit), but he still absolutely loved getting back on his bike. You can watch the entire ride here

What’s next?

When he’s not riding, Martyn now works for the Global Cycling Network on YouTube. They’re the same channel that published his famous video. He is also working with the Wings for Life Foundation, one of the biggest spinal cord injury research charities in the UK. But he’s not waiting around for any kind of cure to move on with life. “I am a strong believer in the now,” as Martyn likes to say.

And we certainly don’t doubt him. Considering everything he’s done since his injury already and his literally famous panache, who knows what crazy stunts this never-say-die athlete may be up to next.

When you have the courage to return to the sport that injured you?

- Check out his site: TryBeforeJuly.com

- Follow him on Twitter: MartynAshton

Watch the videos

- Martyn Ashton – Back On Track

- Martyn Ashton – Back On Track – The Interview

- Wheelchair Racing. Let’s Go

SCI Superstar: Lonnie Bissionette

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By: Tiffiny | July 2nd, 2015 @ 4:43 pm | SCI Superstars |


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Lonnie Bissionette is as a stubborn as they come, and we love him for it. The first paraplegic BASE jumper in the world, he is the only paraplegic to BASE jump off of four objects, and the fact that he was paralyzed BASE jumping hasn’t stopped him one bit.

Lonnie is also a pioneer in the brand new sport – para-bobsleigh. He represented Canada earlier this year in the World Cup and made one heck of a showing. To learn more about this adrenaline junkie who’s also dedicated father and an ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, read on.

Why he’s fearless

Long before Lonnie was paralyzed in 2004, he knew BASE jumping was one if his favorite things in the world. He had already been BASE jumping for 10 years before his injury. Lonnie started jumping off of buildings in Toronto, not far from his home in St. Catharine, Ontario, loving every minute of it.  Knowing this was his life’s passion, he began BASE jumping as much as possible.

And it was on his 1100 BASE jump when he was 39 years old, from a renowned bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho, when his injury occurred. He wanted to do something different  for his 1100th jump, so when he jumped from the bridge he went into a somersault. Unfortunately the parachute caught around his ankle and was unable to open. Lonnie fell at 70 miles an hour and 541ft below into the river.

While lying in the water, he knew he was paralyzed, and he was pulled from the water just before drowning. Even though this was one of worst things that could’ve happened, he looks at his injury as a second chance at life. My “second birthday” as he likes to call it, and he was determined to BASE jump again as soon as possible to prove that his injury didn’t beat him. “I’m no quitter,” he says. Lonnie became a C3 incomplete quad. He can walk, but only short distances.

And within 12 months of his injury Lonnie did BASE jump again. His plan was to only jump once just to prove he could, a 500 ft base jump from Niagara Falls, but he loved it so much (and it went so smoothly) that he decided to become a regular BASE jumper again.

Over the following years, Lonnie would BASE jump from Skylon Tower in Ontario (420ft), Bridge Day in West Virginia (876ft), Devil’s Punch Bowl in Hamilton, Ontario (104ft), Sibu Tower in Malaysia (413 ft), and Kjerag (500ft) in Norway. And in 2011, he made history again being the first paraplegic to skydive in the wingsuit. So far, he is over 30 BASE jumps as a paraplegic.

What’s next

BASE jumping isn’t the only sport he’s been doing since his injury. In 2013, he tried paragliding in Spain, another sport he now loves, and in 2012 he was asked to try the brand new sport of para-bobsleigh. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Rick Hansen’s Relay (Rick is paraplegic and another SCI superstar we’ve profiled who pushed himself around the world), Lonnie too pushed hard, pushing himself 840 miles from Winnipeg to Calgary in 2012 and with minimal long distance wheelchair pushing experience. It totally shed light on Rick’s monumental achievement.

This was when Lonnie was asked to be on Canada’s new para-bobsleigh team. After a few years of training, Lonnie competed in the World Cup in January 2015 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, placing 3rd overall.  And amazingly, last year he returned the site if his injury – Perrine Bridge in Idaho – to jump again and to reclaim what it took from him, and this time it was a success.  The entire jump was profiled by ESPN (watch the video).

Now 50 years old and still going strong, recently skydiving for the Pan Am Games as a torchbearer (he has over 1600 skydives to his credit as well), this father of two sons is all about pursuing his dreams, and has become a great example for the spinal cord injury community

Would you return to the site of your injury to BASE jump?

- Visit his site: LonnieBissionette.com

- Follow him on FB: Lonnie Bissionette

Watch the videos!

SPINALpedia visits Lonnie Bissonnette before his BASE jump in Malaysia

- The tale of Lonnie Bissonnette who jumps off buildings in his wheelchair

- Paralyzed BASE Jumper Rolls Off Bridge in Wheelchair

- Lonnie Bissonnette ESPN (complete)