October 15, 2015 - 9:00 PM
'WHEN YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO SOMETHING YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN'
KELOWNA - A freestyle motocross rider who was paralyzed two years ago while attempting a double front flip has just made history.
Bruce Cook is the first paraplegic to land a backflip on a motorcycle in front of a major audience. And he did it on the same bike he was riding in January 2013 when he was paralyzed in Hamilton, Ont.
Within nine months of his accident, Cook was riding again, and this week, less than two years later, he made the historic jump at another Nitro Circus event in Toronto.
“What an extremely emotional evening for all of us in Toronto,” Nitro Circus posted on their Facebook page. “Nearly two years after his accident in Canada, Bruce Cook came back and became the world's first paraplegic person to stick a backflip on a motorcycle. Full clip coming soon! #NitroCircus.”
For Cook, it was the realization of a goal he set for himself a long time ago, during the hardest time of his life.
“It felt amazing,” Cook says. “I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years now. I came up a tiny bit short but I’m not going to complain. The goal was to get wheels-down and that’s what happened.”
To prepare for the jump Cook spent a month practicing in a foam pit in Maryland and his bike was modified to deflect impact if he crashed again. The bike he used, a Kawasaki 450, is the same one he was riding during the crash that changed his life.
“I’ve got to think a little more, play things a little safer these days,” he says. “There’s no chance of ejecting.”
The bike wasn't the only thing he has had to change in the last couple years.
“The biggest difference is I used to stand while taking off,” he says. “When you’re standing up you pull with your arms and push through with your feet as you come off the lip and you transfer your full body weight front to back. Now I’m obviously strapped into one position so as you approach you put your upper body forward towards the bars and as I throttle I yank back as hard as I can.”
Cook admits to feeling nervous getting back on the bike after such a horrific spill, but says it wasn’t enough to stop him from doing what he loves.
“It’s obviously the hardest thing that’s happened to me in my life and it’s always something that’s on my mind,” he says. “But you’ve got to concentrate on the positive outcome. If you’re thinking too much about what could go wrong then that’s what’s going to happen.”
Although the vast majority of feedback he has gotten since his injury has been overwhelmingly positive, he has been asked why he continues to do such a dangerous sport.
“Some people actually kind of lash out a bit with some negative stuff, why I would do this, why would I put my family through it, but those people don’t understand passion. When you have a passion that strong you do anything to get back to it.
Cook will continue performing the back flip at upcoming Nitro Circus events, but says he is focusing more on his Polaris RZR.
“I’m not going to push it much more on the bike,” he says. “I’ve got nothing to prove there. The RZR is definitely safer and I have a lot of fun doing it. That’s the next step.”
In the meantime he will be performing his backflip across the continent and will be in Vancouver on Nov. 1.
“I’m hoping to keep inspiring and promote the never say can’t attitude,” he says. “When you put your mind to something you can make it happen. If I can lead people to try things they normally wouldn’t it makes this journey all worth it.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015