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It only took a few short years for Paul Basagoitia to become a freeride mountain bike icon. His entrance into the sport was explosive as he went from unheard of to household name in the time it took to tail whip the finish drop at Crankworx in 2004. Since that landing, Paul hasn't slowed down one bit, chasing his dreams and making them a reality. Winter is hardly the off-season for a freerider, so we caught up with Paul in between some epic filming trips. 

Hi Paul, how's it goin'?
Everything is going great! I have been riding a lot, because winter hasn't really visited Nevada yet.

Your name is pretty complicated in both spelling and pronunciation. Is it spelled wrong more than it's spelled right online and in mags?
Most of the time it is spelled right, but most have a hard time with the pronunciation. Most people don't go with the five syllable last name, they shorten it to just "Bass."

What are some nick names you've been given?
Paul B, PB, Bass...

Are you still rocking your training facility in the fields of Minden?
Yes, still rockin! I recently moved up to Reno but I still spend a lot of time down in Minden, riding as much as possible. Minden is a great place to be able to focus and stay motivated. The only bummer, is that there are not a lot of people to ride with in that area.

Have you made any changes to your training facility?
Adam Jones built a foam pit out there for his moto which is way cool, So I added another tranny from the start tower leading into the pit. You definitely don't have to worry about over shooting the pit or hitting the walls.

Check the new foam pit!

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I was looking through my photo archives for pics and I saw some from 2004 Sea Otter jump contest. I labeled them "Zink's friend" LOL. Do you feel like you've surpassed that label? : )
Yes, it's pretty funny to think that only a few years ago, Zink and I were using the same bike at Sea Otter. I remember when I was dropping in, the event organizer was confused because he thought I had already did my run, but Zink had already gone before me. Still to this day, being labeled "Zinks Friend" doesn't bother me at all, because I am forever grateful for him allowing me to thrash his bikes.

Do you remember much about your winning Crankworx run...the run that changed it all for you?
Yes, I remember it like it was yesterday. I could tell you step-by-step what tricks I did, where I stayed that night, and all the way down to the little details, like what I ate before the contest. It was like winning the lottery. The funniest detail of that trip was sleeping in what I thought was a random person's RV. Later I found out it was Kirt Voreis! At the time I had no idea who anyone was, so it was pretty cool to be staying in a legend's RV, and I didn't even know it. 

Sea Otter 2004, my files labeled 'zinksfriend' and 'paul the bmxer' LOL. BOOSTY!
Did you ever think tail whipping a drop would explode into a full-blown, epic mountain bike career?
Not at all! Tail whips were my favorite trick to do, so my main goal was to tail whip everything I possibly could. I never thought landing a tail whip would jump start my career, I just always hoped to land them, period. Not landing them, doesn't make your "package" feel good, that's for sure.

Do you think it's possible these days for a rider to have that kind of "instant" you had?
Anything is possible, but just since I started riding a lot has changed. There are too many great people who have established a career from mountain biking. The level of riding is just too high for someone who is new to the sport to just come in and win competitions that the same guys have been doing for several years.
Take note kids, Paul's pedal-perfect positioning...SMOOTH! 2011 Crankworx Best Trick

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Is riding the same for you now as it was before became a household MTB name?
Riding is the same for me now, as it was before Crankworx 2004. The only difference is traveling, and the pressure of having to land certain tricks I never thought I was capable of doing, just to stay in the sport with the all the talent.

What is the most difficult part of maintaining your career nowadays?
The most difficult part is progressing without injuries. It's hard to push yourself when you know that you can get seriously injured.

What is the most fun part of maintaining your career nowadays?
The most fun part of the sport is watching the eagerness of the up-and-coming riders. I love the idea of them looking up to me, like I used to look up to the older riders. It's very humbling. 

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How do you think the freeride/slopestyle scene has evolved in the last couple years?
There are more politics than ever before. I have seen the scene go from a couple of competitions a year, to having full-on FMB World Tour rankings. It used to be a simple equation, in that the best rider won. Now there's definitely more that goes into it.

The stunts and tricks are so gnarly now, do you feel like you have to think about injury more, and make smarter decisions?
Yes, like I mentioned before, a lot is at stake. My injuries this year are a perfect example of how I need to make smarter decisions with riding. The problem is, that is easier said than done.

Are you looking forward to Rampage this fall?
I'm looking forward to it, but I would be lying if I told you I wasn't scared.

How do you prepare for an event like that?
I continue to work on what I have been working on, and making sure everything is done with perfection. I also ride my big bike a couple of weeks prior. Not to mention, drink a lot of muscle milk, ride off my roof and listen to a lot of Metallica, ha!

Paul looking rather comfortable at Rampage 2008. photo by Sven Martin 
Out of all of your peers, who do you like to watch ride the most?
They are all great riders, and bring so much to the table. It's hard to chose just one rider, but if i absolutely have to, it would be, Darren Berrecloth. I was really impressed with his riding in Utah. He's motivating to me, because he gets better with age.

Which up-and-coming grom do you have your eye on?
I haven't paid much attention to the up-and-coming groms in our sport, but my six year old sister concerns me with how good she is. Ha! She is fearless.

How's filming been going for Where the Trail Ends? It looks pretty insane.
It's obviously some next level stuff. Freeride Entertainment is stepping up their game by adding Cineflex cameras, a phantom camera and extreme professionalism. Let's just say it will be on the same level as The Art of Flight.

Do you ever think about that gnarly stuff you're doing, while at the same time, being a million miles from any legitimate safety resources?
It's definitely scary for us riders, but I think its more scary for our loved ones. For the most part, we know our limits, and we are mostly in control of our comfort zones. But for our loved ones, they just have to sit and wait to make sure we make it down the mountain, or land a trick, all the while, not having any cell service to call them in a real emergency.

What bike do you ride the most?
I ride the Kona Bass and the Entourage. These two bikes fit my style. 

If you weren't a professional mountain biker, what do you think you'd be doing right now?
I would start my own landscaping business. I was landscaping before I started riding, and really enjoyed it. I think I enjoyed it because I got to play with dirt, which I still love doing to this day.

Give all the groms looking up to you some advice for their MTB career.
Continue to work hard, and do what you do because you love it, not because it will make you money.

Time for shout outs! Thanks Paul.
Special thanks to, Kona, Red Bull, Giro, Skull Candy, Dainese, and Ryder eyewear. A very special thanks to my family, friends, and loved on that believe in me, and support my dangerous career. 

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