Your mind is in laser-sharp focus as you and your bike plunge off a cliff that’s hundreds of feet high in Whistler, B.C.
That’s how Cochrane, Alta., X Games athlete Cody Matechuk described his thought process during his record-breaking feat: the world’s first snowbike BASE jump.
Matechuk uses a two-parachute system so the bike doesn’t get trashed.
“Had to make sure it was all done right so we could save the bike the first time,” he said.
Atop the mountain on April 12, he finished his last gear check and sat alone for 20 seconds to get in the zone.
“BASE jumping comes to me pretty easily, but this one, it took a while to get into the right headspace and to commit to doing it,” he said. “It was kind of a one-step-at-a-time thing.”
Matechuk was calm and more concerned about his bike — and the $25,000 he put into it.
“I was very confident that I would be safe,” he said. “The only thing that was that question in my head: is my bike going to make it?
“As soon as I saw the bike’s parachute open, it all just clicked… Everyone was yelling. It was a lot of fun.”
WATCH: The bike’s point of view during Cody Matechuk’s record-breaking snowbike BASE jump near Whistler, B.C., on April 12.
His criteria for the perfect jump? A cliff higher than 250 feet that’s cleared of trees below so his bike can safely land on a slope.
Full throttle in fourth gear and travelling at 60 km/h, Matechuk gained enough speed to clear the cliff.
Frame of mind
Matechuk had been thinking about that moment nonstop for the past two years. That mental preparation helped reduce any feelings of being overwhelmed, which allowed him to hit his marks.
There comes a point of no return, Matechuk explained.
“If you slow down, you’re in trouble, if you try and turn out, there’s a big cliff there — you’re not going to make it,” he said.
“As you start counting down that three, two, one, your mind is locked in. There’s that moment of full focus. Everything else goes away, and you’re 100 per cent focused more than anything. It’s a really cool feeling, being able to shut out absolutely everything and be so focused on one thing, one task, and have it execute perfectly.”
WATCH: A side view of Cody Matechuk’s record-breaking snowbike BASE jump near Whistler, B.C., on April 12.
The exploit could be sliced into sections, he said, where he picked up on the minutiae of the “vast, open space” under him.
“Your senses are almost heightened, and you pick up every single little detail as it’s happening,” he said.
“There was a moment there where you see nothing below you and you’re on your bike… Just being out in the middle of nowhere, 300 feet up from the landing, it’s almost surreal.”
But of course, there’s a job to be done: reach back, pull the parachute and then jump off the bike. He became hyperaware of the chute on his back, while his waist took the weight of his bike as the other chute deployed.
WATCH: Athlete Cody Matechuk combined two of his passions, snowbiking and BASE jumping, on April 12 when he rode off a cliff near Whistler, B.C.
The three-time X Games medallist — bronze in 2017 and gold in both 2018 and 2019 in Snow BikeCross — started dirt bike racing at age three and worked his way up to snowbiking and eventually BASE jumping.
“It combines two of my favourite sports so it’s pretty cool to be able to ride your bike off a cliff and save it and do a BASE jump all in one,” Matechuk said.
“There’s a lot going on — it makes it very dangerous, for sure. There’s a lot more variables than just a normal BASE jump or a normal bike jump.”
He has accomplished 283 BASE jumps in his first two years in the sport. The athlete is looking to jump another 150 times this summer to hone his system as he works towards a wingsuit jump.
Matechuk said his family is supportive of his adrenaline-pumping adventures, especially seeing how logically he works.
“I’m never one to just huck something and see what happens,” he said.
“I like to do my math, cross my Ts, dot my Is. Make sure everything is good so that it gives them a lot of peace and trust in me to do what I do best.”