A few years back I helped contribute a story to Ireland’s DigBMX magazine about Paul Buchanan, a somewhat elusive rider that shied away from all the magazines and media back in the day. He’s originally from London, Ontario, so I’ve known him since he was a kid. Dig just recently posted the ‘Solo Mission’ story onto the classic archives section of their site, so it was good to see the article again… I’d completely forgotten about it.
You can check it out here:
www.digbmx.com/mag-archive/classics/dig-archives-paul-buchanan (the article is no longer online when Dig updated their website in Oct 2014).
Here’s the original story, text-only (for my archives)
If I had to recall the exact time and place that I first met Paul, I don’t know that I could. He was just this shy and quiet kid that would always hang out wherever we were riding. He was into racing, but he was getting bored – you couldn’t keep a guy like Paul on a track. He must have been 11 or 12 when he started hanging out with us, back about 1987. He wasn’t like all the other kids. He didn’t ask the stupid questions – you know the ones, you hear them all the time.
Being five years younger than the rest of our crew, I imagine Paul took more than his fair share of the jokes and teasing, like a rookie race car driver – but week after week, he’d be back for more. It didn’t matter what we were riding, Paul would be there before we got there, and long after we left, that’s for damn sure. The difference between Paul and all the other kids was that he was just a ripper. He was always going for the burliest stuff. Tricks out of his grasp, hell, tricks out of our grasp, but he was going for it at any cost.
You see, Paul hasn’t always been the smooth rider he is today – in fact, he was quite the opposite. Back then he was known for his wipeouts. Paul ate shit bigger than anybody. He was so hard on bikes. He’d destroy more parts in a month than I would all year.
What stands out the most for me was the day he decided he was going to learn 360’s over this near-vert spine at the Launch Pad skatepark in Oakville, Ontario. Paul was about 16 at the time, and the older guys were doing them – so there was no reason why he couldn’t. Now granted, this was a weird ramp, the transitions were pretty tight, and being 4′ tall, it was hard as hell to ride. He rolled in, hit the spine and hucked that 360 for all it was worth. The second he hit the coping things weren’t looking too good. He over-rotated and went straight to his face, didn’t even have a chance to get his hands down – he’d knocked his teeth out. Thousands of dollars went back into putting his teeth all back together, but he couldn’t let a small thing like that hold him back. He had to get back on the bike. And get back on the bike he did.
Paul really started blowing up around the time I moved out west to Vancouver, so I missed seeing the transition in person, but you’d keep hearing these rumours of how good he was getting. And the rumours kept coming. Paul’s success could never be measured in dollars, but rather the passion he has for riding his bike, and it couldn’t have happened to a more genuine and modest person. Paul rode long and hard to get to where he is today, wherever he is anyway, Take care out there Paul.
– Chris Young