All Things Kinetic // The Aaron Baker Story featured in BIKE Magazine
His story on Motion, Progression and Evolution // April 22, 2015
WRITTEN BY HEIDI VOLPE // PHOTOS BY MICHAEL DARTER
Read the Full article HERE
Riders pooled at the bottom of the famed Kamikaze Downhill on Mammoth Mountain in California. Excitement and race anxiety lingered in the air as I made my way through the sea of pads, full-face helmets and DH rigs. My gaze dropped and I noticed one rider who was beaming, kicked back in his race machine looking 100-percent content and downright happy.
I moved closer. Aaron Baker has a way of drawing you in by simply being. You can’t help but feel inspiration, awe, gratitude, and of course you hear that inner whisper, “What if that were me?”
Just five months after he signed with Suzuki at the age of 20 Aaron broke his neck, specifically his C- 4, 5 and 6 vertebrae during motocross practice in Simi Valley, California. “The moment I hit the ground I understood what had happened. I was conscious and aware, able to instruct bystanders to call for a helicopter, and told them not to take off my helmet. I knew this chapter in my life had ended and I was onto the next phase. Nothing was going to be the same anymore,” Aaron says. Doctors told him that he had a one in a million chance of ever feeding himself again, let alone walking or riding a bike. In the first year of his injury, he suffered from pneumonia, his lungs filled with fluid causing him to suffocate and flat-line for a minute.
Even with all that, Aaron, now 36, has a way of making you feel like it’ll all be okay. Not easy, but everything will be all right. He shows you a window into what quite possibly may be a richer and fuller life than your own. In addition to his Zen-like aura, he’s incredibly articulate about his injury and personal motivations. “Before the accident I always thought that if I had ever experienced a career-ending injury that I would not want to live. It turns out that wasn’t the case. On the contrary I am more alive today than ever. I would not change a thing.” Aaron can now walk on his own for short periods of time, but keeps his cane nearby for certain stability. He considers himself a recovering quadriplegic–constantly progressing, regressing, consciously evolving.