Together with his life-long riding buddy and partner in ‘The Two Martins’ double act, Hawzee, Martyn featured in numerous mountain bike VHS films, such as the Trainspotting-inspired Chainspotting, and Tricks and Stunts amongst many others. Martyn himself then went on to appear in countless magazines and websites, was inducted into the UK’s Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, became a Guinness World Record Holder for the side-hop [sideways high jump], created his own innovative and influential frame designs, and masterminded and starred in more than a decade of a traveling extreme sports show – the Animal WD40 Action Sports Tour – touring the length and breadth of the UK.
Then on Sunday 1st September 2013 at Silverstone’s Moto GP, England, Martyn’s ride came to an abrupt and premature end.
During one of his shows, he crashed heavily from a 3m high bar: “I hovered and fell backwards as I had nowhere to step to,” he recalls, “I fell headfirst downwards with a lot of rotation as well, so as my head and neck hit the ground my legs were still spinning round – they effectively snapped me in half,” he says frankly.
After paramedics stabilized him at the scene, Martyn was swiftly airlifted to Coventry Hospital where he received emergency treatment and was admitted to Intensive Care. There the prognosis revealed that the impact had caused severe damage to his spine, dislocating the T9 and T10 vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed below the point of injury.
“I think in moments like that it isn’t bike riding and things you worry about – it’s the normal things you worry about: your loved ones and that. And I just wanted to be with Lisa [his wife and childhood sweetheart] and Alfie [his 13 year old son who was watching the show] and I knew I’d be alright, you know?” he says earnestly, “I’ll be alright. Things will be different for sure but the things I planned in my life aren’t that different to the things I planned for before…” He considers this for a second and then corrects himself, “The things I hope for; the things I hope for in my life aren’t that different to the things I’d hoped for before.”
He’d hoped for a relatively modest 100,000 views for his first YouTube film, Road Bike Party, but within hours of going live on his channel in 2012, it had already far exceeded that, with the email view alerts chiming into his smartphone constantly around the clock for three solid days. Within just a day it had cranked up over a million views, and the views kept on climbing, fuelled as much by social media shares and chatter as much as by national and international news headlines, ranging from The Sun to The Guardian, and everything in between. “It sparked something,” says Martyn of Road Bike Party’s success. “I’d spawned a brand or a story by mistake for myself. [So] I mapped out this three video plan: the second was going to be all about laying it on the line for my riding and put everything down I can do: I was going for my final video – my biggest. Everything I could think of I could do on a bike plus things I haven’t done.”