As Martyn was learning how to balance all over again – “You’re like on a ball balanced wobbling around,” he chuckles, “[as] wherever I lean my head, my body goes because my stomach muscles and my hips don’t work so I’ve got no balance and suddenly I’ve got to stop myself falling over in different ways. But I’m getting loads better – it’s like a normal thing: you learn to adapt to it and it becomes normal.” – both Danny and Chris were learning to ride trials from the ground up on a road bike. “They’ve each said, ‘God it’s brilliant – but you don’t want to do trials on it! You don’t want to do street riding on it!’” Martyn reveals. “But they’ve both got on it and their level of riding is just so high that they’ve been able to adapt to it quickly. They’ve just got on with it and really pushed themselves.”
For Chris and Danny, time was a luxury that weather and shooting pressures quite simply didn’t allow: Danny had all of a minute or so “To give it a shot in a car park”, he recalls, before climbing onto a wind-battered bridge in South Wales and riding across the top of its tied arches for the cameras. “You can tell from my stance that I was uneasy and nervous on the bikes,” he suggests, “but that was the first time I had ridden the bike – it really was a baptism of fire!” And so began three intense days of shooting.
Chris similarly jumped into the deep end and straight into four days of filming with only a cursory spin outside his house: “But I thought, ‘This isn’t any good, I have to just go somewhere and ride it properly.’ I said to Robin, ‘Right, let’s do this now.’ So we filmed my section by the canal lock – that was the first proper time I’d ridden the bike,” explains Chris. “I just thought, ‘This has to happen.’”
Martyn reveals that, as we talk, Danny is shooting the finale to the film. “He is trying to do what will probably be the best bit of bike riding I can imagine or what he’s probably ever done. It will be incredible. If he can do it, I know he can do it – it’s whether…” he pauses to marshal his thoughts, then begins again: “To make himself do it he will really need to go to a very tough place where I’ve been, so I know what it’s like: it’s so bad having a cameraman ready, having everything in place, and you’ve spent ages trying to get the thing ready to go, and then you’ve got to do it [...] It’s call-out time.” Afterwards, it’s confirmed that Danny took himself to that place and succeeded to get the finale in the can, bottoming out 110psi tires to the rim due to the g-forces involved.
“I was blown away to be asked and helping in anyway is a really big deal,” Danny says, explaining that saying ‘no’ to Martyn could never have happened: “I think the film’s really awesome and definitely a bit special. It’s definitely…” he stops, and starts over: “I think the whole film has turned out…” and tails off again, wrestling with the context. “It’s a real mix of emotions you know? Martyn is my all-time riding hero and I feel really honored to be part of the project and to ride alongside Martyn and Chris – another of my riding heroes – but I wish the circumstances were different,” he says simply. “I think we’ve made something really special, and Robin’s filming and editing are excellent and he tells the story really well. I’m really honored to be part of it.”
Chris is similarly humble. “It’s so strange – it’s like… the dark side of it is seeing Martyn watching [the video] as it’s his last bit of riding,” he says poignantly. “This has come together for that reason alone – for his accident. Seeing Danny’s stuff, my stuff, Martyn’s stuff, it’s such a shame: it’s a double-edged sword as it’s an amazing video but it’s so sad that it’s happened in this way,” he says plainly. “Martyn’s style shines through. Danny’s stuff is amazing, and I do what I do. There’s a hell of a lot in that video.”
The emotional project has affected everyone involved, including Robin: “It’s been a mixed bag of ups and downs: I wanted it [the riding in the film] to be Martyn as Martyn and myself had been planning some other stuff and I wanted to finish what we’d planned to do,” he explains, “But, for me, it was exciting to get to work with Danny and Chris – they’re great guys.” But Robin also suggests that the film has become more than just a record of riding: “It’s helped Martyn’s rehabilitation and I think that’s a great thing. Martyn just wanted to make the best video – it doesn’t matter if it was him or other riders. That’s a brave thing to do: to hand that over and I’m honored he chose me to continue to do this with him.”
“It [the new film] certainly isn’t fluid,” says Martyn. “There isn’t the one journey story like in Road Bike Party with one person on a bike: there are three people. The bike goes through a journey but the three riders don’t. So it’s very different to what I had intended but I don’t think there’s any point in me pretending that it is [what he intended]: but it is very special and I’m really proud to be in there next to those two. It looks like a brilliant collection of riding. You can even forget that we’re on a road bike: the stuff that we do collectively is beyond what would be ‘normal’ for a trials bike. It’s exceptional. That was my vision: it was supposed to be as good as it can be, and that’s a good sign off.”
The video may be finished and one goal achieved, but that is not the end of Martyn’s tale. What follows will certainly be different to his life pre-accident, but he remains steadfastly positive: “I’m not focusing on what could’ve been,” he says, “– I’m focusing on what will be.” What will be is whatever he makes of it and, although the cameras have stopped filming for now and he has swapped two wheels for four, his story will undoubtedly continue to roll on.