When JP Middleton hit the slopes of Mt. Norquay in Banff National Park in 2018, he wanted to get in an intense workout. As a volunteer firefighter and primary care paramedic, he had spent the morning battling a kitchen fire and was ready to let off some steam.
Unfortunately, he hit a snowcat track at just the wrong angle and wiped out. He landed hard and instantly knew he was badly hurt.
The experience was “absolutely terrifying,” and all JP could think of was his 2-year-old son and his wife, who was pregnant with their second child.
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“It’s a feeling of absolute helplessness,” he said later. “You’re lying there and you can’t move your lower body. I was stuck in one position. And you’re now at the hands of the people you were once working with.”
As it turned out, he had suffered a complete T12 compression fracture, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. He spent months in rehab learning how to live with his new disability. On one particularly difficult day, he was sitting outside the facility in his wheelchair when he heard a loud noise and looked up to see a stranger on a modified electric bike.
“I heard this whizzing sound go past me, and I looked up and it was this ‘Mad Max’ looking vehicle that went by me,” JP explained. “When I saw this bike, I was like: ‘I gotta get myself one of these things…’ It was a ray of hope for me.”
Christian Bagg was the man on the bike, and JP soon learned that they had quite a bit in common. For one thing, both of them had injured their spinal cords while they were skiing or snowboarding in Banff. For another, both are avid outdoorsmen who refuse to let anything keep them from exploring the world around them!
While Christian primarily worked at the hospital, in his spare time, he tinkered endlessly in his basement. His goal? To perfect an all-terrain bike that would allow him to go mountain biking with friends!
JP was intrigued by his work, and the two of them quickly formed a friendship. When Christian’s all-terrain prototype was ready, JP bought the third bike off the assembly line. Since then, he’s been using it nonstop!
“It’s become an extension of my body,” JP said. “I take this bike everywhere with me. Camping, I take it in the backcountry, I hooked up the trailer, and I took it to drop my son off at his first day of school.”
Once Christian saw how helpful his creation was for JP and other early clients, he formed a company called Bowhead Corp to start producing more bikes. Each one retails for $14,900 and can be shipped worldwide.
The first 50 were built in Christian’s basement, but now he has a flagship store open near Canada Olympic Park. Not to mention, he already has 200 orders in the pipeline for next year!
Seeing his bikes help so many people reclaim their mobility has made all of Christian’s hard work feel worthwhile!
“People will be doing giant motocross-sized ramps, or they’ll be going out with their family, or they’ll be fishing for the first time in five years,” he said. “The scope of what people do on it is insane.”
JP’s life may have changed forever that fateful day on the slopes, but that doesn’t mean he reached the end of his active lifestyle. Thanks to Christian’s design, JP and so many others are able to pursue their wildest dreams!
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