Who said that dreams are only dreams? Damien Oton is clear about one thing: “There is only one life. Let’s go for it.”
As a plumber at the age of 21, Damien Oton never imagined having a dream job as a professional rider. But his confidence in himself and support from his partner, Laurie, pushed him to take the biggest step of his career. This is the story of how a young plumber transformed into a rising Enduro star.
The beginnings: risk and success
Damien acquired the taste for adrenaline at 16 when he formed a connection with motos. As a teenager, speed became his passion, and riding a motorcycle carved a new path for MTB, helping him develop technique, power and skill.
He was working as a plumber when he received an invitation to join a mountain bike race near his home in Southern France. They trusted he would race well, and sure enough, he did. He placed first in his first race. Then first at his second race, and at his third race… The wins were stacking up when he managed to make the leap to the EWS.
Without realizing it, Damien’s dream to be an international rider was staring back at him. He was recruited by a team with the caveat that he would need to quit his day job, at which point doubts in his mind crept in. “Is mountain biking sustainable every day?” he wondered. After discussing it with Laurie, the difficult decision became crystal clear: “There is only one life. Let’s go for it.”
“There is only one life. Let’s go for it.”
So he did. He diverged from the path he was on and found success on a new trail as a professional rider.
Personal life vs. professional
Damien’s whole life changed quickly, and he learned to combine his personal life with his professional one. Balancing his role as a father and a high-level athlete was challenging, but he was certain of the path he was on. “I am living my dream. My family can follow me wherever I go in Europe. With Laurie by my side, she gives me the support that I need at all times,” he said.
“Laurie makes my life and career compatible. Without the constant support of my family, especially from Laurie, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”
Fun at high speeds
As a top-tier competitor, Damien’s goal on the Orbea FOX Enduro Team is undoubtedly to win races with his Rallon, but also to mentor the youngest riders on the team and, most importantly, enjoy the moment.
“Have fun, be the fastest and, obviously, win. Those are my goals.”
So far, he already feels right at home at Orbea. While he’s happy to be close to the Pyrenees, where he currently lives, Damien’s also happy to be a part of a team and company that celebrates a different way of working and is, in his words, “different from the rest.”
With a fresh start in 2020, Damien couldn’t contain his enthusiasm about joining Orbea, which provided him with the motivation he needed after an injury last year. He trained hard, regained his strength and was ready to return…until Covid brought that all to a halt.
“When you’re an athlete, you always want to maintain physical shape, feel strong, not stay at home… But you look around and see the difficult situation we’re in, and you understand it.”
After several delays, cancellations and uncertainty, Damien has already jumped into the modified season victoriously. His win at the 2020 Maxiavalanche only intensified his hunger for the goals he outlined at the start of the year. “I want to take the Rallon to its first podium in the EWS,” he said.
“I want to take the Rallon to its first podium in the EWS.”