“I feel very proud of Julian.” says Ruben Molina, as his eyes gaze admiringly at his son sat beside him.
Ruben cleans off the last of the glue that he spread across the sole of Julian’s freshly overhauled shoes, before beginning to divulge the details of what happened to his boy.
After a collision with one of the local buses when he was younger, Julian Molina was left with a completely destroyed foot, which later became infected with gangrene, traumatically resulting in the amputation of his entire leg.
Losing a leg didn't deter Julian from riding his BMX though –watch his incredible story in the video above and scroll down for more.
Rewind a few days and we had just arrived into the small town of Andes, located deep in the jungle of Antioquia, Colombia.
We met Julian in the centre square, bustling with relaxed locals chit-chatting and going about their day. The streets were relaxed yet hectic with the local coffee workers moving sacks of produce around every which way, adorned in ponchos and cowboy hats.
With a huge grin emblazoned upon his face, some tartan trousers and a ragged punk band t-shirt, Julian already stood out from the crowd.
Thirst to ride
Julian’s thirst for fun was immediately evident as he asked if we wanted to ride straight away, so after a quick bite to eat of beans, egg and tortilla, we were at the first spot. To call it a spot was an overstatement –it was a wall with a slightly angled top beside a chain link fence. Hardly even a thing.
Power and style
We had seen Julian ride in previous social media videos, but nothing could have prepared us for how much power and style the 18-year-old possesses.
An effortless flow with pop that a lot of more able-bodied counterparts would struggle to re-enact. From hop bars, full cabs, 180s and more, Julian’s flat ground game is on point, and no wonder growing up in a town with so few places to ride his bike.
The Molina family is a tight unit. Mum, Dad, and his two sisters live in a tower block tucked away on the edge of town, all stopping work to come home and eat lunch together regularly.
Ruben Molina repairs shoes for a living, but work doesn’t always stop once he gets home, as Julian’s shoes are in constant need of attention due to riding without brakes. A caring and loving family knows no bounds – and evidently so in this case.
It was already obvious that Julian is known to everyone in the town and no matter where he went, people smiled and waved, no doubt waiting to see a trick or two.
On one steep street leading into the town we bumped into one of Julian’s friends, who had also had a leg amputated, and you could see nothing but admiration across the man’s face for what Julian was doing on his bike.
In search of dirt
An aspect to Julian’s makeup that is often encountered with bike riders is his appetite for travel – to meet new people and see new places. He would talk of a dirt skatepark about four hours drive away, near the city of Medellin, and so it was a no-brainer to jump in a car and drive him down there.
To flip or not to backflip?
The possibility of doing a backflip kept coming up with him in conversation and you could almost see the cogs spinning in his mind throughout the journey.
As we pulled up to the huge complex of dirt we had barely stopped when Julian jumped out and was already riding over to scope everything.
He stopped riding for about 20 minutes during the whole day and that was for lunch. It really was an inspiration to see Julian in his element. And yeah, of course he pulled the flip.
“I don’t feel as if I’m missing a body part”
Losing a limb has to be one of the most distressing and psychologically challenging injuries, with many amputees facing denial, isolation, and anger.
Julian on the other hand thinks much differently about his situation.
“I don’t feel as if I’m missing a body part," he says. "When I grabbed my bike I never thought about balance or about falling down or being incapable, everything just kept flowing.”
You could even watch the envious looks some other boys Julian’s age directed his way while he rode his bike.
Never give up
Nothing seems to slow down his riding or his desire for adventure – evident when he took us to his favourite river to swim in.
A torrent of coffee-stained water was no match for Julian and his wooden crutch, and after some dives and front flips he was satisfied.
Despite his situation he has only looked forward and up and two wheels has been his vehicle in that journey. As his father eloquently puts it: “Resentment rusts the soul of the human being” – a path that Julian has bravely never looked down.
Keep up with Julian's latest adventures on his Facebook page.