I am all settled in Santa Cruz now. Just getting back into the routine of things and enjoying being in one place for awhile! This past week Santa Cruz hosted the O’Neil Cold Water Classic at Steamers Lane. Pretty cool to see some of the best surfers in the world out shredding…even my ‘landlord’, Peter Mel. haha. AWESOME. I cannot wait to get my shred on the water. I am looking for a shortboard as I am kinda over the longboard thing right now…I need something a bit more playful! :)
HOLY SHIT. That’s pretty much all I can say about Rampage.
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get to Rampage. My first impression was how did they find this place??? It is seriously in the middle of nowhere. Didn’t even have cell service. ha. I have seen so much Rampage footage in the media but NOTHING actually compares to being here in person. The lines are big and the consequences are huge. I watched Van Dine almost die the other day when he washed out on a ridge….he landed on a smalloverhang and his bike plummeted 30 feet over the edge. Hiking around the place is terrifying. It is just massive exposed cliffs everywhere. It’s wild. Hot. Dusty. Unforgiving. Gnarly. Exposed. I gained so much respect for so many of the guys this week. I know the regular bunch, but there were some guys who I had just never really seen in their true element….they dab in DH and Slopestyle but they are really neither….they are big mountain boys and those skills were so apparent out at Rampage….Sorge, CurtisRobinson, Aggy, Hopkins to name a few.
Anyway, so every other race or freeride event has pre built courses, athletes just show up, learn it, practice it and compete on it. Rampage basically has three starts and the guys can ride anything between those three starts. So first they have to get there, then they scope their lines, dig their lines and then practice their lines. The dig part is quite a mission. Most guys will team up and work on a line together as it is pretty tough to build a line from top to bottom solo. Most guys also have dig teams who help them over the course of the week. Hiking up there to even dig is frightening…you are digging on the side of exposed cliffs with dirt that just crumbles, sketch. And you have to carry water up there to pack down lips and landings!! I pretty much dug every day while I was there. I decided to be an equal opportunity digger…whoever needed help, I dug for them, no favorites. :) I just wanted to see everyone pumped on their lines and ride to their potential. I had a lot of fun digging…I also probably got the dirtiest I have ever got for 5 straight days. ha. Dusty everything and everywhere.
To be honest I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones or something out there. The place was so out there but the whole thing was such a production. There were helicopeters, 3 camera crews….one of which was a 3D camera crew who had like 5 crews, every type of off road vehicle there is, medics, workers, riders, diggers, announcers, djs…it was a full on production. Pretty rad. I had never even seen a 3D camera before this week and I saw a lot of them out there so that was pretty cool for the sport, and action sports in general. I think that the whole 3D experience will really help people to understand the sport. 2D just doesn’t give action sports justice….
There was quite a lot of carnage out there…as to be expected. No serious injuries but lots of tumbles and a few broken bones. No one ever comes out here wanting to get injured but to a certain extent its part of it, everyone has their turn. The boys seriously stepped it up though. Gee Atherton rode one of the gnarliest lines I have ever seen…and made it look retardedly easy, which was half the problem. To be honest I don’t know if any of the other guys could have ridden his line…he has the whole package on the bike and thats what it took to ride it successfully. He rode smooth, fast and powerful into 2nd place. Cam Zink rode a crazy upper section and then threw down the biggest 360 every on a bike off the Oakley sender which won the event for him! So cool.
Photo: Morgan Meridith/SRAM
Anyway, I am in LA now, heading up to Santa Cruz for the Winter in a few days here. Coming to an event like Rampage is such a good motivator going into the off season. Not that I am going to go huck myself off some cliffs but I just feel like the whole event has made me fall in love with bikes even more…not that I didn’t love them enough. To ride this stuff you need to be strong. You need to be smart. You need to be confident. You need to be skilled. I am so fired up going into the off-season right now. I am so happy to be back on my bike. New place. New riding crew. New skills. I love Whistler so much but sometimes I think I am too comfortable there…good stuff always happens when you break out of that comfort zone and do new things. I’ve got some big goals out there and I feel like every step I am taking right now is putting me closer and closer to those goals :)