Instinct vs. Altitude
Peter Ostroski in Seasons Collide
We kicked off this project in the fall to go with the theme of changing seasons, and just as we wrapped shooting it was time to head north. Starting with a non-stop drive from Washington to Alaska, then moving into hunting season, and then skiing big lines near my home close to Anchorage, the project was completed but needed to be strung together. Better late than never, so here's what an autumn in the Northeast feels like.
The riding season in the Northeast can brief, ending abruptly when the first snowfall of the year begins to fall and stacks up on the local trails. It could be a dense layer of wet snow that seals the deal and winter activities begin, or, ideally, the temperature drops freezing the dirt just in time for the first dusting of snow allowing you to sneak in one more ride in hopes that the dusting is covering simply dirt and not a sheet of ice.
In an unpredictable manner, the frozen ground provides a distinct feeling underneath your tires, with a dull dampened noise, signaling the rubber isn’t rebounding on the hollow-sounding ground. Traction on these rides can be almost perfect, yet there might be ice lurking beneath the snow and leaves, providing additional excitement on the novel ride.
In that flawless balance of frozen dirt and a dusting of snow, a wave of anxiety hits, that this could be the final ride before the cold temperatures lock-in. Sometimes we get lucky, the sun breaks through, the mercury rises above freezing, and riding season lasts another week or even another month. But, if you ride in an area that experiences a proper winter, it’s easy to anticipate that the dirt might be covered by a thick layer of snow for months ahead.
The Jank Files - Season 2, Episode 2
The racing season hit hard and fast when it finally made its debut. Starting with Zermatt in the last week of August and finishing with two races in Italy, Pietra Ligure and Finale Ligure, before the end of September. The 2020 season was a flash in the pan packing a lot of action into just a few weeks.
Riders around the world were on the “hurry up and wait” program this year, and Jesse Melamed, Rémi Gauvin, and Andréane Lanthier Nadeau were no different. Even by mid-August, they were unsure whether or not they’d be making the trip over to Europe to race, and in the final weeks before Race 1, they went all in and boarded a plane.
Jesse said it best with, “We’re back in Italy. We’re back living off gelato.” Filmed in both Pietra Ligure and Finale Ligure, this is Episode 2 of The Jank Files.
Filmed by Caldwell Visuals
Photos by Kike Abelleira
A big thank you to all our sponsors!
Race Face, Maxxis, Fox, Shimano, Smith Optics, WTB, OneUp Components, Stages Cycling, EVOC, RideWrap
Nordvegr: The Way to the North
It’s normal to get home from a trip and feel like you’ve left something on the table. Whether it’s a trail you skipped out on or an area you didn’t have time to see, the things you didn’t do can be as motivating as the things you did. Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin have both been to Norway before, but it’s one of those places that keeps drawing them back.
Much like a lot of Remi’s travel, his first two trips to Norway were for both for racing. Back in 2013 and 2014, Remi was racing downhill and competed at the World Championships in Hafjell. Thomas’ freeride background has put him in Norway twice before, but never in the world famous Nordfjord region, and never on his trail bike. Travelling to compete is a rinse, wash, repeat cycle. The process broken down is: airport to hotel, hotel to event, and a few days later you’re flying home. This trip was a chance to see Norway in a different light, and after landing in Ålesund and boarding what would be the first of many ferries, the small town of Stranda seemed like the perfect place to start.
The people along the way can be one of the most interesting parts of travelling. Located just up the road from our rooms in the Hjelle Hotel is the small town of Folven, home to Norwegian freeskier, Fred Syversen. Fred is a local legend who in 2008 unintentionally set the world record for skiing off a 107m tall cliff, but today he coaches skiing on the glacier, operates an adventure sports campground, and is building out the Hjelledalen valley mountain bike trail infrastructure.
Our Scandinavian photographer, Mattias Fredriksson, likes to joke around but with an underlying sense of sincerity. Early on in our trip he forewarned, “It’s hard to go on a road trip in Norway and still make dinner deadlines. I tend to shoot a lot…cause the shooting is epic”. It was a constant theme of the trip but the fjord views near Sandane had us especially late for dinner. The trails were above treeline which left us exposed to the harsh wind and rain, but the combination of fast riding corners, natural features, and stunning backdrop were just simply too good to cut the ride short.
With another trip under their belt and trails under their tires, Norway remains an incredibly interesting place for Thomas and Rémi. Newly built mountain bike trails with a strong historic culture of moving through mountains leaves plenty of room for endless adventures in the Nordfjord.
A Film by: Scott Secco
Featuring: Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin
Produced by: Stephen Matthews
Post Production Sound by: Keith White Audio
Typography and Design by: Mike Taylor
Photography by: Mattias Fredriksson
Music: Pioneer by Ryan Taubert
Thanks to: Asgeir Blindheim, Fjord Norway, Visit Nordfjord, Veronica Vikestrand, 7 Blåner, Destination Ålesund, Sunnmøre, and Fred Syversen
Norway: The Characters Behind the Adventure
Behind every trip is a cast of characters with varied backgrounds and interesting outlooks. Individually, they’ve been brought on because they come with their own unique stories and skills and are strung together by a common thread; a passion for mountain biking.
I first met Mattias Fredriksson in 2010 while in Switzerland. He was shooting for Anthill Films’ upcoming film, “Follow Me,” and was incredibly friendly right from the get-go. His positive demeanor is contagious, and you can’t help but have a great time around him. Scott Secco and I first worked together in 2014 on his film, “Builder," and between the planning, building, and riding, we became great friends and have collaborated on several projects since.
Working for Rocky Mountain, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and ride with our talented athletes. Needless to say, heading out on a trip with Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin was an exciting experience. Our trip to Norway also gave us the chance to link up with local Nordfjord rider, Veronica Vikestrand, a born and raised Norwegian and a true asset to the trip.
RM: What’s it like coming to another country to film a video where neither you nor the riders have seen the trails before?
Typically, I do most of my work in British Columbia where either the rider or myself are familiar with the trails. Having prior knowledge of how a track rides and when certain locations will get the best light certainly helps the process. I normally rely heavily on rider input for which sections of trail to shoot: if the rider is having fun then I think it shows on camera.
It’s always a fun challenge to visit somewhere new since I think it forces you to have a more open mind and look at everything with an eye to creativity as I don’t have specific shots planned. Travelling gives me an opportunity to put myself in unique situations with people and cultures that are different than my daily life. I would say in general I travel more for the culture than the riding.
RM: What’s your process for reviewing and editing footage on the trip?
I’ve heard that I’m fairly unique as a filmmaker since I can’t sleep until I’ve gone through the day’s footage and edited it as tightly as I can. Editing what I’ve shot each day means the footage is fresh in my mind and I know which shots are my favourite. Plus, by the end of the shoot I’ll have a rough cut that’s often quite close to the final cut. The final benefit of this is that the riders can see what we’ve shot each day. I think this helps with their trust in me since they can actually see the footage (I can be a little slow sometimes to setup shots). I also respect athlete’s opinions on the video and Thomas and Remi had some great suggestions for this edit. Filmmaking is a team sport!
RM: You grew up in Sweden and have shot both skiing and biking in Scandinavia for many years. What’s the most special thing about Norway to you?
First of all, it might be the most beautiful country in the world. Everywhere you look it’s just insane! As a photographer I love this place because you just can’t go wrong. I like to joke (except I’m completely serious), that it’s hard to go on a road trip in Norway and still make dinner deadlines. I end up pulling over a lot to shoot the epic vistas.
I’ve been to Norway an uncountable amount of times in my life, both for personal and work trips, and I still haven’t gotten bored.
RM: You’ve had a long and varied career as a photographer. How did you get started in bike photography?
I grew up in the south of Sweden, 4 or 5 hours south of Stockholm, and started riding bikes in the late 80’s! Even before I had my first real mountain bike, I remember stripping off the kickstand, fenders, and chainguards to emulate the look of a proper mountain bike. My parents were choked because I came home muddy all the time, but I didn’t care, I was totally hooked.
Around the same time, I had started my own punk rock magazine called “Heavy”, was a drummer in a band, and I think that’s where I first found my passion for journalism. I loved writing about what I cared about, so at 16 started working for the local newspaper.
I spent my early career working for a handful of different magazines in Sweden, but I decided that writing in Swedish was limited compared to shooting images that everyone can enjoy! I shot the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, US and World Championships in 1999, but other than that I stayed far away from shooting events – ha ha. I focused on inspirational stories and trips because that’s what was important to me. I started shooting mountain biking, because I absolutely love to mountain bike.
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
RM: Where did you grow up in Norway and how did you get into mountain biking?
Today I live in a small town just outside Ålesund and I’ve lived in this area my whole life. Living at the foot of the mountains and along rolling terrain separated by fjords, being in the woods and on the trails felt natural to me. I bought my first hardtail in the late 90’s, shortly followed with the purchase of the Kranked film on VHS. I was so inspired by what was happening in BC, that I bought my first full suspension later that year.
I tried downhill racing in 2004 but it just wasn’t for me. I’d get too stressed, lose my nerves, and just couldn’t get along with being forced into a format of riding. I think that’s why I first connected with Kranked so well, the idea of freeriding and using mountain bikes in whatever fashion you want was invigorating.
RM: As a born and raised Norwegian, how would you say the mountain biking scene in Norway changed over the past several years?
It’s been growing like crazy. New bike trails and bike parks are being built all over the country, and the enduro race scene has exploded. We’re also seeing a lot more “adventure-style” riders, taking inspiration from our backcountry ski and hiking culture. The riding here is very different than what you get in the Alps or North America, but mixed types of trail combined with Norway’s beauty is incredibly unique.
RM: How did you get involved with Rocky Mountain?
I have been working in the bike industry since 2008 with different brands. Right now I’m working for 7 Blåner, who has been the distributor for Rocky Mountain since 2016. I’ve always admired the Rocky Mountain brand and have looked up to what they stand for since I started riding in the late 90’s! The opportunity to now be helping show some of their legendary athletes around my home country has been incredibly exciting!
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
Same thing I've been on all year, my Instinct BC Edition!
RM: How did you first get involved with Rocky Mountain?
I got a call from (Thomas) Vanderham back in February 2014 while I was working on the oil rigs in northern Alberta. He said that Rocky Mountain was developing a new downhill bike called the “Maiden” and that the R&D team was looking for feedback from racers. I didn’t have a sponsor lined up for the coming season, plus it seemed like a cool opportunity. After that first season riding the Maiden, I started racing enduro in 2016, and am now committed to a full EWS circuit as a rider on the Rocky Mountain Race Face Team. I really owe it to Thomas for giving me a chance to come on board.
RM: As an EWS racer, you spend so much of your season travelling around the world to race. What was the coolest thing about travelling to Norway to film and shoot, rather than be locked into a racing schedule?
When you go to these races that are all in amazing places, there usually isn’t time to appreciate where you are and what’s happening around you. At an EWS race, you’re so focused on performing, that you miss out on seeing the local culture and beauty of these places. The pace of shooting photos and video is so much slower, so you actually have time to soak in where you are and learn about what’s around you.
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
Tried and true, my Altitude.
RM: You’ve been travelling to ride mountain bikes for a long time. Do you still enjoy the process, seeing new places, and not knowing what kind of riding you’re in for?
Absolutely! One of the things that makes filming mountain biking so great is the diversity of the environments we get to work in. We can shoot in jungles, deserts and everything in between which is one of the reasons that I think bike videos are so good. Mountain biking has facilitated a lot of my most memorable trips and I'm excited whenever I get a chance to go to ride in a new location.
RM: You were riding in Norway over 10 years ago. What was that all about?
I've travelled to Norway twice before. The first time was in 2003, I think. I was new to the Oakley bike team and we travelled quite far north to Narvik with Wade Simmons, Kyle Strait and Cedric Gracia. That was the first time that I worked with Mattias Fredriksson as well and experience the awesome energy that he brings to a shoot. The second time was in 2009 for an event called Anti Days of Thunder that was definitely ahead of its time. They had some huge jumps built that we got to session and also involved a team relay DH race (that team Canada won if I'm not mistaken!) Some of the guys involved went on to help start the FEST series.
See the full story, photoset, and video, “Nordvegr: The Way to the North”.
Live Like the Kids
The early teenage years are both a challenging and formative time for everyone. It’s a time of discovery, new direction, and finding your passion, all while under the limitations of lacking a driver’s license, having a curfew, and learning trigonometry. Jesse Munden and Dane Jewett both discovered riding at a young age and are all-in when it comes to big hits and road trips – so long as they can get a ride from their parents. Dane and Jesse are both young riders who are lucky enough to be growing up in two of BC’s best riding zones.
Dane calls the lush coastal rainforest and towering granite slabs of Squamish home, while Kamloops is Jesse’s stomping ground, known for its fast and dusty conditions, with perfectly sculpted lips and freeride lines. Both locations hold their own special spot in freeride history.
This summer, the two had the opportunity to jump in their parent’s vehicles, link up, and get the local's tour of the other's favourite trails. Watch Live Like the Kids to see that the future of freeride is bright.
Video by Lone Wolf Productions
A Product of the Environment
The Rocky Mountain Altitude will help you hold the high lines, tee up trail gaps, and push a pace that you didn’t know you had in you. Ridden by the Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro team, the redesigned Altitude is now more capable than ever and has everything you need to take your riding to the next level.
Just go fast – because fast is fun.
Jesse Melamed - Fromme
Andréane Lanthier Nadeau - Seymour
Rémi Gauvin - Cypress
Powerplay: Wade Simmons in the South of France
I have always been an early adopter—whether it’s freeride bikes in 1997 or eMTBs in 2017. When Rocky Mountain asked me to be a part of the Altitude Powerplay’s launch video, I was instantly on board. Mountain biking is my life. Climbing, descending, XC, freeride, e-bikes, whatever. I live for it all, and I was excited to be a part of this. And maybe a little part of me likes rocking the boat.
I was involved in the “regular” Altitude’s development and I had given feedback on some of the early eMTB prototypes, but the goal of this project was to document my first taste of the production Altitude Powerplay.
We sat down and made the call to travel to the South of France, with its warm climate, spectacular trails, and delicious carbohydrates. Europe is leading the charge on eMTBs, so this was the perfect opportunity to explore what Rocky Mountain’s DNA would bring to the land of croissants and Strava-doping.
After a redeye flight from Vancouver to Nice and a few hours of driving, we arrive at our first shoot location and meet up with our friends Gaetan and Gaetan. Thankfully, one of them goes by “Baguette” (his last name sounds like du pain, and the French are serious about their bread).
I am jet-lagged to shit, but can’t resist taking the bike out for a spin. “Moment of truth,” I say to Baguette.
I was blown away. My exhausted, delirious enthusiasm in the film is genuine. That moment is me realizing that the possibilities of e-bikes are truly endless.
The next day, we find this perfectly scooped wallride that just begged to be ridden, but it has a rough, slightly uphill approach.
“I’m hitting that,” I call it out the moment I see it, but in truth I’m not sure it’ll work. I put in a few cranks and carve the whole thing first try.
What surprised me most was how the added power opened up new possibilities everywhere. I was able to keep things flowing and link that wallride up with all kinds of other features. This zone was too damn fun!
On the advice of Rocky Mountain EWS team manager Lilian, we eventually make our way down to Toulon for a change of pace. The terrain there is amazing—extremely technical, with epic backdrops overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s no wonder that this is a breeding ground for some of the world’s fastest riders.
Again, I am blown away by the bike; this time by the climbing. Although I got my start as an XC racer and I do love technical climbs, I’ve always enjoyed some help from gravity. The Powerplay turns that notion on its head, and I quickly take full advantage of the additional speed and flow on the punchy, difficult climbs the area had to offer.
Just keep an eye on the trail and don’t blow a corner! Seriously, don’t blow a corner.
I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to travel the globe riding my bike, but damn there are a lot of horrible wakeup calls. So, each morning (is 4am even considered morning?) I drag myself out of bed with all the grace of an angry, nearsighted badger, and we head out to catch first light.
“Not sure this is going to happen today” says Brian, our producer, cat-herder, and resident worry wart. We are engulfed in a thick layer of marine fog while getting our breakfast—remember when I said the French take their bread seriously?
The video team is worried the fog won’t clear in time for the sun to crack, but since we’ve come all this way...
We get unbelievably lucky. The fog breaks, swirling as it lifts over the craggy seaside mountains, and we are treated to an epic, unforgettable sunrise.
Forget about the bike! That moment, dropping in above the foggy ruins, was absolutely surreal. What follows is one of the best days I’ve had on the bike in a long, long time.
We wrap the film up that evening. There’s a certain excitement after a successful trip, when you know you got exactly what you were after. An oceanside cantina was the scene of some celebration that night, reflecting on good times and new horizons.
This trip shined a new light on mountain biking for me. There is a paradigm shift underway. I feel like we’ve only started to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Throughout this trip I realized I wasn’t riding an eMTB to make my riding any easier, I was riding an eMTB to open doors to things a regular bike couldn’t. This old dog is learning some new tricks, finding new lines on old trails, and having a blast. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
Ride more, further, faster. The Altitude Powerplay is an eMTB that actually rides like a proper mountain bike. It brings cutting-edge power to an aggressive trail bike, and opens the door to amazing terrain for all. The Altitude Powerplay is available in select European markets only.
Video by Liam Mullany Additional filming by Gaetan Riou Edited by David Peacock & Liam Mullany Produced by Brian Park Post production sound by Keith White Audio Photography by Matt Wragg Special thanks to Fred Glo, Lilian Georges, Edgar Martins, Tribe Sport Group, Gaetan Riou, Sarah Tatine, & Gaetan Dupin “Omar” Performed by Bayonne Courtesy of Mom + Pop By Arrangement with Hidden Track Music open.spotify.com/track/54f36LcrbW4X9XPtdBZr3N
Introducing the Altitude Powerplay
Ride more, further, faster. The Altitude Powerplay brings cutting-edge power to an aggressive trail bike, and opens the door to amazing terrain for all.
Introducing a fully integrated, electric-assist mountain bike that takes our Altitude’s legendary handling and ride quality and adds a compact, powerful drive system. The new Powerplay™ drive system was designed in parallel with the frame, delivering ultra-short chainstays, optimised suspension kinematics, super-low centre of gravity, and class-leading torque. The result is an e-MTB that actually rides like a proper mountain bike—perfect for everything from self-shuttling all mountain trails, finding flow between the descents, and squeezing in power lunch rides.Intended use: Aggressive Trail Wheel size: 27.5 Wide Trail Front travel: 160mm Rear travel: 150mm
“Rather than bolt on a bulky off-the-shelf system, we struck out on our own to redefine the category. The Powerplay system is the result of designing an electric drive for the suspension and geometry needs of proper mountain bikes; in fact, the geometry and pivot points of the Altitude Powerplay are identical to those of the new Altitude. In our opinion this is the first electric bike that actually rides like a mountain bike should.”
— Alex Cogger, Rocky Mountain Product Line Director
It’s an Altitude — The Altitude Powerplay has the same geometry and suspension performance as the unassisted Altitude platform. It is the first e-MTB that features true aggressive trail ride feel.
Next generation drive system — The Powerplay™ drive system was designed from the ground up to allow true mountain bike performance, while providing class-leading torque, massive battery capacity, and ultra quiet operation.
Intuitive pedal assist — An in-line torque sensor provides smooth, instant power response, making for an intuitive, natural ride with no learning curve. Get on and go.
Charge fast, then charge hard — The 48v motor provides super short charge times, taking only two hours to reach 80% capacity of the available 632Wh lithium ion battery.
Fully supported — Easily serviceable components, with both replacement parts and strong dealer service support in Europe.
Powerplay™ drive system
The Powerplay™ drive system was born from the desire to push the boundaries of electric assist bikes. We knew from the project’s outset that to design an electric mountain bike to our suspension and geometry standards, we would need to take a fresh approach.
A low-mounted motor keeps the centre of gravity low and the entire system compact, while allowing for ultra-short chainstays and a bottom bracket that is integral to the frame. We use a high efficiency, three-phase brushless motor to provide class-leading torque and ultra quiet operation. To get instant power response on trail, we put the torque sensor between the chainring and the drive gear, and our 48v battery voltage allows for super fast charging.
Designed in Canada, the Powerplay™ drive system is sleek, lightweight, and powerful. Ultimately, it’s a drive system that allows us to deliver electric mountain bikes that ride like true mountain bikes.
Powerplay™ drive system details
- High efficiency, three-phase brushless motor provides class-leading torque
- Instant, natural power response makes for an intuitive ride, thanks to an in-line torque sensor
- Ultra-quiet drive operation
- 48v battery voltage for fast-charging and heat management in high-torque scenarios
- To prevent creaking and wear, pedaling forces are isolated from the drive system via a bottom bracket shell that is integral to the frame itself
- Increased stiffness thanks to structural motor casing
- Compact, low-profile motor design with reinforced motor casing and integrated motor-brace bashguard
- Display-free with a low-profile remote for a pure ride experience
- Bar-mounted remote displays assist level, battery level, and diagnostics; controls three assist levels and “walk” mode
- Optional eBikeMotion mobile app (iOS & Android) connects via Bluetooth and provides a wide range of system customization, reach estimates, ride tracking, and more
- Available with a massive 632Wh lithium-ion battery
- Minimal drag when exceeding the motor speed or when drive system is disengaged thanks to crankset clutch and elimination of traditional e-bike gearbox
- Based on a third generation electric drive system that's been in development since 2010
- Dealer service and parts support in Europe
- Wear items (BB, drive sprocket) are shop-serviceable with common shop tools
- Works with standard Race Face bottom bracket and crankset
- Charge fast, then charge hard: ultra fast charge times of 1 hour 40 minutes (to 80%) with the 500Wh battery, or 2 hours (to 80%) with the 632Wh battery
- Available full Smoothwall™ carbon frame
- Altitude Powerplay™ Carbon 90 size Medium: 47.6lb (21.6kg)
- Altitude Powerplay™ Carbon 70 size Medium: 49.2lb (22.3kg)
- Altitude Powerplay™ Carbon 50 size Medium: 49.1lb (22.3kg)
- Ride-9™ system for a wide range of geometry and suspension adjustments
- All sizes fit a water bottle inside the front triangle
- Geometry & pivot points identical to the traditional Altitude, with suspension kinematics optimized for additional chain torque
- Upper idler straightens the chainline for reduced drivetrain wear
- Integral bottom bracket shell is part of the frame, not the drive system—improving stiffness and preventing creaking or wear
- Standard PF92 bottom bracket is shop serviceable and easily replaceable
- Single-sided chainstay and seatstay pivots for a narrower rear triangle—reduces heel rub, even with Boost spacing
- Enduro MAX cartridge bearing pivots with simplified hardware
- Shock-eyelet bearings for small-bump sensitivity
- Designed for 27.5x2.5 Wide Trail tires for precise, aggressive performance; compatible with 26+ tires (26x3.0)
- Clean and tidy: oversized downtube ports for ease of cable routing, with full-length internal dropper post routing and internal brake routing in the front triangle
- Lightweight bolt-on axle for reduced hardware complexity and extra security in e-MTB applications
- Tapered ZS44 | ZS56 headset
- Post-mount 180 brakes
- Boost spacing
- 1x specific
- Metric shock, 210mm x 55mm
- Powerplay™ drive system
- Smoothwall carbon
- FORM alloy
- RIDE-9 adjustment system
- Smoothlink suspension
- Size-specific tune
Available in limited sizes and models starting July 2017. See all the models & colours.
Available in select European markets only: France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, & Italy.
The four horsemen. 4x4s. Four leafed clovers. Four letter words. Fourtified. Wade Simmons, Remi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck, and Carson Storch take their new Altitudes to the four corners of the earth.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaWords & riding: Wade Simmons Photos: Brian Vernor
We've had a winter for the record books up in BC this year. Great for skiing, not so much for riding. I'm twitchier than a cornered housecat when I can't ride, so I jumped at the opportunity to do some warm-weather shredding down in the Los Angeles area on the new Altitude.
Pro tip: 4am is a good time to head out the door if you want to beat LA traffic.
LA, I reckon, wouldn't be on most peoples hit-list for a great riding destination. Myself included. Being the largest city on the western US seaboard, and having the nation's worst traffic, I was starting to wonder why the hell we were going to LA in the first place. Could we escape the city and do the new bike justice? Our photographer and man-on-the-scene Brian Vernor picked us up from the airport, and within the hour he was easing my concerns over mindblowing tacos and coffee-infused horchata. He promised the riding would be as good as the food.
Just in case Vernor was full of shit, I had some ideas up my sleeve too. I've been in the area a few times in my 20 years of hunting around for lines to film, and I've left a few nugs untouched. I was looking forward to possibly hitting them up on this trip.
To be honest, my fears were 100% unfounded. The riding in the LA area proved to be plentiful and diverse. We rode flowy urban singletrack, loose subalpine trails, freshly built jumps and berms, and a few big mountain lines. Pretty much a mountain bike smorgasbord, all within an hours drive from the Hollywood Hotel where we stayed. Maybe the riding is even better than the food...
Derby, TasmaniaWords & riding: Remi Gauvin Photos: Dave Trumpore
The second round of the Enduro World Series brought the Rally Team to Derby, Tazmania. Built only three years ago, we were racing on 7 wildly varying stages across 57 kilometers with 1700 meters of climbing.
Mild sunny weather during practice gave way to rain on race day, throwing many challenging trails into pure chaos. Stage two held the much-feared meter-wide crack on Detonate, with multiple riders being chewed up inside and spit out into the rocks below, but the real challenge of the race was at the top of stage 4 where rain washed the supporting dirt out of a high speed rock garden filled with holes.
I'd been working hard to adjust to the changing conditions over the race, and as the day wore on I started feeling stronger—bagging a 4th place finish on stage six, it was pretty fast and constant high speeds, which suit my style. Stage 7 was a short woods section with a sprint to the finish. It was kind of like riding the trails of the North Shore, which helped. It was kinda cold and miserable, and you didn’t want to be that dirty but you just keep going.
At the end of it all I fought my way up to 9th overall—finally achieving my goal of cracking the top 10 at an EWS. The Rally Team took the team win, with the whole crew putting up strong results. This puts us all in a place where we're happy, but getting fired up for the next round!
Sunshine Coast, British ColumbiaWords & riding: Vaea Verbeeck Photos: Margus Riga
With the snowline down to sea level in Vancouver, I wanted to be able to get on the gas and see how the new bike would respond. The obvious choice was the Sunshine Coast. It has unreal riding conditions almost year-round, and the Coast Gravity park has some of my favourite trails ever.
I love it there. The people, the ambiance, beautiful Sechelt, they all make it a destination of choice. [although for some reason all of Sechelt uses Papyrus font... what gives? -Ed.] CGP is one of the places that helps me feel good about going fast on the bike again during the off season. The guys work tirelessly to keep their trails impeccable, and it offers a perfect variation from the tech of the North Shore.
We had a tight weather window to shoot before a major system moved in, we were excited to get a few clear days. It was beautiful and dry, but oh so cold! With the cold came trails like glass covered in pine needles—always trying to throw me on my head! The perfectly sculpted corners had this incredible layer of hoarfrost that made for eerie noises and a surreal ride feel. I'm not sure if I had too much grip or not enough.
Despite being intimidated to send it into some of the natural terrain with challenging conditions, I quickly got used to the new whip and started opening up the throttle. Bluebird days, CGP's keys in my hand, untouched berms to myself, and sending it on my new favourite bike—this was definitely the highlight of my off season, and I quickly forgot about the sub-zero temperatures.
I'm thankful for those few days of shredding, and I'm going to keep the good times rolling through the season!
Queenstown, New ZealandWords & riding: Carson Storch Photos: Tyler Roemer
Riding the Fernhill Loop above Queenstown was epic every time. It has a little bit of everything. Climbing up through a mix of alpine terrain, going into native forest with quick descents here and there. You end up at the McGazza memorial, pay your respects to the big man, then drop into salmon run- which is a mix of steep techy trail, and loam. I would say this bike was made for that loop.
I also rode Skyline bike park in Queenstown quite a bit, so I had it set up in the slackest RIDE-9 position. The suspension was set up fairly stiff with slow rebound. When I 450'ed that hip in the bike park, it was completely comfortable! It felt like I was on a slopestyle bike. Then when I got back to ripping trail, it was snappy and responsive, while taking some pretty big impacts with ease. All around ripping bike.
New Zealand is my favourite place in the world, so having the chance to go my favourite place and test out the new Altitude was a dream come true.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring the new Altitude
Directed by Liam Mullany
Produced by Brian Park
Featuring Wade Simmons, Rémi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck & Carson Storch
Filmed by Liam Mullany, Harrison Mendel & John Parkin
Edited by Liam Mullany
Colour by Sam Gilling
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Original Music by Thinnen