Carson Storch Interview – Ready to Rampage
Going into his fifth year competing at Red Bull Rampage, Carson has already experienced nearly all the highs and lows an event of this magnitude can offer.
“It's pretty awesome to be a part of the greatest mountain bike event to ever exist. . . it's always been a childhood dream of mine.” Going into his fifth year competing at Red Bull Rampage, Carson has already experienced nearly all the highs and lows an event of this magnitude can offer. And beyond his own goals, he’s putting in the work to support the next round of athletes who share his childhood dreams. “Red Bull Rampage has 'made' a lot of careers overnight, including mine,” he says.
Carson wasn’t yet competing in any of the ‘big’ events when he made it his goal to compete at Rampage in 2014. He worked hard all year; filming an entrance video and placing in the top ten at events like Red Bull Joyride (he got called up from the alternate list the morning of the competition) and District Ride. With his foot in the door, he qualified at Rampage his first year and threw down three runs. He ended up 15th overall but it was enough to get him invited back the following year. In 2015, when Carson crashed during his last practice run at Red Bull Joyride and broke his collar bone, it seemed unlikely that he would be healed in time to compete at Rampage. But with his determination and commitment to physiotherapy, he was ready in time. However, things didn’t go as planned. While testing a jump during practice, Carson crashed and hurt his ankle (an injury that would plague him for the next two-and-a-half years) forcing him to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the event.
“I came into  with a stronger mindset,” Carson says. And it worked. He took third place and best trick (for 3’ing a big drop). “I didn't expect it, it just happened mostly because I was having fun with it at that particular event.” This became a pivotal moment in Carson’s career allowing him to focus on freeride and filming and less on slopestyle.
The following year Carson placed 7th overall at Red Bull Rampage. But again last year, he had a challenging experience.
Last year was a tough one for you at Rampage, what happened?
Last year was a new zone, and that always means a crazy amount of building. I simply didn't have time to finish the middle part of my line, which was basically the easiest part. It was the weak link and got me on both runs and in practice. I actually took two hard slams the morning of the big day and almost didn't get cleared to ride. It really put me in the worst possible mental state while sitting at the top about to drop in for my runs.
What is your approach this year at Rampage with going back to the same zone?
My goal is to focus on getting my line dialled and building a whole new middle section that will hopefully be fast and raw and allow me to get to my big drop feeling stoked.
What was your involvement with Proving Grounds?
I guess you could call me the facilitator. Todd Barber approached Kyle Jameson and me with the idea, and we thought it could be something great for the sport of Freeride, so we helped kickstart it by piggybacking it off of Black Sage.
Why do you think it's important to have an event like this for entrance into Red Bull Rampage?
I believe that Proving Grounds is great for upcoming talent, it gives a few people the chance to get into Rampage. I also think it's still important to have the other 8 wildcards invited based on prior results, video parts, etc - just like it's always been.
The thing that gets me most excited, is the potential for a series of 'Proving Grounds' style events around the world. It's something that fills the void in freeride, that obviously isn't Rampage, and not Fest Series, but essentially a mix of both. There are, of course, people who don't agree with my view of it, but I honestly think it would be huge for our sport, and a way to cater to the younger generations by giving them something inclusive to work towards.
What has the past year looked like for you in terms of highs and lows?
There have been many highs this year, not too many lows - which is always the goal. Black Sage is always a highlight of the year for me, so much work goes into it and at the end, it's always worth it. I travelled all year, competed in a few slope comps, and did a lot of filming. It’s been a great year!
You got to preride the Red Bull Joyride course in Whistler this year, what did you think about the changes?
I thought the course changes were a definite step in the right direction. I feel like a course full of options and a little more creativity is good. It opens the door up for anyone to take it! It was so fun to get back on the Joyride course. The last time I rode it was when I was competing in 2015 and broke myself off in practice. It felt good to cruise it again successfully and get some demons out of my head!
What are you most excited to be focusing on at the moment?
Rampage is always a rad thing to focus on. You have to stay healthy all year, and being prepared for Utah is riding big mountain terrain and overall bike control. So I can ride anything, film anything, and have that in the back of my head. Filming is another thing I love focusing on because it forces creativity and brings me back to my roots of exploration and riding every type of mountain bike.
When starting out in your career, it is important to say yes to everything and gain as much exposure as possible, how does it feel to have reached a position where you can pick and choose your projects and competitions?
Yep, coming into my career I was doing anything and everything to get my name out there, which was an awesome experience. But nowadays it's pretty surreal to just do what I want to do, which is to focus on video and photo projects that are quality over quantity and do the same with events. I try and do builds for video projects that will last and build up the scene. A lot of what I focus on is doing these builds in Bend or in elsewhere in Oregon. The more going on in a scene means more motivation from the younger generations and more for them to look forward to being apart of one day.
You have a 'yet-unnamed-project' that you have been focusing the majority of your time and energy on. Can you talk about it yet?
Not quite yet! We are close to releasing the teaser for it though. I have been working with Clay Porter for the past year and a half on this film project, among others, and it's been a great time. All I can say is I'm extremely stoked on it and it will hopefully release the Summer of 2020 (TBA).
Digging at Red Bull Rampage has commenced and Carson and his build team are already hard at work putting in long days to create a fast and raw mid-section in his 2018 run. Given Carson’s abilities, his drive, and the wisdom he has shown again and again throughout his career he is always one to watch. But beyond Red Bull Rampage, his commitment to freeride development, inclusivity, and the generations that will follow in his footsteps is what makes Rocky Mountain most proud to have him on their team.
Good luck Carson!
Carson Storch’ WW2 desert bomber Maiden
Rocky Mountain’s history at the Red Bull Rampage starts back in 2001 when Wade Simmons won the very first Rampage. Over the next 17 years, our riders competed every single year but one, including an impressive eight-year stint from Thomas Vanderham. Now, Carson Storch is carrying the freeride torch in the Utah desert and is ready to battle it out for his fifth Rampage appearance.
Carson’s custom painted Maiden was a collaboration with his friend, KC Badger. Carson and KC are both from Bend, Oregon and they wanted to bring elements from their hometown into the WW2 bomber themed paintjob. Taking inspiration from both eastern Oregon and the Utah desert, details of the artwork include a Rocky Mountain rattlesnake headtube, a “Maiden” cowgirl with an Oregon shaped body, rivet details, and five bombs signifying each of Carson’s Rampage appearances. The frame is hand painted from start to finish using enamel paint, just as they would’ve done on the original planes.
“I’m a big fan of both KC’s riding skills and his artistic abilities, so for him to hand paint me this frame for Rampage truly is an honour. It’s based off a WW2 plane I saw at the Museum of Flight in Seattle…and I can’t wait to get it up in the air next week!” – Carson Storch
“Sure, it would have been easier to just design some custom decals, have the bike painted and slap them on, but we wanted to try and emulate Carson’s riding through the paint job – NO SHORTCUTS.” – KC Badger
“I’m beyond thankful to Carson for trusting me to do this bike for him. I hope it brings him good luck, keeps him safe, and I think it’s going to look even better with a first place medal strung around it!” – KC Badger
Gullyver's Travels: Episode One
I've crisscrossed the globe as a competitor for many years, but I rarely ventured beyond the mountain resorts that contests are held in. As I get older, I've started pushing to escape the industry bubble and get off the beaten path more. The premise behind Gullyver's Travels is to motivate everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and explore new places.
Episode One takes place in the French Alps and features long time friend and Rocky Mountain teammate, Tito Tomasi. A world traveller who also happens to be a phenomenal mountain biker, Tito has ridden some of the most remote places on earth. His personal motto is vive la vie, and we intended to do just that.
The next morning, an early rise followed by four hours of carrying our bikes on our back was all made worth it when we arrived at the snow-covered summit of Grand Glaiza. After enjoying the spectacular views, we pointed our bikes down the 10,800 foot descent that lay in front of us.
Once back in town, Tito and I parted ways. He was off on another adventure and I was off to Bike Park Chatel for some big rig rippin'. It's no wonder why the Bike Park Chatel locals are all shredders, the park is filled with trails that have great flow and a number of sizeable features.
After two days of racking up vertical, it was time to head home. A big thank you goes out to Tito for being an amazing tour guide, and to Bike Park Chatel. Their hospitality is always second to none.
Until next time, see you on the trail!
Carson Storch Podiums at Rampage
Congratulations to Rocky Mountain's Carson Storch! The Bend, Oregon freerider took home 3rd Place at the legendary Red Bull Rampage in Virgin, Utah. He also claimed the Best Trick award for his massive mid-course 360 drop.
Return to Raw
This year's Red Bull Rampage saw a return to the raw, natural landscape that it was known for in the early days. With the blank canvas of a new venue, Carson teamed up with three other riders to build a massive feature with terrifying exposure—unlocking a line that event organizers had previously called impassable.
From there, Carson and his dig crew of Dustin Gilding and Calvin Huth split off from the other riders and chiseled out a landing for a huge mid-course drop, and dialled in several more significant features on the way to the bottom of the course.
"My line here at Rampage has a bit of everything. Steeps and exposure up top, big jumps and high speed lower down... a load of stuff I want to ride, so I'm happy with it." — Carson Storch
We wanted to do something special with Carson's bike for Rampage, so we worked with Painthouse Customs to create this 'Americamo' painted carbon Maiden. The design is inspired by the "dazzle camouflage" used on WWI naval ships.
He runs his Maiden in the slackest Ride-4 position, and with the Equalized geometry set up to use 26" wheels.
After eight days of building, it was time to put tires into dirt. With a steep, technical top section, tons of style, massive tricks, and a strong finish, Carson had all the elements of a great Rampage run. He would end the day in 3rd place, behind Antoine Bizet (2nd) and Brandon Semenuk (1st).
The judges were also vehement that he was the clear choice for Best Trick with his massive mid-course 360 drop. HUGE.
"Can't believe I ended up on the podium with third place, and took best trick. Such a crazy day! Thanks so much to my diggers, friends, family, and sponsors. I was riding for you today Kelly [McGarry]!" — Carson Storch
Congratulations to everyone who rolled through the Rampage start-gate this year. Healing vibes to the guys that got injured out there, hope to see you back soon! So many heavy moves went down, and the sport progressed by leaps and bounds yet again.
The late, great Kelly McGarry was a mentor and friend to Carson, and he'd have been so proud of his ride. A result like this has been a long time in the making for Carson, and we're beyond fired up for him. Already can't wait till next year!
Win a Maiden with Bar Drag Bounty 4
- Upload your best turn video to Instagram
- Tag @vitalmtb, @rockymountainbicycles and #bardragbounty
- That's it. You're entered and could win a Rocky Mountain Maiden Park!
Contest runs March 1 through March 31. Vital MTB and Rocky Mountain team riders will pick the final winner, announced by Vital on April 3. Contest open worldwide, where local regulations allow.
Best of luck!
Launching the Maiden
Earlier this month we headed to Retallack Lodge with Thomas Vanderham, Wade Simmons, a bunch of lucky Rocky Mountain staff, and a few key media to officially launch the Maiden.
Arriving in style.
After a quick kool-aid session, we got right to riding.
Rob Potter gets his first taste of Retallack's fast, smashy tracks.
Classic Simmons style.
Night one: egos are crushed at Nageln (aka Hammerschlagen).
From mining ghost towns to old bus graveyards, the Selkirks have a fascinating history.
Simmons brings the vandemonium. And 12 Maidens.
Day two: the best shuttle vehicle ever.
Scotty P aka Pickles touches down on Reco Peak. We supported the Peak 2 Creek trail build here last year, and it was amazing to finally sample it.
Yo dawg, we heard you like Rocky Mountains, so we put your Rocky Mountains on some rocky mountains.
This spring Rocky Mountain product manager Ken Perras crashed and broke three vertebrae, one femur, one hip, his sternum, ten ribs, and punctured a lung. It is amazing to see him back on the bike shredding.
Vanderham was loving the fast, rowdy trails that flowed from the alpine all the way to the lodge.
Night two: we premiered Maiden Voyage, Vanderham's edit with Matt Miles and Anthill films, and toasted the trails with some damn fine whisky. Also, it turns out that Ken is pretty good at Indo board Jenga.
After three days of shredding some of the world's best terrain, eating amazing food, and generally soaking up the lodge life, it was time to drive home and get ready for Crankworx.
Introducing the Maiden
After nearly four years of development, we’re proud to launch the Maiden. With the freedom to design on an extended schedule, it represents the cutting edge of our technology. Its all-carbon frame was designed from the ground up to perform at the highest levels of World Cup racing, bike park blasting, and big mountain freeriding.
- Travel: 200mm (F), 200mm (R)
- Full carbon frame, link, chainstay, and seatstay
- Optimized for 26” or 27.5” wheels with Equalized geometry
- Four bar Smoothlink suspension
- Pipelock collet axles lock into the frame for stiffness
- Oversized Enduro MAX type bearings for longer bearing life and higher load capacity
- Integrated frame protection: molded downtube guard, shock fender, chainstay protector, and bolt-in fork bumpers
- Di2 electronics compatible with internal stealth battery port
- Internal cable and brake routing
- PressFit BB107 bottom bracket, drop-in IS42|52 headset, 157mm axle spacing, ISCG-05 tabs
- Sizing: S/M/L/XL
We tested a wide range of suspension systems during the Maiden’s development. Many four-bar downhill bikes have very low rising rates (<20% slope). They have good support at sag, but require harsh-feeling higher spring rates or progressive air shocks to avoid bottoming under advanced riders. On the other end of the spectrum, some virtual pivot bikes have very high rising rates (>70% slope). They have great small-bump sensitivity and don’t bottom out easily, but they wallow and lack support at sag.
The Maiden’s rate curve sits between those two extremes with a 40% slope. It starts low enough for small-bump suppleness, ends high enough to avoid bottoming, has good rider support at sag, and allows the use of a lighter coil spring. We also tuned the progression to rise at a near-constant rate for more predictable response and more effective shock adjustments. The result is lively, supple suspension performance. It eats up chatter, pops off lips predictably, and reacts well when pushed aggressively.
Pedaling & Chainstay Growth
The Maiden puts power to the ground efficiently, thanks to a high level of anti-squat (75% with 27.5 wheels at sag) and well-supported suspension.
Chainstay growth is minimal (26mm with 27.5” wheels or 21mm with 26” wheels), and we pushed that growth deeper into the travel to further improve small bump performance while achieving the axle trajectory we were looking for.
Our engineering team spent a lot of time improving traction and control under braking, because more efficient braking makes you faster. Our patent- pending Autonomous braking resists both compression and extension under braking—remaining active through the majority of rear wheel travel and allowing the bike to react to ground forces rather than braking forces.
The Maiden achieves its braking characteristics by balancing anti-rise (35%), caliper counter-rotation, and instantaneous inertial brake transfer values. Our virtual swingarm begins far behind the bike, lengthens backwards through infinity as the bike compresses, and ends in front of the bike. This long virtual swingarm is the key to avoiding the “grip-slip” phenomenon displayed by other bikes, especially single pivot designs.
The effect is striking: there’s more travel available to soak up terrain under braking, there’s more traction, and there’s less hand-fatigue. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
We worked closely with our gravity athletes throughout the bike's design and testing phases, and drew on Thomas Vanderham's personal settings for the bike's low centre of gravity, balanced reach, and aggressive geometry.
Adjustability & Adaptability
There are advantages to both 26” and 27.5” wheels in DH applications. Rather than just putting larger wheels into an existing design and compromising steering dynamics, we created the Equalized Wheel Concept. By using a headtube spacer in conjunction with a second rear axle position, this system allows riders to choose their wheel size while maintaining optimal BB height and fork trail.
We tuned our new RIDE-4 system to adjust geometry while affecting the suspension curve as little as possible. This allows for subtle track-to-track geometry changes in 1/4° headtube angle increments with minimal effect on your shock tune.