Words and photos by Malcolm Mclaws
From Issue #187
Andreu Lacondeguy made his Crankworx debut in 2006. His arrival in Whistler, British Columbia, as a fresh-faced, clean-cut unknown was an introduction to someone who would become one of the most well-known and colorful riders ever. This is Little Andy.
With a riding style that has always been more motocross- and freeride-influenced than classic slopestyle, it would only take two short years for him to step up to the top tier and claim the slopestyle title at Kokanee Crankworx in 2008. That same year he also became one of only three riders to land a double backflip on a mountain bike in competition at the Snowboard Big Air World Cup in Graz, Austria.
He has continued to push boundaries within the sport through contests and videos, always letting his riding do the talking. This year he won the Whistler Crankworx Whip-Off World Championship.
At just 26 years old with “Love Dirt” tattooed on his fingers, “Little Andy,” as his friends call him, has a distinct attitude about where freeriding should be headed. He has won a lot, from Crankworx to Rampage, but still remains unsettled and wants to change the course of mountain biking.
To accomplish this, he has teamed up with Kurt Sorge, Graham Agassiz, Nico Vink, Makken Haugen and Nick Pescetto to form the Fest series (see video below), an innovative new series of week-long, invitation-only freeride sessions around the world, where only the riders involved vote on the best line, trick and jump, yet there’s no official winner or series champ.
I GREW UP IN A LITTLE TOWN IN EL MONTSENY IN CATALUÑA [CATALONIA], SPAIN, ONE HOUR NORTH OF BARCELONA. It’s a small town at the bottom of the mountains, so when I was a kid a bike was how I got around. I started riding cross-country when I was 10 and was a regional champion. Then I moved to BMX racing at 11. From there it was on … I learned how to jump a bike, and that changed everything!
When I was 12 I started downhill racing—that’s when I first mixed in my BMX skills with mountain biking. Racing was sick, and it’s how I learned to ride a bike. I got a contract with Team Maxxis when I was only 15 and traveled with the national team to learn from the old guys. I was national champ and won a few European Maxxis Cups. I even have a few photos with Josh “Ratboy” Bryceland and me on the podium.
I did over 100 races, and going fast was the main goal. That’s how I still ride—I love to go fast. I think I’m still a racer, but I’m not racing the clock or others. I’m racing the hills.
I WAS FAST IN DOWNHILL AND SLALOM BUT NEVER FOCUSED ON ANYTHING. Downhill racing was huge for me; I grew up racing the Spanish nationals and some European races. I looked up to Steve Peat and Sam Hill, and I was trying to look and ride like them—I think I still do.
SOCAL IS MY FAVORITE BMX SPOT FOR SURE. I always rode dirt jumps and skate parks on my 20-inch bike. I still do. BMX is super fun and easy to ride. I had some dream seasons in Southern California with BMX dirt-jump legends T.J. Ellis and Cory Nastazio that I’ll never forget.
CAM ZINK IS ONE OF THE GUYS I RESPECT THE MOST. I think that he is by far the most confident rider to ever ride a mountain bike. He pushes the sport more than anyone I know, with the biggest 360 drops and flips over some crazy jumps. He’s pushing the sport in the right direction, just going huge.
MOTOCROSS IS MY FAVORITE THING TO DO. I just love riding a dirt bike—it’s the most badass machine ever made, and it’s just insane what you can do with it. I got into moto when I moved next door to Edgar Torronteras—he’s a freestyle motocross legend with more than five X Games medals, X-Fighter wins, European Supercross and motocross wins. So as soon as I met the dude there was no way back. I’ll be burning gas forever!
WHEN I FIRST SHOWED UP AT WHISTLER [FOR CRANKWORX], I JUST WANTED TO SEND IT AS HARD AS I COULD. I was 16 years old and I didn’t care much about anything. My hair was long and dirty. I was hung over and riding in a Misfits T-shirt. I won qualifiers and then overjumped the biggest step-down on the mountain when I tried to flip it and landed in the hospital. Those days were crazy, and we were all a little out of control.
I’VE NEVER SEEN MYSELF AS A CONTEST RIDER. I have managed to get a Crankworx gold, an X Games medal and a Rampage win. Contests are just too restrictive for me. I don’t think that they are what riding means to me, so I’m not into them anymore.
X GAMES WAS CRAZY. I knew that the course wasn’t going to be fun and went there injured with a broken finger and two bruised knees. When I first showed up in Munich, Germany, and saw the course, I knew that it was probably going to be a one-time chance to get an X Games medal. The course was so horrible that no one was able to ride the whole thing on the first day.
Finals got out of control because of the wind and all of the [other] Europeans decided not to ride. When I dropped in, everyone was crashing super hard in front of me, and I just made it to the bottom. I got third with a shit run but got a medal. It was weird. I was stoked but embarrassed. That wasn’t freeride mountain biking at all.
I DON’T HATE SLOPESTYLE. I think it’s cool, but why use the word “freeride” for a slopestyle event? Freeride is something a little bigger than a few ramps in a parking lot. I got bored of slopestyle events: rankings, cities, rules—I just want to go huge on my bike, and there’s no way to do it on the FMB Tour. If you go big there, you land flat—I learned that the hard way, and I’m never going to go there again. Freeride Mountain Bike Tour? Call it Slopestyle Mountain Bike Tour, and freeriders will take care of freeriding.
I DON’T KNOW IF I’LL BECOME INVOLVED WITH ENDURO IN THE FUTURE. I just ride big jumps on my downhill bike. I don’t think I will race, not when I’m older. Enduro is the new name for mountain biking, but if it helps sell more bikes, perfect.
THE FEST SERIES CAME ABOUT BECAUSE ME AND OTHER BIG MOUNTAIN RIDERS WERE OVER THE WHOLE CONTEST SCENE. We just created our own thing. We build and ride the best jumps and trails on the planet and film it. The Fest series is the best thing that ever happened to my career. We are the riders, we build the courses and ride them. Fest series is going be the most insane freestyle events in the world. Just riding and exploring new locations while building and filming sick lines.
THE FEST SERIES IS ALREADY GROWING REALLY FAST. We’re going to make sure that the only benefits are for the sport. We’re going with the flow, having fun and going nuts on our bikes. We’ll see how it goes. I had more fun last year with Fest than ever, so I’m pumped about it.
RAMPAGE LAST YEAR WAS A GOOD WIN FOR ME. I came from riding the Fest series the whole year, so I was ready for it. I felt like I rode harder in Fest than at Rampage. Rampage is TV format, so I was being careful not to get hurt. There’s huge media at Rampage and you want to be safe until the last run.
IT WAS ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE AT RAMPAGE. I was going to win and that was it, there was no way around it. I was going to build the craziest line and ride it as fast as I could. I didn’t need to step it up on my second run, and everything went smooth. I was happy that I proved myself and showed that if I really want something I can get it. That was kind of how Rampage felt for me.
CRASHES ARE ALWAYS THERE; IT’S WHAT MAKES IT FUN. The closer you get to going down the better it feels, but there’s a price. I’ve had a few bad crashes, earlier this year with a broken knee, and it sucked.
I MOVED TO THE PYRENEES A YEAR AGO. I wanted to ride my bike every day, and moving to the mountains was the way to do it. I’m going to be working on a big project with Red Bull and La Molina ski resort, so I just moved there. I have great trails right at my house, and we are going to build some big jumps this spring.
2014 WAS THE BEST YEAR ON MY BIKE FOR SURE. I’m happy about Rampage and the great result, but the main thing is that it was when the Fest series was born. This is what I’m going to remember when I can’t ride a bike anymore. I will always have 2014 in my head.
By Malcolm Mclaws
It might be no accident that the first day of this year’s weeklong CruzFest in Santa Cruz, California, was on 4/20. Like most edgy underground festivals you need a theme.
This first time event in the NorCal area was the initial stop of the six event Fest Series. Now in its second year, the Fest Series events have grown quickly in Europe with a mystic, not-open-to-the-general public and only invited riders can participate vibe. No big sponsors, TV coverage or prize money, just riders wanting to hang and shred together for a week and media there to document it.
A low key, super chill style suits those that come out: no pressure to win for sponsors, just ride with your friends and check your ego at the gate. Invited riders are from all styles: Top FMB names like Brandon Semenuk and Crankworx New Zealand winner Brett Rheeder rip alongside big mountain names like Kurt Sorge, Graham Agassiz and last year’s Rampage winner Andreu Lacondeguy. The Euro contingent also consisted of Nico Vink, Makken Haugen and Nick Pescett. It even included World Cup downhill racers when Bas van Steenbergen showed up with his brother Tom.
CruzFest was the brainchild of Kyle Jameson, Ryan Howard and Jeff Herbertson, all Rampage riders and locals, after attending the Hillbilly Huckfest in Norway last year as part of the initial Fest Series. All they needed was a location, so motocross rider Arik Swan was contacted. The Swan family’s compound is a huge chunk of land in the hills above Santa Cruz complete with a motocross track. After doing their event pitch and walking the site the seed was planted.
The course was laid out in a hidden valley with two drop-in points leading to major features. Skidders along with a backhoe and lots sweat from local riders created huge jumps out of the black earth. Berms were sculpted and a ghetto car jump was moved into place. In the end they had a 30 foot step-up to hip that led into a massive 42 foot double. After landing, options included a shark fin into a 60 foot stepdown table or turn and jump the “Deity Car”, rail a berm and hit a 30 foot hip to table.
Soon after starting it became clear that this was no regular event when Supercross racer Tyler Bereman fired up his motorcycle and joined in with Lacondeguy on a bicycle hitting up the big line.
CruzFest also contains a festival vibe with klunker rides, mini-moto races and dirt track shenanigans. Barbeques and beers added to the scene to make this first time stop in the U.S. an epic event within the international series.
Courtesy of Pivot Cycles
Pivot Cycles is pleased to announce the addition of Aaron Chase to their roster of riders. Chase, a master in the world of freeride, is best known for pushing boundaries and for his technical and creative style, both on and off the bike. He has graced the covers of countless magazines, stood atop the most sought after podiums and is now best known for his progressive video projects. As a content producer for both GoPro and Red Bull Media House, Aaron’s videos have been seen on most major TV networks and his You Tube views number well over 100 million. Chase has signed a multi-year deal with Pivot Cycles.
Chase was born and raised in New Hampshire; calling Highland Mountain Bike Park his summer home and spending the remainder of the year at his home in New Jersey at the foothills of Mountain Creek Bike Park.
“This is a new chapter, and I am excited to work with the entire team at Pivot. In order to make the kind of videos I’m known for, I need a full line of top tier bikes and the Pivot Cycles quiver that now lives in my garage is unbelievable. It’s like opening the door and seeing someone put a couple of Lambos in there. I also have to thank my long time friend Dave Weagle of dw-link fame for making the introduction,” said Chase.
“Aaron will bring something truly unique to the Pivot family – his innovative riding style is matched only by his ability to test equipment to its very limits,” said Chris Cocalis, president of Pivot Cycles. “We look forward to seeing Pivot Cycles in Aaron’s incredible Red Bull and GoPro projects and to benefiting from his contributions to our product development process.“
Aaron Chase will be riding the new Pivot Cycles Phoenix Carbon DH as his downhill bike with the Mach 6, Point and M4X models for enduro, dirt jump and slopestyle applications, respectively. Additional bikes will be added to the quiver as the season and events dictate.
Chase will debut his full range of 2015 sponsors, including his Phoenix Carbon DH at the upcoming Manizales Urban Downhill Race in Colombia, where he will be filming the next video in his renowned Red Bull Media House “Through My Eyes Series”.
Keep up with Aaron Chase via Instagram: aaronchase, Twitter: @chaselife and Facebook: aaronchase17. Find Pivot Cycles at pivotcycles.com, Facebook: PivotCycles, Twitter: @PivotCyclesUSA, Instagram: pivot_cyclesusa
These films just keep getting more and more mind-blowing. The latest work from AntHill Films and Teton Gravity Research is unReal, staring Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Tom van Steenbergen, Steve Smith, Graham Agassiz, Brook MacDonald, James Doerfling, Matt Hunter, Thomas Vanderham, and friends.
After the smashing success of Rad Company, what more could there be? We’ll find out next summer.Tweet Print
The event that has launched viral video stars and dropped thousands of jaws returns to Utah this fall, a freeride mountain biking spectacle known the world over as a proving ground for the best, bravest and most well-rounded rider on two wheels. Red Bull Rampage, a marquee event in the NBC Signature Series, will take place near Virgin, Utah with the finals set for September 28, 2014 and airing on NBC, November 30th at 12:30 p.m. EST.Tweet Print
On a gusty day in Southern Utah, a group of 25 daring mountain bikers blew the doors off what is possible on two wheels, unleashing some of the biggest moments the sport has ever seen. While mother nature only allowed for one full run before the conditions made it impossible to ride, that was all that was needed for event veteran Kyle Strait, who won the event for the second time—eight years after his first Red Bull Rampage title.Tweet Print
The world’s best mountain bike freeriders and photographers spent one week together to capture amazing footage from an incredible event. This documentary web series follows them during the Nine Knights MTB 2013 event in Livigno, Italy . Episode 1 covers the first two days of start training and scoping the course. In addition, event organizer Nico Zacek explains why his contest is so unique.Tweet Print