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!
Welcome to the Family Vaea Verbeeck
Vaea has been part of the Rocky Mountain family for a while now. We filmed this little shredit with her last year, but ran into some computer issues before we could share it. She's currently on the mend from a collarbone injury in Lourdes, but she's chomping at the bit to get racing in Lenzerheide next month.
Who are you and what are you all about?
My name is Vaea Verbeeck. I was born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and raised in Granby, Quebec. Growing up with my mom and older sister didn't stop me from being a total tomboy. I’ve always wanted to be the best at every sport: gymnastics, dancing, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, volleyball, soccer, you name it. But after progressing and learning, I’d stall in my motivation. They just weren’t for me.
At 16 I borrowed a downhill bike at Bromont, and I was hooked. The following year I got myself a bike and it didn't take me long to register for a downhill race. A few years later I was entering World Cups and knew that I’d found my sport. After finishing school in 2012, I rushed straight to North Vancouver and have been living the mountain life dream ever since.
I’m currently working at the Lululemon Athletica head office during the off-season and pulling the plug every summer to race the World Cup circuit.
Not scared, strong, calm, bike park tracks (lame I know), rocks, jumps.
PEDALLINNNNNNG uphill. That shit is hard on the body and mind. I'm also pretty good at breaking bones, not gonna lie. I got my fair share over the years, it's a fine line.
What's your favourite race?
I think my favourite race was World Champs at Hafjell, Norway in 2014. I’d gone a couple of days early and just enjoyed the park there. I loved the track; good jumps, good high-speed technical woods, and good corners. Seemed to suit me well too, I got 6th—my best result so far.
Tell us about what you do off the bike. What are your off-the-bike goals?
Life without bikes exists?
I spend a lot of time working out, indoors in the winter. Plus I take full advantage of the West Coast outdoor lifestyle: hiking, snowboarding, camping, bouldering, and food. Love food. #activities
I'm happiest at races. Over the years I’ve developed a sort of second family at the races, and rolling through the pits with your mates on the way to practice is perfect. It maybe doesn't feel that exciting when you're out there, but when I’m out with an injury I have major FOMO.
What bikes are you riding right now?
- Rocky Mountain Maiden
- Rocky Mountain Altitude Rally Edition
- Rocky Mountain Flow
How do you set your bikes up? Anything unique?
Slack and low to plough through the rough stuff. Otherwise pretty standard.
Who's your favourite rider?
I'm scared to watch sometimes, but Brook MacDonald. Wild lad. Open throttle!
What is on your playlist right now?
Right now: ODESZA, Jupe, some Rihanna, Kilter, Tim Legend, Møme. It's all over the place.
- Vital MTB
- Youtube (gotta watch them Supercross replays somehow)
If you were the boss of mountain biking, how would you change things?
Easy. I started racing because I loved discovering new tracks and challenges. If logistics and finances could allow it, I would love to see new race tracks every year! New places and new experiences.
Goals for 2016-2017?
I've been on the mend getting back from different serious injuries over the last few years. The goal is to stay on the bike more. Being off the bike is the last place I want to be. Setting my limits and be in the game for the next few years would be the best.
I am eyeing up another National Champion title. I always want to better myself and my results. So technically, improving on a 6th place would be a World Cup podium. However, I am going for my best performance, not a result. I'll be happy to get back to races and give it my best. It's worked for me in the past.
A bunch of rad people! Rocky Mountain and Hope Tech make it happen for me. Also, Troy Lee Designs, FiveTen, Oakley, Atlas Brace, Rockwell Watches, Crankbrothers, and JFG Nutrition for making me sweat a ton.
Go out and play!
Video by Brian Park, Music by Sonny Parmar. Photos by Sam Needham courtesy Hope Tech. Additional photos by Brian Park and Margus Riga.
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.