Return to Riva
Since 1994, the Bike Festival in Riva del Garda has served as the unofficial kick-off to the European riding season. Over the last 25 years, the festival in early May has been a welcome excuse to bring riders together to catch up over an espresso, ride their bikes, and learn what’s new in mountain biking after the long and cold winters in the Alps. Rocky Mountain has been a part of the festival since the first year and is proud to be celebrating the legacy of epic rides and good times.
What started as a tiny festival with only 20 brands present has grown into a major event with a worldwide presence. Our distributor, Bike Action, set up shop at the festival back in 1994 with a small tent, a couple of chairs, and a fully stocked fridge of beer and wine. At that time, the Bike Festival was our first chance to show off our Canadian frames in Europe, including the radically designed Wedge, the Stratos, and an all-new steel Altitude.
Over the years, the event grew from its humble beginnings to include more than 150 exhibitors, nearly 50,000 visitors from countries around the world, and a lineup of 2500 racers for the Rocky Mountain Marathon XC race. In particular, the Rocky Mountain Marathon has been our pride and joy over the last 8 years, helping to push the limits and lungs of xc racers early in the season.
From the original appearances of the Froriders and the European premiere of Kranked – Live to Ride in 1998, to having Wade Simmons come back again year after year to ride Riva’s aggressive trails, the Bike Festival has always had a strong freeride presence. In the spirit of pushing the limits of mountain biking, Wade is back again this year but this time he’s riding there over 3 days on his Altitude Powerplay. Once he arrives, you can join him for a daily ride at 1pm on Saturday and on Sunday. Or, if you’d rather learn about fixing your bike on the trail, Julia Hofmann is around giving mechanic clinics every day at 4pm. As always, there’s plenty to do an see in the pits of the Festival.
“The thing about Riva is the riding there is hard. It’s rocky, it’s steep, and going down is as hard as going up! I’ve been to the Bike Festival so many times and when people ask me about the riding there I always say, ‘Good riders love Riva, because Riva is gnarly!’” – Wade Simmons.
Riva del Garda sits along the northern shores of Lake Garda in Italy, and its picturesque patios are renowned as the perfect place to unwind after a demanding, yet amazing ride. This mountain biking destination has incredible views of the Southern Alps and is filled with both beginner and advanced-level trails. Anyone who is interested in exploring this area would benefit from checking out Bike Festival where participants can demo a bike and join a guided ride. Or they can spectate and enjoy the many shows and competitions available.
Whatever the motivation for attending the Bike Festival in Riva del Garda we’re sure that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Whether it’s freeride legends, marathon racing, or eMTB adventures, at the Bike Festival in Riva it’s all about having a good time!
The Jank Files - Episode 1
Long flights, technical tracks, and practicing all week in the sunshine only to end up racing in the rain. The best way to describe enduro other than flat-out demanding is to have a laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and call a spade a spade. It’s janky. It's nearly impossible to find your flow between travel, practice, and race day, but when you do and it all starts to click into place, it becomes one of the most rewarding ways to ride a bike.
This is the second year for the Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team, with Jesse Melamed, Rémi Gauvin, and Andréanne Lanthier Nadeau lining up to race a full EWS season. Gaining momentum from last year, they’ve become experts in navigating the jank and have officially hit their flow with a strong start to the 2019 season.
From deep ruts and jungle vines to backyard skateboard sessions and race pit DJ’ing, this is Episode 1 of The Jank Files.
Presented by Maxxis
Filmed by Caldwell Visuals
Photos by Dave Trumpore
A big thank you to all our sponsors!
Race Face, Maxxis, Fox, Shimano, Smith Optics, WTB, OneUp Components, Stages Cycling, Peaty’s Products, EVOC
The Coastal Collaboration
The “Coastal Collaboration” partnership with Squamish-based apparel company, 7mesh, first kicked off in 2017. We're excited to work with another local BC-brand, especially one whose technical apparel is designed around function and high performance. We’re also proud to share our BC backyard for product testing and development.
When 7mesh first debuted their line in 2015, it took less than a year before we began discussions about an apparel collaboration. The “Coastal Collaboration” made its debut in spring 2017 with a couple of trail riding pieces and performance oriented XC gear, while being put to the test by our 7Mesh sponsored Factory XC team riders and office staff. The design elements on all pieces are inspired by the Coastal Mountains – both of our company’s backyard. From there, we continued to work on our small offering while also using their outerwear for our staff apparel for when we’re testing new bikes, out for a ride at lunch or getting riders set up at a demo event.
We wanted to make sure we developed our technical apparel line with a brand who shares similar values. The crew of avid mountain bikers and cyclists, passionate about what they are doing, eager to improve on the status quo. 7mesh likes to focus in on the details, refining the products until they are worth sharing with the world, making sure the products they’re offering deliver the best possible ride experience. It’s a process that’s not unlike how we develop our bikes. Whether it’s custom shock tunes or integrating the RIDE-9 adjustment system so riders can further tune their bike’s ride characteristics, we work relentlessly to give riders the best possible experience when out on the trail.
We’re excited about the new Coastal Collaboration pieces with 7mesh and we hope you are too!
Vancouver’s North Shore is a magical place. Across our three famous mountains lie hundreds of trails and built features, making it the perfect place to tackle everything from long days in the saddle to gnarly tech sections, to committing rock rolls. We’re proud to call this place our backyard.
The trails on Vancouver Island are known for pushing riders’ limits. Filled with punchy moves, slippery rock sections, and long commutes to and from the network, they demand fitness and finesse. It’s a cross-country rider’s paradise.
Je me souviens
Story by Andreane Lanthier Nadeau
I was lucky enough to discover riding at a very young age. I was so young, in fact, that my mom had to attend every training session for my first year on my development club. In Québec City at that time, if you mountain biked, you raced. As a kid, racing was much more than results, it was a means to live life rich with experiences. A means to learn about setting goals and to experience camping trips, friends, and travel. Plus, I truly loved racing, so pursuing it felt like a win-win scenario.
Four years ago I relocated to Vancouver Island in British Columbia to train with the cross-country National Team. Moving away from Québec and leaving behind my community was difficult, but it was becoming clear to me that I needed a change. Over the years my love for riding had gone adrift. My years of focusing on numbers and results had taken their toll and I was no longer having fun. Yet, I knew that biking and I were far from being done and I hoped that the West Coast would offer a new perspective.
My immersion in this new riding culture was a turning point for me. On the West Coast, I found a more adventure-focused, fun-driven approach to riding. It was a new experience to be in a community that rode for fun, where friends gathered on the weekends with their bikes, and people loved the sport without racing in it. The challenge of the new terrain was a catalyst that put me back into a beginner’s mindset where I could start fresh with biking.
The move was a good one and it did not take long for me to fall back in love with riding in the Pacific Northwest forest. It was the best reminder of why I ride bikes; because I love it. It took me back to the days before racing, to the days of playing on bikes as a kid in Québec. We spent our time smashing through as many mud puddles as we could, riding our bikes backwards, singing out loud while bombing down the road, scaring each other during night rides, washing our hair in the campground’s creek, and cooling off from the scorching summer heat one gulp of Slurpee at a time. This return to the fun side of mountain biking allowed me to put the pieces together to transform my passion into a career and to find myself racing as a professional mountain biker all around the globe.
While I was back home for a visit this fall, I met up with one of my best pals, Antoine Caron, a filmmaker and shredder of all types, to discuss shooting an edit about our stomping grounds. I wasn’t sure how it would feel to return with my big bike, to experience the same trail networks that I had trained on as an XC racer. I came back to fresh new trails weaving through the old ones I used to hammer out intervals on. Coming back to fun, challenging new trails was a very refreshing contrast.
We arrived at a cold and snowy trailhead parking lot on one of our filming days, but we realized we did not really feel like shooting. After running into old friends, we decided to leave the camera in the car and head out for a ride. We saw people out there, smiling, enjoying being out on a ride, and getting stoked about new trail features. Seeing how the trails evolved and how the Québec mountain bike community is changing to incorporate what I foundon the West Coast was a truly heartwarming feeling. I realized that these are still my people, they watched me grow up, and I was surprised to find that they have followed my career. I realized that even though I have moved on from XC, Québec will always be my home, in my mind they were so tied together, until I brought my big bike and rode it!
Thank you to Mathieu Dupuis-Bourassa from La Vallée Bras-du-Nord for agreeing with all our bad ideas of quad follow-cam. Thank you to the unknown master builders of the jump spot by the train tracks. And finally, thank you to the whole crew at Les Sentiers du Moulin & LB-Cycle for building not only great trails, but an awesome mountain biking community in Québec.
Journey through time
Story by Julia Hofmann
It’s been an excruciating climb, one with as much hike-a-biking as pedalling, but at last, we’ve arrived. Standing atop the highest point of Cronin Pass above Smithers the wind is howling; the air is cold. It’s been ten years since my first trip to Canada. Ten years since my first international mountain bike adventure. And as I stare out at the vast landscape of Northern British Columbia, I can see the long, flowing, epic trail I’m about to ride.
It’s the middle of August and each piercing gust hints that autumn is just around the corner. Despite our early start, the sun is now low. Shadows along the cliff bands lengthen and the colors of our surroundings begin to saturate. Feelings of peace and solitude complete this blissful scene, but I can feel the growing anticipation to drop in. The combination creates a sense of freedom inside me that washes me with happiness. From my extensive travels around the world to mountain bike, British Columbia is still one of the only places that host all the elements I love about riding. Well-built trails, a supportive riding community, and general love and appreciation for spending time in the woods.
When I was young my adventures started small – riding horses through the fields and woods near my childhood home near Lichtenfels, Germany – and grew to be grander over time. With each ride, I pushed myself to go a little further than before. The first true piece of singletrack I rode a bike on was a nice piece of trail, not far away, near my grandparents’ house. The special feeling of moving through the woods on two wheels was like nothing else I had experienced and chasing that feeling has continued to shape my life.
As an adult, I became so familiar with the forests around my home in Upper Franconia that I eventually began to look elsewhere for adventures. I started taking road trips to bike parks throughout Germany, then further on to Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. I’d read about British Columbia’s North Shore and seen videos of the Whistler Bike Park, but it seemed unattainably far away. It was several years before I’d even considered the possibility of traveling to a riding destination beyond what I could drive to. But the idea of flying to another country was there – somewhere – in the back of my mind and finally, it worked it’s way forward. Before I had thought about what I was committing to, I was standing at the airport ready to check in, heading to Canada.
I’ll never forget the feeling of landing on another continent for the first time, building my bike, and putting the tires into the dirt. Canada will always be a special place in my heart for this reason. The country feels vast with endless forests and mighty mountains, and to top it off there’s perfect singletrack that navigates the dramatic landscapes. The quality of trails is really what sets the riding here apart from the rest of the world. They are made specifically for riding rather than being repurposed old hiking routes. There’s something for everyone and the purpose-built climbs can be as enjoyable as the amazing descents.
As the sun disappears below the horizon line of endless peaks and ridges, the oversaturated filter begins to fade. It’s time to go as we’re losing light, and we have a long descent ahead of us. At the bottom of the mountain, a cozy cabin waits for us where we will stay for the night before moving on to the next incredible location. I lower my seat, start rolling down, and am treated to another unbelievable Canadian descent.
As I continue to travel around the world with my bike, I realize how the famous adage, ‘the more things change the more they remain the same’, rings true in my heart. All these years later, standing on top of a mountain on another continent, and I am still chasing that same feeling I discovered riding my bike through the forests in Lichtenfels as a child.
Introducing the Instinct Powerplay
The Instinct Powerplay will take you to the places you never thought possible. When it comes time to head out the door that epic ride into the alpine, you'll be riding further and faster than ever before on what is our most versatile e-MTB yet.
Taking our Powerplay line up to the next level, the Instinct Powerplay integrates our powerful Dyname™ 3.0 drive system with a 29” wheeled platform for fast rolling rides and long distances. Featuring the new iWoc TRIO remote, our RIDE-9 adjustment system, tweaked suspension kinematics, and great small-bump sensitivity, the Instinct Powerplay is perfect for the big epic rides!
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”.
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
The Grom Reaper
What’s it like to experience Whistler through the eyes of a kid? In short, it’s awesome. You get to eat ice cream for lunch, there’s no such thing as a to-do list, and your mind is set to cruise control, focused in on having as much fun as possible. Whether you’re chasing your heroes down the trail, or unexpectedly leading them, the world looks pretty good from a grom’s eye view.
Dane Jewett’s a 12-year old kid from Squamish and has been tearing it up on the Reaper for the past three years. Starting on 24” wheels, he moved up to 26” for this season and is looking to take his first ride on the all-new Reaper 27.5 later this year. Dane Jewett is the Grom Reaper, and he’s pretty fun to follow.
Carson Storch, Thomas Vanderham, and Dane Jewett took a few laps together down Crabapple Hits.
The Reaper can tear up singletrack, smash technical descents, and slay bike park laps all day long. And, because we know that kids grow (and have younger siblings), the Reaper is easily convertible from 24” wheels to 26” wheels and vice versa. We also have the new Reaper 27.5 option, to keep your kids shredding longer!
Reaper 26 and Reaper 24