Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team
We're very excited to return to the Enduro World Series in 2018 and announce the formation of our new Canadian partnership with Race Face Performance Products. We're incredibly proud to form the Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team, and to tackle a full season of racing with passion, drive, and dedication.
Our two brands have a deep history together that began in 1993. When freeride was born Rocky Mountain and Race Face were there, under the same roof, meeting the needs of demanding North Shore riders. Now, 25 years later Race Face is making some of the best components in the world, and we're honored to be officially reunited through our EWS team partnership.
- 12th EWS Series Overall Ranking
- 1st EWS Whistler, Canada
I'm excited to start a new chapter of this team, with Race Face on board to strengthen the Canadian vibe. I'm really looking forward to working closely with another local brand that shares my passion and roots. The crash I had in Finale Ligure at the end of last season was a tough one to recover from, but I've been training hard and am confident I am going to come into the first race strong!" - Jesse Melamed
- 8th EWS Series Overall Ranking
- 5th EWS Whistler, Canada
"Partnering up with Race Face and their strong Canadian roots is something that is unique to the EWS and exciting for myself. I'm really looking forward to getting things kicked off in South America in a few weeks, traveling with Jesse, ALN, our new crew of mechanics and Team Manager! This off season has been really productive for me, and I feel super-strong coming into the first round." - Remi Gauvin
- 11th EWS Series Overall Ranking
- 3rd EWS Wicklow, Ireland
"I feel really happy and at home with our team for 2018. With such a good set up, it really is a bittersweet feeling to be sidelined for the two first rounds with a wrist injury. With the team supporting me, the matter at hand is to regain my maximum shred capacity to join the party ASAP. I look forward to seeing us evolve as a team this season and to enjoy not only the racing but the whole vibe." - ALN
Partners in Grime
For many, completing post-secondary schooling is a difficult task. For others, training and racing for Canada’s grueling weather is overwhelming. But what about doing both? Victoria, B.C. racers and roommates Felix Burke and Quinn Moberg manage to tackle an ambitious lifestyle consisting of equal parts education and maintenance of a competitive national ranking on Canada’s XC racing circuit.
What does it take to race hard plus earn an Economics or Kinesiology degree in the off season? Teamwork and resilience. The Rocky Mountain/7Mesh riders know that success means more than lung capacity and enlarged quads. It’s a life balance only helped further by sticking together, and shaming each other about eating cookies.
Felix Burke Interview
MB: How long have you been racing?
FB: I have been racing since first year junior, so this year will be my sixth season racing. I guess professionally this will be my fourth year.
MB: Explain how you grew up both in B.C. and Quebec.
FB: When I was 13 my family moved from Tremblant, QC to Whistler. My mom got a job opportunity there and my parents wanted to live an adventure—they both grew up on the east coast and saw Whistler as the mecca. Both are into skiing and outdoor activities. So we moved to Whistler and it was there that I discovered mountain biking, through some friends I had met on the ski hill. In the summer, they were riding and I just kind of tagged along and loved it, and the community. I started doing the local races with my dad and there was this thing called the Lumpy Award (awarded to local youth who Whistler Off Road Cycling Association directors feel best exemplifies their values – ed). Once I found out that it existed, I focused on it. Trying to get better. I guess that is when I first started training.
MB: And why did you end up moving to QC?
FB: When I was 16, my mom got another job opportunity in Tremblant. My parents decided to move back for a number of reasons. I was worried. I thought all of the cool mountain biking was in B.C., but it turns out that the XC scene is really big on the East Coast. I just jumped into the more classic XC and I got a coach, and my parents saw how much I loved it. They had been worried that they were taking me away from something that I loved. I knew I was going to come back eventually.
MB: When you moved back to Tremblant from Whistler your bike handling skills must have been strong relative to the local scene?
FB: For sure. When I came back I had the skills. And when you are younger you push yourself in a way that is harder to do when you get older. You know, your friend hucks off something and you are like, well, I gotta do it now I guess. I think it’s good that I got to do it when I was younger because my skills…I don’t feel like I practiced them too much. I just feel like I have them naturally. And I think it’s because of growing up as a younger riding in Whistler going off drops and riding in the bike park. I think it just sticks with you.
MB: So when did you and Quinn [Moberg] meet?
FB: It’s kind of a funny story how I met Quinn. I knew who he was, so I looked up to him, and then at the end of the summer before I moved back to Tremblant there was a Team BC selection camp. I knew I was moving away but I wanted to meet the coach and see what the environment was like. They set up a bunch of races and that’s where I met Quinn. We did a time trial, and I had a great time. Quinn invited me to stay at his place in Squamish, because I was living in Whistler and the camp was in Squamish. I had never talked to the guy, but I respected him and knew who he was.
We kind of kept in touch, like if he had a good result I sent him an email, and if I had a good result he sent me an email and we started planning trips together. When I moved out here my first year of UVIC I didn’t have a place to stay and I sent him a message and he said come live with us and that’s really when we got to become good friends. We’ve got a really good set up.
MB: University keeps a man busy. How often do your training schedules intersect?
FB: I would say regularly, but what makes it hard is our school schedule. We don’t have the same school schedule and so it makes it hard to coordinate training times so if I have classes in the morning and he doesn’t he’ll go training in the morning and I will come back and go in the afternoon and that makes it hard but almost every weekend we get one ride in together and as much as we can time it with school. Basically, as much as we can. Probably about two rides a week I would say.
MB: How important is it to have someone that is easily accessible to train with?
FB: It’s huge. I think on the bike it’s important, but I think the biggest part is off the bike. So much of the training and the benefits and the ways that you want to progress happens off the bike. And Quinn and I keep each other motivated and if I see Quinn eating something unhealthy I’m like ‘are you sure you want to be eating that?’ He’ll say the same thing for me, and we support each other. Sometimes motivation is low when you’ve got other stuff going on. I think that’s where it really comes in.
MB: Many people have a hard time just getting through University, and yet you have a race career as well. How do you prioritize?
FB: I think a lot of it is just planning and thinking in advance. And I prioritize both equally. I think in the fall I prioritize school a little bit more. Because I know that the training is a little less important at that time of year. And I take more courses. And then in the spring I prioritize biking so I plan my homework in advance and get to go for longer rides on the weekend and never kind of get caught off guard with the homework or anything like that.
MB: Do you feel like you’re missing out on the party lifestyle of school?
FB: We are not living the mainstream school life, which can be hard sometimes. You have these friends who party and they have these stories you don’t have. But I don’t feel like I am missing out on social stuff because I am hanging out with my buddy and we’re doing the same thing. It’s kind of like working on a project with a friend.
MB: What about the riding in Victoria?
FB: I really enjoy it. There’s plenty of gnarly stuff. The biggest thing is I love is the mountains…getting up into the alpine. I love doing something epic and that’s the only thing it’s missing. But the potential for adventure is huge. Out in Sooke—once you get in those woods—it feels really wild.
Victoria is the best spot for training. A super good community of riders that support each other. A bunch of racing. The road riding is great. Because it’s raining a lot, you get used to riding the challenging terrain and conditions that constant rain creates. When you go elsewhere you bring those skills with you. You go to a race course in California and people are calling it a hard course but it’s sunny and beautiful and it’s a great day for mountain biking.
MB: You and Quinn are buddies, but do you have to be friends with a training partner to be successful?
FB: For me, I have to train with buddies. I’ve trained with the national team, where you ride with super talented riders and learn as much as you can. But it’s hard to be a in an environment where you are competitive all the time. It’s just not a life I want to live all the time. I prefer to train with people that I can hang out with after. It’s a social thing…especially when you’re doing base miles, talking about world problems, relationships, etc while you ride…it’s a lot easier to balance everything. You don’t have a lot of time to go out and do different things when you are living this life so it helps when your social life is your riding life.
MB: What has Quinn done for your riding?
FB: Quinn is probably the smartest guy I know. His approach helps me the same way he does. He takes a different look on it. For example, when you plan trips, Quinn will analyze things in a way other racers won’t. He’s also a great bike mechanic. He helps me with bike set up. On the bike, Quinn is really tough. He won’t complain. He won’t pull out. I mean, obviously within reason. If he’s bleeding or something…[laughter]. That helps me. If I am tired but he’s still going, I won’t complain either. We’ll just get it done. Our riding styles complement each other as well. He’s a punchy rider and sometimes I have to ride his style. I usually hold a solid pace but it’s good to balance each other out with different styles of riding and training.
I finished high school and moved back here and now I’m going to UVic and riding for Rocky and when I was younger in Whistler I saw the guys riding for Rocky and I always looked up to them. It’s kind of a dream come true. Even though I’m from the east coast and people don’t really understand, I feel like I grew up with the West Coast riding culture and riding for Rocky is a dream come true.
Quinn Moberg Interview
MB: Do you remember the first time you met Felix?
QM: It was around 2012 and we were at a Cycling BC team camp together. It was right before he moved to Quebec and he actually stayed at my house. And we weren’t friends, I had never met him.
MB: And so you were both at a high level at that time?
QM: For our age, yeah. We weren’t phenomes by any means.
MB: You’re grinders?
QM: Yeah, closer to that end of the spectrum I would say.
MB: Racing XC in the Sea-to-Sky—where it’s predominantly an all-mountain/freeride bike culture—is there an automatic kinship when you meet someone that is geared toward XC?
QM: I think so. When I was living in Squamish I was never good buddies with Felix. We moved to Victoria at the same time and that’s when we started to become close, but I knew him for a few years when I was in Victoria and he was in Tramblant. There is a fairly close-nit group of cross country racers in Sea-to-Sky and on Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast…but there is a style. If we go to race around the country there is a west-coast style. I think it’s derived from what you are explaining, that casual freeride…you know, mountain biking. It’s represented in our racing style.
MB: Tell me about the moving from Squamish to Victoria.
QM: This is my third year [in Uni]. Victoria is rad. I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse than Squamish, I like Squamish too, but there are pros and cons. The weather is better in Victoria. The “true” mountain biking is obviously better in Squamish. Training is good in Victoria…there are good training partners, the forest is beautiful the terrain we ride in is unbelievable. Same as Squamish but it’s different. We’ve got Arbutus trees, moss and rocks and ocean here. Even though Squamish is a community on the water you don’t ride by it every day.
MB: Other than the fact that you have year-round riding, has Victoria’s riding scene or the Victoria riding style affected yours at all?
QM: Yes, for sure. It has improved my riding a lot. Believe it or not. In the Sea-to-Sky corridor there are definitely tech sections, but a lot of what is “tech” is just having big balls. You have to just man up and ride it. In Victoria, there is some of that but it’s few and far between. But it’s still real tech, and it’s humbling because you don’t have to “man up” all the time but you have to be on it. Really focused. The rock is a lot slicker here. There is more root. A lot less groomed terrain. Probably because the bike scene is a lot smaller. But it’s a lot more technical. And I think that catches people by surprise. But you lose that big-line, all-mountain feel. You never feel out there, but it’s nice in other ways.
MB: If you are an XC racer, you need to be able to get quickly through technical terrain…trails that might not be fall-and-get-hurt-type terrain, but if you aren’t on your game you are going to lose a lot of time.
QM: Yup. When you are mountain biking in Victoria, if you aren’t on it 100%, it’s going to really show. In Squamish, leaving my parent’s house and going to ride Rupert’s or another “average” Squamish trail, you don’t have to be that dialed to make your way down. Or up. But if you came to Victoria and you weren’t focused or fresh or ready to go mountain biking, you are going to be slow. I guess that’s the biggest thing that Victoria has taught me. The focus, and riding technical stuff.
MB: It’s great that Vancouver Islanders get to ride all year, but it comes with a whole new level of wet and gnarly weather. You guys are probably training four or five months in pretty wet weather? How does that shape you?
QM: It makes you tough, for sure. You can ride all year, but it’s five degrees Celsius and raining. There’s no excuse not to… but it makes you hard, for sure. I think it’s advantageous. Spending the time…I’m not going to use the word miserable. That’s something that I’m trying to avoid. But it’s hard. It’s hard to do.
MB: What about gear? Do you think that a company—or at least an R&D team—must be based on the wet, west coast in order to build product for it?
QM: It’s an advantage for sure, and I am conscious of it. Felix and I train a lot together and bounce ideas off each other but there are also other guys in town. Felix and I have the same gear. It’s a huge advantage having what we have. We can be way more comfortable. Our bikes are made to ride what we ride what we’re riding. We are set up very well, even with the parts our bikes are built with.
MB: When you talk about XC racing, especially, every advantage is a good one. It’s often just the tiny little ones that help.
QM: Being literally as comfortable as possible. It’s unreal. It’s really nice to have.
MB: What is the difference between a solo ride and a ride with Felix?
QM: There is an extra push with Felix. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it, but we are somewhat competitive, in the sense that we push each other, he pushes me in a lot of facets of my life close to what my maximum would be. But it’s not competitive. I don’t want to better than him. I want him to be as good as he can and if that’s better than me, that’s perfect. But I am pushed by him. And it’s not just the training. It’s having that person there that is going through training and school. It keeps you accountable. It would be very easy to just gap and not get school work done.
MB: In mountain biking, there are a lot of “teams,” but how often are they actually working together? I know in road biking it’s a lot more common, but it seems like you have a more traditional relationship, where you are pushing and living and training with each other and it all becomes holistic in a way.
QM: Absolutely. I think it’s pretty unique. I have been on the Rocky team and a couple of smaller teams but I have never looked at my “teammates” as someone that I am working with. They are just sponsored by the same person. And I think that if Felix and I were sponsored by different people we would still work together. Having that same sponsorship, there is something extra special there.
MB: University seems impressive to me on its own, but you guys are taking almost a full class load and also racing at a competitive level. Do you miss out on other parts of your life because of it?
QM: Thanks, yeah, I think I do. There is definitely a big sacrifice. People talk about a university experience…and I don’t know if I missed it. I mean, my life doesn’t suck at all, but I don’t party very frequently, or barely at all. And I skip out on post lecture hangouts in the hall between class. I try to be really efficient with my time, that hang-out time is sacrificed. The biggest thing is staying organized with your time and focus and, once you are organized, committing to that. Not letting up. But to be clear I’m not upset about anything. If I wanted to do something different I would just do it. I’m doing this because I want to.
MB: I asked Felix what you have been able to teach him. What has he been able to teach you?
QM: A few biking things: he’s a really skilled rider. I think his skills are underrated. So, bike skills are a big thing…just following his speed on trails. It pushes me. He’s damn good bike rider. Life balance also. Sometimes I’ll get obsessed with biking or school or some other thing on my mind and I think Felix keeps me stay healthy.
Wade Simmons' Pipedream
Wade Simmons has been in the free ride game since the beginning. His mark has been left on our sport through an extensive catalogue of images and video segments, showcasing his creative ability to conquer lines with unmistakable style. Simply put, Wade’s career has been driven by his desire to do something different. While watching the archived footage of himself riding in The Moment, he couldn’t help but get nostalgic on the bikes that helped make his career.
Bikes like the Pipeline, Switch, RMX, RM7, and RM9 were the tools of Wade’s trade. To him, these were the bikes that had soul. The “Thrust Link”, “NE 3”, and “3D Link” were some of the iconic technologies that helped make these bikes special. This was at a time where adding linkage plates to everything was the obvious solution.
Wade is what we call an “ideas man.” Fueled by Wade’s creativity, Rocky Mountain Bicycles decided to build a very special bike, founded on nostalgia and designed to modern day standards. Tapping into some of his old favourite lines, this is a story of Wade Simmons’ Pipedream.
Gussets and linkage plates were an iconic look of the early 2000's. Riders like Wade were beginning to push mountain biking in a new direction, and the frame designs were changing to meet their demands. From 49mm straight head tubes to adding extra gussets for flair, the Pipedream embodies the renegade spirit of freeride.
Many of the early Rocky Mountain freeride bikes had a feature that allowed you to mount the rear shock in 3 different locations. This was known as "NE 3", and required 2 linkage plates on either side of the shock with a cross-brace to stiffen everything torsionally. While having a bit of fun with cross-bracing designs, the NE 3 Man was born.
The 3D Link was a CNC'd feature on our full suspension bikes of the late 90's and early 2000's. Platforms like the Element, Edge, and Slayer all had versions of the 3D Link, which made it a natural addition to Wade's Pipedream.
The Rocky Mountain Bicycles Development Centre is located at the foot of Vancouver's North Shore mountains and is home base for all of our product development. It's here that we weld our prototype frames, test new ideas, and fine tune the details. Longtime Rocky Mountain Bicycles welder, Al Kowalchuk worked on this custom project, delivering an incredible finished product.
The Godfather of Freeride, Wade Simmons.
Rocky Mountain is proud to have been involved with the feature film, The Moment. We would also like to say a huge Thank You to Wade Simmons for his continued inspiration and dedication to freeride mountain biking.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring Wade Simmons' Pipedream
Frame Development & Design by Tom Ferenc, Lyle Vallie, Joe Kerekes, and James Mallion
Welding by Al Kowalchuk
Frame Preparation by Billy Chang
Paint by Harald Strasser at Toxik Design Laboratory
Magic Unfolding by Big Score Audio &
Voytek by The Heavy Eyes
All rights reserved. Used with permission.
A Film by Scott Secco
Featuring Wade Simmons
Produced by Stephen Matthews
Guest Appearances by Darcy Turenne and Rocky Mountain Bicycles staff
Sound Design by Keith White Audio
Typography by Mike Taylor
Archived footage by Todd Fiander, Christian Begin, Bjorn Enga, Darcy Wittenburg, and Jorli Ricker
Photography by Margus Riga
Special Thanks to Fox Suspension, Race Face, and Shimano
Shift in Perspective
The freedom that comes from riding two wheels is like no other. From the first time that you rolled past the end of the driveway, to the most recent ride on your favourite singletrack trail. The evolution of how you ride will change, but your love for the ride never should. Wade Simmons and Jesse Melamed are generational masters of our sport and are driven to push their own limits using new technologies to help ride trails in a new light.
"My motivation in mountain biking has always been to find creative lines and link uber-tech sections with fluidity. Having up to this point ridden 2.3–2.5 tires for 20+ years, I know the limitations. Now with the addition of the plus tire, I find my line choices evolving and that’s awesome to me!" —Wade Simmons
Creativity has always kept things fresh for Simmons. On the trail, he makes things happen that simply shouldn’t be possible, all while navigating extremely technical terrain with ease. He’s always been this way. Looking back at his segment in “Shift,” a breakout role for a much younger Godfather, it’s always been about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
It’s become apparent to me that the big advantage of running plus tires is the ability to maintain momentum and speed over rough terrain. The tires eat rough for breakfast! It can be a bit more finicky dialing in the tire pressure, but once you find the right balance, it's game on."—Wade Simmons
Jesse is laser-focused, and his race results against the World’s fastest are proof. He knows when to go for it, and anyone who’s ridden with Jesse will attest that he’s all-in once his tires hit the trail. Commitment is in his character, and being able to unlock and tap into unconventional lines has set him apart at the EWS and back home in Whistler.
"Running plus tires is great for reminding me there is more than one way to see a trail. It opens my mind to what’s possible and helps me visualize the different lines when practicing for an EWS race.”—Jesse Melamed
"Riding the all-new Pipeline is like riding any new bike, it's fun and exciting! I like to jump around and play with the trail, and the Pipeline lets me get away with landing in even the roughest sections and calling it a “landing”. Every time I get away with riding a stupid line, it motivates me to find another one. It's my favorite way to ride a bike, and a trail." —Jesse Melamed
The all-new Pipeline has 140mm of rear travel, 10mm more than the previous version. Being able to fine-tune the geometry and rear suspension of the bike is made possible by the Ride-9 Adjustment System embedded on the link. Jesse, who is known for charging hard and as fast as possible, has his Ride-9 set to Position 1 which is the slackest and most progressive setting. Wade, who loves a supple top end and a bit more linear feeling suspension, prefers his Pipeline in Position 3.
"Jesse shreds, I love riding with that guy! He puts a smile on my face because he reminds me of myself when I was younger; just bouncing around on his bike trying stupid things. He’s who I would consider being a “true” mountain biker, someone who enjoys all aspects of riding. When we ride together we constantly challenge each other, and session sketchy features and fool around... this is what mountain biking is all about!" —Wade Simmons
A Film by Max Berkowitz
Featuring Wade Simmons & Jesse Melamed
Edited by Max Berkowitz
Typography by Mike Taylor
Photography by Robin O’Neill
In the Valley of the Sun
Stretching through high mountain meadows and down deep winding valleys, the trails of Sun Valley, Idaho are absolutely world class. The trails themselves hold a special feeling, built from the legacy of pioneers and visionaries exploring the region. Rocky Mountain Bicycles’ athletes, Thomas Vanderham and Sam Schultz, set out with their sights set on singletrack, tapping into their instinct for adventure.
"Spending a week exploring Sun Valley with Sam Schultz on the new Rocky Mountain Instinct was somewhat of a blur. Not just because chasing an Olympian up mountains at altitude is tough business, but because I quickly realized that there's a lot more to Sun Valley than the picture perfect single track it’s famous for.” - Thomas Vanderham
Mining, farming, and tourism have swept through Blaine County to meet the changing demands of passing decades. Adaptation and perseverance has kept Sun Valley alive, and forward thinking has led to developments such as the world’s first chairlift in 1936. Connecting with the area in a more traditional sense, American legends like Ernest Hemmingway lived out his life here, hunting and exploring the Wood River Valley, with an inspired take on the natural surroundings.
"Even after we rode some of the local classics, shredded new purpose-built singletrack, and climbed into the alpine to stay in a local piece of mountain history, it felt like we had just scratched the surface. I can't believe how much fun I've had riding the new Instinct. I was blown away by how effortlessly the bike carries speed, while improvements to the geometry and stiffness keep it nimble and stable. Next time I'll have to come for month, and I probably still won't run out of trails to ride." – Thomas Vanderham
The Pioneer Cabin was built by the Sun Valley Company in 1937 to help increase accessibility for skiers in the Pioneer Mountains. Ascending more than 23 relentless switchbacks through both wide-open grasslands and thick forest, the statement painted on the roof of the cabin, “the higher you get the higher you get,” is awfully matter of fact. The cabin builder, Averell Harriman, decided that the remote area around Sun Valley would be the perfect location for staging adventures, allowing people to spend more time exploring the backcountry.
"Living in Missoula, MT, I have no shortage of pristine, buffed out singletrack right out my back door. The big difference in Sun Valley is the immense quantity of trail and the ability to ride right from town and get deep into the rugged mountains surrounding the valley. It had been awhile since my last visit, which was in 2012 and I managed to take the win at the XC National Championships.” – Sam Schultz
The world has become a smaller place, yet the opportunity for creative rides and unlikely trail connections are still very real in Sun Valley. In a combination of paper maps and downloadable apps, navigating legacy routes is a harmonious blend of historical and modern adventure.
"I’ve admired Thomas’ riding in videos for years, watching in awe while grinding on an indoor trainer all winter as a 16-year old racing fanatic. I was truly blown away to see his precision on the trail in real life. Every turn, technical feature, and jump was nailed with absolute perfection." - Sam Schultz
" knew the trails were sweet and I was pumped to head there for more exploration on a bike designed for exactly the type of riding that has inspired me the most lately. The Instinct and I immediately felt like a match made in heaven. It was the perfect blend of Altitude and Element; fast feeling 29" wheels, plenty of travel to ride aggressively, rocket-like efficiency, all in a nimble package that is quite simply put, incredibly fun,” - Sam Schultz
"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” - Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway was an American Novelist and Nobel Prize winner who moved to (and was buried in) Ketchum, Idaho.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring the all-new Instinct
A Film by Liam Mullany
Cinematography by Liam Mullany & Andre Nutini
Featuring Thomas Vanderham & Sam Schultz
Edited by Liam Mullany & David Peacock
Colour by Sam Gilling
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Typography by Mike Taylor
Photography by Margus Riga
Denmark/ Van Gogh & Gone
Written and Performed by Psychadelic Porn Crumpets
All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Thanks to Gabe Schroeder, Sun Valley Resort
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
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
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!
Elements of Victory
Of all the events we attend every year, nothing makes us quite as proud as BC Bike Race. A seven-day international stage race, it's amazing to see so many people from all over the world enjoying our backyard’s choicest trails. It’s a tour of British Columbia’s rugged coast, and some of the world’s most challenging cross country singletrack—all explored while camping between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountain ranges.
This year’s 10th annual BC Bike Race was the perfect occasion to give our updated Element platform some real-world marathon XC testing. Bikes and bodies were pushed to the absolute limit over seven days of racing. The weather was wild, the trails were aggressive, and conditions were perfect to put the Element through its paces.
22 year old Quinn Moberg is a young rider from Squamish, BC that’s been with us for several years. It’s been incredible to see him develop into a true force to be reckoned with on the XC circuit, and he had some lofty goals for this year’s BC Bike Race.
Bike Check — Quinn Moberg
“BCBR is probably the roughest cross-country race around. This year’s race was especially cold and wet for all seven days, and I went through the whole race without a mechanical. I think that really says something about the quality of the gear I was running.”
“The new frame was a very big deal for me. I was immediately more confident technically, but also felt more efficiency from the suspension. On this new frame I choose not to run a shock remote, simply because I don’t think it’s necessary. Along with the new bike I was using the new Shimano XT Di2 for the first time. I found the electric shifting to be intuitive and lightning-fast, which was especially helpful when riding unfamiliar trails.” — Quinn Moberg
- Frame: Element 999 RSL T.O. (size Large, Quinn is 5’11”)
- Setup: Neutral RIDE-9™ position
- Shock: Fox Float DPS Factory (100mm, no remote)
- Fork: Fox 34 Factory (120mm)
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT Di2
- Cranks: Shimano XTR
- Brakes: Shimano XTR Race
- Wheels: Stan’s NoTubes Valor
- Tires: Maxxis Ikon 2.2 EXO TR 3C (23 psi front, 24 psi rear)
- Bars: Race Face Next 35mm (10mm rise, cut to 740mm)
- Stem: Race Face Turbine 35mm (80mm)
- Grips: Race Face Half Nelson
- Saddle: WTB Silverado Carbon
- Seatpost: Race Face Turbine dropper post (100mm)
- Pedals: Shimano XTR Race
- Weight: 23lb
Stage 6: Squamish, Presented by Shimano
The Squamish stage is always a crowd favourite. From raw, steep, and technical singletrack, to smooth, flowy jump trails, there’s a reason that Squamish is on a lot of riders’ bucket lists. There’s something for everyone on this stage, but after five previous stages it’s got the potential to crush even the strongest riders.
- Distance: 53 km / 33 miles
- Climbing: 1,944 m / 6378 ft
- Average Time: 4 hours 57 minutes
- Winning Time: 2 hours 43 minutes
With one stage win under his belt already, Quinn had his eyes firmly on taking top-spot on his home terrain. But, with a strong field in play, and several competitors working together to protect the lead from the young local, a win in Squamish would be no easy task.
Quinn’s racecraft belies his years, and he came into the day committed to the strategy of winning on the descents he was all-too familiar with. He executed his plan by pushing hard to enter the opening section of singletrack three corners ahead of his nearest competitors, and then proceeded to nail all his lines while his opponents’ small mistakes began to stack up a time deficit.
From there, Moberg held onto his lead and put several minutes into the rest of the pack. Arms up across the line, he’d accomplished his goal. These 55 kilometers of racing have been the competitors’ favorite stage over the last few years, and to take the win here was a massive accomplishment.
As BC Bike Race celebrates its ten year anniversary, we’re reflecting on where we have come from. The event, our bikes, and the trails here have all evolved in parallel. The bikes we race today, with advanced suspension platforms, dropper posts, and properly aggressive geometry, are nothing like the past. Neither are the trails that are built by dedicated clubs and meticulous trailbuilders. As for the event, it’s evolved from riding a lot of gravel and piecing together little bits of flow, to riding a ton of handcrafted singletrack masterpieces.
“BC Bike Race is a rough, tough, seven day singletrack adventure. Throughout the week, bikes and bodies take some serious abuse. The best bikes for this event aren’t pure XCO whips or enduro sleds, but something else instead. This year I rode the new Element, and it excelled over multiple days of demanding terrain, and delivered a hell of an experience. I’ve ridden many different bikes over the years, and I can say without hesitation that this is the best bike I’ve ever ridden.” — Andreas Hestler, BC Bike Race
“Racing at home is a bit different than racing anywhere else for me. I feel a strong sense of community here and there are so many people that support me and allow me to do what I do. I put a lot of pressure on myself to win races at home because I treat it as my end of the deal. People in town support me, cheer for me, guide me, and motivate me. This is my way of giving back to all those people.” — Quinn Moberg
Thanks to the whole BCBR crew, the many volunteers, and all the trailbuilders for helping make this event possible! Thanks to Tristan Uhl's moustache for existing, Tippie for keeping the stoke high at all times, and Andreas Hestler for repping BC on a global stage. Thanks to Manuel Weissenbacher, Andreas Hartmann, Greg Day, Sammi Runnels, Udo Bolts, Carsten Bresser, and all the other racers who came to battle it out. And of course, a huge congrats to Quinn Moberg for taking two stage wins and claiming fourth in the GC!
See you all next year!
Video by Mindspark Cinema
Photography by Margus Riga & Norma Ibarra
Shoulder Season Shred
Injuries are setbacks for athletes, but they can also bring opportunities to try different things. With Andréane recovered from a broken hand and me getting over a broken collarbone, we thought it would be fun to get out and do this bicycle thing together. No clock, less stress on our bodies, but all the fun.
We wanted to get out of Vancouver, and headed to Pemberton to explore the meadows around Tenquille Lake. We got Thomas Vanderham to join us, as well as photographer Margus Riga. A freeride legend, an enduro racer, and a downhill racer, all going for a trail ride. Quite the crew!
I have very little experience in backcountry riding. It wasn’t until Brian, the Rocky Mountain marketing guy, lent me his PLB (locator beacon) that it hit home—we definitely weren’t back in the bike park. However, Thomas and Margus both have tons of backcountry experience, and we all felt at ease going into the ride.
It was a nice day as we started in on the climbs for the day. A rain cloud hit us during the hike-a-bike section but the warm sun was poking through. The flies kept our snack breaks short.
We came to a trail intersection. Either head straight into the trail we had planned on shooting, or go up another 2km to reach Tenquille Lake. Margus thought the cabin up top would be a pretty sweet spot for part of the shoot. We all wanted to see the lake and cabin up in the alpine, so we changed the plan and headed up.
I thought our feet couldn’t have gotten any more wet until we hit a river crossing, but as soon as things headed downhill I forgot about my soaked feet. I’m not sure if it was because the technical riding was keeping them warm or because they were frozen numb.
The trail wove through all sorts of natural scenery. The top of the trail was rocky and shaley, before making its way through a burn from a forest fire a few years ago. Eerie and beautiful.
The lower we got, the greener our surroundings became. By the end of it, the trail was so overgrown you couldn’t see 20 feet ahead, or your feet for that matter. That didn’t stop us from keeping our speed—it just spiced things up when blindly catching loose rocks beneath.
We finished the day at a perfect camp spot on Lillooet Lake. Food and drink are always more enjoyable after a day like this.
The next morning we had hopes of checking out a trail up Duffy Lake Road. We’d done some researching on the trail access and Margus had been in that area some 20 years ago, so it would be easy to find. Right?
This was getting Riga’d 2.0. We drove around endless fire roads that had undoubtedly changed over the years of logging. We went a little further, a little more, and some more. The wide access roads became double-tracks, and then stopped entirely.
We returned to town to regroup. Some things happen for a reason, and as soon as we hit the paved road again, we got smashed by a torrential downpour. Not the “grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it” kind of rain, but the “oh-shit-this-is-bad-and-I-have-hypothermia” kind of rain. We were decently prepared, but if we’d been on that trail it would have been a bad scene.
The haphazardly laid plans of mice and men were saved by the good old Pemby trail network! Our bud Dylan Forbes swung by to join us for a few laps, and we were all fired up to ride some of the best trails in the lower mainland.
This wouldn’t have been a Margus Riga trip without getting a little Riga’d. Oh! And I should mention that ALN checked her GPS and could see Tenquille lake on the map! It was there, just past where we had stopped and turned around. Next time…
Words by Vaea Verbeeck
Photos by Margus Riga
Additional photos by Brian Park & Thomas Vanderham