The Black Canyon Trail
Film by Brian Vernor
Words by Wade Simmons
Photography by Margus Riga
For some, adventure is defined by harrowing near-death experiences. For me, having the intent to adventure is what defines it—even just getting away from civilization for a short while. And with that in mind we organized a trip to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert for an overland bikepacking trip early this spring: three self-supported days on the Black Canyon Trail’s 80 miles of secluded singletrack.
The roll-call included Olympian Andreas Hestler, shiny new tattooed freerider Geoff Gulevich, renowned filmmaker Brian Vernor, Rocky Mountain product guy Alex Cogger, and washed up old freerider Yours Truly. Our first goal was to escape the Pacific Northwest’s winter weather, and our second goal was to test Alex’s fancy new bike design.
We fumbled with our gear for hours in the parking lot of a Prescott motel the night before departure, packing and re-packing, adding and discarding. Ultimately we probably did pack too heavy, but there are the necessities of course: coffee, chocolate, down, wool, and whisky. Fully loaded, our steeds probably tipped the scales at 45+ lbs, and I was less and less sure that this was going to be fun.
There was something liberating in the first few pedal strokes that next morning leaving our drop-off zone, an innocent abandon of responsibility and order that comes with an uncertain weather forecast and only a vague itinerary. Fortunately, the overland bikes performed just as Alex had promised. It was evident in those first few miles that having our houses and kitchens packed along with us wasn’t going to keep us from having fun. It might have been the combination of increased overall mass and over-sized tires, but whatever it was we were having a blast absolutely ripping up the desert terrain on these fully loaded pack-horses—skids, drifts, airs, and all.
The Black Canyon Trail runs roughly 80 miles North to South. Beginning on a high plateau, it winds through rolling grasslands before descending into a landscape of Saguaros, Chollas, and other Sonoran Desert flora. We were treated to chilly nights and frosty desert mornings, but once that sun rose, layers were peeled and we had to contend with the steady, relentless heat of the day. The landscape we encountered was fully alien to us, full of incredibly beautiful things just waiting to stab you the moment you stray from the trail. Between the bullet-holes in everything and the buck-naked rider we ran into on day three, it was clear this trip was about getting weird in the desert.
We had been modest in planning our daily mileage expectations, allowing for explorations up various drainages, relaxed lunches by the Agua Fria river, and the necessary sessioning of worthy trail features. Each night however, our camp spot was reached a little later than expected, assembling tents and cooking dinner by the light of our headlamps.
Grizzled old-timers and keyboard adventurers alike might be disappointed by the lack of hardship we encountered—water wasn’t hard to come by, we ate enough, the bikes worked flawlessly, and the dire weather forecast never materialized. But for us, the trip was a complete success. We had a blast, it was an insight into new possibilities, and the best adventures are the ones that inspire future adventures.
Words by Wade Simmons
Photography by Margus Riga
Film by Brian Vernor
Produced by Brian Park
Music by Brandon O'Connell
Featuring the Rocky Mountain Sherpa
Ridden by Wade Simmons, Geoff Gulevich, Brian Vernor, Alex Cogger, & Andreas Hestler
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Manitou, & Pinkbike.
Supported by Overland Journal, Arc’teryx, Porcelain Rocket, Exped, & Defy Products.
Thanks to Scott Struve, Luke Musselman, Julian Coffey, Christophe Noel, Jo Salamon, Scott Felter, Benoit Deshayes, & Paul Breedlove.
Can You Freeride a Fat Bike?
We have to admit, we were hesitant about the fat bike trend that's taking the bike industry by storm (pun intended). There were definitely a few raised eyebrows in the office when we started designing and testing one.
Wade Simmons was an instant convert though; "everyone thinks they're so f@#&ing cool and serious, but it's really just about having fun on your bike anyway." And soon enough, the other guys stopped returning their test bikes on time.
FAT FREE came out of a few days of experimenting and shredding the Blizzard in BC's coastal mountains. It opened all our eyes to the spectacular terrain that's available for fat biking, and it proved to us that the only limitations for these bikes are our own preconceived notions.
If it was ever even a question, the answer is yes. You can and should freeride a fat bike.
Riders: Geoff Gulevich, Wade Simmons, & Brett Tippie, with appearances by Andreas Hestler & Fraser Vaage.
Filmed by: Liam Mullany, Connor Macleod, Chris Fisher, Brian Park, Fraser Vaage, & Andreas Hestler
Music (Main): "Outta Mind" by Night Beats, courtesy of The Reverberation Appreciation Society
Thanks to: Black Tusk Snowmobile Club, Tony Cailes, & Dylan Auld
Photography: Fraser Vaage & Brian Park
Visit bikes.com/blizzard to check out the Rocky Mountain Blizzard. We built it for aggressive, trail-style riding on snow, sand, and other soft terrain.
The Stoneman trail lies in the heart of the Dolomites, the brainchild of former MTB Marathon champion Roland Stauder. Its 120km of singletrack gains over 4000 meters of elevation, a demanding ride even over several days.
Our German office partnered with Stoneman to provide a spectacular route and unique experience. We can't wait to get out there and sample it!
Riders: Roland Stauder, Guido Thaler, and Florian Konietzko
Video: Woodslave Productions
Photos: Markus Greber / BikeAction Germany
Altitude Sickness — Highs & Lows at EWS #5: Winter Park, Colorado
Photography by Matt Wragg. Words by Isabeau Courdurier.
After a season opener in Chile and several races in Europe, the Enduro World Series traveled to the North American continent. At over 10 000 feet of elevation in Winter Park, Colorado, this race promised to be one of the most physically challenging races of the season. Having endured nearly 36 hours of travel hell, the Rocky Mountain Urge bp Rally Team got back together in Denver, but without bikes. Three days before a race, that’s cutting it a little too close for comfort, and the Denver airport had several very pissed off Frenchies in it.
Once in Winter Park, we met the rest of the team: Peter from Alaska, Jordan from Whistler, and Francesco from Chile. Eventually our bikes arrived.
Warming up normally gives you an idea of how painful a race is going to be, and I was already worried for Stage 1. This flat stage was a massacre for me! The rest of the guys struggled as well, with only Flo and Jesse ranking in the top 30.
On the more technical Stage 2 we made up some time, but at the end of the day our results were still disappointing: Flo in 16th, Jesse in 21st, and Alex and Peter both needing to push harder to break into the top 50.
Stage 3 began with a steeper, rocky section that suited me quite well, but it was followed by a long, flat, pedal section where I struggled to maintain the gains I had made. Stage 4 was very short, with no climbs, and I earned my first stage podium of the season - 3rd!
It’s hard to breathe at this altitude, and the terrain is very different from what we are used to racing. While Jesse had a solid day—9th, 14th, and 6th—, both Flo and Alex struggled to maintain their form.
By Stage 5, we were all exhausted. Alex crashed because he “saw two trees when there was only one,” and I slipped back to 7th place on the stage. Despite this, we improved our results as a team today, the toughest day of the race.
Stage 6 was a controversial one for racers. Lots of us felt that the flat, smooth, XC course at 10 000 feet was not up to the standard that has been set by the many excellent EWS stages this year. Already out of my element, I missed some tape and ended up going off-course, costing me even more time on this stage. Everyone else was able to push through and maintain their positions.
Finally, the 7th and final stage of the weekend was on Trestle Downhill—by far the most technical and aggressive stage of the weekend! Definitely the best way to end the race. We all have solid runs, with Flo taking 6th, Jesse 10th, Alex 18th, and Jordan 30th. I was really happy with my 7th place on the stage.
After a brutal weekend, our Canadian Jesse was the fastest on the team here with a well-deserved 15th place overall. Going forward it’s clear that our young team needs to strengthen itself to threaten the podium when the races are physical, especially at altitude. We are also gaining experience of how to manage energy and maximize time gains.
Next, we visit Jesse’s hometown of Whistler to enjoy some of the best riding in the world. These two weeks there are going to be full of adventures and fun times, and we’re all looking forward to the Crankworx stop of the Enduro World Series!
The team rides the Rocky Mountain Altitude MSL Rally Edition, with Shimano components and footwear, Maxxis tires, Stan's NoTubes wheels, Fox premium suspension, and Raceface cockpits. The team wears Urge bp Archi Enduro and Endur-O-Matic helmets, and is also supported by the following key sponsors: Royal Racing Clothing, 7 IDP Protection, WTB Saddles, Smith Optics, Cane Creek headsets, e13 chainguides, Honey Stinger energy gels, Kicking Horse coffee, FTI Consulting, and Val d'Allos ski resort.
Ostroski in Alaska
Alaska is home to the world’s northernmost rainforest, resource development, North America’s tallest peak, and spectacular terrain. While the winter provides world class skiing, summer brings long days and plentiful wilderness. Living in Alaska in the winter and racing the mountain bike enduro circuit in the summer, I found a break in my schedule for a quick adventure in the 49th state.
After the Crankworx EWS race in the mecca of mountain biking, Whistler BC, I packed up my Altitude and flew to Anchorage, Alaska. I arrived to the sight of fog-covered mountains shooting straight up from the North Pacific Ocean and several moose lounging 100 meters from the runway, and made my way to the small ski-town of Girdwood. With persistent precipitation and fog, I met up with local photographer Charlie Renfro in hopes of a weather window to get some images.
Anchorage is home to a growing number of mountain bike trails. Kincaid Park, on the south side of the city, supports a huge network of Nordic and snow-bike trails in the winter, but the summer trail-network is great too, and we were lucky enough to get some evening light there.
Our next mission was to head southwest on the Kenai Peninsula to the town of Homer, in search of some riding across the Kachemak Bay. We rolled into town mid afternoon after four hours of driving and went aboard the Ikpiq, an English-made bilge keeler vessel. Captained by our local Girdwood friend Aaron Stiassny, the 26-foot long vessel can sit flat on land without tipping over and holds a lot history in its old wooden deck boards. The boat has sailed up and down the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, nearly being lost in a storm which stranded local Homer legend John Miles on the southwest side of Shelikof Strait, 150 miles away from Homer.
Next we made our way Jacklof Bay in search of a trail up to Red Mountain towards the North side of Seldovia. The word was the trail up to Red Mountain had washed out from flooding last year, and little was known about the actual condition of the massive drainage that used to be home to an old chromium mine. The old mining road was indeed washed out, and we reached the upper valley near Red Mountain with about an hour of daylight left and no singletrack in sight. We scrapped the idea of trying to ride to the ridgeline and headed back to the boat for a dinner of fresh mussels.
Our slow motor back to the dock the next morning was followed by a tour of the bluff above Homer Spit, John Miles’s house, and the neighboring farm. We made it in time for a beer and a close up view of the farm's first pig-slaughter of the season.
Heading back to Girdwood for the last couple days of the trip, the weather locked in once again. Rain and cool temperatures didn’t make for ideal exploring conditions, but on the last day the clouds lifted. We made our way up towards Crow pass, where there's a 24-mile trail all the way down to the town of Eagle River. The terrain went from alder-thick singletrack to rugged, open alpine trails. The epic riding in the Chugach Mountains was a great way to round out the adventure.
All in all it was an incredible trip, with much more to explore next time. Thanks to the folks in Anchorage for the local knowledge, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, and Charlie Renfro for the photos!
It's been an incredible year for us at Rocky Mountain, and we wanted to cap it off with a video to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.Thanks for the support and all the best in the new year, Rocky Mountain Bicycles Created by Matt Dennison Produced by Brian Park Santa — Morgan Taylor Rider — Geoff Gulevich Bike — Altitude 770 MSL Rally Edition
Instinct in the Monashees
The plan was to head to the Monashee Mountains near Revelstoke, British Columbia with Wade Simmons and Kevin Calhoun to shoot an autumn alpine video for our new Instinct MSL. We wanted to showcase the bike’s versatility under two very different riders — Kevin is an XC racer on our Factory Team, while Wade’s contributions to freeride mountain biking need no introduction.
Of course sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t play nice, and an early cold snap provided on-and-off snowfall throughout our adventure.
Despite the challenging weather, we knew we had an opportunity to capture a unique aspect of the changing seasons. From Kevin’s dawn patrol ascent to Wade charging snowy trail features, the rapidly changing conditions ended up being the perfect way to showcase the Instinct’s versatility.
We’d like to thank the crew at the Sol Mountain Lodge for all their help with this project. Their lodge was a great base-camp and their trails were a blast even in the snow. We’ll be back again in warmer weather.
Thanks for watching, Love the Ride!
The Staycation: A Vancouver Island Adventure
Rocky Mountain's athletes enjoy traveling all over the world to ride their bikes in unique, beautiful locations. Everywhere they go—from the backcountry of Argentina to the Great Wall of China and countless places in between—they hear people share their dreams of one day riding on our home turf in British Columbia. That’s why this year Thomas Vanderham, Brett Tippie, Geoff Gulevich, Wade Simmons, and Andreas Hestler decided to reinvigorate their love for home by exploring Vancouver Island, just a short ferry ride from our North Vancouver headquarters.
Fueled by too much coffee in the mornings and too many beers in the evenings, this was a great trip and one that certainly helped reconnect us all to our roots. There's no question that we'll be back to continue exploring the island’s rich trail networks and connect with the many amazing people we met along the way. Love the Ride!
Words by Andreas Hestler. Photography by Margus Riga.
Rocky Mountain's riders are a diverse bunch, and we take pride in that. Our Altitude platform is equally diverse, so with this Fourtitude video we set out to explore what four very different riders could bring to the Altitude 790 MSL.
Wade Simmons, Andreas Hestler, Thomas Vanderham and Geoff Gulevich all ride the 5.18 lb Altitude 790 MSL frame in the video. The Ride-9 system allows them to set their geometry and suspension rates up in a variety of ways. Wade runs it slackest; Thomas runs it in slacker & progressive (forward & down, aka "Vanderham Mode"); both Dre & Gully run the bike neutral & progressive (furthest down).
Wade wanted to showcase the kind of "steep & deep" technical riding that he enjoys on a daily basis. These natural steeps lurk on Vancouver's North Shore, but rarely see bikes that aren't full travel downhill rigs. We're pretty sure The Godfather would be stylish on an old 10-speed too, but it's always humbling to see him bring flow to the burliest lines.
Andreas "Dre" Hestler is an Olympian and has plenty of experience racing TransAlp and Enduro events, so it's no surprise that he coaxes blistering speed out of the Altitude. For Fourtitude he took it to Squamish, where he gunned for some Personal Bests on one of the nicest trail networks around.
Thomas Vanderham likes to take each new bike to Kamloops - a landscape he knows and loves, and the Altitude was no exception. For its maiden voyage he took it out for some true trail blasting, from corner slashing to his patented whips.
Geoff Gulevich is better known for his slopestyle riding, but he was excited to bring his playful approach to the Altitude. He decided to shoot his section on a short road trip through Oregon, where he had a few tricks up his sleeve.
The Road to Rampage
Rampage is, in our opinion, the pinnacle of modern freeriding and words can't describe the intensity of being there in person. Yet, behind all the glamour and media attention of the Finals are countless hours of planning, traveling, digging, testing, sculpting and refining the ridiculous lines that epitomize the competition. This is a short film about all the blood, sweat, and beers that happen behind the scenes of Rampage.