Photos by Dustin Welch
On November 13-16, the 8th Annual Fort McDowell (aka the Arizona X Games) Contest went down. This is the same place that was in Road Fools 11 and held the 2-Hip Burning Bike festival a few years back. I actually started getting ready for this contest the week after Interbike. This year, we decided to build all-new dirt jumps, change around the street course and add some new, weird ramps. Greg Litecky, Chris Faix, Jeshua Constantine, Jack Nourse and myself were this year's build crew, and build we did every day for almost a month.
The dirt jumps were built first and the set-up was really fun. There was a BIG set of quads on the left, in which we measured the first set to be twenty-seven feet and pretty steep, too. A bigger six-pack down the middle to replace the older, smaller one (Road Fools 11) and an even smaller six-pack with a roller between the first and second set. There was also a downhill set and
berm that melded into the small six-pack. All of these led into a big berm that basically featured the Vans Triple Crown set-up coming out of it. Two jumps, then crank your ass off and huck yourself on the last one--perfect contest style. The jumps ruled, until Mother Nature decided to dump rain on everything for two days straight the day after we got the trails finished. Rain for two days in Arizona is a crazy thingand it destroys dirt. The trails were soggy and spongy the whole weekend of the contest.
The major changes on the street course included turning the box jump into two street spines. One street spine into no flat bottom into another street spine with a box jump landing so you could ride it as two spines or jump the whole thing like a box jump, if you wanted. And then we also made a little box and a new wall ride and moved some roll-ins around. The new layout is awesome and led to some new tricks being done this year.
The contest weekend started on Friday. I got there at about 11:00 to try and see if I could do anything to save the dirt jumps. When I arrived, there were already about twenty kids there waiting to ride. Practice was supposed to start at about 12:00, but due to the rain the previous days, we still had ramps to paint and coping to put on. Needless to say, we were a little behind schedule. Practice opened around 3:00 and the kids swarmed the new course like bees around a honey jar. Practice went until about 10:00 at night, and there were already kids taking themselves out.
Friday night, Adam Baker, myself and Dusty Welch went to down to Tempe, the local college town, to have a couple of "sodas" and see what the ladies had to offer. Good times were had and we ended-up back at my house at about 4:00 or so after a nice long adventure throughout most of Phoenix. Dusty ended-up passing-out in a pile of my dirty clothes, and Baker
decided to skip the wrath of my dog Chuie for the back of his dad's truck, nicknamed "Pizza". I can just imagine the looks on my neighbors' faces as they went on their morning walks and came across Baker sleeping in the back of the truck.
Saturday, we woke up and slowly got motivated enough to head out to the contest. Saturday was Beginner and Intermediate am for both Dirt and Street. Honestly, I donŒt really know what happened in Beginner, because I am a slacker and slept through it, but during Intermediate Street, some serious stuff went down. There were more than twenty riders and, as usual, there were a few sandbaggers, but that just made for an even better comp to watch.
Some of the highlights included one kid doing 360s both ways over the street spines, and grinding up the handrail and doing the big wall ride. Another kid did 360s on the six-foot spine, then there were the other kids who did good flowing runs and didnt fall. Pretty much this whole class should have been in expert. I got pretty sick on Saturday, so that night I just went home and slept. I heard some stories about some good partying that night from some other people, but not me.
Sunday morning, I woke up and felt like I was going to die. I REALLY didnҒt even want to go out to the contest, but this only happens once a year, and its basically the only time we get to ride the Fort. So, I wasnt gonna miss my chance. Sunday was supposed to be Expert and Pro Dirt and Street, but since the jumps were still really soft, the Dirt events were canceled and they just held the Street contests. Expert Street was crazy: twenty-two riders--all of whom could have ridden in the pro contest--especially Sean Sexton. He owned Expert Street with his awesome flowing style, blasting everything with super clicked turndowns, 360 variations (including 360 whips) and huge wall slaps and foot plants. I guess moving to Washington for a while teaches you some serious stuff.
Other highlights were Josh Bentley doing hand plants over the spine, huge tail whip airs and basically anything else he wanted. I think a few fist pumps may have kept him out of placing higher. BJ from Casa Grande did some smooth stuff, as well, like no-foot can cans on the first spine and 360s on the next one, plus downside tail whip tire taps and good icepick variations.
Pro Street was next and it was entertaining, to say the least. There were about ten riders, and we rode in a jam format for what was supposed to be an hour, but it seemed like we rode FOREVER. We all decided that we would judge ourselves and it would be winner take all. So, some serious
hucking would definitely go down. Most of us didnҒt really get much hucking done and had fun with the contest instead. I chose to ride the dirt jumps that were now finally running. After three days of my patience, I wasnt going to miss the chance to ride some dirt.
When I finally ventured over to the street course, some shit was getting done. Billy Franevsky was doing some crazy lines, which all included a flair in there somewhere. Scott Foster disastered the big wall (same one as Baz Keep in Road Fools 11), downside whipped the hip, along with some other bangers. Jack Johnson did the biggest gap on the street coarse--seriously gapped across the whole park. He even had to make a runway in the desert to get speed for it. It was NUTZ. We all thought he was gonna take it, but he proved us wrong.
Dave Taylor wasnҒt so lucky. He was riding super good until he tried to gap from the wall ride to the 45 hip. It looked like he was going to pull it, but he came up just a bit short and ended-up hurting his ankle pretty badly. Ratboy did some street stuff like gaps to flat and the usual Rick Moliterno slider tricks. He even pulled a truck driver off of the deck of a ramp. Chris Faix was blasting huge airs on the eight foots and the hips and looking super smooth. Elliot Hart was tail whipping everything in his path and doing big wall slaps to tables.
Adam Baker was, well, having a good time, and even if he tried to be serious, Gordy (the announcer ) made sure he got back on the right path of messing around and not taking the contest too seriously.
Danny Williams was going as high as a vert rider on the eight foots and doing good 360s on the spine. He even pulled one of the best tricks of the weekend, the illusive 540 tail whip tail tap. Not to be outdone was Greg Litecky. He seriously killed himself for this contest. Well, he did it more for himself, but what better an excuse than a contest? He 720d the spine, landing so flat one time that his wheel exploded. He then proceeded to borrow a wheel and pulled it perfectly. After that, he fired the wall ride to tail whip on the big
wall. Straight from pulling that banger, he started firing off some double tail whip attempts on the eight foots. We all thought he was going to die, but he somehow managed to live through landing on top of his bike three times in a row from trying double whips.
He even got up laughing one time, saying, " I seriously can't get hurt!" Thats where he hung it up. He may have realized his impending doom after saying those words. Needless to say, we all voted for Greg and he took home the $500 dollar cash prize. We all really wanted to vote for Gordy because of his excellent announcing skills. He did do the best job of announcing a contest I have ever witnessed. He made fun of every single person. ThatҒs what BMX is all about, so we thought he might deserve the money. But since Greg killed himself and his bike, it was decided that he did, in fact, deserve it and was handed the win.
Thanks to Kink Bike Co., etnies, Industrial Ride Shop, C&G Bike Shop, Adventure Bike Shop and Gordys Bike Shop for being such great sponsors and supporting the Arizona scene. Also thank you to Jack Nourse, Steve Patea, Joshua Constantine, Greg Litecky, Chris Faix, Jerry and his brother. A lot of hard work goes into this contest every year and I feel that sometimes that is overlooked.
Check out www.psychicflyingmonkey.com
and maybe Jason will have some more photos from the comp up. Until then, I'm looking foreword to next year already҅