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Some more changes were done to the ramps this year. A few were moved around, plus a new vert wall, a bigger sub box and a new mini were added into the mix. We even had some graffiti artists come in and tag companies' names on the ramps. I always like skateparks with graffiti in them for some reason, and Fort now looks awesome. Some changes were made to the trails, too. A new section that is super fun with a step-down to start, a straight set, a step-up roller and then a right hip to end. We made some new transfers to link some existing lines, too. This year's trails are the best in the nine-year existence of Fort.
My weekend started out by doing a demo for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nations Elementary School. Bright and early at 9:00 a.m., Ryan Sher, Danny Williams, Cody (Manchild) Nick Schest, Andy Leland, Jerry and myself did a little riding for the kids of the community. It was pretty cool, and the kids seemed really psyched. At the end of the demo, Steve (the organizer of the contest and head dude in charge) raffled off 20 bikes from Dragonfly and the little 16 and 18-inch Hoffmans. The kids were really psyched then. After that, we rode for a bit more, then I took off to round-up more prizes for the comp that started on Friday.
Friday was really just a practice day, but it's always fun to go out and ride and see all the people who make the trek down to Phoenix for the contest. This year's turnout was pretty good. Along with Ryan Sher coming out from San Diego, the Vegas kids were in attendance, like Mr. Paul Peil, and even Ricardo Laguna was there. I even heard a rumor of Ruel Erickson being around somewhere. Weird. The Albuquerque kids even rented a RV so they could come out and stay the whole weekend.
Friday is pretty hazy for me, because I was lucky enough to knock myself out really good and go to the hospital. I don't remember doing it, but I was told I did a toboggan and didn't put my hand back on--straight to KO. Ryan had to fill me in on the blanks. He told some pretty funny stories about me telling the EMT that the President was Bill Clinton. (Wishful thinking?) And then about me hitting on some girls in the ER--none of which I remember. In fact, I couldn't remember the whole week prior, which was a first in my book. It was wild, to say the least.
On Friday, I woke up still unaware of what I did, but had the worst headache of my life, plus a meaty palm and a really sore shoulder. Ryan again had to remind me that I nearly died the night before. We headed out to the comp around 1:00 to find the amateur contest about to start. Am Dirt ran first and had a pretty small turnout, but the riding was amazing, nonetheless. Highlights included Tucson Jon getting kicked out for sandbagging (You'll hear more about him later.) and Derek Riggs. Derek, who lives in Casa Blanca, has had the only consistently running set of trails in the state for the past few years, and it shows. We like to call Derek Indian Aitken because, well, he rules. His style is amazing, he goes super high on everything, and every trick he does is stretched to the max. He won convincingly over the rest of the class. I think he should have got kicked out of Am, too. Ha-ha.
Street was next, and it was packed: three classes of Am with 30 kids in Expert, 18 kids in Intermediate and 10 kids in Beginner. It's good to see so many kids ride. I was psyched. Am Street highlights included the Gilbert kids all shredding. Josh Betley, Asian Andy, Josh Bierman, PJ Waxman, and Matt all killed the street course. Tailwhips non-stop, big airs and some original moves made all these kids stand out. Ryan Chadwick had probably the best single run of the weekend, which included a tailwhip bunny hop. Hot stuff. But, he couldn't beat out Phoenix skatepark local Steven Pelsner, who won by flairing the six-foot, and then turned around and alley oop flaired the same ramp!
Saturday ended with the Kronik Energy Best Trick Contest and some bands. This contest was owned by Greg Litecky. Everyone going in knew that he was the favorite. He'd been talking about this wild gap for weeks leading up to the comp, and when Greg says he's gonna do something, he does. This time was no different. Greg won the 300 bucks with a wall ride to tailwhip across the eight-foot vert wall, over the 16-foot wide, six-foot quarter, across another four-plus foot cap and into the take-off of the 45 degree hip. That trick was crazy. Everyone knew from that point on that he had won. Thanks to Kronik Energy for throwing Best Trick. Next time, I think you can just give Greg the 300 bucks ahead of time to save his ankles from another flat landing. Ha-ha. We took off before the bands started playing, but I heard they were really good. Sunday was supposed to be Pro, and it was forecasted to rain. It seems it never rains in Phoenixexcept on the weekend of the Fort contest.
I woke up Sunday to pounding rain on my window, which is not the best sound to hear when you're supposed to go ride in a contest. So, Ryan, Nick and I decided we'd just wait around for a while, go eat breakfast and see if it would keep raining. A couple of hours (and a full belly of Waffle House) later, the roads were clear and the rain had stopped, so we headed on out to the Fort. We got there to see the trails in pristine condition. Derek Riggs and his dad Jackson took it upon themselves to fix the trails that were badly beaten from the Am contest, so they were in the best condition ever. Just a bit wet--the perfect dirt to ride. I was psyched. The street course was still soaking wet, so everyone was riding dirt.
Adam Baker made the trip down in Goat (his new Honda Accord) to escape the snow in Flagstaff. He was killing the trails, as usual. After a while, the contest actually started, and was really laid back and fun. We mostly did trains through the sections and just had fun riding--something that kids forget about when they are at contests. The highlights included ADAM BAKER. He simply destroyed the trails, tailwhipping the step-down three, the step-up and opposite 360 lookbacking the last set. Oh yeah, he was in the middle of a train on that run, too. I was behind him and almost forgot what I was doing. I was in awe.
Adam won Pro and 500 bucks, and 2nd place went to Tucson sandbagger, Jon. He did probably the best turndowns of the weekend, tailwhips galore, and a million other tricks to keep him out of Am and in 2nd place. Third went to Ryan Sher, who flowed through the trails with amazing style, as usual. Ryan's always been one of my favorite riders to watch, and this weekend was no different. He unleashed his new banger: a switch turndown to back pedal to normal turndown in one jump--a trick that lots of us had joked around about but never really thought was possible. Check out the new Kink Bikes Cheap Thrills video for footy of the trick. 4th place went to Ricardo Laguna. He did the usual moves, like flips, whips, and 3s--all really dialed, as usual, for Ricardo. It was good to see him not being too serious at a contest. Fifth went to Thomas Hancock, who was just back from a year of injuries and kickin' ass. Good style with big tricks basically sums up Thomas. It's good to see him riding again.
Street was up next, and when practice started, it seemed like the contest started, too. Everyone was trying to win practice. I just sat back and observed. When the contest actually started, all bets were on Greg Litecky to repeat his performance of the night before. And that's exactly what he did. He won. Greg does really high tailwhips whenever he wants, and basically owns the Fort. Second place went to Danny Williams, ramp rider extraordinaire. He pulled the best 540 over the hip I'd ever seen, and a 540 tailwhip tire tap. Part of me thinks that Danny should have won, but I'm no judge.
Third Went to Adam Baker, who did the best-ever nosedive 360 over the spine, and even hucked a few double tailwhips over the hip. A ball ride was the best he could get, though. He was just happy with the nosedive 3. Fourth went to Ryan Sher, who went about 15 feet over the hip. If you've seen photos from the Vancouver Metro Jam, the you know what I'm saying. From what I remember, the weekend was really fun. Next year is the 10th Anniversary, so big things are planned.
I'd like to say thank you to all the sponsors of this year's event: Kink Bikes (our longest standing sponsor), etnies, F-Town!, Odyssey, Industrial Ride Shop, Kronik Energy Drink (sponsor for the Best Trick comp), Some Lady ($100 sponsor for a Game of BIKE), Standard Bikes (our second longest standing sponsor), Man Made Clothes, 2-Hip Bikes (the reason we have the ramp park), Animal, Demolition, Volume Bikes, Coalition, EVS Speed Protection, FBM, Fit Bikes, S&M Bikes, Hoffman Bikes, MacNeil, Props Visuals, Profile Racing, Odyssey, Park Tools, Stolen BMX/414 Industries/Greasycomb, Tree Bicycle Co., Empire, Soul Video Mag, Solid Bikes, UGP, Shadow Conspiracy, Rockstar Games, Inopia, Profile, Park Tools, Orchid, Little Devil, Zoo York, EVS, Em-Dash Music for the bands, Sun Cyclery, ACS, Kenda and Ati.
Check out swbmx.com for more pics, stories and message board rants.
See ya next year!