Words : Nico Vink Royal Hills is a location in the south of France, Close to Albi and only 80 km away from Toulouse. It's owned by some Belgian MX friends who rent out the place for MX vacations. They offer a 50 hectare domain where you can shred Moto, BMX and DH for your private use. To me it's one of my favourite spots to go shred with my buddies in the "off" season.
Here is the story of this project :
Location: For the last three years I have been thinking about building a big line for big bikes. I have been looking too long for the perfect location and I could not find it until my buddy Piere from Royal Hills in France told me I could build my line over there. I was stoked, but to build the ultimate line in which I had in mind, I needed much more elevation than 'The Royal Hills'. After a few years of looking for the perfect location and not finding one, I just wanted to get something done. I called Piere and decided to build my line at Royal hills. A good thing about Royal hills is that it's a 'Moto X paradise' and we had all access to the diggers they use to shape the Moto stuff.
Inspiration: Over the last few years I got a little fed up with racing. I felt like I was riding the same tracks and trying to push going fast for the wrong reasons so for me it was just no fun anymore. I started looking for new stuff to do and ended up riding more Moto X and enjoyed the fact of going bigger. Also, living in Belgium and having almost no hills or mountains, I've been building and riding lots of BMX trails. The thing I love about riding BMX is that it flows so much. That's all the stuff I love doing lined up and so the idea of creating my big bike line was born.
Realization: I started building the line in January 2013. With not having a lot of elevation we had to build the line really 'flowy' with lots of compressions that make you go faster as you hit it. This is how I build up the rhythm to carry maximum speed and we'll be able to build big jumps at the end of the line. I was not able to build all the ideas I had in mind yet due to the lack of elevation, but I see that as a good thing and it leaves room for a next project where we will push it further.
Testing: I headed over to France 10 days before we started filming the line to give it the last touch and finish the jumps. Due to the bad weather we have had in Europe at the beginning of the year, the jumps were still pretty soft and it was a bit stressful for me. Luckily the sun came out and the line dried super fast. Hitting some of the stuff was pretty scary, but it all worked out and I got away with a couple of big cases and some sketchy moments.
Riders: I contacted some freeriders and racers to see if they would be up for riding the line with me, but most of the guys had a super busy schedule and did not find the time to come over. I was super stoked that Norwegian legend Makken showed up. It was the first time I ever met him and he's a super cool dude to ride with and has a sick riding style. Second, we had my lifelong, Belgian buddy Kristof Lenssens and partner in our company 'Ride Creations' showing up. At first, he was not sure about hitting all the jumps, but he ended up riding them smoothly.
Shooting: We had a week planned to shoot the complete line. It was pretty hard work to get it done in one week. You always end up building a bit more than planned. After 5 days of shooting we had all the tech stuff and the setup jumps under our belt and it was time to move into the biggest jumps. We built a 50 foot shark fin into a 60 foot race hip finishing with a 60 foot straight jump.
I was a bit worried about the last one. That night it was a bit windy so we ended up riding Makken's ramp line instead, Makken did a couple of extended supermans in the golden light. It was a little windy and I blew off on a whip which took me out 4 weeks so nobody ended up riding the last jump on the big line. That's why we decided to release the edit without the footage of the last jump and go back over to Royal Hills next year.
We hope that you enjoyed watching it.
Crew and Support, A few of my Sponsors helped me to get some budget for my first project and I really want to thank them a lot.
It's a pretty long list of people and companies, but it would not have been possible without them : Royal Hills, Hope, Reverse, Chatel, Fmx4ever, ScottUSA, Schwalbe, Canecreek, Vans, Liquor Brand, Stoica Graffix, Beau Velo, Drone Productions, Damien Vergez, Keno Derleyn, Piere, Ben Walker, Rachael Walker, Peter Schmid, Stoica, Dominique, Jimmy, Timo, Fourch, BC and Jan.