After getting under sold by Shawn, the head Diabro of the Diablo Freeride Park, we shortened our trip before we even got to New Jersey. FOOLS! Diablo was so much fun we all wished we had added another week at least, to our tickets. Here's the story of Brent Floyd, Wendy Robinson, Gareth Dyer, Jeff Young and the The Camp of Champions doing our first bike camp outside of the Whistler Bike Park.
Friday – Early
They missed a point on the box, so we added one. Never fly United. If your box is one pound over fifty, United hits you with another $125 on top of the $125 for the pleasure of destroying your box and bike. So, $250 for a bike to New Jersey. Thank god we flew American Airlines, it was a mellow $100.
Hey, we're a bag short
Rolled into bed at 3 am after a red eye to Newark for the first ever Camp of Champions Summer Bike Camp at Diablo Freeride Park. Wendy's
bag was MIA. Friday we had to get up at the crack o’ dawn to get some runs in and get to know the park, and some of the good lines, before all the campers turned up on Saturday.
Friday, August 23rd
Gareth testing the new Baggage Cart Hardtail with a Tailwhip
As the cliché goes, morning came way too fast, but no one had any trouble getting up. Maybe we were awake anyway from Gareth “Double Nought” Dyer snoring, so getting up was really just getting away from Gareth’s snoring. Our buddy and longtime camper Aaron Muss
was letting us crash at his place on the way to and way back from Diablo. His dad Jonathan
was “Chauffeur & Logistics”.
We made it up to Diablo early Friday afternoon and met up with our Diabro’s, Shawn, Jack, Bill and their crew. We could hardly wait to ride the park so it was a short “Hey” and we were onto the Cabriolet… or hot air balloon as Wendy called it, for our trip to the top. Definitely different.
We checked out wall rides and features from the Cab and we were stoked. Shawn was definitely underselling us on the park. “Ummmm … you guys are from Whistler… Ummm… you might not be super stoked… “ We rolled in and were stoked right off the bat. Took a Green Dog for a warm up and it turned into a Blue Dog pretty quickly. Ladders, rocks and more. We met up at the bottom and were all… “If that was the Green run I can’t wait for the blacks and double blacks!”
Camper Doug hitting his first bridge. Yes he was stoked.
Most of the stunts at Diablo are built with a steel frame, it makes them super solid and super smooth. The feature we called the ski jump was awesome. Ollie on and then send it off the end to a buttery tranny.
Here's the Ski Jump...Like Buttah
You could tell not a lot of people have ridden Diablo yet, only about 30,000 a season compared to 30,000 in a few days on busy weekends in Whistler. All the landings were super sweet. Not that Whistler’s are bad, that’s definitely not what I mean, it was just cool to experience how new all the landings felt. There was loose rock in some of the run outs if you were slightly off line when you landed, but that’s what I am getting at, the features were so new that the area around it hadn’t been swept clean by a million slightly off line landings. If you hit the line it was awesome, if you slightly missed the line, it was awesome too, you just had to hang on and trust your suspension, which was all part of learning. Ran into two really cool riders from Florida, Toni and Dave. With the packs a little light from blowing through our tubes early on the rocky terrain, they saved the day with the emergency tube in the middle of Tempest.
Toni in the Indycross
And Here's Dave. Payback for the tube. I think they ride together a lot. The photos are almost identical.
Everyone we met at Diablo
was super cool. It was a really nice surprise to meet so many people so stoked on mountain biking. No put on airs and pretenses or “I’m too cool”, they were stoked to share their mountain with anyone and were happy to have more people to ride with. So much for the ”I’m from Jersey" attitude. We sure got a lot of strange faces when we told people we were from Whistler. "You came here for this" was a usual response. Shawn, Bill and Jack couldn't believe that their park was really as good as it is because Whistler hogs the limelight. We hooked up with various crews and posse’s as we rode till close. Such a fun day.
Gareth Dyer doing the Balcony Drop
Ride Along MechanicJeff Young doing the Tube Drop
Brent Floyd showing the crew how to ride the wall.
Chilling on the deck of the bar at Diablo
after the lifts closed we met a couple of soon to be arriving for camp, campers, doing the same. Good stories were shared and introductions were made. After a few cold ones it was off to eat and sleep.
Saturday – Game On
Aaron Muss and Brent relaxing at The Black Creek Sanctuary hot tub.
Aaron Muss post hot tub, ripping through the IndyCross
Everyone rallied to our Black Creek Sanctuary condo Saturday morning and got to know each other, checked out each others’ bikes, Jeff put a little air in some tires and we hit the park. Diabro Shawn
was stoked to see the crew. It was a really fun day pushing campers to ride better than they thought they could. Doug was rolling bridges like a mad man. After he bailed on a high one near the end of the day we were worried for a second till he came up laughing, saying, “Man! To think this morning I did my first bridge/stunt ever and now I’m doing 30 foot long 6 foot high bridges, I love camp but I’m done for the day on stunts.”
Here's Doug... Slightly before it went bad.
All is good.
Campers Donna and Heather met a million friends as they had season’s passes to Diablo and knew everyone. The park took it’s toll on tubes as Jeff our Ride Along Mechanic® was kept busy changing 6 flats over the course of the day and putting Brent’s hanger back together after Brent's transfer from the big progression jump to the landing of the 2nd biggest one went bad. Ahhhh… nothing like a rag doll to remind you that the run out is shorter on a shorter jump. Gareth laughed as he glimpsed through the trees to see Brent and his bike exploding in the run out. The crash rule was applied instantly, look worried, then once your buddy looks OK or there isn't too much blood, heckle him.
Gareth doesn't bail but we still heckle him. Girth, Garth, Gorth, Double Nought Seven etc.
Bruce was supposed to be riding at camp with his buddy Vincent, but Vinny got a little carried away and went over the bars the day before camp even started, landing on his head and calling it a weekend.
Bruce really progressed. It was cool to see him sending it over smaller rock drops and flowing through tight lines.
Brent busting out his other trick... Ha Ha Ha
Girth Dyer grabbing one foot. Literally.
Being used to BC weather, I sweated gallons in the 85-90 degree temps with high humidity. Just setting up flashes and walking back and forth with all the camera gear dialing in the exposure was enough to make me drip sweat like a Swede in a sauna. All that was missing was naked Swedish girls whipping me with alder branches. There were lots of Jersey girls in bikini’s right next door at the Mountain Creek Water Park
. Nothing like riding up in the Cab, checking out the ladies and then hitting the jump line down just to do it again. A pretty perfect setup other than Diablo and the water park having almost the same hours so no jumping in water for us, just jumping into lines in the freeride park.
Camper Mitch Hitting a rock line up top
The end of the first day at camp came quick, just like it always does on the good days. We fired up the BBQ, ate some dead animals, other than Bruce, who ate dead plants. Kicking back and reliving the day is one of the most fun parts of any trip and today was no exception. We were bummed for our Whistler guest coach Brian Lopes wiping out 10 seconds or so into his run and that being the end of his weekend of racing at the Jeep 48 Straight. The course looked sick. We were all relieved to hear that camper Heather was all good at the hospital where she was getting stitched up after losing a fight with a branch and rock, getting a 6 stitch cut right above her knee pads. Dang! Our youngest camper Max, still had the same energy as he did at 9 this morning. Ahhh… to be 8 years old again. The kid could eat his weight in corn easily. We handed out tons of presents/prizes from our sponsors, Transition
and hit the sack stoked, fed and ready for more in the morning. Wendy's bag turned up at last. Now Brent can get his thong back.
Campers Lori and Max with some of their pirate treasure from TSG and Straightline.
Reunited and it's understood... Reunited and it felt so good...
Sunday – Earth movers work fast, no D9 that..
Due to enviro concerns the Dual course
was almost torn down by the time we hit the park for the last day on Sunday. No D9 that you can’t move a lot of earth when you want to. Now that the race was done we hit the Indycross® track. Perfect berms and jumps with great flow and rhythm from about 1/3 of the way up the park. It’s going to run all the way to the top when it’s finished and when it’s done it’s going to be mind blowing. I’d come back just for the Indycross®. It’s that rad.
Eight year old Camper Max picking up speed on his new bike. First day on a new bike is always the best.
We spent the day in Tempest and the jump runs, saying they should be called “Choose Your Own Adventure” as there were so many lines. You could all drop in at the same place and hit multiple side routes and meet up a few hundred feet farther down. It was really cool, It was like riding by yourself but having your posse right there making you stoked as you caught glimpses of them ripping through the trees and flying off the rocks. The metal-framed jumps are so perfect. Every bike park should take the hint on that one. The takeoffs were metal framed with a wood riding surface. There was no flex or shake so you could just pop it and have the best time. Sooooo smoooth. Sooooo Consistent.
"Where's Gareth Dyer" people have been asking on the web... He's at Diablo with COC... sending it. No hander.
We shot photos and had fun with everyone progressing their riding past where they were yesterday. Aaron was ripping, sending it off the jumps and keeping us entertained with his bails. His "Slide Onto First Base" bail had Brent laughing for hours. Max and Lori were riding with Wendy and they got faster every run.
When De...Wendy bag showing up? Huh? Huh? Huh?
It’s so cool how just one “Hint” can change someones life. Right off the bat on Saturday, Wendy saw that Lori rode sitting down the whole time. Wendy set her straight with the try this tip and once Lori started standing up she progressed so fast it was awesome. “No one ever told me that you should be standing” was her answer to Wendy’s coaching. On Sunday she was going three times as fast as the day before. It might also have had something to do with riding a full DH bike instead of an XC bike. A dealer sold her an XC bike for the park even though she asked for a DH bike…so close yet so far. XC in a bike park… kinda like going the Porsche dealer for a 911 and coming out with the Cayenne the salesman talked you into, even though you didn’t want it. Close but not quite right. Once she got the 411 on the 911, she progressed every run.
Gareth sending it...one hand no feet.
Thought this was going to be Gareth sending a "Nothing" didn't you. Actually it's Camper Mitch hitting the Buttah jump.
Soon enough the day was over and as we all were sprawled under the COC
tent at the base of the lift, we couldn’t get over how great the park at Diablo
is. We wished Shawn
hadn’t under sold us on how good the park was. We wanted to be there for a week or more as there was so much we hadn’t ridden and so much we wanted to ride more. Next year we all want to go for at least a week or ten days. Whistler’s Bike Park gives all the other parks complexes on how good they are in comparison, so they seem to under estimate how great and fun they really are. You don’t have to fly all the way to Whistler for a killer park. Diablo isn’t kidding when it said on their tickets, “The East Coast’s Premier Bike Park”, Diablo kicked ass and we can’t wait for next year. Special thanks to The Muss Family, Diablo Freeride Park, Jack, Bill and Shawn for their hospitality.
Last Shot... Camper Donna learning fast. I guess it's actually learning jumping. The Indycross is for learning fast
Photos and words - Ken Achenbach. Pleased to meat you.