Every once in a while, a rider blows us away. Not by the mind-over-matter rawness of balls-out-bravado, or the speed and power of physical prowess. No, they blow us away with style.
Style is somehow untraceable. Its headwaters are mysterious and unknown. One thing is for certain though, when it comes to style—you either have it, or you don’t. Those who have it in spades, well, they are the steezy ones. The stars. The ones we love to watch. Graham Agassiz, who's better known as "Aggy", has boatloads of style.
| All black and green at Crankworx. Photo: Dave Mossop|
Sure, a lot of it must have to do with his roots. Born and raised in Kamloops, BC, one of Canada’s most prolific cycling centers, Aggy spent the better part of his childhood racing BMX. He was a keener, and it wasn’t long before he started experimenting with mountain bikes. His first sponsor was the Bicycle Cafe
, an iconic Kamloops shop who saw potential in the then 14-year-old shredder. “We got him a Kona Chute frame in 2005,” says shop owner Cheryl Beattie. “Then we got him on Konas Grassroots Program
a couple years later. We just thought he was going to be good. He was really focused on being a pro, it felt like he was going to be champ.” “I shredded Rose Hill every day after school on that bike,” explains Agassiz about his first mountain bike ever. “I learned how to flip and 360, I sent the Rose Hill road gap. That bike was solid.”
| Aggy, the country bumpkin. Photo: Blake Jorgenson|
Some 20 Kona’s later, Aggy represents the prodigal Grassroots rider, from grom right through to professional team rider. “Kona seemed like the right type of fit for him, he loved riding their bikes” explains Beattie. “I always told him, ‘better to pay for something you like than ride something for free that you don’t like.’”
Seven years later and we set out to test Aggy’s mettle deep into the wilds of coastal British Columbia. In the big mountains a few hours north of Whistler, Aggy and the Kona film crew would take that style, add a dose of bravado in the form of nasty first descents, and bring it to life in The Aggy Profile.
| Suited up and heading into the wild frontier of big mountain riding. Photo: Blake Jorgenson|
The following are recounts of what would end up being a most epic adventure. From whiteouts to near death experiences, straightlining through head-sized boulders straight through to the precarious edge of modern big mountain riding. Here’s our journey to the heart of one of mountain biking’s most exciting riders.
Well to start it all off it was definitely exhilarating yet terrifying to be the first one down all of these big chute lines. Getting up to the zone early to scout these out was a definite key factor in the entire mission. Then to take photos and study the lines and figure them out turn for turn. It was a real learning experience and a totally different style of scouting than I have never had to do before. The incredible rush that jolts through your body while dropping in nearly completely blind, having complete confidence in yourself as your visions of flying down the face of the mountain quickly become real life. The speed and control, surfing your way down the steep slope. Then at the bottom a big sigh of relief, "lets f*****g do that again!" Unforgettable.
When filming in such a remote area you can’t just pack up everyday, go home, and sleep in your big comfy bed. No, you’re camping! Which most people will agree with me here, is fricken awesome! No TV, no cell phone, no Internet, no worries and no care or stress of anything that’s going on in the outside world. Just you and your crew, tents, fire, beer, whisky, harmonica. Only the simplest necessities for a carefree environment.
So if you know me well enough, you probably know that I am pretty much terrified of heights! Don't ask me why or how but I am. I find myself in a constant battle with this fear, although I am always trying to conquer it. I have done the Whistler bungee and all that jazz and have been on a small heli ride once before but nothing really quite like this! To also fly over and then land on the top of these big mountain peaks with cliffs on either side, and the thought of the chopper blades taking off my head. Aaagghh! I was stressin’. Eventually, I had to just tune that all out of my head and focus on the other ride that I was about to embark on. I think after all that Im feeling a little better about helicopters but still piss my pants over heights!
I have done quite a bit of exploring over the last ten years in the Bralorne, Gold Bridge, Chilcotin area. Buying a little shred cabin was some good friends turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. Skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, motor biking all right out the door in a monster amount of terrain with only a few hundred permanent residents makes it the ultimate outdoor shred paradise just north of Whistler.
Truax Mountain towers over the Bridge River Valley at 7,800 feet above sea level. While dirt biking a few years ago I discovered a steep quad trail that went 5,000 feet straight up into the alpine and accessed a few mines. There I discovered a few ridges over 1000 feet in length that had the right kind of “magic dirt” for some big mountain riding. Combined with epic views I knew it would be the perfect shooting location.
After some burly weather, and a great first day of heli shooting, we awoke to a surprisingly perfect bluebird day. Another heli day had to be done. After convincing Eddy from Kona to flex the card one more time we were back up in the same location above our camp and had our eyes set on some bigger lines on the backside of what the boys rode the other day. These descents were close to 2000 feet long running into a creek drainage that would require a half-kilometer hike to the nearest logging slash for pick up. The boys picked out their lines and one by one dropped into the high speed hang on for your life descent down the massive slope. After some crazy bushwhacking we found the boys making there way over and under some deadfall. We only had a bit of time left so we went back to our original zone for some more lines.
Graham scoped out this line that had a mandatory snow run out in this ridiculously steep and narrow couloir. He gave the thumbs up and we fired up the heli and got in position. From an opposing angle the line looked insane. I had never seen anything like this attempted on a mountain bike. He dropped in and navigated the rocky cliff section with ease and picked up a ton of speed as he entered the choke full of snow. Rocketing down the hundred foot long stretch of snow his front wheel augured at the last bike length and sent him tomahawking down the slope. He shook it off jumped on his bike and rode down to the pick up.
This was a Thanksgiving to remember. Everybody was super stoked on the entire experience. We were blessed by the weather and overcame an endless chain of logistical problems to make it all happen. Now I’m wondering if big mountain mountain biking will become more like skiing and snowboarding with heli access to huge terrain and the budgets to explore it. I can’t wait for next time. It’s endless out there.
Photos: Blake Jorgenson