Seasons of Shred is a new video project featuring Niki Leitner and Andrew Taylor on their travel's around the world. They have everything dialed for the year with some cool locations and riders in store. This time around they brought along their swedish buddy Linus Sjoholm as their special guest. Enjoy their first trip as they head to Ocotillo Wells with some stops along the way. Video by Sequence 5
. Words by Andrew Taylor & Niki Leitner and Photos by Long Nguyen
It's seven oʼclock in the morning and we just woke up on the side of highway 5 somewhere in the middle of California. We're headed down to Ocotillo Wells, the famous freeride moto spot for the first Seasons of Shred trip this year.
A few dayʼs earlier we started out our trip in San Francisco where our photographer for the trip Long Nguyen and I picked up Niki Leitner and Linus Sjoholm. Along with Niki and Linus were Jakob Leitner and Ben Bredl the Sequence 5 film crew. After loading up at the airport we began to make our way North. On the way we made a quick visit to Marin Bikes to pick up my new slopestyle bike. After our visit at Marin we headed towards our first riding destination which was my home town Santa Rosa.
I thought it would be cool to take the guys and show them how the riding scene was where I grew up. Once we got to Santa Rosa we headed to my parents house to set up camp and build bikes for the rest of the evening. With most of the guys flying over from Europe that meant early to bed, early to rise from jet lag.
The first spot we rode the next morning was Annadel State Park. As a kid I grew up right across the street from this place, so it made it cool to bring my buddies from across the pound to my hometown trails. After a good session on the trails we made a quick stop by Cambria (a bike shop where my buddy works) to finish the final touches on my new slopestyle bike. As soon as my bike was dialed in we made our way to the Piner skatepark, which was another spot I grew up riding. Behind the park we sessioned the dirt jumps for a bit and then made our way out to the skatepark for the rest of the day. After a long day of riding a couple of my favorite hometown spots Niki and Linus were pumped on the spots I grew up riding.
The next morning we got an early start stocking up the RV with $600 worth of junk food for the trip. Rumor has it that Americans are unhealthy, but these kids stocked up two carts full of bagels, beef jerky, skittles and orange juice. "Healthy". After our solid junk food spending spree we loaded up and made our way towards Ocotillo Wells our main destination of the trip. Two hours into our drive we made a pit stop in Pinole to meet my friend Nick Noble at his jumps. We ended up having a fun warm up session with some sick 360ʼs, supermans and tailwhips. It was so fun that we stayed until sunset. The nice thing about the RV is being able to just load up and make dinner right next to the jumps, so thats what we did. After some good food we began making our way down I-5 south. We drove until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer and pulled off on the side of 5 near some sketchy gas stations.
Eager to get to our next spot we woke up early and finished the two hour drive to Woodward West. As soon as we arrived we were surprised to see our friend Szymon Godziek visiting from Poland. We started riding in the park area and then made our way over to the mega step up on the hill for a throw down session. Riding with these guys was amazing. I saw everything from flipwhips to some of the best flatspins 3ʼs in the business. By the end of the day we were all throwing down, following each other in trains.
The next day we finally arrived at our main destination, Ocotillo Wells. Ocotillo is a very famous spot for freeride motocross and that's where we got our inspiration to visit it on mountain bikes. Not more than an hour after we arrived we were hit by deadly sandstorm that forced us to drive all the way to Salton City right outside of the desert. We spent the night at an RV park next to the sea waiting for the weather to clear up. We woke early and saw that the weather had cleared, so we made our way back out to the desert.
After a couple of hours scouting around the area we found a zone that looked like exactly what we had imagined. Unfortunately it was on private property, so when we were checking it out the ranch manager rolled up on us with his golf cart with his dog. As soon as we saw him I rolled down the hill to explain what we were trying to do on his property. After talking for a bit he was stoked on what we were doing and gave us a tour of the property and showed us all the spots he thought we would like. Along tour of the ranch he stopped by a zone with a big fire pit and told us to make ourselves at home for the next few days. Most times when you get caught on private property it doesn't turn out like this, but Markus, the ranch manager, became an instant best friend.
Once we had the ok and a place to call home we drove the RV in and set up camp and began scouring the hillsides for anything possible to ride. The first zone we came upon was different than anything around. It was ridge after ridge of red single track mud hills that were already dialed for shredding.
Six in the morning came quick so we packed our stuff and headed for our first shoot on top of the mountain. We spent the whole morning and that evening on the ridges running up and pinning it down while Jakob, Ben and Long did their thing behind the lens. After the long day on the ridges we were all beat, but couldn't wipe the smile off of our faces.
We were more than satisfied from the day before so we woke up the next morning scouted a few zones on the ranch that Markus pointed out the day before. After a few hours of building we made our way across the desert to shell reef. Shell reef has been in some of the sickest freeride moto movies, so we wanted to check it out regardless if it was ridable on a bike. As soon as we got there we knew it was going to be awesome for bikes, so we headed back to camp for lunch.
After our beef jerky and skittle filled lunch we loaded up the bikes and headed back to shell reef for golden light. This place went from steep mountains into small hard pack rolling hills that were perfect for lips and landings. We ended up finding a good step down, hip and drop that we rode until the sun dropped. We might not have been able to go as big as moto, but we all had fun and even got some of the moto dudes stoked on what we were all about. To end off the perfect day we headed back and had a bbq and big bonfire at the ranch.
We knew it was our final day in the desert, so we got up at the crack of dawn and made our way out to the zone we built the previous day. A half hour into our session Markus showed up with a group of his friends to watch us throw down on the jumps. We rode until we were beaten by the sun and satisfied with what we had so we all high fived and called it a wrap for the desert. Right before leaving the canyon Markus mentioned it was one of the only unnamed zones on the ranch and now would be called SOS. I would definitely say this was a trespassing story that will never be forgotten in our heads. Markus and the ranch are legendary.
We made our way back to camp loaded up and headed straight for the highway. The desert was awesome, but it was time for change and the next part of our trip. Santa Cruz, the place I now call home was the next and final destination on our journey. Along the way we made a quick stop to retire some shoes.
After a long ten day trip to so many different place we used the first morning in Santa Cruz for a chill session at the post office jumps. Later that day we cruised down to the Capitola wharf and spent the rest of the afternoon fishing. We didnʼt have much luck, but it was a good way to wind down the trip before the guys headed home.
The final day was spent as a tourist in San Francisco. As a thank you for all the hard work we cruised around to a few attractions before sending the filmers up in a helicopter to see the city in the best way possible.