One wrong move



The spires of the Cariboo look like canines, they're curved and sharp and lethal, just like the teeth used by man and beast to rip flesh from bone. The chutes here are lined with geological fangs - one wrong move and your carcass could be torn apart.
It's an inhospitable place for bikes and camera equipment, but it has been an iconic location in mountain biking since Tippie and Schley first laid tire tracks here back in the mid-1990's.




Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake





A big mountain superstar


James Doerfling is 27 years old, he lives with his girlfriend Julie and their dogs Sarge and Chewy (short for Chewbacca), in a house he bought not far from downtown Williams Lake and the Tolko Industries lumber yard. His neighbourhood is quiet, except for the roar of lifted diesel trucks, seemingly a prerequisite for any red blooded male living here.
You'd never guess that a big mountain superstar lives in the house on the left. His porch holds water bowls for his dogs and a collection of muddy shoes stacked neatly in a rack. His living room and kitchen are bereft of mountain bike imagery, he's modest to the point of anonymity, but there's a bear pelt mounted on the wall for decoration.






Williams Lake





The other walls

It's not until you enter his garage that you get a sense of the man. The garage is grimy with dust, grease, and oil; there are beers in the mini fridge, and a couple empty tins of Copenhagen Smokeless Tobacco in the trash. You can see his Red Bull Rampage number plates in a place of honour above his workbench, beside a row of battle-scarred helmets. The other walls feature a scantily clad pin up girl and a shot of Doerfling airing into the sunset on the Gobi Desert while filming for Where the Trail Ends.
There's enough room here for a car, but instead the garage houses a dirt bike, a quad, and a quiver of Knolly bikes. The garage has the understated elegance of functionality - everything from the tools on the workbench, to the two-wheeled toys, is designed for the pursuit of fun in the mountains. James Doerfling is an outdoorsman and an adrenaline junkie; this is all he needs.





Williams Lake
Williams Lake




The puddle

Williams Lake is a hard town filled with hard people. The logging industry is a major employer and the town is filled with raised trucks, gruff beards, and blue jeans. Williams Lake, aka ''The Puddle', is one of the largest towns in the Cariboo region of central British Columbia - approximately 11,150 people call it home.
Drive through the outskirts of town and you can pick out the massive drop from his first Unit video and several distinctive chutes across the river. Doerfling was born and raised here and, with the recent purchase of his new home, it seems unlikely that he's moving any time soon. Why would you when the riding is this good?




Williams Lake
Brown pow
00:00 04:21


bigquotesThis line was pretty cool because it was a totally different kind of dirt than most of the ones I ride. It was mostly clay and riverbed rock, this makes it only rideable early in the spring while the dirt is still pretty wet and tacky. During the summer it will harden up almost like concrete. This almost never happens but we were able to shuttle this line too, my girlfriend Julie ripped up on the quad for every lap on the line while we shot it


James Doerfling




Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake




Williams Lake


The terrain around Williams Lake is a mixture of low rolling hills covered in lodgepole pine trees, and the infamous steeps found on the banks of the Fraser and Chilcotin rivers. The Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium and their Ride the Cariboo campaign has resulted in the construction of some of the best trails in British Columbia. The consortium focused on 100 Mile House, Quesnel, Wells and Williams Lake, working to develop extensive trail networks in each town to boost tourism and cycling in the community.

Doerfling began riding well before the introduction of sanctioned trails and it will be interesting to see if the combination of an influential local freeride star (Doerfling) and world class trails will result in future big mountain superstars.







Williams Lake
Williams Lake




bigquotesRiding with Kenny is awesome, he likes to ride the same steep crazy shit I like, so it's pretty sick seeing what we come up with when we are out finding new stuff to ride. I need to get to Whistler so I can ride some of his Haney rock lines now!


James Doerfling




Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake




To the water's edge



The chutes near town were carved out by the Fraser and Chilcotin Rivers as they snaked through Pliocene era sediment millions of years ago. If you can find the right line it's possible to ride powdery dirt 1,000 feet down to the water's edge. Doerfling rides a bike like Kye Peterson or Eric Hjorleifson ski a big mountain face: fast and loose, slashing turns across the steeps and throwing up huge clouds of roost behind.



Doerfling, however, is tired of riding featureless steeps. His new goal is to find and descend natural multi-hit lines. It's a difficult search, but it's what he perceives to be the coolest thing to ride on a bike: steep faces with tricks thrown in mid-run.






Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake




The other walls

The image Doerfling has cultivated - fast and aggressive music and riding - is seemingly at odds with his personality (he's a big country music fan). He is quiet, good-natured, and hard working; you could picture him in a Wrangler Jeans commercial or working on an actual ranch breaking wild horses with ease. He's so modest I doubt many locals even know what he does for a living, or just how good he is at his job.
The juxtaposition of his personality and his riding seems strange until you consider that everything he rides is calculated. He still pushes himself to progress every time the camera rolls, but he has a confidence built on years of experience. He's a freerider, not a hucker.




Williams Lake
Williams Lake




bigquotesRiding the chutes of Williams Lake with James was something new to me. I was out of my element of roots and rocks, and very intimidated. Doerfling's confidence and fearlessness has inspired me to ride the Hane of interior BC. He needs to get down to Whistler so I can scare the $%&# out of him!


Kenny Smith





Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake




bigquotesWhat is Hane? Defining Hane just takes away from the Hane.


Kenny Smith




Williams Lake




A slow burn

Doerfling's mountain bike career over the past decade has been on a slow burn. From his first small appearance in Pissed-N-Broke Productions' CKD to his co-starring role in Freeride Entertainment's opus Where the Trail Ends, we've seen his rise to the top of the big mountain world unfold before us. Until last season he worked winters in the oil field. Sponsors have since realized the value of his riding and now he's able to focus on film and photography projects all year round.
During our time in the Cariboo, Doerfling pioneered a number of first descents before our lenses. The chutes were out for blood but he escaped unscathed, drifting sideways out of the maw of the beast and the hungry canines.







Williams Lake
Williams Lake
Williams Lake




bigquotesRiding the ridgeline at night with Kenny was quite the adventure. I have ridden that ridge a million times but at night with a little Petzl light (and a few beers deep) it probably wasn't the best idea. We both made'r down alive though and got the shot haha. That one will be a good story for a long time.


James Doerfling




Williams Lake




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Must Read This Week

64 Comments

  • + 132
 I think James' life is spiralling out of control ........he didn't have a tank-top in some of those photos.....
  • + 10
 Maybe because "unit riders" broke
  • + 4
 Hey, It's cold there eh
  • + 1
 I miss the tank top it somehow made the photos that much better Frown
  • + 74
 this photo articles just became NatGeo photo epic level and it's plain awesomeness Big Grin
  • + 24
 Yesterday on Nat geo Channel they were playing a documentary about Mountain Gorillas in Kongo. They shown at least four intercourses, I must admit that I was entertained. Other than that I know what you mean, the quality of MTB News material these days is incredible
  • + 37
 I'm of the opinion that I've overdosed on Videos over the last few years and now I can't watch them anymore. Much prefer these Photo-stories - slow down the brain and enjoy the amazing pictures. So much more athmosphere then trying to keep up with the mental pace of all these videos.
  • + 7
 Agreed 100% you guys nailed it on the head. They did a great job putting this together.
  • + 13
 Dear Pinkbike, You have designed something really special with this photo spread layout. It's a gorgeous way to present the work of your talented photographers. Awesome job. -sam
  • + 1
 @dirty-fecker - totally agree! These photo essays are amazing.
  • + 41
 I can't believe you tantalised us with talk of his garage and workbench - I scrolled down for some man cave porn and there was NOTHING!
  • + 6
 was waiting for the money shot as well
  • + 2
 Agreed, no photos of Doerfling's "quiver of Knolly bikes" with the exception of his Podium
  • + 2
 All things aside, it was an absolutely brilliant article though with great details and photos.
  • + 16
 "Doerfling, however, is tired of riding featureless steeps. His new goal is to find and descend natural multi-hit lines. It's a difficult search, but it's what he perceives to be the coolest thing to ride on a bike: steep faces with tricks thrown in mid-run."

I agree. We need a Canadian Red Bull Rampage.
  • + 1
 Raymond Massey Rampage?
  • + 15
 For sure this video project from Scott Secco will be an highlight of 2015!
  • + 4
 I think the highlight of 2015 will definitely be UnReal. I'm counting the days since the very first time I heard about it.
  • + 12
 This has gotta be one of the best photo epics I've seen all year... and the new full-screen scroll vertigo action is rad! Good job guys!
  • + 13
 Best photos, havent seen something like that in a while! Props to Riga!
  • + 10
 I pretty much hate everything, but this "Secco" character seems like a good 'ol boy i'd say..
  • + 11
 Amazing article, simply beautiful photography.
  • + 6
 I'd like to here more about williams lake - people told me it's a rugged place. Apparently a lot of drugs etc. Almost ended up going there to live for a while but got talked out of it, which in hindsight I kind of regret. I went to Victoria, Pemberton and Whistler instead. Victoria was nice looking at, maybe I did not to explore it properly, kind of far to get to the good riding. Whistler had awesome riding but I got kind of sick of big ski town feeling that comes along with it, esp. in the winter. It's feels the opposite of genuine. Pemberton was by far my favorite, awesome riding, friendly and scenery to die for. Never thought I would miss a climbing trail, but happy trail was so much fun. Our landlord was a bit shady tho, haha, first rent I payed to this guy sitting in his truck with a pit bull. He was angry and screaming because our landlord had not payed for his weed in a while. Couple of days later the same guy comes by and acts like he is best of friends with our landlord again, was a bit weird.
  • + 1
 My in-laws are in the cariboo (100mile) and i love it there. No idea what it would be like to live in Williams lake, but the trail network is amazing and red shreds is a good bike shop. I would move to the cariboo if there were more jobs there.
  • + 6
 Dude, it's Canada.... we're polite no matter where you go
  • + 3
 Haha, you are polite, I'll give you that. It felt kind of an absurd saying sorry for every little thing, but it soon caught on. Still got a habit of saying sorry all the time, in english, even tho I'm in Sweden now.
  • + 3
 WL local here, the town is a little bit shady but if you are a mountain biker this place is a dream come true.
  • + 7
 In all seriousness - is it possible to get any of these photos printed on canvas?
  • + 3
 I'll second that, come on PB get a print shop deal sorted out. Speedhunters have done it and they have far less stories than you guys
  • + 2
 Amen!
  • + 1
 would be cool if we could command our favourites pictures in big format ''posters''
  • + 1
 I thought James Doerfling was going to win Rampage this year. He never even passed qualies. WTF. I guess there is not enough steep shoots that could differentiate him in Rampage so I like the idea of him looking for tricks mid run.
  • + 2
 if only he didnt crash his indian air
  • + 6
 Very, very cool!!
  • + 5
 unbelievable photos, great write up!
  • + 3
 This has been one of my favorite articles on PB in a very very long time. Keep it up. Smile
  • + 2
 Does anyone know if Doerfling and Lacondeguy are still with Unit? Kind of an off topic question, but I haven't really seen either of them advertising it anymore.
  • + 1
 Unit went into receivership earlier this year, don't know what the story is with the company now.
  • + 3
 Well, that's sad. I always loved the style of Unit. He and Lacondeguy were great ambassadors for them.
  • + 1
 i just got a unit family email sent to me today about a preview of next years clothing line-up.. i sure hope they keep a couple mtb guys around
  • + 3
 Unit went into receivership but has been bought by another Australian company that owns a bunch of no-name accessories, lingerie, and fashion brands. Unit's their biggest clothing brand by far and they're trying to resurrect it, but they've got a long hard road in front of them. As far as athletes go, they pretty much dropped all their athletes except for Kyle Baldock. Andreu, Doerfling, French FMXer Tom Pages, BMXers Jaie Toohey, Cam White and Corey Bohan etc are all free agents right now. Huge fall from grace for the brand.
  • + 2
 That's the kind of info I was looking for. Thanks guys!
  • + 1
 Doerfling IS Super(hu)man !!! But can it be called " building" ? I mean isn t just about let you go down the Hill and use your brakes ? (there is nothing to build ) Smile
  • + 3
 Some of those photos have not been shot on Earth.
  • + 1
 Goddam I love both Margus Riga's photography and Doerfling's riding style. Put them both together and you know it's always going to be epic. Awesome work, fellas!
  • + 1
 Your photographs are truly breathtaking and among the best I've seen on Pinkbike. Restecp.
  • + 2
 This format is flippin' awesome!
  • + 3
 Awesome!
  • + 1
 more videos from Doerfling please
  • + 1
 Deadly photos and a great short story. Well done boys
  • + 2
 MORE freeride....
  • + 1
 Looks like its going to be an amazing movie!
  • + 1
 any tips for getting that fork to feel good??
  • + 1
 Sick!!!!
  • + 1
 Coolio.
  • + 1
 Doerfling! You da man!
  • + 1
 fantastic article. how to kick ass while kicking ass, don't even need to take names. Keep it goin'!
  • + 1
 any videos?
  • + 11
 Well rumour is there will be video next year called 'Builder'. Not sure where I read that though..

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