East Bound and Down: A Day With the Jersey Four

Nov 27, 2014
by Brice Shirbach  
East Bound and Down Header
East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

The Garden State is home to a bevy of talented mountain bikers. It makes sense, as New Jersey boasts a population of almost 9 million people, so the selection pool is sizable. The 11th most populous state in the country is crammed into the 4th smallest land area, meaning riders in particular have to work hard and get creative when it comes to enjoying their time on a bike. Creativity is certainly a strong suit here; so much so that in the relatively open spaces of Sussex County you'll find 4 of the country's most talented riders digging, riding and going about their business, oftentimes together. Jeff Lenosky (43), Aaron Chase (36), George Ryan (31) and Adam Hauck (26) are guys who hold a great deal of influence over scores of riders through a variety of means; whether its designing one of the world's most popular bike parks, to traveling the around country performing trials demos for thousands of fans, to putting out banger edit after banger edit, these four men each have had a profound affect on the mountain bike industry over the past several years. While Jeff and Adam are Jersey born and bred, George and Aaron are transplants but now proudly call this corner of the country home. Throughout the years, each have had an impact on one another's career and have developed a strong bond that comes with spending a lot of time together. That bond also makes for a rather frank and fun dynamic when you get all four of them together, which is exactly what we recently decided to do. After a day spent riding at Mountain Creek Bike Park, Hauck and Chase's infamous and secret Extravaganza and an abandoned theme park of sorts, we found a pub and over some beverages discussed the intertwining nature of their respective careers and the influence this relationship has had on all 4 of them.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four


Your First Time...


Adam: I used to ride BMX a bunch and there was this weird mountain bike scene near my house. I just met a friend who had some extra parts and he asked me if I would be willing to ride something if he put it together. I just started riding it and eventually thrashed my BMX bike. With no money to fix it, I just started riding my mountain bike all of the time. Eventually I fixed my BMX bike but by then I was kind of like; ‘Ehh...I don’t really feel like doing this...’

Aaron: How old were you?

Adam: 15 or 16.

George: I think that I was in 7th grade. I’ve always sort of just rode bikes but in 7th grade one of my good friends’ older brother has this Cannondale and I remember thinking that was really cool. I figured that because he had this nice mountain bike there must be some trails around here. So a bunch of us got these cheap, fully rigid bikes and we just started riding some of the local trails. I probably rode XC on Long Island for about a year. The next season I went to Mount Snow for the NORBA Nationals and did the downhill race. I did one practice run, raced, got a concussion and still got 2nd place. I lost my chain that race too. I didn’t know any better either. I just got up and went hard. But after that I was hooked on downhill. My next race was at Plattekill and again I crashed a bunch but I just kept trying.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: My dad raced triathlons and bought me a bike when I was young. I got into racing and got sponsored by Cannondale in the 90’s. It was 1997 when I graduated high school. I’ve been riding for Cannondale for 17 years. I went to Mount Snow and qualified 10th in the pros and got hooked up with them. I rode for their factory Cannondale-Sobe squad until 2003 when it became a frame deal and I could go get my own sponsors then. I went freeriding from there.

George: I was Aaron’s teammate on the SoBe grassroots team for a few years.

Aaron: You were on SoBe?

George: Yeah they had a grassroots team for a few years.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Adam: Jeff got into this right after they invented the wheel!

Aaron: (in an old man’s voice) You’ve been riding longer than everybody.

Jeff: I started riding BMX and then I got a trials bike. I had the trials bike for about 2 seconds before I broke it. But mountain biking was getting big then so I got a mountain bike and started doing trials on a mountain bike. That was right when I went to college. I kept doing trials on my mountain biking throughout college.

Adam: How old were you when you got your factory ride?

Jeff: I was 25 and it was with Schwinn. I rode through college and during my senior year I won the national championships for trials. I would go to work everyday and come home and send out resumes. I’d do that every single day. My second year out of college I got sponsored by Trek and got an offer for a frame and a bike. After that somebody made a call to Schwinn and they offered me two bikes. It was Schwinn’s 100th anniversary and they were looking for someone to do some television and video stuff, so a few months later I was on the Regis and Kathy Lee show. I really didn’t get the scope of that at the time. It was a lot of luck. If I had been riding for Trek, that might have never happened.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four


Getting to Know You...


East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: I met Jeff when I let him ride with me. I mean, we felt bad for the guy.

George: I remember before I even started riding seeing Jeff on MTV Beach House.

Aaron: What?? Really?

George: Yeah I was like ‘Look at this dude on a bike jumping around and talking to Bill Bellamy’.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Jeff: I remember not paying attention early on to a whole lot of videos except for the ones Aaron was in. That was maybe Chain Reaction 1. Did you do anything else before that, Aaron? There was East Coast Hardcore which I obviously paid attention to and that had Aaron in it. I remember Chain Reaction 2 coming out and seeing, at the time, some really good street riding. I think that after that video I was at Mount Snow doing a trials event and Aaron was racing slalom when we finally met.

Aaron: Didn't we ride in Chain Reaction 3 together?

George: Chain Reaction 1 is still the best one.

Aaron: You know what’s cool? Before we ever shot Counterparts, I did this video that was basically all of this footage I already had laying around. While I was doing this tour of Japan, all of these people were already aware of this little video I did and were stoked on it. It blew my mind that people were spending money on this video all over the world and knew who I was. So with Counterparts, I wanted to do it again and have all of my buddies in it and get all of this footage. We were all filming each other and going on trips and filming shots for our different segments and George’s was the one the wrapped it up. We hung out, were still young and some guys were going to school. Adam had a part in the ‘Homie Section’ and everybody had their own thing that they were going for. Counterparts was definitely the first project the four of us all worked on together.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Jeff: [to George] When was the first time I met you? I remember the first time meeting Adam at the Red Bull Bike Battle.

Aaron: I think you have to slowly meet George.

George: The first time you won’t even realize I’m there…

Adam: But the second time you’re wondering who that is…

Jeff: You’re not like “Whoa, what’s that smell?” You’re more like “What’s that smell?”

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: The first time we hung out he farted more than he talked.

George: I started riding at Mountain Creek in 2000. That was before it was even called Diablo. I started working there running the lifts.

Jeff: There weren’t even any real trails right away, right?

Aaron: It was all about raw and nasty trails. But they had the best lifts and facilities.

Aaron: It's also nice to look back at and think that every time there’s been a trip or jam; we’re always there hanging. Whether its been a jam at Jeff’s house; and I’m pretty sure there has been an illegal amount of people in his backyard…

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four


The Stoke...


East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: When you are working on all of these projects, it seems like it happens really slowly. When you see it from an outside perspective, it looks like things are moving along really quickly.

Adam: It is always cool though when you meet people who check out what you’ve been up to on things like Instagram and come up to asking about your dog, or the new build or some trick you’ve been working on. You’re like, “Oh, wow I guess people are into what we’re doing.”

Aaron: I think that back in the day when we did things like Chain Reaction and Counterparts, and moved on the the New World Disorders people really seemed to be paying attention to what we were doing. It was cool to know that we were moving the needle, if you will. That’s kind of a proud moment I think. But besides that, it’s your own life and it moves slowly sometimes, you know?

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

George: Since Mountain Creek took it over from Diablo a few years ago, the biggest compliment that I’ve gotten is how much the place has improved. That’s big for me because I’m the main builder and designer there. It makes me more pumped to do new things. I can put a proper beginner trail in, which I may not want to ride, but it’s going to help so many new people get into downhill. So when people tell me how much fun they’re having it makes me want to put more in and keep improving the place. Sometimes you can be in the excavator for so long and just get bounced around in there and you’re just so over it. But you get some positive reinforcement and you realize it’s not so bad.

Adam: A lot of the time, you don’t realize the impact of what you’re doing while you’re doing it. But afterwards people will come up to you and tell you how sick something was. It can catch you off guard when you realize just how much people care.

Jeff: I just like riding bikes. I started out riding trials which was super fun. It was the sense of progression you feel everyday doing something like that. But I’ve also always enjoyed dirt jump and street riding, so when I switched sponsors I had the opportunity to do that stuff and enjoyed it. It was sweet because it reinforced the sense of progression. But when I broke my leg four years ago, I was a bit scared to get back on the jumps right away. As a part of my rehab, I was riding XC and trials and I remembered how much I really enjoyed that kind of stuff. Now it just boils down to time. I’d love to go hit some jumps but I don’t have six hours to dig all day for the half hour you get to ride them. So I can go trail ride for two or three hours. Or I can go play around on a pile of rocks for a few hours. I’ll always love riding trials because that’s what I started out doing. It’s fun to interpret terrain. Enduro has been cool too because I was never really a racer so it’s awesome to feel yourself getting faster and getting that sense of learning something after riding for more than 20 years.

Adam: I feel like Jeff is also on that big brother tip. If I have a question he’s always able to help. If I’m being an a*shole on the internet, he’ll text me and tell me to chill out and I’ll take a step back and be like, yep he’s right. I definitely feel like he’s really looking out for me.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Jeff: I’ve just been riding forever so you kinda see it all eventually. I just try to give that advice. I didn’t have anyone to help me when I was getting started. I would open up a magazine and think the only place mountain biking existed was in California. You realize that you have to make it for yourself.

Adam: This isn’t Jeff’s first rodeo either. He’s seen people come and go and things can snowball quickly, so it’s cool to have him there helping you hit the brakes. Plus having Aaron around is nice too. He’s not afraid to tell you to shut the hell up.

Aaron: I think it’s something that’s embedded in us. You always want to keep that feeling. We’ve hit that step-up a million times, and we’ll hit it another billion. I don’t know what it is but it’s just something that you either have in you or you don’t. It’s something that maybe once you get a little bit older you start to lose. But while you can and still want to, it’s awesome to hit jumps and ride the way you always have or even try something new. That’s what it’s all about, for me at least.

George: I want to ride everyday. But now I work 9-5, 5 days a week so it means even more when I do get the opportunity. Today was the first time I was able to hit those jumps in...I don’t know how long. I used to ride it every other day or even everyday when I rode for Cannondale or Evil and was getting paid to do it. Now I really have a different appreciation for even that one-hour session. Throw a few 360’s, some bar spins and back flips and it’s just so much fun.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four


Good Times...


East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Jeff: I remember when George front-flipped that step up about 10 years ago.

George: Yeah, I had to front-flip it for the Cannondale video back then.

Aaron: I think the gnarliest thing I can think of, at that step-up at least, was a flip to fakie.

Adam: Yeah and you did it on the same hip that George was front flipping. It wasn’t even the actual quarterpipe.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: Yeah it was tricky because it wasn’t something I was able to see other people do before, so I had to sort of teach myself how to do it. It’s basically just a full backflip, which took me a bit to really commit to. At first I would land on the table and eventually did the full flip back to the transition.

Adam: You should always be a little afraid of whatever it is you’re trying to do next.

George: I think my scariest moment was the whole time I was filming for Counterparts. Flipping junk piles and random rock walls.

Jeff: I did a wallride that scared me for Chain Reaction 5. There was this building that Aaron and I would always drive by and we would talk about it every time. It was always, “What do you think would happen if we rode that?” Finally, I remember just thinking, “Well let’s stop wondering”. We went there on a Sunday, built up a lip because they had the land all torn up anyway. We built it and just hit it.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: The business was closed and we built this dirt jump and packed the shit out of it. We had to initially add a small landing about halfway through the wall ride so he could sort of get a feel for it. So he hit the wall a few times and figured out the speed he would need to go from one end to the other. But we needed that middle landing because if he went for it right away and came up short he’d probably die. But he figured it out and we took the midpoint landing out, towed him in with a car and he nailed it.

Jeff: I remember thinking if I tried to pedal that fast I’d be cooked before I ever made it to the lip.

Aaron: That move was the first time I think I ever saw somebody achieve the impossible through work ethic as opposed to just…

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

George: Hucking.

Aaron: Hucking. Exactly. We took all of these steps to ensure it would work and once we found it work work, we made it happen. That was the ender to that video actually.

Adam: That was sick. Something I would never want to do again was this window hop in New World 9 or 10. I remember it being just the filmer and I. I was scoping this window and I was stupid and thinking to myself, "I think I can hop out of this window". It was a second story window with a grassy banked landing. The landing was maybe a bike’s length before you had to hop this curb. We had to get up at 5:30 in the morning because the light was going to hit it at 6:30. It’s so early…

Aaron: That was the worst because with those guys it was all about the light and you’re like, “The light is only good in the morning??”

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Adam: You wake up, you don’t even eat breakfast and you don’t want to do anything. You’re definitely not hungry because you know you have to do something really stupid in a bit. So I go there first thing and I look it over again and was like “Oh shit.” the cameraman is like “Ok, go ahead,” and I said “You f*cking do this!” It’s unnerving. I went too deep on my first attempt and I’m pretty sure that was when I broke my wrist. But I had to get back up and send it again. I felt like the drop and landing just didn’t add up though; the math was definitely off.

Aaron: Not really though, because you did land it. Its hard when you’re doing moves like that because you do what you can to be in as good a position as possible but you’re still kind of hoping for the best. With Hauck’s drop, he can control the bunny hop and tuck but then he relies on instinct and luck. That’s when it helps to have youth on your side and a mindset that will allow you to do that.

Adam: You need to be able to shut your brain off. You go to bed thinking about it and wake up thinking about it. When you get to that point, you’ve just got to do it.

Aaron: Plus you already know it’s going to hurt. One of the first times I rode with Claw he did something like that. It wasn’t as techy as yours but it was still a sacrificial air. The light was good and the angle was good. Everything was good except for the landing. But Claw just did it. He blew up his wrists and ankles, but he got the shot.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Adam: You definitely have to weigh the value of the shot.

Aaron: That’s a young man’s game, for sure.

George: I’ll never do that one-pedal backflip off that flat top drop again. The last time I tried it I was thinking that Counterparts was almost done and I just really need to get this.

Adam: Mind games!

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

George: I tried it a few times but kept landing sideways and crashing. The last time I tried it I gave it a hard crank and pulled really hard, but my foot slipped off because it was raining and I landed right on my head. That scared the shit out of me and that’s why to this day I don’t flip as much anymore.

Jeff: Did you get hurt?

George: I didn’t get hurt but I was like, “Holy shit. That could have ended so much worse than it did.”

Adam: I remember doing a bunch of events when I was like 16 or 17 years old. I didn’t really have a plan other than getting to the contests. I never coordinated anything. I’d just show up to hotels where I knew some people were staying and they’d be like, “Come on in!” No plan. You’re so young and it was such a testosterone battle. We’d go from one contest to another and everyone was just always thumping their chests the whole time. At night we’d hang out and someone might smash their glass on the floor. Then someone else would want to smash it harder. Everything was always escalating. It was a mob of competitors getting kicked out of every place went. It was definitely every man for himself.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: Well you’d go out there and the contests weren’t always being run right so people would just blow off steam at night. Any frustration from travel or competing were vented at night. It was tough to do some of those contests. You’d have a finals in Paris and this huge feature at the end that no one could hit because the set up was wrong. So everyone was hitting these little jumps and then some guy interviews you and asks you why nobody is hitting the big line. You just want to get out of there.

Jeff: I did one of those in Spain once.

Adam: Oh yeah and he was building stuff too. It was awesome. I got food poisoning in Jeff’s hotel room actually. I was so sick and drank all of these cokes out of his mini fridge and Jeff got so pissed because they were super expensive. But I felt like I was dying and just took them out of the fridge and drank them all. He was like “You drank all of the f*cking cokes and they made me pay for that!” I remember feeling messed up the next day and Jeff was out working on the course so I went out to check on it and passed out in a bush for like 6 hours. I was so tired and found a place to lay down and just passed out.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: I slept on so many floors, couches and under tables and now that I’m at a point where I can get a room, I pay it forward to everyone else.

Adam: I crash in his room all of the time now.

Aaron: All of the time and it’s not even a second thought. That’s just a part of mountain biking.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four


At the End of the Day...


East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Adam: I’m working to make sure I can survive doing this. I need to make sure I never eat a Wendy’s Pulled Pork sandwich. Ultimately you always want to progress. Whether its riding, or building your brand or just representing yourself better. You should always try and better yourself in some way. I definitely want to keep being a kid for as long as possible and keep playing on two wheels. I will keep doing some contests but I think that videos and social media have become just as if not more important than competitions. With contests, even if you win, the very next week there’s another one and eventually the results get lost in the shuffle. I just think that people are starting to pay less and less attention to them. But, if you put out a sick video segment? I mean, people still talk about New World segments from however long ago. Now it’s just about what stands out. You don’t have to win a contest to stand out. But in videos, everything stands out; that’s the point of them. It’s also way easier to relax and hang out with your homies when you’re filming than it is when you’re traveling halfway around the world to do a slopestyle contest on a course built by someone you may not even know.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

George: I definitely have a lot going on at Creek. I have new trails I’m putting in to try and make the place better all of the time. As a rider, there are still things I want to learn and races I want to win. I don’t think that will ever go away. I will always want to learn new tricks. I love racing. I don’t go to races just to do them; I go because I want to win them. For me, the big thing is trying to become a better filmmaker. It’s definitely one of my biggest passions and its something I’d like to make a living doing.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Aaron: I’m going to keep producing content for my sponsors like GoPro and Red Bull. I'm just trying to keep people stoked on riding their bike. Whether it’s a big adventure or just a small moment, it all matters.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four

Jeff: I think that growing up on the east coast, you have to work to get the attention from the bike industry. It’s more common on the west coast to see guys who are close to it have these meteoric rises and falls. They’re huge for a year and then they’re gone. For Aaron and I, we got into it during a period where one video would come out all year; so that’s all people had to sit around and watch. That helped us become more a household name. But guys like George and Adam, they don’t have to wait for the magazines to come to them. They can put something on social media and have it blow up. I think there’s a work ethic there that is a direct result of coming up through the ranks on the east coast, because you don’t have time for the magazines to work their way out here every now and then. I think it also helps you appreciate what you’ve worked hard for. For me, I’m in a great position to get people stoked on riding. If it’s through a trials demo, awesome. If it’s at an enduro race and I get to shake hands with someone who says they started mountain biking because of me, that’s crazy. It’s awesome. I can meet a 30 year old dude who tells me how stoked he was to watch me when he was 15. That actually makes me feel old. But it’s cool because I was doing the same thing, reading BMX action when I was a kid and it all seemed so far away. You just have to treat it the right way and appreciate it.

East Bound and Down A Day With The Jersey Four


Mentions: @redbullbike, @deityusa, @HayesBrakes, @Maxxis, @mavic, @shimano, @Ergon,




24 Comments

  • 9 0
 Great article, Brice. As a dad, this kind of content is always great to see -- I really like hearing from these guys as they grow in maturity and have become real role models. And I love the east coast coverage!
  • 4 0
 Love seeing the older guys still killing it. Wife kids and working all the time definitely makes it hard to find time to ride and these guys are the extra motivation I need sometimes to get out and pedal.
  • 2 0
 I actually got to see Jeff in a contest in Asheville NC around 2001. Those guys were street riding with Anson Wellington around the downtown area. (Asheville has a great trail network also) but this was all street. It was just amazing to see what these guys were doing then. I collected all the NWD vids I could just to see them again and again. It would get me so pumped to go ride! I loved watching Chase and Lenosky back to back in those videos. So much fun! Happy Turkey Day, I think I will pull out NWDs and watch today! Thanks for the inspiration to go and ride.
  • 7 0
 Jersey love!
  • 3 0
 Yeah buddy!!!
  • 3 0
 Yea BubbRubb, I miss my Jersey crew and the Wednesday night rides!!
  • 2 0
 great article. i like that statement about videos and contests. To me videos carry so much more weight than contests and races. Contest and races are cool too but videos allow riders to create something that last forever it seems, especially now with you tube and social media sites its easier than ever to share something thats gets people stoked to ride. with that being said i got all geared up to ride and freezing rain just started to drop booooooo haha.
  • 2 0
 So happy to hear Jeff lay it out like he has re: East Coast exposure. The industry is stuck in with this ridiculous notion that the only riding worth doing is out West. The East is definitely starting to get more recognition, particularly with pieces like this. But it's far from having been accurately depicted. The riding in the Northeast is fantastic, better than the southwest in my opinion. But because people are so brainwashed by the magazines and websites, they all think it can't possibly true. Go East young man, and find out for yourselves!
  • 2 0
 Great article, Aaron is originally from Belmont, NH and we actually grew up in the same circle of friends in the 90's. In sping '99 I wrote in to MBA magazine and asked if they heard of Aaron which they had not. Then someone from Cannondale and a few others wrote in about how Aaron was on SoBe at the time and it went from there. The early 2000's saw a HUGE paradigm shift from the mainstream xc/dh racing scene to the "east coast hardcore" scene of dirt, street, park, freeride, ect.
Looking back on it, its what MTB needed as it was the next level of progression in the sport and here we are going into 2015 with bike technology and rider skill levels are off the charts.
It's my firm belief that we arrived at that thanks in part to the "changing of the guard" east coating riding in the early 2000's that showed what's possible when you break the previous mainstream riding mold...
  • 2 0
 This is a great read pinkbike. Having met a few of these guys various times over the years they are some great all around dudes, always innovating and showing what the east coast has to offer. Jeff's comment about thinking mtb only existing in California resonated with me, growing up in PA and getting into riding in the mid/late 90's had me feeling the same way. There is and always has been some great riding out here...
  • 1 0
 All four are great riders, but Lenosky is truly one of the godfathers of street and trials riding. Along with Ryan Leech, Hans Rey, and the two Martins, he changed the trials game.

For the all the trials grandads, like me Smile 6.50 still makes me wince

www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD8te23KV6A
  • 1 0
 Ha, I just could not resist cause its one of my favorite segments.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Flik2318c0E&list=PL_BWwpU61wzjMH2Ow8gKxSkKG8DCwQyOX
  • 1 0
 Haha, 2 seconds into the clip you posted and I immediately remembered all the Swollen Members tracks I've heard while watching Lenosky's segments!
  • 3 0
 Mucj props to east coast riding! The ground is really hard there.
  • 3 0
 Not to mention the heavy portions of glass and broken concrete in the soil content Wink
  • 5 5
 "Shut up and take my money", No not that... "Looks like a Session?", No no just wait a sec... "Norb got r..." Damn it where is it...
WHERE IS THE VIDEO??? --- Here it is Smile
  • 2 0
 legends in my eyes all of them
  • 2 0
 loving all the east coast content and coverage
  • 1 0
 Great interview Brice! Is there any video footage to follow from this awesome get together?
  • 2 0
 No video from me, however, Scott Secco's "Builder" will more than satisfy your need to see some Jerz shredding!
  • 2 0
 Can't wait for Builder to drop!
  • 1 0
 What bike does Chase ride with the dual crown? Cannondale doesn't make DH bikes anymore do they?
  • 1 0
 thats what i was wondering
  • 2 0
 Jersey love from a Jersey ex-pat in Colorado!





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