Châtel Bikepark kept Nico Vink and his company, Ride Creations' signature line pretty hush hush. Those of you that have been lucky enough to experience it already know how awesome and flowy this trail is. For those of you who haven't yet checked it out, we spent two days with Nico to show you what you're missing. We also took the opportunity to ask the mastermind behind this little gem a few questions...
For those who don't know, can you tell us about your company, Ride Creations?
Kristof Lenssens and myself started the company three years ago. We grew up in the same town riding bikes, building trails and jumps. Around the age of 15, we both started racing DH Nationals and World Cups. After 15 years of racing, I got pretty bored and decided I wanted to focus more on building trails and freeride. Ben Walker was definitely an inspiration for the direction we took.
What do you actually prefer? Riding your bike or digging with the machine?
I love both. To me, building is part of riding. There's nothing better than creating a fresh trail, line or jump and then riding it.
How was it up there in the branches?
Fun, I want more!
More seriously, how does it feel when you first rode the track you worked on for five weeks?
If everything works first go, it's amazing! It's cool to see people stoked on riding something we created. Good times for everyone! Love it!!
You are always smiling and having fun. Any tips for us on how to feel that good?
I can be grumpy too. The only tip that I can give is to just do whatever it is that makes you happy.
Nico, you are the guy who built the biggest line in the world. How is it to work in a bike park on a beginner trail?
I like building both. I like the challenge of making a beginner trail which is fun for multiple skill levels and sometimes I just feel like pushing my personal limits and building big jumps.
How did you manage to build a trail where everyone from beginner to experts can have fun?
I always try to build multiple options, lines, transfers, etc. There's no double jumps, only table tops, and rollers - more like a DH pump track. I always try to leave room for progression. If you have skills, there are opportunities to go bigger and for beginners, it's just a flowy trail over rollers and berms.
What is the next evolution we can expect in trail building?
Personally I want to see more bike parks, more jumps and more opportunity for progression for future generations. Imagine Fest Lines in bike parks.
What was the biggest challenge for this track?
The weather. It rained non-stop and I had a super tight deadline to deal with. Working in the Alps was definitely a new experience. The amount of springs and rivers did not make it easier.
Worst memory from when you were building?
Probably the endless rain and trying to build a trail with liquid mud while the excavator is stuck.
And the best one?
Seeing the line come together, being able to try it and watch other people riding it.
Any other projects in the future?
There are plenty of projects in the pipeline. Soon I'll head south to prepare for Royalfest and we're planning to build a top-to-bottom jump trail in Châtel Bikepark later this year. There will be more news on their Facebook page in the near future, so be sure to keep an eye out!