The third part of our freeride film series Outlaw Diaries is finally ready. Prepare for a rough adventure far away from the usual bike destinations.
The first part of this series took place in Germany near Patrick a.k.a Bengel's hometown. The second one brought us to British Columbia, following the tracks of all those legendary freeriders that set the foundation for our sport and inspired Bengel's way of riding. After returning to B.C. for 6 years in a row, the time had come to seek for something new.
We left our comfort zone in search of a place where we could be pioneers again. A wild place, where no bike tire had touched the dirt before, with infinite opportunities to ride, especially steep and long runs. The east is calling. The Wild Wild East. Join us on a trip to the wilderness of Kamchatka, Russia.
The first time Bengel's tyres touched volcano dirt. This was the first run of the trip with perfect ground conditions. Maybe the conditions were so good because it was raining for days. We learned pretty fast that when it rains in Kamchatka it pours and it pours for days. So we had no other option than just let it be and have a little fun with our riding. After this splash action, we took a swim in that giant puddle.
The unknown is what makes people curious. And nowadays it gets harder and harder to be a pioneer in this world.
We called this run "Lord Of The Rings" because we always expected Gandalf or the hobbits to come by in this unreal setting. It took us half a day to get there by car and feet although it was only around 2km distance to our lodge. Kamchatka distances...
Looking for untouched terrain to ride and film I stumbled across pictures of giant volcanoes surrounded by beautiful nature in Kamchatka, eastern Siberia. Straight away I was hooked on the idea of exploring this place and riding my bike down some of those volcano faces. A few months later I found myself on top of a mountain and roughly got the call through the radio from the filmers out of the helicopter. After ninety seconds of hauling down steep grades over sharp rocks I hit the brakes as hard as I could to stop my bike before it ran into big boulders, trees and bushes. That heli day was the highlight for sure, but all in all the whole trip was so special and such a unique experience that it took us quite a while to digest it all. Throwing yourself into the unknown and trying to ride bikes at this place wasn’t always just a pleasure. But when we had a barbecue two weeks later and recalled the trip with all the anticipation, effort, risk-taking and crazy moments we all felt so satisfied. The pressure was off and we all realized that we me made it happen and just pioneered new ground in mountain biking.—Patrick 'Bengel' Rasche
Bengel slaying down our so-called "Lodge Trail". The first days weather was so bad that we had to use our time wisely. Besides several scouting missions, we built this trail just next to our Lodge into the woods.
In summer 17 we were not sure about when or if another Outlaw Diaries video would be produced. One day Bengel gave us a call and came up with this idea. Two months later we found ourselves with him and his photographer-buddy Constantin on the plane to Kamtschatka. It was a trip into the unknown and we really didn’t know what to expect at all. What we experienced in those two weeks shooting the movie was just mind-blowing. The infinite landscapes and huge active volcanos and the completely different and raw lifestyle of the people there really caught us. We learned a lot on that trip. For example, how hard it is to sit for hours and hours in the back of a jeep on the bumpiest roads of the planet, trying to find some rideable spots. Have you ever tried to reach a location in a wild landscape where you can’t even find a path to walk? Or when it takes four hours to hike up what looked like a small hill from the distance? And what a thrill it is to approach those spots in an old Russian helicopter, with one of the three pilots jumping out of the flying machine to chop off trees in the landing area every time we try to land somewhere in the wilderness? Yes it was a crazy time and the perfect destination for the third part of the Outlaw Diaries series. In the end the trip showed us what big potential Siberia has to offer and we know for sure, that it was not our last time in the wild wild east. We just scratched the surface in the wildest place we’ve visited so far.—El Flamingo Films
Unloading the bike at the foot of the volcano. To get there it took hours of driving through this endless rocky moonscape where we never expected a car could drive through. Now another two hours hike to the top is imminent. When we finally reached the top of the volcano this unrealistic setting revealed. Welcome to hell. The earth was exhaling its gases and it felt like standing on top of a boiling pot just before its cap blows off.
About Kamchatka Kamchatka is a peninsula in the Russian far east. It’s located in the Pacific Ocean north of Japan. It has a wild coastline with 160 volcanoes, 29 are active at the moment, rising from sea level up to 4.700 metres. To get there you take the longest domestic flight in the world from Moscow all the way to the east. Until 1990, Kamchatka was a restricted military area that was closed to the public and especially for tourists. Those who are interested in winter sports might have heard about it. It became quite famous for heli skiing over the last few years. But for mountain bikers this part of east Siberia is still no mans land.
We visited Kamchatka for two weeks in late September 2017. It was exactly the time when the short summer comes to an end and the giant birch forests turn from green to gold. The weather on the peninsula is as rough as the landscape and we experienced everything from pouring rain, strong storms and snow to three perfect blue bird days. We had to learn that nature is the boss in Siberia and so we had to take the opportunities that the weather gave us.
Just getting things out of the truck and a quick change before it gets too dark. Bengel found a steep run with a nice backdrop and this needs to be captured before the night rolls in.
Hauling down the "Lord Of The Rings" backside. This was the payoff for a pretty long hike; a really long ride.
The team on top of "Lord Of The Rings". (left to right) Our guide from Russia, our guide Matthias from Germany, El Flamingo intern Bene, rider Bengel, El Flamingo member Johannes, (bottom left to right) El Flamingo member Philipp and Fransen our photographer.
Finally some airtime. A really rare experience on this trip, because it took a lot of work to build anything more than a trail. We built this corner in a marsh area so it took us a while to get the run in dry. Luckily there was an old wodden ladder that we used to cross a small stream. Anyway, this corner was worth its building time.
Ready for takeoff
Chop Chop Chop... The old Russian MI8 helicopter takes off. Sitting in this giant machine feels more like a bus than a helicopter.
Endless possibilities and limited time. Checking the landscapes and all the opportunities from above. "Could this one work out or does the distances deceive us again?" We had to experience that the dimensions are really difficult to guage in Kamchatka especially from the heli. Sometimes scanning the faces from the ground was a good alternative.
Walk off the heli like an action hero.
Drawing first lines in the volcano dirt. Must be weird scenery for our Russian guide; six Germans in the Siberian wilderness looking for some gravel slopes to ride down with a bike.
Finger always on the trigger. With that view and the first time in a helicopter we just couldn't stop filming. Unreal landscapes all over the place. Kamchatka is a country every Instagrammer should visit.
There it is! The last run Bengel was searching for the whole two weeks. A smaller volcano with red and black dirt with a run going down 400 vertical meters. It looks small but Bengel is standing right on the top of it! Can you spot him?
No time for excuses. Drop off on top of the volcano.
3... 2...1... Drop in! Bengel finally found what he was looking for. An ultra steep and long ride, taking 1 and a half minutes from top to bottom. Just hold on the bars and no mistakes on that sharp volcano dirt.
Did Patrick plan to take a helicopter flight to the top of a Russian volcano when he started mountain biking 15 years ago? Probably not. He just ended up there after sticking to his passion for riding bikes, no matter what happens in life.
Filmmakers: El Flamingo Photography: Constantin Fiene Guiding: SnowXplore