Last year we filmed the Pure Darkness road trip video because we were tired of watching boring videos filmed totally in slow-mo with predictable music. (Click here if you haven't seen Pure Darkness.) We wanted to make the most awesome video, like the old golden days of freeride, and make it seem like a cool sport again with emphasis on the fun times biking can bring, not lame stuff like ‘training’ and trying to be the best. It seemed like you guys enjoyed it so my idea was to bring the crew to South Africa and film another one! The Monster crew in SA thought of building something at The Garden Route Trail Park in Knysna, a wicked bike park owned, built, and run by Rob Dormehl - the raddest farmer of all time! With his organization and help we decided on building the biggest, most badass trick jump of all time. Four days of solid work in sweltering heat and Pure Darkness II - The Step-Up is what we came up with! Some of the biggest tricks and crashes of all time went down and when we left we could not have given any more. It was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t thank everyone enough who helped make it happen, most of all Monster Energy and 'Rob the Farmer' for helping us to build something this cool in your awesome bike park. If you guys like it then maybe we will go back again next year and make something even better! But for now, sit back, press play, turn up your speakers, and get stoked!
Full speed or No speed! - Sam Reynolds
Created by Dark Media (Tom Grundy, Sam Davies and Jules Langeard) Edited by Tom Grundy Photos by Eric Palmer Riding by Danny Pace, Matt Macduff, Sam Reynolds, Blake Samson, and Dylan Stone
Special thanks to Monster Energy, Cape Town Ford, Ryan Franklin, Intern (good vibes), The Garden Route Trail Park, Liquid Wrench, Steadidrone, Knysna Tourism Board and everyone involved - cheers guys!
Get well soon to Rob too who recently nailed himself in his own bikepark!
Sleeping under the stars in the middle of a farm in South Africa has its ups and downs; the scorpions, snakes, and screaming baboons are not ideal, but the peace and beauty more than make up for it. Maybe not for Jules though who literally found a scorpion in his pants. [Right] Braai master, Dylan Stone, doing what he does best and cooking up steaks for the boys. We would have probably had beans on toast for every meal if it wasn't for him, but instead we ate like kings!
The quad bike had a bit of a party, but luckily Monster Energy is like currency in South Africa so we slipped him a crate and he was more than stoked and apology was accepted!
Danny Pace aka 'The Steam Train' aka 'Zeus' is an ex-multi European champion kick-boxer. Not only the teams' personal security but also does the highest front-flips ever seen by human eyes. You really have to see it to believe it, and even then you still wont believe it. His catchphrase is, after having the biggest crash you could imagine and walking off, 'anyone else would be dead' and you'd be a fool to disagree, the floor is more likely to be hurt.
Climbing to the tippy top, with the climbing rope in case you should need it! The roll-in tower was 12 metres tall and you needed every bit of speed it gave you, as well as the entire hill. The guys at the Garden Route Trail Park did an incredible job to get this thing up. The workers reflect on the last four days and wonder what kind of monster we had created and what might go down in the next few days.
Matt and his new best mate, Edward the digger operator, worked in perfect harmony. Danny called him Derek to annoy Matt and sometimes Matt would make everyone leave so he and Edward to be together, not sure why. Edward aka Derek had put in something like 96 hours on the step up landing, but everything, of course, was hand finished and crafted, any imperfections would be multiplied by the speed and size of the jump. Shaping the monster 22ft lip was the trickiest, but most fun, part of the build; taking constant water and packing with shovels. We started at the top and worked down building steps to stand on as we went. Imagine standing at the bottom of that thing! We had no idea if it would work. Even the Dark Media camera crew got fully involved in the gruelling build; Tom Grundy helping Dyl finished up the top of the lip. And Dyl and Blake piled up the sides of what was to be the takeoff.
Taking a swim break from building in the black snake river on a 42C scorcher. It was the hottest day in Cape Town in 100 years. We had to watch out for leaches and eels though!
The nice guys at the Knysna tourism office showed us some of the delights their town had to offer, and if one of the worlds best bike parks and sandy beaches weren't enough, they also had the friendliest locals and incredible food. The Knysna hospitality gems continue with oysters and cocktails on the beach.
No brainer going there really, what are you waiting for?
Matt sitting on the beach after a few cocktails. He might be wondering how much speed we will need for the jump or he might just be thinking about how much Edward would love this beach, only Matt knows.
Every morning we rode down the newly renamed 'Milkshake Trail' to the Garden Route Trail Park Cafe for breakfast and at least one milkshake. Then we would ride the awesome pumptrack before heading up to continue work on the beast. Blake applied some racer steeze to the pumptrack between sips of Nutella and peanut butter milkshake to keep him cool.
[Top] Danny the Steam Train opening proceedings with a no look flip. You can see the biceps from here! [Left] Matt did the best whip ever done on a mountain bike, there is no doubt in my mind or anyone else who was there. This unfortunately was just a warm up, but watch the full edit and you'll be a believer too. And if you don't agree then - Danny WILL hunt you down. [Right] The feeling of this jump was just incredible and the possibilities for full extension was like never before. It took a while for us all to work the jump out but then it was just awesome.
Blake was the only one of us to dial in 360's properly on the massive jump and he went next level, throwing combos that left the rest of us scratching our heads. The rotational force on the wheels made our bikes handle totally differently in the air so tailwhips, barspins, and 360s were super difficult! But Blake is a Boss. Matt was spinning flatspins so high I have no words for how sick it was. Then took his hand off for extra measure. The guy doesn't even have brakes on his bike!
[Top] The search for the ultimate whip as we all know is a quest that all men strive for, and whipping this jump was an incredible sensation. Throwing my bike past 90 degrees up there really excelled my wildest dreams! Matt down there 40ft below ready to crank one out too. [Left] Flipwhip of epic proportions by MacDs. [Right] Blake chilling upsidown throwing the arms off for the ultimate yolo.
[Top] Stop reading the caption and just look at how high he is! It's truly absurd. [Bottom] You can't go far wrong with a massive Blake Samson superman.
[Top] Not quite as high as the Mac daddy but still plenty high enough and soaring like a bird. [Middle] Danny with either a corked flip barspin, double barspin, or toboggan. Whatever it is, it's insanely cool. [Bottom] Are you kidding me? Danny Pace with, without a doubt, the gnarliest frontflip no hander ever done - and yes anyone else would have died from the impact. Just look again and imagine the true height off that 22ft tall lip. Mind blowing.
[Left] You can take the Macduff from the streets but you can't take the street from Macduff. Grundy checking the roost for scorpions. [Right] Ultimate triceps extension on the 'pump track' from the Steam Train.
[Top] This is one of my favorite tricks that Blake does and I was stoked when he sent this whopper! Superman one hand is a very tricky move and Blake's signature one. [Left] Flintstone, sidewinder, running man whatever you want to call it, it's one of my favorites and I love doing it!
[Left] Just one of the most incredible shots of all time, I could look at this all day. Danny Pace with his background in motocross can get it properly twisted up. [Right] Getting stoked from Danny's superman indy style I had to bring out the moto moves myself with an aptly named Holyman.
I'll be totally honest, and hopefully Dylan won't mind me telling you, that when we first built the beast no one (including Dyl, himself) was really sure if he would hit it. But after watching for an hour or so he dressed up as spiderman and launched some legendary moves including this epic suicide no hander. Mad respect for Dyl, and all the boys agree that he went well above and beyond expectations to send it on his old school 24 inch wheels!! He's not just the grill king or the lilo pool running champ.
[Top] How could I leave without chucking a massive double backie for the boys? It really was a big deal after breaking my back doing one at Crankworx Europe in 2012 but as Dyl kept reminding us, 'just live the dream!' [Bottom] Well this pretty much sums up the Pure Darkness week. A bunch of mates who like to do things their own way, slightly different from the rest of the MTB crowd. There was no competition, we were just inspiring each other whilst doing what we love. Everyone was stoked to work together to create the ultimate trick jump we've always dreamed about and we made it a reality. Waking up at 6am to ride before the wind and digging for 4 days solid in 40 degree heat. Thanks so much to everyone involved in making this come true however big or small part you played!!