Video: Jake Kinney Uses a Ghost Town as an MTB Playground

Aug 20, 2020
by Norco Bicycles  

America’s Old West – just the name of the place stirs thoughts of romantic expanses of un-tamed land and untapped opportunity made famous in old-timey Hollywood.

The imagery etched in our collective psyches of what the American West is – the long-forgotten towns that shriveled away after industry and fortune absconded with the American Dream - has its roots in the Mojave Desert.

This place has a weight to it. A gravity steeped in ancient indigenous cultures who lived off this land for centuries before European settlers arrived, and whose spiritual presence can still be felt to those who seek it.

Photo by Seth Kaser

There is also, even today, the feeling of undiscovered territory in the Mojave Desert – like you’re the first person to ever walk this rugged land. And then, you crest the hill in front of you and see the indelible presence of modern life – but it somehow still feels like you’re a trailblazer. Like the abandoned towns, wind farms and industrial graveyards naturally evolved in this otherworldly place – like detritus scattered about by millennia of volcanic activity and the endless flow of the Colorado River.

When this infinite landscape is right next door, and some of the most famous dedicated riding spots in the mountain biking world just a short drive away, it took Woodward West MTB Program Director Jake Kinney a long time to see the riding possibilities within a stone’s throw of his Tehachapi, CA home.

Photo by Seth Kaser
Photo by Seth Kaser

“We ride motorcycles up there a lot, and I was up there at one point and thought ‘How sick would this be on a bike?’” he said. “We’re really close to Mammoth and Big Bear, so the locals never really think about riding up there, so this is the first time mountain bikes have ever been on these trails.”

It can be hard to believe, for anyone who doesn’t live in the area, that a landscape so isolated and desolate lies just 45 minutes from his front door – and, somehow, this is the first time anyone has thought to bring a bike. There were no re-shoots, or sessioning a line to get it “just right”.

“Every part of the film is the first take. So, literally, the movie is showing the first time a trail has ever been ridden. It’s pretty cool.”

Photo by Seth Kaser
Photo by Seth Kaser

Ben Gagliardi is well-established in the world of skateboard and snowboard videos, and has worked on video shoots with Hawthorn Heights, The Offspring and Metallica. Ghost Town marks his first foray into MTB edits.

The three-day shoot took place over an early June weekend with perfect weather. The desolation and scale of the production was ideal in the reality of California’s Covid lockdown. With so much space to play with, social distance was not a problem.

Photo by Seth Kaser

Kinney, who has lived in the area for the decade he’s been with Woodward, hopes that Ghost Town does a couple of things:

• Let the burgeoning MTB scene and riders from out of town realize what amazing riding and epic landscapes are easily accessed in America’s Old West.
• Remind us all to open our eyes to the hidden gems that might be right in our own backyards.

Photo by Seth Kaser

Rider and Producer: Jake Kinney
Director: Ben Gagliardi
Photos: Seth Kaser

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Videos Norco


  • 25 0
 The quality as good...but this felt like a trailer to a larger video. It was a little underwhelming.
  • 12 0
 With you on that, the title featured a ghost town playground, the video featured a few frames of the ghost town in passing.
  • 9 0
 Yeah the ghost town title got my hopes up expecting an Akrigg style edit.
  • 2 0
 @Kitejumping: yes, that's it! That's what I was expecting too.
  • 9 2
 Kern river valley locals hit up that spot in the early 2000's... Long before you tube and instaface
  • 2 0
 What spot is this you speak of?
  • 7 0
 Very cool. But I'm confused about the jumps and berms on trails that have "never been ridden"?
  • 2 0
 Need more desert riding videos! I hope this just the start of more off the beaten path videos. Literally.
  • 1 1
 they're pretty cool for us, but a giant PITA to build and film.
  • 1 0
 If it did not know the spot you almost would have been able to fool me that this is shot in one location. Big ups to Jake hitting the man eater on his trail bike!
  • 1 0
 Yeah I have seen some of those built trails and they’re not in the desert as far as I could tell
  • 1 0
 Reminded me of the Decline magazine ads that took up two pages and had one horrible pic. Great riding though, needed more of it, but it wasn’t a dj so i get it
  • 5 1
  • 4 0
 West Texas lives on
  • 1 0
 Do you remember the Cake Walk in Terlingua?
  • 2 0
 Shiver me Timbers and West Coast Hucker are from West Texas. It’s not a safe zone.
  • 1 0
 @sriracha: Carpet drops and Monster T's with a side of radiation poisoning.
  • 1 1
 I was just in Mammoth myself this weekend. I thought the same "Wonder if there's any non-motorized riders out here in this wasteland?"
  • 2 0
 A stone's throw from Mammoth lol
  • 1 0
 Well shot and produced video, although the 2 places used are hours apart from each other. lol
  • 2 0
 Yeah Jake!
  • 1 0
 Except none of the actual trail shots were shot in the Mojave...
  • 1 0
 Not many Sights out there huh...
  • 3 2
  • 11 10
 norco ad, lame......
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