Without much introduction necessary these days, aged 25, William Robert is a growing talent in the world of freeride. Although accustomed to international travel, he had never ridden in Utah, an area that can be considered the birthplace of freeride.
Our trip took form in two parts. After 5 hours travelling from Denver we arrived at our first destination, Green River, UT. Made popular several years ago thanks to the movie Strength in Numbers, and the location of many videos since, this Western-style city is located on the edge of the highway. But it's the especially incredible lunar landscape surroundings that interested us. Widely visible from the road, huge areas of black earth rise a few hundred metres high and stretch for km after km. Most of this place remains unexplored because it's impossible to access unless on foot or via helicopter. With a limited amount of time, we chose to head towards the main spot.
Because this area gets ridden and filmed regularly it was difficult for us to find new features to dig and shape. After a few hours however, we found some interesting spots that theoretically, were well exposed to evening and morning light. The main stumbling block was the quality of the dirt itself. Made up of fragments of rock, the ground was very difficult to work with and we needed a lot of water because of the lack of rain. Despite our best efforts, the lips of jumps and the fresh parts we had dug were destroyed after a few hits, which obviously significantly reduced our chances of success.
The weather was our second problem. The wind, ubiquitous of Utah in the spring, didn’t help us at all. Our hopes of camping quickly deteriorated after our first attempt to put the tent up, which was manhandled and very quickly no use to anyone...
Very localised storms played their part every day. They follow very particular paths and can be somewhat violent. We had seen some storms just a hundred metres from us, without feeling a single drop of rain. Our greatest concern with precipitation was getting back to where we started. When it rains in Utah, the ground becomes extremely slippery (almost icy) and the 4x4 track that we used to reach the road could easily have become inaccessible. However, this variation of weather was a sight to see. Stormy skies at sunset, we saw it all, and it was spectacular!
A typical day of this first week started at 5am. After 35 minutes in the 4x4 in the dark, William had to ride at sunrise, something he’d never really experienced before. We were digging most of the day to prepare for the evening and the next day's shoot before heading back to the hotel after dark.
Moving on from Green River we took the road to Virgin, UT.
Virgin is definitely the most frequented place for freeride. Welcoming Red Bull Rampage for many years, the dirt is also much easier to work. This popularity is obvious and it's difficult to find untapped places when you spend a short amount of time there. So we chose to rebuild some old lines on abandoned old Rampage faces and also run a few lines and jumps built by locals.
With Virgin being located just 10 minutes from Hurricane, a much larger and more industrial city, the change of scenery was less of a factor than at Green River. On the other hand, to us the place seemed much more hostile as the scorpions and rattlesnakes were difficult to ignore.
Shooting in Utah with William has been a mutual dream for years and we hope we’ve been able to accurately share it with you through these pictures!
Rider: William Robert
Words and photography: Jb Liautard
Video: Léon Perrin