LooseFEST Photo Epic: Malmedy, Belgium

Aug 1, 2016 at 7:11
by Eric Palmer  
First day full moon and the LOOSEFEST creator playing on his artwork Not a bad way to start the week
First day, full moon, and the Loosefest creator was playing on his artwork. Not a bad way to start the week.

LooseFEST hit La Ferme Libert Bike Park in Malmedy, Belgium, again on July 18. The boys started rolling in and the madness got started right away...

Some warm up trains
Some warm up trains.

The guys warmed up on the line that ran between the beasts which, for normal people, has quite big jumps, but compared to what was coming, it looked like trails you’d make in beach sand.


The gaps are mind blowing. You have to stand next to them to get a true sense of the scale and speed. The guys wasted no time and got through all the jumps on the first evening, so it was a sign of good things to come.


Seeing a man disappear into the distance in a matter of seconds like this is almost beyond comprehension. The forces going on here are not what you're used to seeing anywhere else on a bicycle.


Even the run in was mental! The steep drop into a 90-degree left hander, into a 180 right, and then down this shark fin, would give most riders a run for their money. These boys, however, had their eyes on what lay after that in their sights, and flew through it effortlessly. Their concern was to work out how much speed they needed out of the step-down to make the first big hit. Things were running nice and fast the first few days, and they actually needed to tap the brakes a bit not to over-jump it.

Shark fin soup for breakfast
Shark fin soup for breakfast.


Turn up for what
Turn up for what?!

Some MX boys joined for the first few days and was crazy to see them sharing the jumps with the bikes and follow trains. Tyler Bereman stopped by before hitting Zwarte Cross and, damn, this boy can ride a bike. He was just oozing style over everything and squeezing out some spectacular whips, despite the lips being a bit on the mellow side for the MX bikes.

European Sunsets aren t too shit
European Sunsets.

Whip Trains to start things off
Whip Trains to start things off.

The first evening sent us a nice little full moon amp awesome turn ups off to a good start
The first evening sent us a nice little full moon and awesome turn ups, off to a good start.

The light in Europe is so different to what I'm used to in South Africa. Our best light after sunset lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, but here it was lasting about an hour, so it meant I could get a lot more done in the power hour. The full moon on the first evening was a treat! Every evening after that was overcast, so the opportunity to use it was only for that first session.

Playing on the middle line
Playing on the middle line.

Downside foot dangler
Downside foot dangler.

A few fun features in the woods
A few fun features in the woods.

Some of the guys headed into the woods during the mid-day heat. There were some fun features we don't have much of back home. It was fun to shoot and the general difficulty on the trails was a bit higher than the average track in South Africa.

The trails in the forest were a good way to hide from the heat
The trails in the forest were a good way to hide from the heat.

Keeping it tidy
Keeping it tidy.

Big jumps means lots of work, and luckily the Fest boys are not scared to get their hands dirty to keep things running minty fresh.

too much steeze
Too much steeze.

leaning her over amp grabbing the fender
Leaning her over and grabbing the fender.

too crazy
Too crazy!

1 foot steeze
One foot steeze.

This man can throw a bike around
This man can throw a bike around.


Whips for tits

Flip the Hip
Flip the Hip.

1 foot down table
One foot down table.

Tabes for the Babes
Tabes for the babes.

Sam making Indiana Jones jealous with the most beautiful whips
Sam making Indiana Jones jealous with the most beautiful whips.

As the week went on the guys were getting more and more comfortable on the line, and tricks started to sneak their way into the mix. The hip at the bottom had a bit of a steeper lip, so that seemed to be where the guys were the most comfortable. Conor sent a flip on day two and Ethan 450'd it on day three. Madmen!

Celebrations on their National Day
Celebrations on National Day.

Celebrations on their National Day - Such a beautiful little town
Celebrations on National Day - Such a beautiful little town.

Celebrations on their National Day

Celebrations on their National Day

Loosefest just happens to have Belgium's National Day, slap bang in the middle, and there was a nice little market/festival in Malmedy, so I had to take my camera on a little tourist walk to see what it was all about. There was a fun vibe with loads of fun things to keep the kids entertained, and lots of stalls selling random things, from cold meats and cheeses, to caps, fluffy toys, old instruments and ornaments. A little light popped through onto the buildings with dark clouds behind, it really made this beautiful town look like the most amazing place... which it was.

Andreu playing on his big bike
Andreu playing on his big bike.

MX whips
MX whips.

Unfortunately the king of big air had some personal things back home he had to sort out, so he only joined for a day, but seeing Andreu ride anything is such a treat, and he took his big bike for a couple sideways laps.

Not your normal set of trails
Not your normal set of trails.

Even the run in was madness big step down shark fin
Even the run in was madness, big step down shark fin.

I think Nico was going sideways more than forwards all week
I think Nico was going sideways more than forwards all week.



Whipped out T-bog
Whipped out T-bog.

1 foot steeze
One foot steeze.

Whips were getting so wild on the 1st

Sam s whips on the first were getting soooo wild Mid train whip that would make Indiana Jones jealous
Sam's whips on the first were getting so wild - a mid-train whip that would make Indiana Jones jealous!

By now the boys were pretty comfortable on the beasts... or as comfortable as you can be on things this big. Sam and Nico were sending the biggest whips I've ever seen, and Conor was tricking pretty much every jump!

The distance these boys were flying was mental
The distance these boys were flying was mental.

Topping up on some flyer miles
Topping up on some flyer miles.

[PI=13773380c]Blasting off.[/PI]

Big flat 3 in the forest
Big flat 3Three in the forest.

Barrel Roll
Barrel Roll.

doing the hokey pokey
Doing the hokey pokey.

Flat spin forest train
Flat spin forest train

Super Indy
Super Indy.

Super Sweeter
Super Sweeter.

There was wind and rain forecast for the weekend, so that was going to be the last big sessions. Nico got to work and smashed out a nice jump up in the trees. Friday afternoon had everyone make their way up to that. Being a bit smaller and only one jump, the guys got to some wild trickery quickly. Again, Conor, Sam and Nico were the standouts, going through their trick list with ease. A few of the younger guys also showed what they've got. It was such a fun vibe, with everyone cheering the boys on.

Super Seat Indian - the one that got away amp ended his Loosefest riding.
Super Seat Indian - the one that got away - and ended his Loosefest's riding.

Making sure Reynolds is good after a hard slam... rang his bell hard amp smashed the back of his helmet but he s a machine amp is already back on the bike
Making sure Reynolds is good after a hard slam. It rang his bell hard and smashed the back of his helmet, but he's a machine - he's already back on the bike.

Sam unfortunately had some bad luck on a super seat indy and missed the bar on the way down... he got whipped to the ground and smacked his head hard on the solid landing, giving everyone, including himself, a fright. Support rushed over to make sure he was ok. Luckily just a bit dazed and confused - and with a really sore ass. He was able to walk away and take in the vibes for the rest of the event. Sam smashed the back-right side of his helmet and cracked it open completely. If there was ever a good helmet ad, this was it, it did its job well.

Domestic chores
Domestic chores

Chores don't do themselves. Keeping the line clean was a constant job. The injured list was getting bigger as the week went on, a small spill is all of a sudden a serious crash on these monsters, so the list of riders was slowly dwindling, but that didn't mean a shortage of awesome riding.



leg swag train
Leg swag train.

Saturday saw a little drizzle, but not enough to stop the fun. The guys cleaned the line and the games continued. The damp ground meant that the line was running a bit slower, so a bit of speed recalculation was necessary. It didn't take long to get back into the swing of things and the tricks started to come to the table again.

Bright Kits amp huge whips
  Bright Kits and huge whips.

Huge Whip

Sunday played with us. A little drizzle early on made our hopes of riding drop, only to have the sun come out later. Everyone did their best effort to minimize the mud sludge to hopefully have it dry by ride time, but it wasn't meant to be. The clouds rolled in again and put an end to any hope we had left. For the Loosefest crew, this just meant the fun moved somewhere else. Spa was just around the corner and some go-karting seemed like the only sensible option. Being soaking wet and slippery, it only made things more fun and the boys went in, stealing lines and forcing others into the tires, while some were just struggling to keep traction.

Tom Isted smashing the holeshot.

Spa Carting
Spa Karting

finding some air on the track
Damon finding some air on the track.


Making use of the artificial Sunset.

Late Night Tourist shots in Malmedy.


I really fell in love with this little town, clean, quiet, lots of beer, good food, and an amazing bike park five minutes away.




Before getting on the plane, we had a quick power-hour tourist session in Brussels. It was a great end to a most crazy week with the best guys. Loosefest is such a rad event! Thanks to Nico and all the guys for making it possible, Hope to see you here next year.


  • + 28
 Awesome to see a fest photo epic. More of this please, more content the merrier.
  • + 6
 Agreed! Articles like this are awesome besides just a highlight real from a fest stop.
  • + 10
 Those were great. Unbelievable how huge those jumps are. No photos of the massive step down into the last hip? Even the videos hardly show it.
  • + 4
 I was bummed about that too. I thought it was probably the gnarliest thing out there but they barely showed it this year. I'd like to know exactly how big all those gaps are also
  • + 4
 @dro-cfr: The 3 gaps are 20, 22 and 25 meters if I remember well. And the last step down is also 25 meters.. They must reach 60 km/h on the step down to land it well... Awesome
  • + 1
 I took some of the course without riders. It's really hard to show how big these are. Click through the pics for the stepdown.

  • + 0
 @Jim-laden: Cool, thanks. A side view of that step down would have been sweet. Would have been cool to have seen them boost those. Just gnarly.
  • + 1
 @Peregrinebikes: I wanted to get to that on Saturday, but rain killed my plans. If I get to go next year I'll make sure I get that first! It was so mental seeing them hit that thing!!!
  • + 6
 Awesome photos, but...

Maybe, in light of the recent article on Pinkbike, this caption - "Making sure Reynolds is good after a hard slam. It rang his bell hard and smashed the back of his helmet, but he's a machine - he's already back on the bike." - should have read "Making sure Reynolds is good after a hard slam. It rang his bell hard and smashed the back of his helmet, but his brain is not a machine that can simply be fixed - he got checked out by a doctor and is taking the next few weeks off to recover/has a very minor concussion and is back on the bike"...
  • + 4
 Beautifull coverage and proud to see the pics of the city I live in.
Thanks Eric for sharing

Malmedy is more than DH and could be better known as the little Houffalize for XC/AM .
You're all always welcome !
  • + 1
 Dude! Your home is beautiful! Loved every minute of being there!!!
  • + 6
 Sam Ren is onfire right now!! Roll on Rampage
  • + 1
 such a fun guy to watch! all around sender between pure darkness, fest, rampage; guy is just killing it. And his stoke is infectious.
  • + 2
 Awesome write-up & photos dude! Definitely makes me miss being there even more though haha
  • + 3
 Thanks man!
Dude! Missing all the boys too much! Was good to meet you & Chris, hopefully I get to come play that side more often! Was too sick!
  • + 2
 Hope Sam's ok. And didn't pinkbike just publish an article on riding after concussions...
  • + 1
 Things are serious when you start putting a windsock near the transitions.....wow, this is beyond next level.
  • + 1
 Why doesn't Nico Vink get an invite to Rampage?
  • + 3
 Because his feet smell.
  • + 1
 @almostwise: oh I see. I never considered fragrant feet to be an entry requirement.
  • + 1
 need to make it a full screen photo epic
  • + 2
 10/10 photo coverage!
  • + 2
 Amazing photos!
  • + 1
 Connor Macfarlane is gonna kill it at rampage
  • + 1
 Did @ithomas write those captions? Big Grin
  • + 2
 Good work as always.
  • + 0
 Incredible riding and photos, it doesn't get any more glorious!
  • + 0
 ... and yet we weren't shown the cracked helmet?
  • + 2
 Perhaps the helmet company didn't want a photo of one of their destroyed products published, or Eric didn't manage to get a photo of it, or he may not have been happy with the photo he got, or maybe everyone was too busy making sure Sam was ok after the crash....there are a lot of possibilities. Whatever the reason, I'm gad Sam was able to walk away and that Eric once again treated us to some stunning photos. Beer
  • + 1
 @almostwise: please don't misread my query as ill intent.
Having been on the mend after plenty of helmet saving accidents, as well as the ever growing risks that we create pushing our limits, I was just surprised that seeing as Sam's helmet saved his head it might've been relevant to see the damage in a ''real world instance'' rather than in a lab-controlled environment.

Glad Sam is ok though, we as a culture can ill-afford anymore loses of our fellow 2-wheeled brethren.
  • + 0
 @dadebrown: Oh I didn't think there was any ill intent, just thought I'd try to give a few possible reasons for the lack of photo. Sorry if it came across like I was having a dig. Smile
  • + 5
 @almostwise: a picture of the smashed helmet is on my Instagram! Please check it out if you want, really shows how with a quality helmet you aren't just paying for the brand, it really does its job! I slammed so hard but didn't get knocked out and the helmet is destroyed. A real shame but worth every penny to keep ya safe!!
  • + 2
 @dadebrown: I did get a few shots of the helmet, but it wasn't showing the damage as well as I wanted & also didn't want to start doing a serious helmet shoot while Sam was lying in pain... I might have a look again & see if there's an ok one I can post.
  • + 2
 @SamReynolds26: Thanks bud, SERIOUSLY stoked that you're in good health. Couldn't agree with you more about a quality helmet.
  • + 3
 @ericpalmer: Fully understood bru... Thanks for the top-notch content.

p.s. - I miss Cape Town
  • + 1
 @SamReynolds26: Ah that'll buff out lol Seriously though, what a testament to the level of protection it provides! Showed it to the kids as they have a habit of riding at the skatepark without a lid...think it woke them up a bit as hey all wore theirs when they left yesterday.
  • + 0
 Jesus Christ monkey balls. Dem gaps.
  • + 0
 this is just insane... i thought they cant get bigger anymore Wink )

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