Words by Aric Duncan
Photos by Riley Seebeck of FlowPhotoCo
Growing up in Central Washington gives you a unique perspective on the outdoors. In a place where space is plentiful and people are outnumbered by cherry trees, nature isn’t somewhere you have to escape to, it’s part of your identity. Surrounded by rolling hills, miles of old roads to explore, and the constant company of the Columbia drifting lazily by, our weekends were spent getting lost in the vastness of this land.
I met Travis Doebler in high school, and we quickly became best friends, thanks to a shared passion for all things fast and two-wheeled. We’d set off from the family orchard on motorcycles, bikes, or whatever we could find, and head up and over the mountain to the sand dunes in search of big adventures and bigger air. The Doebler Orchard was basically my second home growing up; a place where work and play kinda blend together in my memory.
With so much area to explore, moto is the best way to go, so we both cut our teeth riding 2-strokes up the biggest dunes we could find. It didn’t take long to wonder whether a mountain bike wasn’t the perfect tool for surfing back down. Sure enough, I finally worked up the courage to try it and it worked! You can make the surfiest turns down the steep faces; it feels unlike anything else I’ve rode. The bike is so quiet coming down all you hear is the sound of the tires cutting through sand.
The Doebler’s Orchard sits just on the other side of the mountain from this treasure trove of sand dunes, and with some land to spare, they had a spot where I was able to put in a jump line. Materials were a little scarce, but I managed to cobble together a pretty sweet slopestyle-inspired line (out of an old semi trailer and apple bins from the farm) to make the drop in and built two ramps. A little sculpting work with the backhoe, some extra finishing dirt from the dump truck I drive for work, and we had a jump line; the perfect spot to test new tricks and get my bike dialed for the season’s freeride events!
With the wind in our favor, the light going golden, and the Doebler’s bush plane buzzing by for effect, I dropped in on my three-jump line. Pretty wild dropping in with a plane flying right next to me! It took a few passes to find the timing, but I could tell we finally got it right when I was upside down and heard him right next to me.
We’re incredibly fortunate to have so much space to live, work, and play here in the Pacific Northwest. The land where we filmed this adventure is the traditional territory of the Yakama and Wanapum peoples, and I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to share it. Thanks to the Doebler family for all the help over the years, and to Riley Seebeck for getting a wicked sunburn in order to capture the madness.
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See more photos from Riley Seebeck here