The Freeride Pioneers Behind China's Biggest Bike Park

May 10, 2019 at 8:59
by Scott Rapoport  

While millions are flocking to China's megacities, there are a couple of riders staying in a small farming village in the mountains of Zhejiang province, China. Their shins are covered with scars from pedal strikes. The town is picturesque, quiet, and between the sounds of rural Chinese life, you may hear the loud buzzing of a DH bike’s rear hub. On the mountain that towers over the village, they are digging trails and massive jumps. Their names are Ding Zai Gang and He Jun Yuan, and they are China’s preeminent downhill freeriders.

He Jun Yuan likes to get loose


Ding and Yuan flowing through the bamboo grove

Ding and Yuan are the diggers behind Brave Peak Bike Park, often referred to as “Chinese Whistler” by the country’s downhill community. BPBP is a two-hour drive outside of Hangzhou, a bustling and ancient city now known for its fast-expanding tech industry. The drive from Hangzhou takes you into the Yongfeng Mountains. Meaning "Brave Peak" in English, the name goes back over eight-hundred years. The park is located in the village of Xia Bao. With a population of around two-thousand people, the village stands in stark contrast with the nearby Hangzhou metropolitan area, whose population exceeds twenty-one-million.

A temple at the base of the park





Ding hitting the big jump line



I overheard a newly arrived guest ask Ding what he did at BPBP, to which he replied, “I drive the shuttle truck”. In reality, he is the manager, promoter, guide, head digger, and whatever else the park requires of him. He is also one of China’s most well known professional riders; videos of him riding are shared constantly throughout the Chinese downhill community.

Ding, 31, has been riding for just seven years. Mountain biking is a young sport, but especially young in China. Few, if any, of China’s professional riders, actually grew up riding mountain bikes, but were instead introduced to the sport when it began to take hold some five to ten years ago. At that time, Ding was working an office job in Guangdong province. He began mountain biking as a casual XC rider and quickly found the sport to be the perfect escape from the hustle of modern Chinese city life. Ding came across videos of freeriders Cam Zink and Darren Berrecloth and longed to create a similar scene in China. With little resources and no mentor to teach him, he scoured the Internet for videos on how to ride and build trails. It started as a single man operation, but Ding slowly began to shape a downhill/freeride community in the area. He eventually quit his office job and opened a bike shop, focusing on building the community and attracting new riders to the sport.

Seven years later, Ding is a professional at the helm of the Chinese freeride scene. Riders come from throughout China to watch and learn from him. Besides riding, Ding says his favorite thing to do is teach. At BPBP, his passion for this is obvious. The young riders clearly look up to him, and he is always willing to take a break from riding to help them hone their skills.

Ding loves the nac-nac


bigquotesI think China’s MTB market has great potential, especially for the next generation of young riders. In China, parents have realized the importance of letting their children exercise and challenge themselves. I hope to help more Chinese to understand this sport, especially through the construction of new trails, where I can teach them how to ride more safely and improve upon their skills. There are many riders in China who are working hard to spread mountain biking. Managers like Xiao Hui (the manager for a few of China’s fastest downhill racers), and Guangdong GDL (an organization that holds dozens of downhill races throughout China), who insist on creating a better race environment in China. As pioneers of this era, we are committed to this movement, hoping to raise China’s mountain bike standard to a higher level.Ding Zai Gang

No hands

Sittin' sideways

Some big berms off the top of the mountain



Ding coming into the DH racetrack's straightaway








Yuan is 27-years-old and, like Ding, has been riding for just seven years. He is a master on the dirt jumper and the downhill bike and is one of China’s most stylish riders in the air.

A native of Guangxi province, Yuan began riding while living in Guangdong. In 2013 he met Ding, who first introduced him to downhill riding. He soon replaced his XC hardtail with a big bike and began digging jumps.

In the early days of his riding career, Yuan worked full-time in a factory. He would get up at 4 am to practice on the jumps he built before heading to work at 7:30. Slowly, Yuan became recognized for both his talent on the bike and his skills with a shovel. In 2016, when the opportunity finally presented itself, he was invited to come to help build Brave Peak Bike Park, where he has been ever since.




Yuan enjoys backflipping his S-Works Demo


They've also built a pump track, mostly used as an area for young riders to develop solid technique

The original idea for Brave Peak Bike Park started in 2015. Cheng Jian Jun, a local of the village, began looking for a new venture to help promote economic growth in the region. The village, Xia Bao, clearly had the natural resources to become an outdoor tourist destination but lacked the infrastructure. After partnering with the boss of Fox Head China, Chen Xiong Qiang, the project began. The team brought in Ding and Yuan from Guangdong and also enlisted the help of a Canadian trail builder named Keith William. The early stages of construction faced some difficulties. Building a bike park in this region of China had never been attempted; the geological features of the Yongfeng range were unknown; Ding and Yuan had previously only built trails by hand. They now had the proper machinery and more land to build on than they could have dreamed. The process took lots of trial and error, but Ding says after his first year of building, he began to have a better understanding of the geological layout and became comfortable digging with large machinery. After two years of construction, BPBP opened its doors and is currently the largest bike park in China. Ding says the park is young and that construction is still in the exploratory stage. They are constantly adjusting routes and digging new lines.



Right off the side of the shuttle road, one of the hotel chefs harvesting bamboo shoots for dinner

The hotel is obviously built for mountain bikers


These twins were sending some of the biggest jumps in the park


These platforms are dispersed throughout the mountain and the village below, where riders can wait for a lift back up






While Ding and Yuan have, quite literally, carved out a nice living for themselves at BPBP, China’s pros don’t have it easy. At present, there is not a single rider in China who has full sponsorship. Ding is supported by SLH—a Shanghai-based bike shop that distributes throughout China—who hooked him up with his Commencal Furious. Yuan, who has received some support in the past, is currently unsponsored. When I asked him if he was looking for a new sponsorship, he said no. Often these contracts are unfair, requiring the rider to attend a certain number of races and events but expecting them to pay their own way. There is also the issue of societal constraints. China very much values a safe, steady job, purchasing a house and raising a family. The idea that you can make a living from riding a bicycle seems absurd to many. While this also holds true in the west, it is certainly amplified in China. Against it all, Ding and Yuan are relentlessly following their passion.






Mountain biking, especially freeride, is still very much on the fringe in China. Reminiscent of the North American/European scene’s past, before the sport became more popular, riders here are a renegade few. But they are here. They are in the massive industrial cities, in the Himalayas and the far reaches of the country’s western deserts, in villages and isolated mountain valleys. What is the future of mountain biking in the world’s most populous country? That’s hard to say, but it’s riders like Ding and Yuan who are already shaping it.


119 Comments

  • + 128
 It would be cool to see a WCDH in China. Politics aside China is a beautiful country full of beautiful people. Like most countries actually. Major props to Ding and Yuan. I was trying to think of a funny pun but I cant disrespect trail builders. RESPECT.
  • + 8
 THIS!
  • - 17
flag mkotowski1 (May 16, 2019 at 3:09) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah that’s nice and all but China is still a nightmare of human rights violations. You can still get locked up or executed on a whim in this country.
  • + 10
 @mkotowski1: Not like that,."On a whim"is not a correct description.
  • + 1
 @santi11111: so if you post on Instagram that you hate the governments policies and they should lift internet censors you have no fear of being locked up?
  • - 10
flag mkotowski1 (May 16, 2019 at 3:28) (Below Threshold)
 @santi11111: can you say fck Xi without fear?
  • + 25
 @mkotowski1: Ever been "driving while black" in the US? Morals and ethics quite a subjective and relative thing... Also, thanks, I guess, for assuming everyone is grateful for pushing the perceived moral superiority of your world-view on them.
  • - 10
flag mkotowski1 (May 16, 2019 at 3:48) (Below Threshold)
 @countzero1101: o we have our problems it’s quite obvious, yet China executes more people than any other country in the world. That’s objective my friend.
  • + 20
 @mkotowski1: And America has more people in prison than any other country on earth. That is also objective.
We live in a country that thinks we can cure disease by punishing people for having it, yet try to preach morals to others.
  • + 28
 Bros chill, every country has it problems, congrats, but biking is sick and if it has biking that is has one less problem
  • - 13
flag mkotowski1 (May 16, 2019 at 4:34) (Below Threshold)
 @Weens: apples to oranges man. I said executions! Ya know DEATH! And besides China doesn’t put people I prison, it has concentration camps instead.
  • + 24
 @mkotowski1: I think you are in the wrong forum. This has got nothing to do with biking mate.
  • + 2
 I claim SNOWFAKE on mkotowski1! It's worse than a snowflake... the worst of trolls
  • + 11
 @WAKIdesigns: Surely ticks all the boxes: 1.) presenting an error of logical category as "argument" 2.) if challenged, deflects and goes on to make yet another categorial error 3.) when becoming tangled in their own argumention, goes on to "deny until you die" 4.) completely (or shall I say pathologically) impervious to the presentation of an alternative point of view 5.) either blames the world for everything wrong with their lives or perceives the things and people around them in service to their narcissism... Smile Ergo: if you're a troll online, be prepared to be laid on the couch and be vivisected psychologically by people more observant than yourself. Big Grin (Not sure why I am feeding that particular troll today, must be the weather or something....)
  • + 0
 @countzero1101: nah: 1.Virtue signal 2a. Gain following of other idiots and shut up 2b get entangled in countless twists of own argument. Right or wrong is irrelevant, the stir and shit throwing is the purpose and it is accomplished.

It doesn't get more complicated than that Smile
  • - 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Touché. I was referring more to the less obvious reasons for the "stir and shit throwing". Therapists would charge for that, you're welcome Mr. Snowfake. Big Grin
  • + 1
 @countzero1101: we can talk about psychoanalysis if you want. I feel qualified. Like Narcissism card is overplayed when it comes to Troll activity. I realized that when I met the most narcissistic person that I could ever imagine... extremes help us understand the grey waters
  • + 2
 @santi11111: It would depend on your religious/political ideology. Ask the Falun Gong & Uyghurs for starters.
  • + 2
 I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been any world cups in China or Russia..
  • - 1
 @WAKIdesigns: We could sure do that, but maybe PB isn't the appropriate platform for this kind of conversation (don't scare the trolls, snowflakes, gender-challenged ppl, etc.). Smile As a (continental) philosopher, I read Lacan, Freud and Deleuze & Guattari, but mostly for self-observation and trying to get different perspectives on philosophical problems. However, luckily (for them), no patients depend on me, but even I can't bring myself to be kind and patient all the time, especially when faced with such stubborn stupidity by some self-challenging a*hole feeling lucky (probably also talking about a former version of myself here). The thing that offends me is not that kind of behaviour (it's an integral part of our oedipal-capitalist society), it's that the perps usually think that it'd be enough to get away with pretty much anything, therefore disrespecting and insulting the intelligence of their counterparts... Oops, rambling and hijacking topics, sorry for that, now back to BIKES! That being said, @WAKI, I am glad you're here! Keeps the comment section from being too dull and it sure is entertaining! Wink
  • + 4
 @mkotowski1: Thank god you live in such a free country. . . that has more people incarcerated per capita than any other country. . . But I do realize you are just try to get attention through making silly/negative comments that have nothing to do with the fun of riding bikes.

Speaking from experience: You'll be a happier person if you stop trolling people online just to get the tiniest bit of attention.
  • + 8
 @mkotowski1: If you think fck your great president everyday makes you a hero, God bless U.S.
  • + 8
 World Cup in china would be super tits.
  • - 8
flag mkotowski1 (May 16, 2019 at 8:04) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: I would need years to be as hated as you haha
  • + 2
 @mkotowski1: Well, that escalated quickly.
  • - 2
 @santi11111: at least we can vote him out, you stuck with Xi for life
  • + 8
 @pinkbike: can we have @mkotowski1 's account removed for being a road biking troll?
  • - 2
 @unrooted: your right I was hungover this morning sitting on the toilet then became a douche troll, sorry y’all, life’s a bitch sometimes and you become an ass
  • - 1
 @DRomy: yeah fck man mistakes were made, though I was on Reddit still hungover this morning
  • + 4
 @mkotowski1: nonsense! Nobody writes such stuff in hangover state. You are guilty of virtue signalling. Banishment!
  • - 2
 @WAKIdesigns: your still butthurt from the time you felt the need to tell me your whole life story, I am sorry to everyone on pinkbike for being ass, waki you are still a little bitch
  • + 7
 @mkotowski1: you have issues man
  • + 1
 @mkotowski1: I think @WAKIdesigns was being sarcastic with his "Banishment!" but, then again, I don't think any of us can ever really know what's going on in WAKI's mind.
  • + 6
 Yeah, what’s with all the politics in the comments, this is about Ding and Yuan!
  • + 1
 @santi11111: 哈哈哈哈哥们儿你太逗了!
  • - 1
 @Weens: when the whole country bans abortions and the population booms there’ll be even more in the jails !
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns @mkotowski1 you are both outstanding at what you do.
  • + 2
 @fatduke: I beg you a pardon? Comparing me to him is like comparing Stalin to the head of Swedish Workers Party. At best.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: no no I’m saying both of you are good at what you’re doing separately.
  • + 1
 Hey guys, I said politics aside.
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: what have you done....
  • + 31
 Excellent article and photos Scott, thank you.

Also timely given all the global grandstanding and chestbeating of late. In the deluge of negative news/propaganda, it's easy to forget that people on the other side of the world basically want the same things as you, and will be f**ked just as badly should the bellicose political rhetoric and maneouvering turn into something far more nasty. May we all continue to ride our bikes in peace.
  • + 5
 Agreed, cheers for the comment.
  • + 2
 Advancement in the mountain bike scene in a country as large as China brings good to all mountain bikers everywhere. Keep it up guys, make sure you get some tech rocky and rooty trails as well!
  • + 1
 Dream on
  • + 1
 Hope all of you can still get cheap parts from China in the future, without the fucking penalty duty,haha
  • + 23
 The proactive people builds this park through difficulties .Nice people in beatiful village,I have been there several times during weekend,a heaven for DH and park riding.Nice inhabitants and reasonable cost. Thank you!
  • + 17
 I've ridden here a few times- great fun and Xiao Ding is a top bloke. With a few more tracks BPBP will be amazing, but I know Xiao Ding is working on that!
  • + 2
 Do they have any tech trails?
  • + 3
 @Boardlife69: Most are high-speed lines and flowy trails with berms,turns.And drops
  • + 12
 Great write-up Scott! We all should thank you for letting the outside world know what's happening here! As I always say to foreign MTBers, we welcome you all to come to ride in China, and some great riders have already ridden fantastic trails in this country, big names like Jeff Lenosky, Nathan Rennie and Jackson Goldstone included. Chinese people are kind-hearted and open-minded. No matter where you are from, as long as you love mountain biking, we are happy to be your best riding buddies. I personally have been good friends with Ding and Yuan since their early riding days. I've seen what they've been through and am grateful for their contribution to this minor sport in this big country. Politics content is not what we like to see under this post. Don't believe what you've seen or heard from the web, just come here, and then you'll know what it is like in this country with enormous landscape and thousands years' history.
  • + 4
 Thanks Ricky glad you like it. Hope we can actually meet in person someday haha.
  • + 7
 Not far from my city. A great place to ride, but really not much to do besides riding. Heard the locals are building other fun stuff so it can be a go-to place for family weekends.
  • + 1
 What city are you in? Yeah, seems like it was a popular spot for very young kids and their parents. Those little scooter bikes are getting huge in China!
  • + 1
 @scottrap: I live in Hangzhou. Awesome place for Spring and Fall, miserable place for Winter. LOL. Let me know if you come visit, I can show you around. I've been to Yunnan, Kunming and Dali. Definitely awesome places for mountain bike riders.
  • + 5
 Trails in Brave Peak are fabulous that you guys should really come and ride, no matter where you are from. And thumbs to Xiao Ding and Xiao Yuan building this great biking place that bring us so much fun, thanks!
  • + 4
 The trails look like they were built by GRAVITY LOGIC.

At first I thought I was reading about DIY trails in China. "With little resources and no mentor to teach him, he scoured the Internet for videos on how to ride and build trails." You don't build those kind of trails with only 7 years riding experience, by watching videos....

Then I saw this part: "The team . . . . enlisted the help of a Canadian trail builder named Keith William."

The question is.... who is KEITH WILLIAM?
  • + 1
 Yes, they did'nt have much experience about how to build and run a bikepark, so you can see it's a freeride style park, but a lot of local gus call it "DH". But, it's better than Chongli's bikepark. In Chongli(2022 winter olympics), the trails were build by Canadian, but they all easier than Whistler green line.
  • + 5
 Well done Scott! Great article again. So cool to see this kind of development all over the country.
  • + 2
 Thanks Stephen hope we can ride again soon
  • + 2
 A nice article, well written. But still so many things missed! And as China is, everyone is only looking to the own little province. Where are the riders from Xinjiang? I think those are the Freeride Pioneers. Where are all the important riders they shaped biking in China how is it now? From Beijing, to Guangzhou from Shanghai to Chengdu and like @sargeluo it self. Wished the article would also name a bit more people and names in the chinese industrie then only this two riders. It sounds like this two formed the mountain bike scene in China, which is not true.
  • + 14
 Thanks for the feedback, I agree. I didn't mean for it to seem like just them, and Ding does mention in his quote that he isn't the only guy doing this. I have written a couple other articles on another part of China (you can see on my article), but I just don't have the resources to do a single comprehensive trip throughout China. I do this by myself for fun. Hope over time I can continue to do more articles on other parts of China/Asia.
  • + 5
 'meant you "can see on my page", about Yunnan.
  • + 4
 Any thoughts as to where we can contact riders in Chengdu? Going there later in the year and keen to shoot some video/photo with some local riders.
  • + 1
 @scottrap: yeahh i read that too. I'm here in China since 2009, racing also since then, and doing the online magazine mtbmagasia. www.mtbmagasia.com .
  • + 1
 @extremekid: if you are already in China, best is, to enter a biking group on wechat. Attend to a race and meet some riders. There was just a DH race in Chongqing, don't know when is the next one in Chengdu. But that's also a good way to connect with riders in China, going to races here.
  • + 1
 Well, this paper is just a intro about Ding, Yuan and BPBP(we call this park with this name), not about all China MTB
  • + 1
 @bengalitiger: Yeah I follow ya on instagram for a while, hit me up if you ever make your way down to Kunming.
  • + 2
 Great article. Brave Peak has been a long and wonderful project. My only hope is that it can continue to grow!

PS. Typhoon my name: it’s “Keith Williams”. Nice to get mentioned nonetheless.
  • + 1
 Ah, I had a hunch that it was Williams, but William was the name that was sent to me. Nice work out there man!
  • + 4
 Awesome! So much respect for these riders following their dreams and living their passion.
  • + 1
 I visited Brave Peak a month ago, Ding wasn't there but let me use his bike which shows how welcoming this place is. There is now a high speed train link which connects Shanghai to a 30 min drive from Brave Peak, only takes 1 hour 40. I look forward to seeing how this place develops over the next few years.
  • + 2
 This right here is why mountain biking is so damn cool. Huge props to these guys and thanks to Pinkbike for the great article
  • + 3
 One of those rare times of late when you think "Made In China....cool". Now if we could all just chill and ride bikes...
  • + 5
 Chinâtel Mountain Style
  • + 3
 Man, China would make kick ass bike parks I recon...They seem to take things to the next level....
  • + 1
 Do they have a website? Do they rent bikes? As someone who travels to china for business frequently, it would be cool to go check this out!
  • + 1
 Find a Shanghai or Hangzhou MTB oriented bikeshop, they will show you the way to BPBP.
  • + 2
 BPBP, as a pioneer in China for MTB, there are many similar bike parks are coming soon i wish. Nice job
  • + 1
 The lift stops are very clever. Put the money into the trails not the lift.
  • + 2
 Great article, huge potential for mtb in China.
  • + 1
 Who knows why they don't buy Chinese fake stuff. Everything looks like "Western" brands
  • + 1
 Looks like some aliexpress cranks on dings bike
  • + 1
 Fake stuff is for export...Think about cars and expensive lady bags...Everybody need/should know China is a huge market with huge money. A clever brand should do something now for China MTB, not waiting and lost this market
  • + 1
 This looks awesome... But I'm curious about something, my bike says Made In Taiwan, does that preset an issue?
  • + 1
 Taiwan have the best process for Aluminum, and Mainland of China made almost all of carbon fiber frames. if you visit the factory,their are a lot of ladys,looks like making Chinese sticky rice dumplings
  • + 2
 Nice story and description! BPBP is a must-go!
  • + 1
 I'll be in Zhejiang in June - Does anyone know if they got rental bikes at Brave Peak Bike Park?
  • + 1
 no mate
  • + 1
 From the SLH bike in the post, you can try to rent a intense tracer. Or from Shanghai Energy bikeshop(Sorry I don't know the correct English name), they offer specialized bikes rental. And if have time, asking DeCharme bikeshop, maybe they can offer SantaCruz demo bike.
  • + 3
 丁大师牛逼
  • + 1
 董师傅
  • + 1
 I think this is relatively close to a vendor i visit in china....next time im over....
  • + 1
 Legit jump lines, shuttle access and a pump-track!? Looks awesome.
  • + 2
 cool park
  • + 1
 Nice article Scott! Definitely need to come out there and ride!
  • + 1
 I sure hope they don't become disoriented when they do all those flips
  • + 1
 Was filmed with a huawei , god forbid don’t click on the video!!!
  • + 1
 I wish the world was all one and I could go live and China and shred
  • + 1
 I guess they haven't got their skills from Aliexpress!
  • + 1
 How do I invest in Chinese Mountain Biking??? I wanna be rich.
  • + 1
 Try to let the house price down,and then more Chinese can ride...
  • + 1
 Rad riding and trails with big elevation, winning.
  • + 1
 Quote “hooked him up with a Commencal Furious”
  • + 2
 Was that a weird thing to say or something?
  • + 1
 @scottrap: sorry, I was commenting on a stupid thing someone else said and posted in the wrong box
  • - 3
 China will dominate this. Have you seen their athletes? It's so funny how they're probably space programming this shiz, and North Americans are like, "just send it Bill Gumphrey".
  • + 10
 Do not underestimate the tao like mindset required to "just send it" young grasshopper. Very few actually have this ninja like capability. You either have "just send it" skills or hostpital bills.
  • + 1
 Interesting!
  • + 1
 China NO1
  • + 0
 So cool
  • + 0
 *Jeep knock-off.
  • + 0
 This is awesome!
  • - 1
 Chine new level of the world) lets go)))
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