#8: I Secretly Miss Extreme Freeride

freeride mtbhero Jun 23, 2021

#8: I Secretly Miss Extreme Freeride

Have you ever thought the crazy stuff you see at Crankworx, Red Bull Rampage, and even YouTube Videos produced by pro riders would be awesome to do yourself, but you could never get to that level of riding yourself?

Whatever your goal is - there is an ethos and principles you can "borrow" from Extreme Freeride mountain biking and I talk about exactly how in this episode. Inside, you will hear: 

  • Exactly how "Human Entropy" is the exact enemy of your riding progress (plus how to "fight back" with fun)...
  • How to keep from having regrets in your riding and life by facing challenges the way Freeride pioneers did it...
  • The real "secret" to thinking like the craziest riders without actually risking your life!

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Hello Ladies and Berms, and welcome to another episode of Mountain Bike Movement. I’m Dave Davidson and today we are going to talk about Extreme Freeride Mountain Biking, why *I* secretly miss it, and how you can apply the *ethos* of extreme freeride to progress your skills rapidly even if you might not be covered in tattoos or drink Red Bull in your oatmeal instead of milk. 


Today’s topic is mostly motivational. I choose to include these because if you change the way you think, you can change your life. 


For the sake of clarity, today’s episode is going to help you live and ride fast. 


Let’s start with what is freeride mountain biking? 


Back in the late 90’s, early 2000’s there were bands of crazy mountain bikers who thought it would be cool to try their bikes out on scree fields instead of riding them on tame trails. There were also riders who build ladder bridges using fallen trees in the North Shore in British Columbia because it was better than simply cutting a trail. And, there were riders who started taking BMX tricks to the mountains and building big jumps to help them do more awesome stuff. 


What did they all have in common? They asked what the limits were. 


In fact, these freeride pioneers were obsessed with finding limits. Limits of the bikes, limits of their abilities, and limits of what could be built and ridden. 


Why is this important for you? Simple. 


Even if you never intend to go big, do a flip, or win a race, you must understand one simple principle. 


The principle of Human Entropy. 


Entropy is a natural regression to the easiest, but not always best, way to live. 


And if you aren’t going fast, then you are dying. 


Now I’m not promoting riding foolishly, just the opposite. 


You see, passively just going on a ride and grabbing a beer with no intention is weakness, unless your intention is to blow off some steam. 


Riding full send 100% of the time to your own doom is aimless and can leave you in the hospital or worse. 


But that magic sweet spot? I’d argue that extreme freeride isn’t dead, it’s hibernating in wait for great riders like us to go fast. 


Find your limits. Explore. Play with what’s possible on the bike. 


Because, remember, if you’re not going fast you are dying. 


Let’s talk about why. 


Let me take you back to a spring night at about 11PM on Clemson University Campus. My crew and I decided to conquer the legendary bush gap. 


The bush gap was a massive send. The run-in was all sidewalk, and you had to go fast to clear what was nearly a 45 foot gap that funneled the rider down into a roundabout another 45 feet give or take vertically below. 


The landing was completely blind. 


Once you reached the end of the sidewalk, you had to yank hard into a full j-hop, and the world would go absolutely silent. 


My crew was equipped with 26” dirt jumpers with tires pumped up past 50PSI. 


I followed my friend who had done the bush gap before. 


One wrong move and you were guaranteed at least a broken bone or a concussion, plus the blow to your confidence. 


I lined up and dropped in. Both my tires tagged the bushes on the pull-up as I launched, and I could feel the entire world focus into one furious moment of hold on to the bars…


It seemed like I was in the air forever, I spotted my landing, and slammed down hard. Moments later I was zipping around the turnaround at the bottom of the hill, adrenaline absolutely pumping. 


Now, fast forward today as we talk about conquering trails and features - freeride might have a slightly different meaning, but the ethos is the same. 


And I want to point a finger at one thing I absolutely can’t stand - I’ll call them the escape artist. I said earlier that I miss extreme freeride. I think the marketing send-it boys in the board room think they need to tame down riding to make it to appeal to more riders...which I get...but at the same time, the highest and best use of mountain biking isn’t just “a good time in the woods”. I mean, come on, people spend $5 grand to $10 grand on bikes nowadays. These are absolute trail weapons. Why not get your riding abilities to match? Anyways, that’s what I miss. 


It’s those men and women with no goals, no purpose, and ride because it’s cool but have nothing to offer. 


And it’s a side we all need to contend with, because it’s what happens to all of us if we aren’t careful. 


Instead, I suggest using riding as a tool to become what I call “full stack”. 


Full stack is testing the extreme limits of what’s possible. 


For me, that’s how can I be a fully present dad to my kids, provide for my family, be a leader with my work, and also test my limits every single time I ride. 


Remember how you do one thing is how you do everything? 


Well, if you push yourself to your absolute limits like I did when I was sending the bush gap...then it’s possible to discover ways to take that same mentality to other areas. 


I follow a simple 3-step process to develop my full stack of skills. 


Step #1: 

  • Desire

Desire, according to medium.com is “To feel a lack of stars.” I like to think of it as a God-given inclination to do important things. 


Start by considering what actually inspires you, and ask if that would be worth a shot. Maybe it’s pedaling up a hill and actually getting in shape and being proud of your body. Or, perhaps you decide to try gap jumps. Perhaps it’s just doing a race instead of just riding for fun. 


Whatever it is, the core ethos of extreme freeride is personal progression. Most of the time we regret what we don’t do, not hte other way around, so go do something that makes you proud. That’s desire. 


Step #2:

  • Create a plan of attack


The reason why my friends and the pros you see on TV doing incredible things on their bikes like at Rampage, UCI events, and local races is because they have built a skillset designed for something. 


The reason WHY a plan is so important? 


Because it gives you feedback. It lets you decide if what you just accomplished helps or hurts you. That’s why I prefer having specific goals and desires even if I’m kicking it on a green trail with my 3-year old. 


So find a desire, and create a plan of attack. 


There’s only 1 thing left. 


Step #3

  • Get Input, memorize. 

In order to pull off the extreme, you’re going to need help. I followed my friend into the bush gap, and it gave me a sense of speed. 


This is a great short-term fix or if you are a very visual learner. 


Other ways to learn are to get lessons, get coaching, and actually study the art of mountain biking. 


When you follow this process as I did, I believe it can help you progress your riding rapidly if you so choose. 


That’s all for this episode. Tune in next episode 


Also, check the show notes for free apps that help you move like an athlete so you can ride like a kid again,  invitations to work with me and my coaches 1-1,



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