Provo -> Air Rec Center -> Squamish -> Whistler
12 days of riding
Endless epic memories
Fred LaRiviere Vann Pollard
Bonus add on: Hadrien Lackner
We set off from Provo at 6am on August 6th with 10 athletes in J-Quelin (team van). Spent the night in Bellingham, Washington and met up with Jill Mason and her son Nick. We crossed the border without a problem and made our way to the Air Rec Center.
If you’ve never been to the Air Rec Center, it’s worth a trip. Stopping here helped break up the drive and allow our athletes to get back in the groove of riding in a developmental way. They had a moderate line with no gaps to build confidence, a bigger line that was actually easier and smoother than the moderate line, and then the big slopestyle type line. Finley guinned this line and then it was on with Luke, Fred, Drake, and Nick all hitting the big line like it was no problem.
The airbag setup was awesome to learn tricks into and then take them to the resi. We basically had the place to ourselves on a Wednesday so the kids rode hard from 2pm-8pm. Unfortunately, Alex went down on the first hit and first run of the day, breaking his collarbone. Alex is usually the one to warmup and take things easy at first, and the feature he was hitting was certainly within his ability. Just a miscalculation of speed and a hard case to OTB and a busted collarbone. Luckily it’s not a bad break and he’ll be back at it in 4-6 weeks. Alex was crushed to miss out on THE Whistler trip, but it will always be there.
We repacked the trailer (which the new rack system made so much easier!) and headed off to Squamish. We arrived around 11pm at our Airbnb to be greeted by our very nice hosts. The house we stayed at was a highlight of the trip. We had a huge yard and a swing to hang out in. The Squamish river was a half mile away with some mini dirt jumps next to it. Squamish is a special place and because of where we stayed, our hosts, and riding the local trails, it felt like home.
Staying in Squamish a few days prior to Whistler worked out great. It allowed the boys to spend some time together and just hang out without the craziness of Whistler and Crankworx.
On Thursday we slept in and got our bikes and shuttle rigs ready to go ride Half Nelson and Full Nelson. Actually, we did not shuttle. We pedaled. Weird, I know.
This came with much complaining.
But it’s easy to avoid complaining since I can just pedal faster than the complainers :) and the bears kept them somewhat close to the group.
On our way up we found the end of Grin n Holler and the boys sent all the big gaps on that trail. If there are big jumps, there is no complaining on the way up. A short 15 minute pedal past that we found the start of Half Nelson and ripped down that.That trail is so fun and definitely worth a few laps. The pedal up is not bad at all and if done non-stop can be done in about 20-30 minutes.
After that I forced encouraged everyone to take another lap up Cake Walk and to Full Nelson/Half Nelson. That pedal up was steeper and looser and killed some moral. We lost one nearly to the top, never to be heard from again. We’ll remember our lost comrade forever.
That ride down was even better as we knew the trail a bit more and could let it rip. So tacky and smooth and fast!
That night we gorged on Chicken Tikka Masala to replenish our nutrients. It was also a great time to enjoy a fire in the backyard. We had a great chat about the trip, my expectations, and what they can expect from the trip. To kick off our sports psych sessions, I asked them to identify a role model in their lives and come up with 3 characteristic traits that they admire in that person, and then come up with 3 things they can do on a daily basis to develop those characteristic traits in themselves.
If you’ve never done this before, it can be a great exercise to realize that our heroes are just people that have worked really hard at building their character traits (RPG nerds can relate). Some of these traits come easier, and some we have to work hard at.
The boys came up with some great role models and why they look up to them. Aumery Pierron was a common one with traits like: positivity, desire to learn even when winning, serious about performance, but doesn’t take himself too seriously, and a good teammate.
I encouraged them all to start or continue their Success Journal (this will be a later blog). There are many ways to use a journal, but for athletes, it’s primary tool in my mind is to get the athlete thinking outside of themselves and show gratitude for what they have.
We did not have time to talk about this at the fire that night, but athletes can’t and won’t make it anywhere on their own. By paying attention to what their heroes and mentors are doing, young athletes should start to realize that those that help, get the most help. In other words, if you’re gracious, kind, caring, positive, and fun to be around, then you’ll get the most help and rocket to the top. Being a top level athlete requires a certain amount of selfishness to get there, but if you lose sight of those around you, then you will not make it very far in anything.
Using a Success Journal to write down 3 positive things from the day and 3 ways you showed gratitude is a simple, quick trick to getting outside of yourself and building communication skills. It also gives you time to reflect on the day and think about any mistakes you may have made, and how you can prevent them in the future.
Spending this time on yourself will pay huge dividends later on in life and keep you from making the same mistakes twice. It also allows you to take the greatest advantage of these amazing opportunities you have!
Think about it. You just spent nearly two weeks riding your bike in a place where people travel from all over the world to ride. You rode the same trails as the best riders in the world. You competed against the fastest kids in the world. If you walk away from this experience without your mind being blown, then you’ve let social media influence you the wrong way.
We talked a bit about this at the fire if you remember. We are so saturated with amazing images and feats on social media, and it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of, “Well it wasn’t as good as…” or “Yeah, but I can’t do it like… so I might as well not even try”
Just remember to keep it all in perspective. Those pros you watch on a daily basis came up through the ranks the same as everyone else. They started out as a beginner and worked their butts off harder than anyone else through pain, tears, blood, sweat, and lots of help. We don’t see everything that led up to that one perfect moment captured on camera. Just remember that it takes a lot to get there, and if you aren’t willing to try the first steps because it’s not good enough or you’re going to fail, then you will never get to experience that perfect moment when you do succeed.
That’s where your Success Journal comes in handy. It allows you to focus on the positive steps you’ve taken to get to where you are. Think about where each of you were last year. You’re completely different riders and so much better. Writing down your experiences and lessons helps you remember everything how it should be. Science has shown that humans store memories based on how we perceive them to be based on our underlying beliefs and interpretations. I hope that these experiences of traveling the world riding your bike are positive memories and that you’re using these experiences to learn and grow for the future.
Back to bikes.
Friday we packed up and headed to the Alice Lake area to go slab hunting! After a quick and steep pedal up to Entrails, we had a blast riding some gnarly lines and slabs. Everywhere we looked was a new line and a new slab to conquer. We were out in the bush for 4 hours riding everything we could and ended on In n Out slab. It’s the massive, picturesque slab that’s pretty famous. Thatcher wins the day for riding everything on his new Commencal Meta Hard Tail.
After pedaling back to the lake, we swam for a bit and then drove back to town for some well earned ice cream.
Squamish is a rad spot and I could spend a whole lifetime exploring that area. Definitely headed back soon!
Then we went to Whistler and that’s it.
We got a townhome just off of A-line this year. It was pretty sweet to be able to ride back to the condo. It wasn’t as sweet if we wanted to ride the dirt jumps or head into town. But the pedal back up wasn’t bad. And I lucked out with being able to park the van and trailer there. Otherwise, I would have been screwed with parking that beast.
Vann, Drake, and Jonas were all Whistler noObs so we spent the first day getting them into the groove and learning the trails. Unfortunately, on day two, Vann slid out on A-Line and messed up his shoulder. He had just hit Crabapples, so it was just a lame mistake, but put him out for the trip. Vann is the man and stayed on to cheer on and support his teammates in their races and to watch all the Crankworx events. Vann, thanks again for always being a team player and helping out as much as you can.
Speaking of Crabapples, it’s always the talk of the town. It you don’t know, it’s a jump line with 4 tables that progressively get bigger with the final table at 65’. Don’t let the kids fool you, it’s a big arse jump. This year, I was stoked when most of the kids had hit it early on and could focus on actually riding the hundred other trails at Whistler. Thatcher was smart about it and worked his way up to it and hit it on the last day. Super proud of him for that.
After my crash on it last year, I did not hit the biggest one this year. I feel like I’m a much better rider this year, but the mental part was not there and I did not feel the risk was worth it. It is my goal to hit it again, and I’m not scared of it as there are more difficult jumps I hit all week. Plus when you’re responsible for 10+ kids in a foreign country it makes it an easy choice.
As for Crankworx, the competitions started off with the the Air DH on A-Line. This is always super fun, but hard to motivate the kids to really want to train at a higher speed. I think as they get older they’ll start to figure out that going faster can be even more fun on a trail like this and open up new skills to learn. Pedaling into a small jump forces you to learn how to squash and scrub real quick, and those skills come in handy to hit bigger, and badder lines. And speed allows you to be more stylish too. You’ve gotta be so loose on your bike and allow it to move further away from you than normal, it feels weird at first, but gets to be really fun the faster you go. The berms are also key to this course. No brakes and enter very high in the berms to pump the transition (apex) of the turn.
Air DH Roster:
Luke Mallen (7th)
Fred LaRiviere (12th)
Cohen Bundy (20th)
Boston Bryant (25th)
Finn McDermott (31st)
Syd Hyldahl (36th)
13-14 Air DH:
Finley Kirschenmann (crash)
Drake Parker (crash)
15-16 Air DH
Thatcher Gledhill (53)
We had some good results in the B-Line race with Boston finishing 5th and Brodey in 13th! The B-Line race has hundreds of kids and a very mellow, long, pedally course. Good work boys!
Dual Slalom and Dual Speed and Style
Finley was the only one to compete in either of these events. He had a rough start in the Dual Slalom with some initial negative feedback about the track from other riders. His hardtail dirt jumper was also not the bike for the course. We quickly swapped tires to something more knobby for the flat grassy corners and that helped build his confidence. In qualification, he missed a gate on one course and was pretty distraught and over the whole situation. We chatted and he rallied to give his best for second run, which was a smokin’ time and only a few tenths off of 2nd place.
Luckily they took everyone into the brackets and he got to compete. He beat his opponent by 1.2 seconds on the first run and unfortunately missed a gate on the second run and hiked to make the gate (which is the rule in America, if you miss a gate, then you’re disqualified unless you hike and complete the course. In Canada, apparently it’s just a 1.5 second time penalty) The other kid also missed a gate, but didn’t hike so ended up beating Finley. Such a bummer as I had told him to hike after missing a gate in qualies and he was happy and confident after rallying to make it into the brackets. Lesson learned.
The first ever Kids Dual Speed and Style event was so rad. They opened up the pro course to kids ages 13-15 for a training day on Thursday. This event has “Finley” written all over it. He’s freaky fast, and has loads of style. Finley was one of the first and few to hit all the jumps on the first day and was feeling super confident. The best part about all of this is that it never really felt like a competition. It was just a jam session for the kids to ride hard and send some big tricks on big jumps. They were all happy and smiles and cheering each other on.
They changed up the format to be best of two runs on the same course. So they took out the dual aspect, which was a good call for these kids as it kept them safe and focused on their line.
Finley threw down a massive super man and a tuck no to T-Bog on his first run with the 3rd fastest time and would keep that score to finish 2nd behind Jackson Goldstone. He was the only one to throw a superman. Jackson did super stylish 360’s on both jumps. This event was a huge highlight of the trip and really cool to see the wild Finley in his element.
The final contest of the week was the Canadian Open. Myself, Finley, and Drake started training on Friday for this. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous for this track as it’s rough and rowdy. Due to some filming and mechanical issues, Finley only took 4 training runs on the track, but was in good spirits and happy to just make it down on two wheels. Drake was feeling and looking fast, but unfortunately pushed a bit too much on race day and crashed a couple of times on his run.
I didn’t feel ready until my final training run when I finally pieced it all together. When you know where you’re going on this track, it makes it so much fun!! I’ll definitely do this again next year as I know I can go a lot faster. I held back a lot and missed some lines that cost me many seconds. But we all had a great time and learned a lot. It certainly pushed our riding and I’m glad we raced it.
Since most of the kids were just racing Air DH, I wanted to give them a challenge for the week to get out and ride new terrain and get creative. They were all tasked to film and edit footage from their time at Squamish and Whistler. Whomever made the best edit as voted on by their teammates, wins! The rules were pretty loose, as no one had filming or editing experience. I just wanted them to focus on riding together, having fun, being dorks, and not take it too seriously.
I’ll post up the edits on Instagram shortly. They turned out pretty cool!
Conclusion and Lessons:
Even though I shortened this trip by 12 days from last year, it was still too long. I’m glad we split it up in sections instead of Whistler for the entire time, but towards the end, many of the kids were tired and not riding as much. Attitudes started to develop and there was some squabbling over stupid things like seats and deodorant fights. In all though, I’m proud of how you all did and handled yourselves for so long on your own.
These trips are chock full of life-lessons and epic memories. The more we work together and cheer each other on, even when getting beat, or things are not quite going the way you want them to, that’s where you make a difference and create a moment that’s worth writing down.
In other words, just be stoked!
Be happy that someone was more creative than you, that someone did better than you, that someone thought of something before you did, that someone had the right answer. If you’re not, then you miss out on actually learning and improving yourself and even worse, you miss out on making someone else feel good.
Master the Basics
As you go along in life and meet more and more heroes and mentors, you’ll realize that they have become successful because they’ve mastered the basics. When you’ve mastered the basics, you have so much more time to focus on high level material.
For example: dirty, unfixed bike -> broken bike -> delay of fixing bike -> getting to the lift line with a broken bike -> everyone leaving you because they want to ride and you didn’t fix your bike when you had the chance -> missing out on riding -> wasted time finding someone to help fix your bike
Another example: not paying attention -> missing critical instructions -> missing the group ride -> spending time trying to find people -> Other people wasting time waiting for you
Another word for basics could just be common sense. For our intents and purposes on Outlaw it comes down to some pretty basic things (which are all highlighted in the Outlaw of the Month Criteria).
Asking to help instead of being told to
Doing nice things without being asked
Being genuinely happy when others do something cool
Taking care of your equipment and time (i.e. don’t touch your phone until your bike is clean and ready for the next ride, i.e. EAT HEALTHY FOOD)
Working hard, especially when you don’t want to
Get Behind the Team
I’ve mentioned to the boys that last two trips about The Team. Biking is a very individual sport and each of our athletes are extremely independent, A-Type personalities. That’s great! However, as I mentioned above, you won’t make it very far without a strong support network.
Outlaw is unique. We are the only team in the nation that does all that we do. I’m drawing on my experience as a ski team director and coach to make this the best team possible. I told all the athletes that I’m hungry for more, especially after going to Andorra and learning a lot from the World Cup.
Our athletes are all so young (yes, even Dillon), but it doesn’t hurt to start prepping for the future. I know not all of our athletes have the dream of racing World Cup, and that’s great, we can accommodate and create opportunities for all dreams. But if one does want to race World Cup, there are not a lot of options as an American racer, unless you’re the absolute best, and even then, it’s extremely hard.
I know Outlaw can become that support system for these athletes. Whether it’s filming a rad segment for an edit, racing World Cup, or getting into Rampage, we can develop this network into a powerful and sustainable tool for our athletes.
I’m working on the team building aspect and getting everyone to work together and be a team. I feel like we are closer, but not quite there. We need to have each others backs no matter what. You like Evil more than Commencal, who cares? You like POC over Leatt, who cares?
To be truly successful, we need to make the mindset shift to, “Outlaw is my team, and I am part of that team.”
I seek out sponsors for the team so that we can all make this a little bit more affordable and these companies make great stuff. If you want to ride something else, no problem! I could care less.
We are NOT team Commencal.
We are not Leatt
We are not Magura
We are Outlaws!
Trust me when I say that no one else has our athletes’ best interests in mind, or care as much about them as I do. I can confidently say that no one outside of family members ever will. These kids are all so young and sponsors should never be telling them what to do. I think setting that mindset of, “gotta get sponsors in order to make it” should be destroyed. It really ruins the spirit of riding and why we do this, and can ultimately destroy The Team.
I bust my back to make all this happen and take on a ton of risk. Risk that a big company would never take. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so and am so grateful for the opportunity I have to coach these rad kids. My focus will forever be the athlete. What’s best for the athlete is to learn new skills, have fun, and ride with friends. That’s what matters and I hope that’s what my words and actions have shown.
I don’t ask for much in return, other than to support your teammates and the team. Let’s be proud of what we are all building together. I want you to feel something special when you put on your Outlaw jersey or t-shirt. I know I do every-time I put one on. This is something that I’ve built with a lot of help from my athletes, parents, and coaches. I learn from everyone and am proud to be part of this team. I want others to recognize this and hope my actions reflect what I want others to see and feel from this crazy Outlaw team.
Thanks for reading.