Hometown to Hucksville

with Carson Storch

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Trevor Lyden
Video by “Sports” Doug Jambor

In his second showing at the Red Bull Rampage, Carson Storch went from being the young gun living his childhood dream to freeride phenom. At just 23 years old, Storch nailed his 2016 Rampage run, securing himself the Best Trick Award and a bronze medal. Those familiar with Red Bull Rampage, know it is the world’s most renowned mountain bike event. What you may not know is how the contenders spend their months and weeks leading up to the biggest event of the year. Most imagine these professional athletes dedicating one hundred percent of their energy, time and focus on training. Fully committed, with an almost selfish, all-consuming drive in their quest for success.

After spending the last two months shadowing Carson around his hometown of Bend, Oregon, we realized that our preconceptions were wrong. Way wrong. When we first came up with the idea of documenting Carson’s countdown to Rampage we envisioned epic days on the trails and mega-sessions filming at the Oregon Dirt Park. It quickly became apparent that Carson spent as much time fulfilling obligations as he did training. In between short sessions at local training grounds like The Lair and Cline Butte, Carson was traveling to movie premieres, attending athlete summits and meeting with countless film crews all wanting their own unique interviews.

Storch is a quiet, small-town kid who prefers to let his riding do the talking, yet his impressive skills and confidence on the bike have placed him in front of the lens more often than he’d like. In his final weeks of preparation from hometown to hucksville we could sense the excitement, pressure and scarcity of time. Balancing commitments and still being confident and prepared for the biggest event of the year is no easy task and while Carson may be young in age, he’s mature beyond his years in handling his business. Despite the shortage of time Carson was able to use one of his flights as an escape to write down some answers for our interview below. We just didn’t feel right having him sit down in front of another camera after watching him squirm in front of so many others this month.

Carson Storch Headshot

Name: Carson Storch
Age: 24
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 180
Favorite Food: Steak
Guilty Pleasure: Moto’s

Make & Model: Rocky Mountain Maiden; Size L
Wheel Size: 26 for life
Suspension: SR Suntour RUX
Tires: Kenda Nexcavator’s 2.5”
Brakes / Drivetrain: Shimano Saint
Favorite Part About Your Bike: The Chromag parts. Actually, the whole thing.

TLW: To the people who just follow your life on social media, it may look like you’re pretty carefree. You’re always on the go, driving around, riding with friends and having fun. How much of that is actually work?

CS: It is all work. I try to stay busy and productive everyday – no days off. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I do not portray in my social media. Every time I ride, there are about ten things I am trying to work on and progress every time I drop in. All the trips I go on are either to build new things around Central Oregon, practice sessions, or they are film/photo shoots (which are work), but I try my best to have fun with all of it.

TLW: What is your typical schedule like when you’re home?

CS: It really depends on what I have on the schedule after I get home… If I have another trip coming up, it’s getting ready for that. If not; I unpack, catch up on calls, emails, managing sponsors, make sure my bikes are dialed, keep up with marketing and event planning at the Oregon Dirt Park, house work, pay bills, family time, etc.

Carson Storch packing his bags

With just 4 days until his departure, Carson had to completely break down his bike and pack it into a bike bag for a Red Bull shoot, only to reassemble it for one last training session the following day. These are the types of obligations that make hours disappear as athletes try to balance training and work.

TLW: When you get out to ride, is there always a goal or mindset of training or do you get out for some fun rides occasionally?

CS: I always try to progress at something when I go ride. Whether it’s learning something new, or learning to do something a different way, going faster, popping higher or landing smoother, I always try to do something new or different.

TLW: When do you start preparing for the Red Bull Rampage?

CS: It’s kind of a non-stop preparation thing. As soon as you get done with a Rampage, you know in the back of your head it is only a year away, so you have to keep up with your big bike riding always.

TLW: What are the most important factors for getting yourself ready for this event?

CS: Confidence, preparation, trust in your bike, trust in yourself.

TLW: Do you do anything differently, diet or gym wise to ramp up?

CS: I just ride as much as possible on every type of terrain, eat well, and focus.

Carson Storch getting flat

TLW: Certainly there must be some tweaks made to your bike for the intense terrain of Virgin, Utah. What do you change about your daily setup on your Rocky Mountain Maiden?

CS: Wider tires, and stiff suspension with slow rebound!

TLW: Could you tell us what a successful line at Red Bull Rampage looks like for you? What do you look for when you stare up at the ridgelines?

CS: I try to find the terrain that best suits what I excel at riding the most, which isn’t a specific thing. I look for anything that gets me excited but at the same time, I look for things I know I can ride with confidence.

TLW: As a competitive freerider, what does Red Bull Rampage mean to you?

CS: It is the pinnacle of mountain biking, and carries massive exposure. I am just honored to be a part of it, and it definitely fulfills a major childhood dream.

TLW: Having attended the event in person, I can attest that there is a heavy vibe present amongst the riders and spectators. As a professional athlete who has been there before and prepares for this, how hard is it to drop in when it’s competition time? Does it get easier the more you do it?

CS: Virgin, Utah never gets less gnarly or easier to deal with. It’s all about the mindset going in. I am going to have fun, and focus on not letting pressure or expectations get the best of me. It’s all about the thrill of it all.

Carson Storch and Cam McCaul slanging dirt

Cam McCaul and Carson touch up the landing of Carson’s Rampage training stepdown at The Lair.

TLW: How important is it to you, to win this event?

CS: It would be the most epic feeling ever, I know that!

TLW: Any predictions or Babe Ruth callouts that we can expect to see from you this year?

CS: No comment!

TLW: For all your fans and spectators who are going to be out there cheering you on, what do you want to see from them?

CS: I want to see positivity and enjoyment. The Utah landscape is the best big mountain terrain in the world, get stoked to watch us push the sport as we ride down that mountain!!

As we sit here editing text, sifting through images and editing video, Carson is probably somewhere in the middle of Nevada. Carson had just 24 hours after returning from a movie premiere in Vancouver to build his Rampage bike, pack his truck and get two more interviews out of the way. What’s crazy is that as Carson checks off the miles en-route to Utah, his stress level is actually dropping. The countless hours of practicing, riding and digging have left him confident and no amount of interviews will stop him from returning to the red cliffs to show the world he’s ready to huck.

Carson Storch gettin

The Black Sage FEST event was held at the Oregon Dirt Park. The huge facility is one of Carson’s side projects and he hopes to continue using it as a training facility while also making it a destination for moto and mountain bikers to come have fun.

Check out more riding and behind-the-scenes photos below. 

SR Suntour Ad
Carson Storch sending it through the rock garden
Carson Storch railin
Carson Storch mid interview
Carson Storch out at Black Sage
Carson Storch getting filmed
Carson Storch 360 Table
Carson Storch whippin
Carson Storch flippin
Carson Storch catching some airtime in his Tundra
Carson Storch flippin

This project could not have happened without support from Rocky Mountain Bicycles.

Special thanks to SR Suntour, Red Bull and Carson Storch for letting us tag along.