Taking place September 10th, 2021, in Central Oregon, just an hour drive from Bend, the 2nd Annual Proving Grounds freeride mountain bike event for is back and presented by Five Ten. Leading the charge is H5 Events founder and president Todd Barber. You may recognize his name as one of the integral members in the successful running and planning of Red Bull Rampage for the 20 years. No stranger to freeride and event organization, Barber is excited about the Proving Grounds concept and hope to see a new circuit of freeride mountain bike events pop up, giving riders more places to compete, hone their skills and inspire the next generation of freeriders. We were stoked to catch up with Todd Barber and get some insight into the origins of Proving Grounds and the plans going forward. Todd is a certified legend of freeride mountain biking, along with his vital role in growing Red Bull Rampage, he’s had a hand in the beginnings of the Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour. It’s safe to say that Todd has been an instrumental figure in the development of freeride mountain biking, and he is determined to continue to push the sport into bigger and better things.
Along with help from Bend, OR local Cameron McCaul and Kyle Jameson, a crew of diggers are busy updating the course for 2021, namely freeride legends Randy Spangler and Josh Bender. The rider list speaks for itself, with eight Women and up to 20 Men from the highest tiers of mountain bike freeriding making use of the mixed big mountain freeride and slopestyle features on the course to lay down their idea of the ultimate freestyle run. Proving Grounds was created to offer the rising talent a platform to compete with the big guns, giving lesser-known riders a chance to prove themselves on the world stage.
HERE’S WHAT TODD HAD TO SAY ABOUT PROVING GROUNDS 2021:
“Proving Grounds started as a [Red Bull] Rampage qualifier and got the concept up and running to show the area and what it could be.”
“We felt there was a huge gap between Crankworx slopestyle events and Red Bull Rampage. We wanted to create an event and help get freeride competitions back and hopefully get a series or tour going. I want to evolve it into a series with multiple events around the country.”
As fans of freeride we are stoked to see more events like this take place. While we have absolute respect for slopestyle athletes, we it’s awesome to that this discipline will get a new fire lit underneath it and give big mountain riders a place to compete more. It seems that Crankworx Slopestyle events have really evolved into giant dirt jump contests and less mountain bike freeride, so we’re excited to see a return to the roots of freeride events.
We asked Todd about the course and what we could expect to see change. “This year the course will see a major overhaul and we’re reworking a lot of stuff, with Kyle Jameson, Randy Spangler, Josh Bender all involved in build efforts. We’ll still use some of the wood but are building three new wood features. And we’re tweaking the hips to be more trickable, with lots more tuning elsewhere too.“
“Something unique about this is that there will be a women’s category! As far as women’s category, they’ll all be riding the same line options and all riders can pick what line suits their style best.”
The Loam Wolf is stoked to see how Proving Grounds continues to develop and push the freeride side of the sport to new levels while also putting female riders on the stage. We can’t wait to get trackside this weekend and be sure to stay tuned for our recap video coming soon.
To spectate at Proving Grounds, head to https://www.strideevents.com/proving-grounds/event-information to get a ticket.