Recently some of the best freeride mountain bikers quietly gathered in a sleepy town on the Oregon coast. Pacific City has developed a legendary status for big mountain riders and those who search for these hidden trails much like The Goonies sought for hidden treasure not too far from these hallowed trails. The reason for this gathering was Carson Storch and Todd Barber’s test run of a unique, new freeride format and a revised Proving Grounds event. Proving Grounds Pacific City, Oregon was unlike previous years’ Proving Grounds events in Oregon, where the crowds could gather and watch riders throw down as they sharpened their teeth for future and hopefully larger events, like Red Bull Rampage. The new Pacific City Proving Grounds event was a private, multi-day freeride jam that put riders on several different trails, jump lines and let them take the day at their own pace. Rather than waiting for judges, or television commercials to air, riders were able to do what they do best in a lower-stress environment that prioritized fun, content creation and camaraderie over scoring big in a two-run format.
Carson’s idea was to have a jam format loosely inspired by Peace Park where 14 of the best riders could come out, create content and just have a great time together. Storch commented, “I wanted to give back to the sport and friends that I love and has given me so much. I’ve been able to work and build so many amazing lines and things to ride here with the help of some awesome people and I just wanted to bring my friends here to have fun and offer an alternative way to run a freeride event.”
Overall, it seemed the vibe of having a lower-pressure yet competitive environment worked for the riders. With a goal of offering a change from the normal two-run format contest most of these riders have been competing in for years, Proving Grounds Pacific City’s multi-day, multi-line project was a bit of a test run Carson Storch told us. “We wanted to keep everything fresh and do something that was more along the lines of what we want to do to, and stoke all the riders out. Maybe one day it will go to a public place where we can have spectators but for now, this test-run is just for us to do something fun and different in our sport and see where it goes.”
During our time in Pacific City we were able to chat with some other riders and hang out around the campfire as they shared stories. It seems that the vibe and takeaway from these athletes was exactly as Carson had intended, a fun gathering that put riders and riding first, something that doesn’t seem to always be the case nowadays. Although these riders are infinitely more talented than myself, and most other riders on the planet, ultimately they’re still just a bunch of mountain bikers. And like all mountain bikers, they’re just searching for a way to have fun on bikes and get together with their crew in an atmosphere that’s healthy, productive and allows us them to keep doing what they want to do, and that’s something we can all relate too. Even if we can’t cork a backflip on a massive stepdown.
We appreciate the opportunity presented by Can-Am, Carson Storch and Todd Barber to be on-site watching the riding, planning and fun go down in this unique and hopefully, recurring event and format.