Nick Clarke's African Adventure - Final Part

Nick Clarke's African Adventure - Final Part

Earlier this spring, Nick Clarke spent a few months in South Africa riding bikes, filming his Welcome to The Rise video and helping out Matt Macduff with his Loop of Doop Project. As he signed up for this trip, little did he know that he was on board for the craziest journey of his life. His adventure was so inspiring that he had to put it down in words to share it with the world. Check out the Third Part below, and in case you missed them, check out Part 1, Part 2 Part 3.

Words by Nick Clarke
Photos by Thomas Sandell, Eric Palmer, Julien Grimard

After a wild night at the after party we got a call from local surfing legend Captain Kai about doing a new zip line tour through the mountains an hour outside of town. I’ve never done a zipline before and was waiting for a place like this to do it! My thoughts were always that if I were to go on a tour, it would have to be in the mountains, high up, and fast and that’s just what the Cape Canopy Tour had to offer. I needed no excuse to go out into the mountains, and everyone seemed in on the idea so we all packed into the rental van and headed up the N2. Flying along at high speeds suspended a couple hundred feet above canyons and waterfalls below us was incredible! The epic views all around didn’t hurt either. Huge thanks to App-venture, Kai, and Cape Canopy Tours for helping create one of the highlights of this trip! The winter was moving in and we were battling between windy days and heavy rain. A few days after the second crash, a massive low pressure storm moved in flooding the trails as well as parts of the city. On the drive to the trails, the mountain roads were lined with fallen branches and up rooted trees. We knew there would be a lot of work ahead when we arrived. It seemed that this video wasn’t going to happen. We were fighting a never ending battle, but I wasn’t going to let it beat me! This was a way to prove my self worth to the country of South Africa and gain some shovel time. It was time to earn the time I had on the jumps. The crew wasn’t ready to end the riding season just yet either! With rain forecasted in the following week, we managed to rebuild the whole line in two days and proceeded to shred! The new layer made things run much slower but we could ride which meant the video would be back on track! Many close trains, trails braii’s, and good times were shared with the crew! Just a few days ago we thought it could have been over, and now we were well on our way to making a banger edit. With days running out we began talking about ideas to make things more interesting! Due to poor wind conditions one day, we missed a full day of shooting so we thought about a full moon night run with lights! Thanks to Gini we got the lights and we got to work! Harley was the first to do the honour’s throwing no handers in the dark, windy, and rainy night skys. It was a gnarly idea to ride in this weather, but once I knew it worked and how much fun it looked, I wanted to drop in and play around as well! Crim got his drone and Eric got set up with some flashes and the outcome blew us all away! All that was left was the intro…What could we do to make an intro that hasn’t been done before but also captures something native to Africa? I was given the nickname Captain Pugwash by Ryan from an old pirate cartoon he grew up watching as a kid on the trip, so I wanted to do something that blended in with the pirate theme. I sourced up a local pirate ship tour in the waterfront and lined up for the boys and I to do a free tour fully dressed up for us to shoot as promotion towards the tour. The plank was to sneak on while they were settings up for a kid’s birthday party, walk the plan out at sea, and do an introduction to everyone featured in the video. Unfortunately, things fell through last second so we had to scramble to find a new intro idea in a short time period. I was still into the idea of shark diving, but never got to dive, so I called up my friend Captain Kai and made a plan with the Two Oceans Aquarium to do a dive with their ragged toothed sharks! This is something the aquarium does regularly with the public, so I felt confident about challenging a deep fear swimming with one of the oceans greatest predators. I only had a few days left to enjoy with my new found friends in the beautiful city of Cape Town, so that night we went to the aces of spades! I was rocking chops in honour of Lemmy from Motorhead passing away, so this bar was right up my alley. After a few tequila shots with Ryan, he turns to me with a dare. “You should wear my monster green mankini in the tank.” I didn’t think anything of it and the time of what it may look like, I had my intro and it had to happen! The next morning I got the shock of a lifetime when this green skimpy swimsuit hit me in face. The fight wasn’t over however. This trip had some bad luck behind it from the moment the Night Harvest was over so I cracked a joke saying, “knowing my luck, there’s going to be a kid’s field trip going through the aquarium while I dive in that thing”. Sure enough, a few days later after a scuba lesson with my dive instructor Iian Robertson at a local military base I was ready for my dive. We come back to the aquarium, go over the shots with Crim and Mr.shin, and get ready. As I’m walking through the aquarium towards the dive spot, in walks a school field trip. It was too good to be true hahah! The day before the dive I ended up taking another pretty nasty slam that re-opened the cut on my hand once again. I was a little bit worried about the fact that I would be swimming with sharks with an open wound, and that if I said anything about it that the dive may be canceled, so I jumped in before I though about it too much. I had my instructor and another diver in the tank with me in case things went south so I wasn’t as nervous about what I had just signed up for. The only communication was hand signals, once you were in the tank you better remember what you were just taught. Before the dive I was told not to make any sudden movements because it will spook the sharks and things could get complicated, so I stayed to the bottom and watched as giant sea turtles, sting rays, and other fish swam beside me, as well as the sharks. At one point the biggest of the 4 sharks was right above me, and the other diver looked at me and made an ass slap gesture. I gave thumbs up to be sure I was a good idea, and went for it. I guess I did it a bit too fast because it spooked the big guy which proceeded to swim in circles quite quickly around the tank for a couple minutes! All that was running through my head was, I’ve got an open wound and I have now pissed this thing off, what have I done. On the other side of the glass stood a group of grandmothers who came with their kids for their trip. Unfortunately, they got a little bit more then they bargained for with my naked ass in the tank. Disgruntled and upset, they were making some pretty remarks disgusted about how pale and naked I was. They paid to see sharks, not a naked young Canadian pirate giving rock and roll signs. Everyone was giving me the thumbs up sign which signals time to go up, but I mistook it for them saying good job dude and stayed under a bit longer not knowing what I have caused outside the tank. The grannies weren’t stoked but I was! I climbed out fully satisfied at what I had just done, and to top it off, was given a certificate stating my achievement diving without a cage with sharks, as well as a photo with Maryke and Iian from the aquarium. These sharks have now since been released back into the wild to do repairs on the tank.

Without the help of friends and the locals in Cape Town, this trip wouldn’t have been the same! I owe so many thanks to everyone for the opportunities, the memories, and good times that happened here. A big shout out to Eric Palmer and Thomas Sandell for all their hard work and dedication towards this project, to Johnty and the Human family for allowing me to come and ride, dig, and hangout at the jumps almost daily, to Justin Novela and the trails crew for showing me everything I needed to experience and ride, Maryke Musson, Iain Robertson and everyone at the Two Oceans Aquarium for one of the coolest experiences of my life, to Tyler Murphy from Sins of Style Tattoo Shop for a unique tattoo that tells the story of my trip, and most importantly, a very special thank you to goes out to Brenda, Ryan, and Matt Franklin at the Lavender house B&B for welcoming me into their home and giving me a safe place to rest my head, not to mention going out of their way to make sure I had the best time possible! Thanks for all the good times everyone! See you next year for even crazier adventures! Rock and Roll!

-Tricky Nicky

In case you missed them, make sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 Part 3.

August 12, 2016
Nick Clarke's African Adventure - Part 3

Nick Clarke's African Adventure - Part 3

Earlier this spring, Nick Clarke spent a few months in South Africa riding bikes, filming his Welcome to The Rise video and helping out Matt Macduff with his Loop of Doop Project. As he signed up for this trip, little did he know that he was on board for the craziest journey of his life. His adventure was so inspiring that he had to put it down in words to share it with the world. Check out the Third Part below, and in case you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Words by Nick Clarke
Photos by Thomas Sandell, Eric Palmer, Julien Grimard

Since the Garden Route is known for having one of the largest collection of great white sharks, the team tried multiple times to organize a cage dive with the beasts out at sea. Eventually we got our opening on the day of the attempt at 11am. We were told it would be a 2 hour trip so we planned to be back by four for the attempt, but after driving for a couple hours we arrived to learn we were given false information over the phone. What was meant to be 2 hours was in reality 4. With the 2 hour drive each way, this would become a full day adventure which would make us miss Matt’s attempt and that wasn’t an option. We were forced to cancel….plus pay full price in a cancelation fee. Matt was originally supposed to come with us, but after I forgot my passport and we had to turn around, he decided later to sleep instead and get ready for his attempt. Since we booked for 5, we had to pay for 5 which totaled around $850 Canadian with taxes. We didn’t want to tell Matt that we didn’t dive to give him any mixed feelings, so we stalled for the original 2 hours. At least there was a big motorcycle rally going on in Mossel Bay at the time so we had something to do while passing time. After the long unsatisfied drive back we tell Matt “We’ll tell you later man, you won’t believe what happened!” We told him later in the hospital that we didn’t actually get to go and it cost a fortune to say we did.

The Attempt was one of the gnarliest moments of my life. Seeing one of your best friends crash on that scale isn’t easy. It didn’t seem real. We were all fully confident he was going to make it around that loop and that there’s no way he could go too fast at a 40ft loop...boy were we ever wrong! The 70ft roll in with an added 10 ft deep slope into the loop, proved to be too much speed causing Matt to G out into a tidal wave of carnage. Fully committed to speed, Matt was already fully compressed before he got into the loop leaving no room for his body to handle the forces of gravity. This would ultimately be his downfall. Everyone ran over as fast as possible to find Matt laying on his back looking up, his phone in his jacket, and that same Metallica song from that morning playing out loud in his pocket. The lyrics of the song “look to the sky just before you die, it’s the last time you will” came through the speakers and Matt spoke up giving us all a sigh of relief that it was just his ankle and wrist it pain…it was a seriously heavy moment.

While Matt was in the hospital, I made repeated trips back and forth to Cape Town to the airport. The Clio rental was up, and Louis and I had to figure out a way to get Matt back from the hospital to CT. After searching online for the best deal, we found a 4 door Nissan buckkee, at least what we thought was a 4 door. This is where things took a crazy turn…Both Louis and I were running short on funds at this point and in order to get this buckkee, we maxxed out both of our visa cards. We actually had to raise the deposit to lower the cost of the truck to even it out, but we managed to make it happen and got a truck. Originally the plan was to hangout in town for the day with Ryan and the crew, then head back to get Matt, but this trip was freestyle so plans changed of course. Unfortunately Louis and I didn’t plan for this so all we had were the clothes on our backs. Cut off jean shorts, and a sleeveless vest was my choice for this trip, while Louis was smarter and brought a hoody. We had heard about these crazy music festivals called “Trance parties” from a bunch of locals, and that we had to experience one of these before we left. A seemingly innocent girl I was hanging out with there mentioned it one night, and after some convincing we went for it. It was on our way so why not right? We told Matt the idea and he was stoked that we were making it happen. She wanted to surprise her brother that she hasn’t seen in months, and this seemed to be the place to do it. After picking up a shipment of 36 bottles of fine wine from Chris’ mom as a favour outside of town, we hit the road for Vortex Parallel Universe.

Pulling into the venue after driving for a couple hours, we were greeted by a minimum 2 hour line. None of us wanted to sit in a hot car waiting for a long period of time, so I made a phone call from her phone to Justin Novela who was going as well. He rented a farm house down the street from the party so we decided to go have a few drinks there and go back when the line up cooled down a few hours later. This story is a bit to extreme to get right into so long story short, it ended up pouring rain on us while on the dance floor, we had very little clothing, no cell phones on us out of fear of loosing them, and the keys to the truck we needed to get Matt to the airport ended up being stolen by this very girl that I met up with while down there…we got the keys back, but it was one of the craziest adventures I’ve ever been on. Literally! That’s a completely other story though. After this insane night, we had a few hours of driving to get back. Stressed, tired, and looking forward to getting home to relax, we finally get to the house. Through the same sketchy broken window the monkeys broke in, people discovered they could fit through as well and walked away with our go pros, an Ipad, amongst other things. It was a hell of a weekend to say the least…

That same night Louis and I were sitting around the fire talking about how we could safely transport Matt with what we had. Since it was only a 2 seater truck, we had to improvise and lay him down in the bed of the truck under the cap. We took folding couches, all the pillows we could find in the house, and our luggage and stuffed it all in to make matt the most comfortable bed we could for the 6 hour journey to Cape Town. It was dialed, but it was missing a certain something, the disco ball! Since we were given this sweet disco ball we couldn’t let it go to waste, so we attached it right over his head to the roof of the cap on a gopro mount and dubbed it the freestyle ambulance!

I knew the boys were up to something with the Partymaster for a while, and knew that once it got out it was going to be a game changer. The crew had been friends for years, but after everything we had just been through together, it felt more like a family. At the time most of the guys on the team were hurt and couldn’t produce anything to market the frame, so I brought up taking Matt’s frame to Louis. He starts laughing saying “You know it’s supposed to be me telling people when we sponsor them, not the other way around”. After talking it through with the crew back in Montreal, it was official; I would be a new addition to The Rise family! The Rise is a tight family of friends sharing the passion of bike riding with the world, and to be welcomed into their new phase of the brand meant more to me then any of my past sponsorships in my career. I grabbed a can of white spray paint and customized my Partymaster to look like the Canadian winter we were missing here in paradise!

It was a long drive back to CT. We took things slow to make sure Matt had the smoothest ride possible so we made it to Cape Town late in the evening. Halfway through the trip a freak tooth ache kicked in that started driving me crazy. Might have had something to do with all the milkshakes I went through every time we ate lol. I’m not ashamed to say that easily 50 shakes were cleared on this trip. They were simply too good to say no too, and I wasn’t the only one that fell for their allure. I’m sure that I speak for a lot of people when I say the dentist is never a fun experience. Since I’ve built a few offices for dentists with my father for a few years, I know what they charge and was expecting to pay a fortune! Thankfully Brenda set me up with a great local dentist with a “student deal” to quickly address this pain. After a quick check up it turned out I needed a root canal and a specialist. Normally this procedure would cost well over $1500 Canadian, but I got in contact with a specialist and got the procedure done for just $200. I was dancing when I saw the invoice!! It’s safe to say that I’ll be taking care of my teeth in Cape Town from now on. Even working for dentists here in Canada, they’ll let you work for free to make their office look beautiful, but don’t expect them to cut you a deal on that filling…

Now that my tooth was fixed and my new Partymaster was built up, it was time to get to business! We had to wait till a certain time of the day to ride the Potato trails, so Thomas (Crim), Eric (Mr.Shin), Justin, Damion, and I got together at Crim’s local spot “Yabos”. Normally I ride with two shoulder braces due to gnarly dislocation issues, but today I felt like easing into things and that maybe I wouldn’t need them. This would turn out to be a bad decision later on...After getting creative and collecting some solid clips, we moved on to the potatoes! The light was incredible, the wind was down, and the motivation was high! While warming up on the line a few runs in, my bike got away from me on an un-turndown. I went down hard popping out my right shoulder, and tearing off a good chunk of my palm from the razor sharp rocks hidden in the dirt. A nasty scar I’ve named Australia due to its shape. I have been used to my shoulders popping out for a while so I tried everything in my power to get it to go back in, but it wasn’t going easy. After ten minutes of painful failed attempts, I felt it was time to go to the hospital. I grabbed a bottle of water, took a sip, and plunk…it popped in. Life has a funny way of reminding you why you should always wear protection if you have it. Unfortunately we would only get a few clips before the crash putting a wrap on day one of shooting.

Normally I would give my shoulder a minimum two weeks to recover after a dislocation and chill out for a while, but there was too much to do in Cape Town for me to sit on the couch and chill out. I took this as an opportunity to see more of the tourist stuff I neglected while I couldn’t ride. Drift racers Steve “Bagsy” Biagioni, and Jason Webb were in town for the Monster Drift city event, and everyone I have been hanging out was working the event, so I threw on a shirt and went to work with the crew at the event! Large crowds, hot weather, beautiful women and drift cars made for a great recovery. It was cool to see the behind the scenes to an event outside mountain biking and get a feel for an entirely different world! Let’s just say the SA fans love their energy drinks. Things got pretty crazy during product samples as people crowded around the truck pushing it and grabbing at us to get a free can. It was something out of a zombie apocalypse movie. Gnarly!

In case you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Stay tuned for the Final Part dropping on Friday!

August 07, 2016
Nick Clarke's African Adventure - Part 2

Nick Clarke's African Adventure - Part 2

Earlier this spring, Nick Clarke spent a few months in South Africa riding bikes, filming his Welcome to The Rise video and helping out Matt Macduff with his Loop of Doop Project. As he signed up for this trip, little did he know that he was on board for the craziest journey of his life. His adventure was so inspiring that he had to put it down in words to share it with the world. Check out the Second Part below, and in case you missed it, Read Part 1 Right Here.

Words by Nick Clarke
Photos by Thomas Sandell, Eric Palmer, Julien Grimard

Nick Clarke - The Rise MTB

The closest main city to the park was the town of Knysna. A small town that was big for tourist attractions and boats. This is where we were introduced to Chris Boates. Chris is easily one of the most badass dudes I have ever met! A successful business man and a guy you don’t say no too….he’s 225 lbs of pure muscle not to mention a survivor of Cancer! He’s done it all it seems. He’s been a Rugby player, an expedition diver, a corporate business man, an entrepreneur, and many other things. Along with running a sports park in Johannesburg, he runs a boat tour called Knysna RIB Adventures. Only this is a military grade 600 horsepower weapon in some of the most treacherous waters in the world, known for hundreds of shipwrecks and powerful currents. This was wild! Crazy caves carved out of the bluffs and Chris jumping the boat clean 8ft out of the water off of massive swells made for a great welcome to town. This is a tour you want to go on if you if ever get the chance, just hold onto your hats! After a wild ride and some stories from the man himself, we were handed a beer for a toast over “Shark Alley” as Chris likes to call it. Chris was a great host. Several nights a week we would meet up at local restaurants, bars, as well as the local Yacht Club for dinner and drinks. It was never just dinner with Chris however. We found out pretty quickly that if were going out with Chris for the night, tequila would make an appearance and the next day would be over before it even began.

Nick Clarke - The Rise MTB

Now that we had our team, we needed some machinery to get started on the loop. Everything that was meant to be ready for the loop hadn’t yet been prepared, so it was up to us to handle the tall task of milling the planks as well as build the loop. This is where we were introduced to our friend Terry Hayward. There aren’t enough people in the world like Terry and the Hayward family. One of the most loving and outgoing families you’ll ever meet, as well as being certified badasses. Along with lending us a mill to tackle this incredible task, Terry took the time out of his day after work to teach us how to use it. Terry didn’t seem to be afraid of anything, and that seemed to rub off a lot on his younger son Reece! Only 16 years old, Reece would show up on his dirt bike after school barefoot and start climbing every tree in sight! He would climb to the top and use his body weight to pull it all the way to the ground, and then simply step off snapping the tree back into shape. Tarzan was the best way to describe this, and it became his nickname from the crew because of this wild hobby! Sharing the same passion as his dad for motorcycles he also shredded a brakeless BMX. Terry simply made a rut in a pile of dirt with his big bike one day and Reece charged at it with his friend Slade Pullin. This was not the typical set up most people would want to try and flip on, but after some positive words and energy from the crew, they both sent their first backflips to dirt! Slade was close but cut short by a dislocated shoulder, and Reece kept charging getting multiple flips around. He has been doing them on anything and everything ever since. Be on the lookout for this young gun at the Night Harvest in the future! Every day that the two left, they’d be on one wheel popping wheelies down the dirt roads on their dirt bikes, occasional with his wife Kirsty on the back with Terry. They were a crucial part of this trip! Up until the day we left the park, we couldn’t go to Kynsna without stopping in to see the family!

One day to ease stress the idea to build a crazy backyard pit bike track behind the super loop house came up. This wasn’t your average pit bike track though. It was infested with ants, surrounded by barbed wire fencing, fallen trees, and branches going anywhere and everywhere above us. With the help of the throttle and back wheel, ruts quickly became huge nascar corners against fences, jumps over sections of the track, and a wide open section for high speeds on the driveway! This was a pretty tight and technical track, not the kind of track that you wanted to go down on. Misjudge your speed and you’re headed for a bloody ending beyond the corners. Of course the pit bikes weren’t the most reliable bikes either adding more danger into the mix. They needed some work. The brakes were busted, foot pegs falling off, bent bars, and a shifter that you had to destroy the roof of your foot to work. It was bad news waiting to happen, but somehow we all survived. After a hard days work, Matt would come flying in 3rd gear tapped towards the barbed wire frightening all the monkeys out of the trees as he tore around the berms. They later broke into our house and pissed on our kitchen table after eating some of our food. Pay back is a bitch I guess haha!

Working in the African sun was exhausting. Sun screen was a necessity, and the reality of sun stroke was high. Early on into the milling process we had issues with belts and blades putting us back by a full week. After repeated trips back and forth to George for parts by Matt, the team eventually got into a rhythm cutting a couple hundred planks to get started on the massive radiuses. We were short on time and in a bit over our heads. No pun intended. Eventually the proposed 2 week build became a full month. With time running out and a slow process with the mill, Julien and Marshal stepped up and bought the remaining wooden pieces to the puzzle. Unfortunately due to the deadline constantly changing, both Julien and Louis ended up having to extend their flights to remain on African soil for the big day. There was roughly two weeks left of my trip at this point and the build was sure to eat up the last of it so I thought about extending mine as well. I was still fired up about my first contest win and being involved in something this big had me wanting to experience everything I could with the opportunity I had been given. I called my parents, told them the story, and used the money I had won from the NH to extend my trip by an extra month. It had been years since I have produced a professional video, and my gut was telling me that this was the place to do it.

A few days later we stopped into a second hand store and picked out our own unique outfit for a big party night in town. I went with a classy but badass suit which I later chopped the sleeves off, while Louis went with the most rasta outfit he could find, Matt went with a button up shirt and vest, and Julien looked for the most cannuck look he could find! We were the talk of the bar that night when we walked in to meet Chris. It just so happens that the night we choose to get fully dressed up, we get introduced to a couple guys behind El Jimador Tequila through Chris. After some dinner with our new found friends, we moved on to our favourite bar called the Bloo bistro. It was this sweet hippy style bar with hookahs, a dance floor, face paint and a dj.

This was a bar where you painted your face with glow in the dark paint, so one night a decent looking brunette girl started painting our faces. At first we thought she worked there and this was routine, turns out she was just a repeat customer that took a liking to Louis’ Rasta hat. After repeatedly stealing the hat back and forth she ran behind the bar, hid the hat, and bounced! We went up to the owner Paul, told him the story. After a few minutes of looking it was no where to be found. Instead, Paul hands us an old disco ball. “I can’t find it, but this should cover it right?” Sure why not I’ll take your disco ball. Thankfully as we were walking out to the next bar, she appeared and showed us where she was hiding it. Not even 10 minutes into the Zanzibar, I was handed a bottle of Tequila on the house by the El Jimador guys with the words “Do with it as you please”. Lets just say the whole place soon figured out we were giving out shots.

The morning of the big attempt the house was awoken at 6am by Metallica-for whom the bell tolls at full volume on the speakers. The speakers became the house alarm because it was so far from everyone’s bed that you physically had to get up to shut it off. We all had troubles sleeping knowing what the morning would bring, so we knew it was coming. Everyone gathered at the site of the loop, did some prep work, and got ready to watch Matt go after the loop. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans for us, and began raining down on our parade so we were forced to abandon the morning attempt and come back to it later in the evening.

If you missed it, make sure to read The First Part, and stay tuned for Part 3!

August 05, 2016
Nick Clarke's African Adventures - Part 1

Nick Clarke's African Adventures - Part 1

Earlier this spring, Nick Clarke spent a few months in South Africa riding bikes, filming his Welcome to The Rise video and helping out Matt Macduff with his Loop of Doop Project. As he signed up for this trip, little did he know that he was on board for the craziest journey of his life. His adventure was so inspiring that he had to put it down in words to share it with the world. Read the first part below, and stay tuned for the rest of his story!

Words by Nick Clarke
Photos by Thomas Sandell, Eric Palmer, Julien Grimard

When the idea first came up about going to Africa, I was walking into Joyride 150 when I crossed paths my friend Matt Macduff. He was in the back room building up a new The Rise Partymaster fresh after recovering from a wrist injury, preparing for the big trip. I had just finished building up a new dental office with my Dad, and we had an opening for a few weeks between jobs, so I was stoked to have some time to ride. I hardly get to ride with Matt because I am either working steady on an office, or he is out of town, so when we do it usually gets out of hand! After catching up for a while I made a joke, “I finally have some time off to ride with my homie, and he’s leaving for a couple months to Africa. The timing is always off!” Matt turns around and says, well hey why don’t you come and hang out with me down in ZA for a while? Without hesitation I started looking for the cheapest flight I could afford, and started planning what turned out to be the most intense and freestyle trip of my life!

I’ve been a huge fan of the South African dirt jump scene for years and was super stoked to bring my bike along for the adventure. Eric Palmer’s photos have popped up on my computer screen for years scrolling through pink bike, and the spots never seemed to disappoint. It seemed to be another world with rad dirt jumps, epic sunsets and nothing but style. I never would have thought that later on in my career I would be traveling to ride these same jumps where those photos were taken, let alone get the chance to work with the man himself. I’ve been familiar with The Night Harvest for a few years through articles on The Rise and Pink Bike, and I knew Matt and the PD crew were going to be involved, so I hit him up about getting in. A few days later I get a notification from one of the main builders, Justin Novela. It was an invite to one of the raddest dirt jump contests on the planet! I already knew this wasn’t going to be an ordinary trip, but the closer it came to leaving, the more it would become a life changing experience. Those two weeks felt like a year…

After a long 36 hours worth of traveling I arrived in Cape Town. Right off the plane I had this strange feeling about the country I now stood. It felt as though I never went anywhere, like I wasn’t on a trip. It didn’t really kick in that I was really in Africa until about 3 weeks into the trip. I was mesmerized! Mountains, picturesque coastlines, wild looking trees and wildlife everywhere, and some of the friendliest people I have ever met. After fighting with the airport wifi for a couple hours, I was greeted at the airport by Tumi Mothei. It wasn’t too hard to find Tumi parked outside in the Monster Energy van. Huge decals across a black cargo van and a stoked dude in the driver’s seat! It was a weird transition sitting in the left seat with no steering wheel, not to mention being on the other side of the road. What was crazier was that people overtake on the shoulder with oncoming traffic there and it’s gnarly! After a quick little tour and short history lesson of the city while stuck in traffic, we found ourselves in the centre of town where I met up with the man in charge Ryan Franklin, and my roommate for the night, Catfish! This was already starting out to be an insane trip. Catfish is a wild dude to travel with, let alone be in Africa with him for the first time. I’ve known him for a few years so I was super stoked to start the trip off on a high note knowing someone in town that’s been there previously.

The next day Ryan picked us up in the Dodge and drove the two of us into Hout Bay to check out the set up. It was an epic drive along the coast through camps Bay to the site of the Night Harvest. Anyone who has been here will tell you that Johnty’s place is simply magical! Some of the most perfectly sculpted dirt jumps in the world, epic sunsets, and a backdrop to die for. I couldn’t stop looking in circles at the beauty that surrounded me. The drive alone was out of this world, but throw jumps into the mix and its paradise to any rider. You truly need to see it to believe it.

Ryan set us up at this fancy place called the Riverside estate down the road from the event. This place was rad! We all had our own set up, a few pools, and a huge gazebo where the crew hung out nightly and shared a few beers. Just getting to hang out with legends like Kevin Peraza, Greg Illingworth, Andreu, Sam Reynolds, and the rest of the pure darkness crew is one thing, let alone riding along side them at the legendary Potato trails! This was a dream come true. On the night of the finals I was feeling awesome! Surrounded by positive energy and new faces, I was ready to showcase everything I had been working on over the last few months at Joyride 150. The weather was perfect, the crowd was loud, and the atmosphere was incredible! I’ve been to many events in my lifetime, but none of them had the same feel to it that the NH had. There’s something about a night time contest that stands out from the rest. It might have something to do with the VIP bar set up, and the trails braii that got the crowd extra wild, but riding under lights just makes things that much more appetizing. Everyone was riding incredible and the trails were running pristine which made for a neck and neck contest! Between high fives with the fans I rode my hardest and threw down all that I could for the SA crowd. It was a close contest! Sam Reynolds was riding with a wrist injury from a crash just days before the contest, but it didn’t seem to slow him down! With his consistent runs and big tricks I thought for sure the contest was his. I was stoked on how I rode and that was enough for me! I got to ride in an epic contest with riders I grew up idoizing, and proved that I could ride as well. Prepared to walk away with a respectable third place finish, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Matt’s name called up in 3rd, followed by Sam in 2nd. I knew at that point I had won my first international contest and I couldn’t believe it! Its one thing to be sprayed with champagne after winning an event, but its another when the people spraying you with it are the gorgeous Monster Energy girls! I was a happy man let me tell you! After getting the party out of my system for a couple days in Cape Town, we dropped the PD crew off at the airport and started making our way to the Garden Route Trail Park. Thanks to Ryan’s help, we picked up a small rental Renault Clio and stuffed everything we could into the limited space we had. This thing was small but it did the trick! On the drive to Knysna we nick named it the red eagle as it soared down the left side of the African highways. We left pretty late, so when we arrived to the farm it was dark and vision was limited. Before going to sleep at Robs for the night, Matt took us up to the Pure Darkness course up the dirt road. Marshall and I couldn’t stop laughing when we saw the set up the boys made for the 3rd PD in the moonlight. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before and it was so insane that you couldn’t help but laugh at how huge the silhouettes of the beasts were! Those dudes moved a lot of dirt to make that video happen, and that set up is not for the faint of heart. We had a few days before Julien and Louis joined us, so Matt and I went to work on the beasts. After a few days of digging in the heat and piercing sun to get the line dialed in, the boys made it in from Canada, and we were ready to shred! Besides the size of the roll in and massive jumps, one of the gnarliest things about these jumps is the fact you need to be on the roll in by 6 am sharp to ride them. With the jumps being in an open field up in the mountains, it was the only time the wind would be calm enough to ride the set up. One big gust and you’re toast! It’s difficult to be awake that early in the morning, let alone be awake enough to drop into the biggest line of jumps in the world on a hard tail.

After getting some coaching and motivation from Matt while feeling out the smaller roll in, it was time to face the great white shark fin. This thing has got some sharp teeth and its bite is no joke. I rode slightly under the ride line and took off the top corner spitting me out far to the left of the landing….front wheel first.

After cart wheeling across the grass I stood up, gave the boys the rock and roll and looked at the taco the shark now made my front wheel. I was in one piece and my wheel was all that was damaged in the crash. Luckily enough I was smart enough to bring a spare 36 hole Mavic 729 with me on the trip. It’s hard enough to find this style of rim in Canada let alone in Knysna, South Africa. I got in contact with Tyrone from Bespoked bike shop, and he hooked me up with a build to keep me going a few days later! Unfortunately this would be the only time we would get to ride these jumps! After heavy rain came through and washed away the jumps, we were simply too busy with the loop to get them running again. Something’s gotta bring you back.

After we were joined by the boys, Rob set us up in one of his rental houses on the property named The Backwoods Cottage. After buying a set of speakers from a local shop in Sedgefield and making some personal changes to the layout, we dubbed it the super loop house! The house was awesome! Two double bed rooms, a shower, bath, a large open yard overlooking the loop site in the background, and a fire pit where Julien cooked up “Spalta’s Famous chicken” almost nightly. Marshall was the only one daring enough to take a bath in the house though. You can ask why... With the heavy rain coming down a couple days a week, we bounced back and forth between the fire pit at the front of the house, and a secondary location under an awning beside the garage to cook. Man’s gotta eat. The front yard was also common to have a couple hundred cows hanging out on the lawn from time to time. I swear Rob made his guys move the cows to the front yard whenever he was upset with us about something to get even with us. There were multiple land mines you had to avoid getting to the vehicles all the time.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up in a few days!

August 02, 2016
Nick Clarke MTB - The Rise MTB

Nick Clarke - Welcome to The Rise !

Today, we're super stoked to welcome the homie Nick Clarke to the team! Nick is a good friend of ours that kills it on the bike and shares our vision of the sport, so it was only a matter of time before we put him on board. In case you're not too familiar with Nick Clarke yet, the dude is from the Toronto area, and he can often be found shredding Joyride, fixing his backyard ramps, drinking beers and enjoying life. For his welcome video, he spent some time in South Africa riding his freshly built Partymaster and came back with a killer dirt jump video! Wait no longer and hit play to watch Nick as he dives with sharks, wins contests and destroys some jumps!

Make sure to check out his Team Profile Page and stay tuned for Nick Clarke's Partymaster bikecheck, and a serie of articles about his insane time in South Africa Coming soon. Welcome to the team Nick!

July 20, 2016
Video: 2016 Night Harvest

Video: 2016 Night Harvest

the Ontarian homie Nick Clarke joined Matt Macduff in South Africa for the Night Harvest dirt jump contest and took the win! Super stoked for Nick, the dude is seriously so dialed it's ridiculous! Wait no longer and watch all the madness!

February 19, 2016