Set to premiere during Crankworx Whistler, MOTIVE is a film that delves into the minds of those who stamp their own distinctive style on mountain biking. What puts the fire in the belly of these riders and drives them to ride the way they do? Leading up to the premiere, each installment featured here gives fans a glimpse of what's, and who’s, to come.
The Wizards of the Woods
Good trails cast spells. They infect you with their sense of flow, giving you an effortless connection to the earth that cannot be broken until you reach the bottom. Gap jumps, berms, rock gardens, and mellow kickers—these are the finger snaps and hip shakes to this dark magic of a dance, and when you find that perfect trail, you can’t help but be a slave to the rhythm of it. Or to put it another way—it’s fun as hell. But just who casts these trail spells, and where do they get their inspiration?
The trail featured in this teaser took some next-level wizarding to bring to life. It’s back-breaking work—scoping terrain, finding a fall line that will work, splitting logs, building, hammering, cutting, digging, and packing. Day after day after day, with shovels and saws and sweat, builders slog away to create something that they know will only be 45-60 seconds of ride time. We sat down with two real trail building wizards—Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson—to see why and how they do what they do.
It's cliché to say, but how can you not feel good when there's a crew of buddies smiling ear-to-ear after a lap down a trail you built? We all know the feeling, and it never gets old. Trails are meant to be shared!
Q: Let’s think of the woods as a blank canvas for a second—what sort of things are you looking for when scoping out a potential new line for a trail?
Dylan: The most important thing is gauging the work vs. reward. Some lines are so natural and ready for features, but with the scale we work at now, some things take a lot more to bring to life than you initially think. I'm always looking for areas with the best visuals and natural looking, potential lines. It's really easy to take on way too much when starting any trail. It's a ton of really hard work. It's difficult to stay motivated when you're moving mountains of rock and wood...but if it's worth the work, we’ve gotta [sic]make it happen.
Curtis: Generally the location, grade, and style are a great place to start. Utilizing the natural contours where you see fit for the given application. Ideas tend to jump out at you the more you look around for potential options or routes.
Q: What elements make up a good trail, and what is your idea of the dream trail?
Curtis: Key elements for me would be flow, good turns, pumpy, and some sort of air time in between. My dream trail(s) are already at Coast Gravity Park, we've been lucky enough to bring multiple dream trails to life over the past few years. I feel spoiled.
Dylan: The dream trail is a never ending, always changing idea. I think the dream trail is usually the last one we built. Then it's on to the next. There are so many elements that make up a great trail, the potential and options are limitless. That's the beauty of building trail—it can be interpreted and created in any way you could dream. That's why we love it so much, we get to ride whatever we can dream up. Hard work is worth it.
Q: What do you personally get out of the experience of building a trail? What does it feel like to see people enjoying it?
Curtis: I like that you can add, take away, and change exactly what you want if you know what you're looking for. It gives you a different feeling than just riding a new trail blind—you get to know it well before you even hop on the bike.
Dylan: I get so much out of building a trail from the creative side and the riding side of things. Now with the bike park, it has evolved into not only me enjoying our work, but now anyone can come and have a good time on the trails.
Q: How and where did you first learn to build trails?
Curtis: I was introduced to trail building when I was 11 through my friend’s dad. He brought me out and put a rake in my hands and said “Go”—I was hooked. Through high school, my older brother started to get more serious with his trail work and began building progressive freeride lines for the later Kranked films. This was a huge source of inspiration for me, as well as a direction I was really into at the time.
Dylan: Like any kid, it all started building ramps and bridges down the side of my driveway. My dad, being a carpenter, gave me an old framing saw [and] I went to town cutting stringers and banging nails through old mill scraps all the way down the driveway. It all grew from there, and as I got older and bigger, so did the lines and the methods used to create them. With the guidance of my old man, and some crucial tools, Curt and I were able to build whatever we could dream of.
Q: Tell us a little about the trail in the film. How would you describe it?
Curtis: We built a few things since the snow melt. One freeride line with multi-hit features through the line that Dyl and I both rode, [and] we also built another separate DH trail and jump trail at CGP (Coast Gravity Park). These lines are something that we really enjoy riding, but it’s still a good challenge that pushes us. It feels good when a line works top-to-bottom.
Dylan: Every piece of trail is different, and depending on terrain, each zone throws its own curve balls and challenges into each build. With the lines for this film, we spend 28 days straight on the top-to-bottom wood feature line, with over 400 man-hours invested between us and our buddies and another week on the loam line.
We have been dreaming of downhill skipper pads built on top of stumps or rocks. One day walking through the bush, I stumbled upon the perfect rock with a perfect run out, and that was it—that was what we were dreaming of. And after checking out the run in, I noticed more potential above, and more above that. This evolved and mutated into a huge top-to-bottom mega build with three on/off pad features and some sick slick rock sections. Dream line achieved.
It felt like he came from nowhere—this scrappy little 14-year-old, daring to flout the rules and strut his stuff in the Whip Off World Champs at Crankworx, in 2014. A campaign, #LetFinnIn, may have got him there, but it was years of obsessive practice that saw him slay dragons to win that day. Remember: nobody comes from nowhere. Finn Iles didn’t just pick up a bike that day and say, “Oh, hey, maybe I’ll try this?” With Whistler in his backyard, and Finn refining his “getting sideways” skills on Crabapple Hits from the age of 11, well…didn’t everybody see it coming?
But here we are just a few years later, and now Finn is dominating the junior ranks of downhill with the words “Fast, faster, fastest” burned into his brain. Now, it’s the dream of rolling the success of his 2016 downhill season forward, at an even faster clip. It’ll be a tough year to beat, considering he won the Jr. World Cup overall, Jr. World Championships, and Whip Off World Champs, but when you’re young and at the top of your game, of course you shoot for the moon.
It’s not the will to try and beat everybody else. I’m just trying to ride as fast as I can.
Where does that drive come from? His desire—not to win, exactly, that’s just the silver lining—to go as fast as his young legs will allow, how does it ignite? This first “sneak peek” installment of MOTIVE sees Finn reunite with the Coastal Crew to head to Vancouver Island and find out. He first crossed paths with Curtis Robinson and Dylan Dunkerton back in 2009, when they were his coaches at a camp. Since then, both Finn and the Coastal Crew have defined their own riding styles and gone in different directions, but for them, it’s never a bad time to get together and ride again. For days, the team dug, hiked, packed, and filmed Finn riding the trails to collect footage and insights for the final film. This one-minute edit is just a glimpse of what’s to come in August.
Vancouver Island is one of the best riding spots anywhere in Canada for race training, so it was the perfect place to shoot and spend time. It was also Stevie's [Smith] training tracks so it is a special place to ride and film.
About the Film
Motive, is the collaboration of the filming talents of Mind Spark Cinema and the powerhouse filming and riding talents of the Coastal Crew (Curtis Robinson and Dylan Dunkerton). Motive, shot across North America, will be a film oozing with effortless style and progression of Curtis Robinson, Dylan Dunkerton, Finn Iles, Garret Mechem, Matt Miles and Matt Hunter.
Set to World Premiere during Crankworx Whistler in the Olympic Village on Friday August 18th.