In The Mag, On The Web is an online feature where we take a behind-the-scenes look at one of the print features in Racer X Illustrated. Check out some more information on “The Hills are Alive” by David Pingree.
This feature took a lot of work to put together. It wasn't the writing or the photography (Well, maybe I should ask Simon about that) or the research that made it tough… it's getting riders together. Have you ever tried herding cats? But once the legwork is done the payoff is well worth it. I moved to southern California in 1994, back when free riding was at it's peak in the hills around here. Any time it rained I would meet up with Jeremy McGrath, Phil Lawrence, Ryan Hughes, Buddy Antunez and anybody else who wanted to ride and we would head for the hills. At the time we had amazing grass-covered hills right here in Temecula and that was the place to go. Once developers turned those into house pads we moved up to Reche Canyon and eventually Beaumont, which has remained untouched by home builders thus far.
Today's top riders don't spend too much time riding in the hills. Racing has become much more serious and going out and enjoying yourself for the day on your bike probably feels like being lazy to these guys. But the truth is that you learn a lot on days like these. Your timing, for one, gets honed in like never before. There's nothing like the penalty of coming up short on a huge jump to really heighten those senses. But you also tune up your bike control skills on the hip jumps, hill climbs, cliff jumps and other obstacles that we stop and mess around with during the day. I remember watching Jeremy pick his way through a wash and making little tabletops out of the sections on the side of it. It was like watching an artist work up a painting. The other thing a day like this does is gets you back to a place where you are having fun on your bike again. That's the reason we all started riding but after a while the monotony of grinding out laps can begin to make professional racing feel like heading into the salt mines. Here's a few more photos that didn't run in the magazine.
Read the entire "The Hills are Alive" feature in the June '14 issue of Racer X right now or look for the cover below on Newsstands to pick up the issue in person.