It was a rainy Saturday in New York so I made plans with a friend to go to 5050 Skatepark to ride with the LFS crew and friends. They would be showing the promo for their second DVD and some Australian video would be playing as well… Not only was I blatantly uninformed but also completely unprepared for what I was about to watch.
Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney) seems like some sort of fairy tale fantasyland to me. It’s so far away, so dissociated from the states that I can’t even imagine what goes on there. I feel like the riding scene is completely separate from us and they are doing shit we can’t even begin to fathom- this was partially true.
Play button. The intro is high-energy and fast paced with clips of landed tricks, crashes, closeups, cityscapes, timelapses- really everything but the kitchen sink. The sound bites are well-orchestrated and the song used is a guitar-driven punk rocker. I thought it strange that only three names were listed (but came to find out there are over 60 riders in the whole video). The quick cuts kept my attention and some of the clips cut short had me hopeful to see the rest in the bulk of the video. Needless to say, it’s a spectacular start to a video.
Jerry Vandervalk sets it off and within the first three clips I had witnessed three grinds that I’d never seen done before. Anyone who questions the relevance of the x-up grind in today’s scene- I invite you to watch this part and see that it’s back and better than ever. Moving on from the flat rail tricks, there are at least two clips in this section where a 15+ foot fall is at stake (one of which is really toyed with). The soundtrack is Brother Ali which I was pleasantly surprised to hear and the editing works great with it. There is an amazing mix of big handrail clips and smaller technical tricks, one ridiculous clip where he should have broken through a glass roof and too many other spectacular moves to mention. Not only is his ender the only time I’ve ever seen this trick done down a handrail, I can safely say that a smoother one might never be done. I would not be surprised to see this section as a contender in this year’s NORA Cup.
Will Horan opens the first mixed section with a line ending in a manual to 180 downside whip- setting the bar pretty damn high for the rest of the section. A dude Jason Peterson does a trick on a ledge-next-to-ledge setup that I am psyched on. Jay Wilson makes his brief presence known by folding his ribcage around a pole then crooked grinding a large rail. Jack Birtles– a name in Australian videomaking and crazy riding- has a couple great clips. Calvin Kosovich‘s first clip is amazing in many ways, then a few more clips in he does a ridiculous looking over-to-Luc-e down a rail. Looks deadly. He scores last clip for that mix then without pause, the soundtrack changes with a loud beat, the lenscap comes off and we’re following Marnold through a poppy line. Cooper Brownlee has a few peg-laden clips, a couple dudes do some crankflips, Chris O’Donnell brings back the peg grab in a huge way and Brock Olive closes it out with a number of dialed clips going up and down handrails.
The next mix section sees a few clips from Troy Charlesworth himself- one is a “West Coast grind” to levitator and another a long rail ride. Very impressive. Liam Zingbergs has pretty much the second half of this mix section to himself with an array of tall grinds and one of the longest kinked hubba feeble grinds ever.
The next mix section is where you’ll find clips from Callan Stibbards– who made headlines a couple months ago with the online release of his “Still Bleeding Black & Blue” section– including one of the craziest steep kinked handrails I’ve ever seen done. He almost accidentally gaps the whole section stage. Samson Ross does a perfect Luc-e to whip. Tom Stretton does a death-defying hang five but I’m sure that’s not a surprise to anyone. Ammon Chesworth claims the ending clip with one of the wildest 360s (for a number of reasons). It’s a large 360.
Next is the park section, mostly concrete park riding, lots of Stew-ish rolling fisheye shots cut smoothly with long lens run-ups. Jason Watts steals the show by pedaling mach 5 and jumping huge gaps with grace and style. Dave Dillewaard closes out the section riding some picturesque trails at sunset.
The next section opens with a few shots of a stressed-out Nick Kajewski getting robbed of a couple rollouts and crashing hard on stairs. Once he catches his stride, however, his part turns into a flurry of large rails and turndowns out of things that normally couldn’t be turndowned out of. He’s got a wide array of clips and this section is edited really well. It’s hard to put words to his style because he does a little bit of everything. It seems like every other clip is a handrail hammer and the way he does this one overgrind deserves a trophy.
…And then, out of left field, some dude comes flying off a huge double set, catches an over-ice for a split second then loops out on the landing (into grass luckily- he slides like 25 feet). The last unsuccessful clip in the intro is definitely the biggest gap to rail I’ve ever seen attempted and I applaud this guy for even trying it. The music starts and this daredevil is introduced as Mike Vockenson. His first landed trick is the biggest railhop I’ve ever seen done- taking into account the distance from the launch to rail and also the height of the rail- and could have easily killed him had he clipped a wheel. For one clip he starts a line with a roof drop- the sure sign of a ballsy rider. There’s a railhop clip buried in the middle of his section that could easily be someone’s ender. The rest of his part is littered with beastly gaps and roof drops, huge rails, a caveman fit for Bone Deth and a barspin that Enarson himself might not even do. If Evel Knievel rode BMX, his style would probably be a lot Mike’s. With all the deadman shit he sends, you can tell he’s not just throwing himself down stairs and over gaps by the way he dials rail feebles and laces crooked grinds. It might look like he’s just doing the ol’ “fuck it and huck it” but you can tell that there’s a good deal of calculation in his riding (I could be completely wrong, but what I’m trying to say is that he’s a well-rounded rider with a passion for ridiculous gaps- to flat, to rail, roof to roof- whatever). And talk as much shit as you want on grass landings, but had it not been for some of these rail setups, this video review would probably be replaced by an “R.I.P. Mike Vockenson” post. His ender has to be in the top five craziest things ever done on a 20″ bicycle. FOR REAL. I can’t help but laugh at the severity of it every time I watch it. If I could, I’d deliver the NORA Cup trophy to Mike in person and give him a hug for keeping BMX exciting and untamed.
All things considered, this video blew me away. Initially because I didn’t remember seeing the trailer (probably because it came out a year-and-a-half before the video was done) and had no idea what to expect at the premiere. Even after watching it a number of times, it remains one of the best videos I’ve seen in recent history (taking into consideration the riding, the filming and the editing) and easily in the top three DVD’s I’ve seen this year. Probably top two, quite possibly the best video I’ve seen in a long time. Honestly I can’t speak highly enough about the whole project and definitely recommend picking up a copy (or buying the digital download since it’s much quicker and easier).
There’s already a story on the 2020 site about Vockenson’s ender (even though it’s a major spoiler alert, you still won’t get a scope of it until you see the video), another interview with Troy about the making of the DVD (and this video interview) and here’s the newer official trailer-