Words and Images by Daniel Walker
A weekend in the desert, good friends, beautiful buff trails, beers aplenty, a fun track to race on, and the opportunity to watch some crazy kids (literally, there were 14-year-olds sponsored by the likes of Monster and GoPro) send themselves silly for your amusement.
Sounds like a good weekend?
Right from the moment you arrive, it is obvious that Ranchstyle is a mountain bike festival by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers. The venue is remote and on-site food and drink is limited to Red Bull and beer (bring your own water, they only cover the essentials); but the music is pumping, the courses are amazing, and the atmosphere is worth the trip all by itself.
The action kicked off Friday afternoon, giving a teaser of the action to come with the Pinkbike Best Trick Contest, held on the final feature of the slopestyle course. The following morning the real action arrived as the full course was opened to all competitors.
The course itself was a piece of rideable art. Big drops, wooden bridges, 30-45 ft gap jumps, step-on-step-off features -- the designers pulled out all the stops on this one.
Next up, the dual slalom. The universal sentiment from both the riders and specators was that this is THE best dual slalom track they had ever seen. Straight out of the gate, the track diverged into two totally separate flowy singletrack trails -- complete with berms and gap jumps -- before coming back together for a series of BMX-style tabletop jumps, after which the trails split off again before coming back together for a final set of berms, jumps, and a finishing sprint to the line.
In the end though; the true measure of a festival isn't in course design, or the level of competition, or in the quality of the venue -- it's in the enjoyment of the attendees.. and by this (or any other) measure, Ranchstyle is absolutely the place to be.
See you next year!