We ask some famous faces to recount the sketchiest or most heart-stopping moment they’ve had aboard two wheels. This time, all-round shredder Olly Wilkins remembers the time he had to test jump a road gap during Mexican rush hour
I was approached to design and build the track for an urban downhill race in Mexico, Down Puerto Vallarta, and obviously jumped at the chance! What could possibly be better than a DH/freeride event that finishes directly on the beach?!
Creating big features for the world’s best to ride is no easy task, though. First of all, you have a big logistics job on your hands. Moving timber and dirt around streets where people are going about their everyday life can prove very difficult. Strangely, not everyone wants to see Tomáš Slavic race past their front door or Sam Reynolds flip past their bedroom window!
Another point worth considering is that each and every feature needs to be test-ridden. I wouldn’t want to send my friends off anything that I didn’t know worked. Having grown up as the guinea pig, I don’t mind doing this. But there are additional factors to consider when guinea-pigging in the streets of downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Illustration: Kevin February
With the streets still in everyday use, you need to dodge local residents – the track is narrow and Audrey opening her front door at the wrong time could complicate life! Local residents also include a huge number of canine companions, and they don’t quite understand the concept of DH street races. Traffic is always an issue too. An issue that became very familiar when testing the 14-metre hit we’d built on the last straight of the track.
On the day in question, I woke up at 6am with the rest of the build crew and put on my knee pads instead of eating breakfast – a weird sensation in itself! We needed to get the jump ridden before rush hour and before huge crowds gathered to watch and complicate things further. The giant, straight run-in it made it super-difficult to judge my speed and I ran in a few times with next to no idea whether I was going quick enough.
With rush hour upon us, I dropped in and Euro tucked my way down the giant run-in. In the blink of an eye I found two lanes of traffic 20 feet below me and our giant landing sat perfectly in front of me. It worked perfectly. I mean, of course it worked perfectly! I earned my breakfast that day!
Who is Olly Wilkins?
Olly Wilkins (aka O-Dub) is the kind of rider who can’t really be pigeonholed. He may have started out as a dirt jumper, but these days Olly’s riding spans everything from hardtails to e-bikes, the Surrey Hills to the Sahara Desert, and wherever or whatever he’s riding, he always seems to be having the best time doing it.
Staff Writer Ed is a downhiller at heart but has been riding bikes of all types since a young age. He’s raced both nationally and internationally in downhill and enduro and has spent several summers living in The Alps and Canada, riding, roadtripping and living the dirt bag lifestyle. He’s also an avid trail builder and has scraped out numerous steep and technical lines in the woodlands of his native North Yorkshire. These days Ed will happily turn his hand to any discipline and he says that the sign of a good week is when every bike in his shed ends up muddy by the end of it.