The Groundskeeper : Doug Parsons
By Brendan Lutes
In the world of freestyle and freeriding, Doug Parsons is one of the originators. When FMX was in its infant stages, Parsons was one of the pioneers, building jumps out in the hills and going bigger than everyone.
After taking a few years away from the sport, Parsons has recently begun to get back into it. And with the rain that has come down in the past few weeks in Southern California, Parsons has been putting in overtime to build new jumps out in Reche Canyon, his childhood riding spot. Last week, Doug invited us out to his secret location to shoot some photos and check out his newest line that he affectionately named “Snake Bite Line” due to the technical aspect of the jumps.
We’re out here at Reche Canyon, and with all the rain we’ve been getting lately, you’ve been keeping pretty busy.
Yeah, this is how gnarly I am… When it was raining last Thursday, I drove out here, sat at The Cottage—a little restaurant down the road—and drank beer while it rained all day. I did that just so I could have my eyes and ears on the area for how much rain it got. I think I came out that same day and shoveled one jump in the rain. Then on Friday, a bunch of us came out and I’ve been out here shoveling every day since.
You grew up right down the street from Reche Canyon. How much time have you spent in these hills?
When I was eight years old, I moved out here and started riding here—I’ve been out here for days. I moved away, though, probably about eight years ago, and I since then, I’ve still come out to ride, but it hasn’t been this good since I was probably about 14 or 15. It’s really good right now.
In the last six months to a year, you’ve been getting back into riding again after some time off. How has that been?
I took some time off and went up to Seattle to just clear out my head. I just needed a break, because I was getting caught up in dumb stuff. I came back at about this time last year and started riding, but I broke my foot. I just started riding again a few months ago and I’ve been waiting for it to rain. Reche kind of goes through cycles every year and it’s going through one of those cycles right now where it’s really good.
You’ve built quite a few jumps in a little hidden canyon. Can you talk about what went into that?
I made a line in a canyon here and we call it the Snake Bite Line, because it’s pretty technical. The jumps aren’t big, but they’ll throw you down. I took a digger today when I landed in a tree (laughs). It starts out with a left-handed 40-foot hip, and then you snake down a creek to another little kicker over what used to be a barbed wire fence. After that, there’s a little tabletop—it’s the one that has been taking everyone down—and then there is a little left-handed hip into the creek. There’s also a bunch of other little single jumps throughout the canyon.
You’re one of the originators of freeriding. What are your thoughts on it today?
I remember back in the day when [Brian] Deegan was on Moto XXX and he came out here and rode. We did a big ride after a rain. There was a double that day and he did his first-ever nac-nac over it; he was so pumped. That’s pretty much how freestyle started back in the day. It started with filming and it was when everyone came out, took time away from Supercross, and threw whips, did tricks, hillclimbs, cliff jumps, downhill races to see who could hold it on longer… That’s kind of the grass roots of freestyle. Once it became a sport and got big, a lot of people kind of steered away from it. Over the past years with the Ride To The Hills event a few years ago and other stuff, I was trying to make a stab at bringing freeriding back on the map. Renner has been really big in it, doing all the stuff he has been doing. Stenberg is also starting to dabble in it a bit and is making a run at being remembered as a freeriding guy rather than a freestyle guy. It’s pretty cool with us guys doing this; it’s going to really legitimize freeriding. Who knows where it can go. I’d like to someday have it get to the point that street skateboarding and backcountry snowboarding is where guys get paid to go film.
Assuming it continues to rain a lot this season, what are your plans?
Right now, I have about 15 jumps that I’ve already built or that I need to build. Every rain, I’ve got about two or three jumps that I want to build. That way I’ll have enough stuff to last for the entire winter season. I just want to build jumps, shoot photos, film, and just do work. I want to show everyone that there are some possibilities and opportunities; lets see if we can turn it into something where we can get paid for TV shows or videos. I want to make freeriding official.