Photos By Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Skills | Freeriding With Twitch
When it comes to making your own rules on a dirt bike and pushing the boundaries of Mother Nature's landscape, there's nothing that really compares to freeriding. Many riders spend their time riding local trails, single track, sand pits, and green hillsides which all lead to good times on two wheels. Some riders, however, excel on this natural terrain and find their passion lies in creating their own playground within the landscape's canvas. Enter Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg, a decorated freestyle veteran who started riding the hills as a kid and followed his dreams to become one of freestyle motocross' most well known icons. Sure, Twitch ran the contest circuit for years and excelled in front of sold out crowds, but when you ask him what makes him happy on a dirt bike it will be a day in the hills after a good storm. "All I need is a shovel, a dude with a camera, and one of my good buddies to have fun with. I don't need a crowd to go out and go show off, I can show off for myself, and just to see what I can do, you know?"
Twitch and his crew are known for scouring Southern California for natural terrain that must be sculpted and carved into their idea of a perfect hit. In a drought stricken region where rain rules the conditions, they'll peruse dawn to dusk with shovels in their hands and motivation under their helmets. Whether you want to ride the famous California spots that you've watched in all the videos, or exploring your local territory, it's good to have some general knowledge on the subject of freeriding before heading out to send it. Lucky for you, we sat down with Twitch to get some veteran tips on freeriding and the etiquette that goes along with it.
Eye On The Sky: I go through like five different weather apps; I'm literally looking at it every day. Obviously California has been in a drought so the rain is what brings us perfect conditions. I also watch the news every night and in the morning just to see what's coming in or where it's raining. Like "Oh it's raining in Northern California? Alright let's go up there!" We'll always be on the look out to see what's coming, and a couple days out from the rain we'll go out and scout jumps in preparation for it. I don't like to waste time either. When I'm there I want to ride straight from my truck, straight to the jump, build it, and session it all day long.
Show Respect: When we go out to the hills for the whole day, we all bring snacks and drinks, and I'm never the guy to leave anything behind. I get pissed off when I see trash out in the hills; you'll see people that dumped a bunch of trash out in the middle of nowhere. That makes it look bad on us, the dudes that are actually out there shoveling, riding, and having fun; it makes it look like we don't give a crap about the spot. Wherever we go out, we always make sure to bring everything back with us. Be respectful of where you are. The biggest thing on hill etiquette is respecting a jump that someone else already built. If you get to a jump and it's all freshly done and built, no one has hit is yet, and you ride it? You better make it look exactly how it was before you got there. I don't care if someone comes out and blows up a jump, just rebuild it because we most likely spent three days on that. We all build these jumps so we can all have fun, so respect it and at least put work in if you want to ride it.
Ride At Your Own Risk: It's like the same thing as street skating or riding BMX, those kids are going out and getting chased out by the cops all day long. I don't think our chances are as high as theirs because we're usually out in the middle of nowhere, but it happens. It definitely doesn't happen as much as people think it does, like I went out last year and only got chased out by the cops one time. I had gone to that spot all year long, you know? It's funny, I grew up getting chased out of places by the cops on my bicycle or my motorcycle, I've just always been used to it. If I get caught though, or a cop comes up on me I'm fully respectful and explain what we're doing, maybe explain it was our first time here or how we are filming for a project. Ninety percent of the time though if I hear the word "Cop" or I see a cop, I'm gone. I grab my shovel, grab my stuff, start my bike and I'm gone! I don't care if you're in a helicopter; you're not catching me. It's all just part of it!
No Shovel, No Ride: I don't care how many dudes are with us, as long as you throw down a shovel and show respect that's dope. Sometimes we'll be out there building a jump for two hours all the way up to three days, and then everyone comes up right when we get done finishing it. They'll even ride by and watch us shovel for days, then as soon as it's ready they're in line to hit it and we're like "NO. If you didn't help us make this jump, you ain't touching this jump until we're done." But if you brought a shovel and helped? Let's ride, you're part of the group that day.
Trial And Error: Sometimes you'll carve a jump and look and it and you'll be like "this is perfect" and then you'll hit it and you'll be like, "oh this is way too mellow." So you'll take the belly out and you'll jump it again and then be like "oh let's stack a little bit more on the top." It's trial and error, so a lot of times we'll build jumps and the lips are so badass, but then the jump just ends up sucking. Sometimes it can also either be too small or too big, you know? It's just trial and error.
Entry Level: If you're someone who wants to get into freeriding, honestly look toward your local hills. You can also go on Instagram to see what people are posting, and if you think, "Oh wait, I kind of know where those hills are" you can find them that way. Also ninety percent of the time those people tag where they are on Instagram. We don't do that, just to try to keep our spots hidden to keep the traffic down. If you're just a local guy looking to get into it just grab a shovel, get in the truck, go ride around and just explore. Look around and see what you can find, that's how we get started with new spots.