Whether you’re hit­ting 65 mph down Kamikaze or tail whip­ping off wooden ramps on Twi­light Zone, Mam­moth Bike Park has it all. With 80+ miles of sin­gle­track, a sum­mit at 11,053 ft and plenty of jumps, berms and drops to feast on – plus our new Boomerang ad

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“From the be­gin­ning, I didn’t have enough sup­port,” Ben­der says after suc­cess­fully greas­ing the in­tense chute. “You’d have photo in­cen­tives and they’d be like, ‘We can’t read the logo on the han­dle­bar and you don’t get any­thing.’ And it’s like, ‘Fuck you, bike in­dus­try.’”

Wester­lund, though, re­mem­bers the prob­lem dif­fer­ently. “In the be­gin­ning, he was very flam­boy­ant and talk­ing a lot shit. He was sur­rounded by some peo­ple that took him in the wrong di­rec­tion. And no­body wanted to show Ben­der break­ing their bike into mul­ti­ple pieces.”

Yet Freeride En­ter­tain­ment’s sold more footage of Ben­der than any other rider—a lot of it to re­al­ity TV. We con­sumed him. We made him. Did we also spit him back out?

“Some would say so,” Ben­der softly an­swers ped­al­ing back to the car. “Some would say I didn’t take the op­por­tu­ni­ties. Peo­ple al­ways ask me what I make off Ram­page, and I’m like, ‘Noth­ing.’ It’s kind of like the purist at­ti­tude, just get it done. But I’m al­ways look­ing for more sup­port, I feel I have more to give back.”


The Con­flu­ence trail near Auburn fol­lows the north fork of the Amer­i­can River in an open, grassy slope with few trees. The line is mel­low enough for Ben­der and Cur­rier to take turns rid­ing with Saf­fron on their backs. “Get some!” He yells ex­cit­edly as Cur­rier laps a berm with their daugh­ter gig­gling.

“I didn’t re­ally want to stop or hang up the torch un­til I had jumped 100 ver­ti­cal feet, and jumped a 200-foot gap,” he tells me. “I got stopped short. I wasn’t able to phys­i­cally do that. Now, more times than not guys are do­ing step­downs. They’re not look­ing for the straight anvil drops. I’ve al­ways kind of been like, a cliff for me is: How far are you go­ing to fall if you just step off the edge of it?”

Be­fore his in­juries piled up, Ben­der al­most did the 100foot drop for an ea­ger TV crew, but Wester­lund in­ter­vened.

“These peo­ple were call­ing me to go, ‘OK this dude’s go­ing do a 100-foot cliff onto a wood tran­si­tion.’ I was like, ‘You’re go­ing to watch some­one die in front of your cam­eras.’”

The shoot was can­celled, and Ben­der la­ments the fact no one’s stepped up to that man­tle since. Also that peo­ple have shifted from rid­ing pure, “unedited” back­coun­try. “I don’t feel like I have a legacy,” he an­swers when pressed. “But, isn’t Ram­page your vi­sion?” Krabbe asks.

“It’s one ten­ta­cle of it,” he an­swers. “But some­thing like Ram­page, it has its own en­ergy. It takes so many peo­ple to pull that off. And you can still see the fear, you can see those guys scared. They’re not will­ing to die.”


Our last morn­ing at the home­stead, Ben­der watches his daugh­ter crawl up the stairs and learn to climb. There’s no rail­ing, but she’s mov­ing solidly. “Yeah Saf!” He cheers. As break­fast warms on the wood­stove, an un­known car pulls in the drive­way and he thun­ders over pro­tec­tively. It turns out to just be a fan who found out where he lives. Seated with his wife, the guy lav­ishes Ben­der with praise, “Se­ri­ously, man, you’re my fa­vorite moun­tain biker of all time!” Ben­der in­dulges re­luc­tantly for a few min­utes, then peers back over his shoul­der at the cabin. “Thanks for stop­ping by,” he says. “Break­fast’s on the stove, I have to get back to my fam­ily.”

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