Picture walking out your front door after your morning coffee, grabbing your bike and riding your very own favourite jumps park.
This was my dream for many years before I could finally make it a reality.
Long before transferring with work, packing up everything I own and moving states with my best (4 legged) mate, I was a criminal.
Drugs, violence, robberies….no nothing like that, my crimes were building dirt jumps on public land. When I was a teenager I fell in with a “gang” who loved nothing more than finding hidden spots in the bush to hang out and build/ride dirt jumps. They started out small and simple but over time became bigger and much more complex. Once we got our licences we started to venture out to see what the rest of the world was building, with the abundance of skate parks being a solid backup plan. This went on for many years until my mid 20’s….then it happened.
It wasn’t something I ever planned, but I found a new love.
I was always into other sports, and while out rock climbing one day a mate suggested white water kayaking. Let’s just say I got pretty hooked and that’s all I did for the remainder of my 20’s. Things got pretty hectic, I met some amazing lifelong friends and travelled to some pretty out there location. I loved it so much, the thrills, the travel and the pure adventure, but something was missing….the bike!
Towards the end of my 20’s I decided to get myself a cheap second hand hard tail for a bit of fun. I started riding in my new local area (I had moved due to a breakup) and soon met these two local downhill legends, Nick and Campbell (shout out to you legends). I’m pretty sure they thought I was mad because I was hitting a big drop they had built on my $300 hard tail when we met. It didn’t take long for me to realise I wanted to be like them, so I soon got myself a downhill rig, be it a very old heavy tank, but I still loved her.
At the age of 30 I found myself single, no dependants and doing all the same things I had done as a teenager again. Downhill racing, Skate parks and trail riding. Something was missing though….dirt jumps. There is nothing I loved more than hitting a nice kickie jump and doing some tricks, but I didn’t know where any decent ones were. So I did what I always did, I found a nice hidden spot in the bush and started digging. With some hard work and the help from Nick and Campbell, we soon had a couple of pretty fun jumps running. Everything was going great…..until the day!
Nail in the coffin
One morning I was walking my dog when I heard the sound coming from the direction of our jumps. I didn’t have to see it to know exactly what it was…Bobcats! I tried negotiating with the crew but they had orders from higher up. The trails were no more. I knew then and there that there was only one possible solution, I needed my own land. The fire was lit and there was no stopping it. There was one big problem though, land was expensive in Melbourne, real expensive!
The land of opportunity
I’d been to Tasmania a couple of times white water kayaking and had even contemplated moving there but had never taken it very seriously….Until I saw the price of land. I started talking about it more and more then one day my boss said I should put in for a transfer and see what happens. He said I could always pull out if I change my mind, so I applied for a transfer. 3 weeks later I was on leave when my phone rang, “congratulations” my boss says, “you’re moving to Tassie”. “oh shit….when”? I asked. “you have 4 weeks to pack your stuff”! I didn’t know a single person down there, but I had a job to walk into and nothing holding me back so “F-it, I’m in”!! a month later I loaded my life into my car and set sail on the spirit of Tasmania.
Finding my feet
My first year in Tassie I spent as much time as I could making friends, getting out kayaking, climbing and of course riding bikes. I finally succumb to the pressure and got myself an Enduro bike, even though I hate peddling. With the likes of Derby and many other amazing places to ride here, I really had no choice (I’m more than happy to pay for shuttles though).
I have had hundreds of crashes over the years, but none that come close to the out of control violence of this one. I’m all about ‘dress for the crash not the ride’, and I always wear a full face helmet and neck brace when trail riding. This day was different though. I was helping a mate Adam build some dirt jumps on his property, with no expectation to ride. I only threw my bike in the car in case we needed to do some speed test runs while building, and only brought along my skate helmet just in case. Of course though, things didn’t go that way. After a few hours of digging, we decided to hit his Enduro track down the back of his block. No full face….no neck brace…
First jump in I crashed, hit my face and got a blood nose. No big deal. I spat out some blood, cleaned myself up and had a laugh. All good, let’s go! 5 mins later, at high speed I was following Adam down a section I knew well. He had pre warned me about a new little jump that basically cut a small corner, so I was watching out for that. He hit it a few bike lengths in front of me and I lined it up to follow. I must have been in a bad body position because I was bucked sideways hard off the lip. I knew instantly this was one I couldn’t possibly save. With the speed I was going, I was violently high sided on landing.
I was thrown over the bars and didn’t even manage to get my hands out it happened so fast. Face into the ground, scorpion with a 180 degree twist to one and a half backwards summersault. Sounds like a fancy high dive mauver, felt like a belly flop….onto rocks! I remember every little detail of the crash. Knowing I was in trouble, the sound I let out as it was happening, knowing I was breaking my back and thinking my days of walking might be over before I had even come to a stop. Adam arrived as I was self-assessing. I could move my legs with no numbness. Although I was in lots of pain, things felt somewhat Ok. Adam got me into his car and off we went to the hospital. I started feeling ok and even though maybe I was just being a sook on the way to the hospital.
Turned out I had 4 fractured vertebrae, 3 in my back and 1 in my neck….plus an old one I knew nothing about (still can’t figure that one out). Thankfully they were all stable fractures and a few hours later I walked myself out of there, very sore. My face was a mess (some would say it was an improvement) and I later found out I also had 2 broken fingers. The worst of it all though was the damage to my neck muscles from the whiplash. You don’t realise how heavy your head is until you go through something like that. It took months of rehab to get better, but 6 weeks after the crash I was white water kayaking in Africa on the White Nile….very sore still!
Life is looking up
Only weeks after arriving home from Africa I met my beautiful partner Kat (thanks Tinder). She wasn’t a bike rider before we met, but with a little bit of Youtube here, and a little bit of “ride my bike around the carpark” there, I slowly turned her into a junky just like me. It’s been awesome teaching her and watching her progress. A lot had happened in the first year of my big move, but the opportunity I had been looking for finally emerged.
Years ago I was branded with the label of being “Reckless” when I posted up the kayak picture in this blog onto Facebook. It was 2013, I was in Chile and I finally hit my dream waterfall, 23m high Middle Palgiun. To a non-kayaker it definitely looks reckless, but for me, I had years of experience leading up to this moment, and knew I could get my line and be safe. Sure there were risks, sure it was scary (af), but I was confident. Pulling it off was one of my proudest achievements. All that aside, I found it pretty funny I was labelled reckless, so I ran with it.
I started ‘Reckless racing’ for our go kart group, Reckless FPV for my drone Youtube channel, and Reckless rider for my bike Youtube channel. So naturally, when I was offered 5 acres with a house 35 mins out of Launceston for a price I couldn’t refuse, I jumped at it.
Welcome to Reckless Ranch
Before I had even unpacked the first box, I had shovels in the ground. I couldn’t believe the day had finally come, and couldn’t wait to get started. Fast forward nearly 3 years and things are pretty crazy out here. I have started to get a pretty solid crew together and the stoke is high. We are currently re-building the first Dirt jump line to be bigger and flow better, but the highlight of the place at the moment is the large kicker to mulch lander.
Some pretty amazing riders have come through here and some crazy shit has gone down. I usually hold a couple of public ride days a year which has been drawing a bigger crowd each time. I have some big plans for the future out here inspired by our trip to New Zealand at the start of the year so stay tuned for that. We are only at the beginning!
On board with Patrol
Just after our New Zealand trip I was lucky enough to get to compete in Australia’s first official Slopestyle comp at Mt Buller Victoria. The weather was insane leading up to the event with over 100mm or rain the night before practice. The course was a mess. All the riders and organisers were determined to make it happen so we all put in some hard work and spent the day repairing the course. It blew most of our practice time, but we got the job done and the event went ahead.
For me it was just awesome to be a part of, and riding with all the legends in front of a large crowd was amazing. Standing around in the car park after the event I got talking with one of the event judges Ben, and after a good chat he offered to put me on as a rider for Patrol bikes. I was totally stoked! About a month later he sent me a Patrol 0-six DJ frame and I built up my new bike.
In the past when I have got a new frame I never really felt much of a difference besides some subtle changes in the way it rides, but the second I got on this bike I felt right at home. Call me biased but it just felt so smooth and easy to throw around. It’s by far my most favourite bike I’ve ever owned.
I know I’m meant to say that but it’s definitely true, plus it looks sick in the matte black!
So that’s about it from me for now, we are right in the middle of winter, in a global pandemic but I have my own little piece of paradise out in the Tassie bush. We are hard at work preparing for better days ahead, and when the sun comes back out and the virus pisses off we will be ready to welcome everyone to come out here and share some great times riding jumps. I also plan to do some Enduro races this year (oh the peddling up will kill me) if they manage to hold any events….fingers crossed for that.
What would be your idea of paradise?