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FIRST TIME HITS, HUGE WHIPS AND BIG AIR HAIR

Sam Reynolds and his team have really created something special. Giving Freeriders a chance to ride together, develop their skills, and take on some of the biggest jumps in the world.

Not only this, but for the first time in history, female Freeriders were invited to take on the DarkFest course. Brought together by Vero Sandler, and joined by Hannah Bergemann and Chelsea Kendall, Mons Royale riders Casey Brown and Robin Goomes headed out to Stellenbosch, South Africa, for a week of riding huge jumps and epic progression.

With the world watching the rise of Female Freeriding, we caught up with Casey and Robin to hear how it all went down.

Robin Goomes Darkfest 2022

First up, congratulations on being invited to DarkFest 2022! What were your goals for your week in South Africa?

Casey – I didn’t really set any goals because I didn’t know what the course was. I had only seen it online and I didn’t want to set unachievable goals for something I’d never seen before. We kept our expectations fairly low and worked our way up from there.

It’s also hard to set goals for something like that because I didn’t know if I’d be able to get the speed. Guys normally can generate enough speed for bigger jumps because they’re heavier but sometimes when you’re light you just can’t.

Robin – Once I got there and saw the course I felt more like I could set targets. For example, if I could hit this jump I could hit the next jump too. The weather stopped us more than anything else!

“Can confirm it was scary” – Robin

“Can confirm it was scary” – Robin

Watching from a distance, the DarkFest jumps look like they’re a perfect size and that it’s quite easy to get speed – is that what’s it actually like?

Robin – It was surprisingly easy, you just need to get the speed and go as quickly as you possibly can. The jumps are built to work like that so once you’re at that speed it just works for everyone.

There were challenges with learning to speed tuck and be as efficient as possible. You can’t use brakes, you use small movements outside of the bike instead. For example, you lift or drop your upper torso or even just the helmet peak to control your speed – that’s a big difference.

Casey – It’s crazy how much of a difference those small movements can make. Especially as you’re going way too fast to even pedal. I was actually scared as I’d never gone that fast into a jump, never tried to go as fast as I could down one of the biggest ‘run-ins’ in the world.

“You can’t use brakes…you just lift or drop your upper torso or even just the helmet peak to control your speed” – Robin

“You can’t use brakes…you just lift or drop your upper torso or even just the helmet peak to control your speed” – Robin

Darkfest 2022

What was it like being in South Africa – was it different riding there to other places you’ve been?

Casey – What stood out for me was how good the dirt was and how well the jumps were built. It’s very different to what we’ve jumped before because there are no other jumps like that on the planet.

We had a daily battle with wind which meant as soon as the wind dropped you had to get into send it mode quite quickly. There was no time to ease into it, you just had to go hit the jumps!

Robin – Yeah, you had to just switch it on and go!

I was stoked to hit the 90ft jump – all my adrenaline got used up! – Casey

I was stoked to hit the 90ft jump – all my adrenaline got used up! – Casey

Casey Brown Robin Goomes

We watched you both hit the insane 90ft jump – we’re so stoked for you! Robin, congratulations too on being awarded the Vision Moment for being the first women to ever do this.

When did you both decide you were going to hit it?

Robin – The 90 footer was the dream!

Casey – I think we just decided to hit it in the moment, the riding felt great, we had warmed up well and felt good to go. Once we’d both hit the jump I don’t know if I’d ever been that hyped before in my life. The celebration was amazing!

Robin – It’s key to have others there with you though. You can be feeling good to go and everything’s lined up but if no one else is sessioning you can’t just throw yourself at the jumps.

What was it like having others there who had ridden the jumps before?

Robin – It was make or break to have the guys with us who had ridden it before. They gave us all the information we needed to do the jumps. It was so key to have their advice, a strong support crew and also having them there to tow us into the features!

Darkfest 2022

What was the vibe like across the week on and off the bike? Was it cool to be riding those kind of jumps with other girls?

Robin – Yeah there was such an awesome crew. It was a great group of girls but all the boys were also super supportive. They wanted to see us succeed as much as we wanted to succeed ourselves so we got a lot of support from them throughout the week.

Tell us about the DarkFest hair?!

Casey – Big Air Hair – it makes you jump better! It was totally optional but we all got something done – at least we didn’t shave it off! Now we look like the Powerpuff girls.

We saw there was a fire at the jumps? Was everyone ok?

Casey – It was a bit of a mystery as to how it started but everyone was totally fine. There were 4 helicopters that got on top of it pretty quickly.

Robin – I just thought this happened all the time – DarkFest is one of the wildest events on the planet and it just went off.

So rad it started a fire!

After such an epic start to 2022, we know it’s going to be a huge year for both Casey and Robin and we can’t wait to watch their progress throughout the season.

Next up…they’re taking on some of the world’s gnarliest riding in Utah, USA.