There would be few who can slay the rocks and logs like Chris Birch, and when it comes to pure diesel engine-type endurance he is one of the best in the off road world. But when Redbull wants to help him tackle Endurocross at the world stage that is X Games there is just one problem. He has never raced motocross, let alone the supercross which this sport is so akin to. Talk about being thrown in the deep end!
Fortunately he called Broxy for the life line that could help his starts and transform his jumping confidence, starting a chain of events that has the potential to go very big indeed.
Bear in the Woods
It began at Chris’ epic Endurocross training complex near Botany, south east Auckland. This is a venue like a scale like nothing we have seen here before, both horrifying and extremely exciting. The start ramp that Chris himself dubbed as “ridiculously huge” on his initial text is only the beginning. However it was not the water, firewood, rocks or logs that were scaring him, it was the jumps. He could clear them but it was practically a matter of life and death every time he did, as he would be the first to admit. So what did we do? We took him back to the trees. In mind anyway.
It turned out that the style he needed was exactly the one he resorts to when life gets hairy in the woods. That made life much easier, so once he had felt the results and seen video showing how good it actually looked, we had him hooked.
The following week we met up again at a different track to help him handle the bike going sideways in the air, and to get a handle on seat bouncing. What we discovered that day was how ingrained it was for him to roll off the throttle near the top of a ramp to avoid losing traction, which was holding him back from getting the distance and height he was going to need for a smooth landing. He also gave me a pointer that revolutionized the way I looked at big logs, sparking my interest with a fire that was quick to ignite.
That, along with wanting to give him someone extra to ride with, saw the Broxy van pop back up to his track two more times before he left for that all important X Games. The first happened to be a shoot with Graeme Murray who is a photographer that many others dream to emulate. I left that day with some fairly impressive bruises but an even bigger addiction for this budding sport.
Big Send Off
Then there was our final day at the track with an intimidatingly large group of onlookers that Redbull had invited to get a taste of what is Endurocross. While I was only able to give him around three decent laps of competition at a time, it was enough to prove that not only was Chris now able to jump well, he was able to do it within inches of another rider and even get some relax time in the air before hitting the next obstacle. Then he sealed the deal by following me up and over the firewood pit as we started clearing the whole thing in one leap.
I sent him off with some final starting tips which he was to practice at Glen Helen once he had arrived, the rest being up to him as he lives out what many of us only dream of. Be sure that whatever happens, this is only the beginning of the story. Perhaps you saw it on TV recently, if not you can check out the sweet video here. Epic!