Mountain Bike mad-man, Matt Macduff put on an impressive show at DarkFEST this year and it was a treat to watch him ride.
We caught up with the Canadian to get his thoughts on the 2019 event, riding the insane course, and more…
How would you sum up your experience of DarkFEST 2019?
It was the best experience I’ve ever had on my Downhill bike. I’ve only really been riding it for a year and last year I was pretty overwhelmed by the course, and couldn’t wrap my head around how these guys were just jumping everything so easily, and doing all these tricks. But, after spending a year on my bike, I felt better – the jumps and the event just made a lot more sense to me. Also the crew this year, such a really amazing group of dudes that just wanted to be there, care about mountain biking and helping each other out. It was an awesome environment to ride your bike in. This year for me was the best year yet.
Give us your thoughts on this year’s course?
The course was super dialled. Last year’s course was amazing but this year they really tightened it up and adding that last section at the bottom really turned things up a notch. Guys really had to warm up to the Rocket Launcher (new jump at the bottom) because it was just so massive. The course this year was definitely upgraded gnarly-wise and dialled in. What really made this course so sick was the building, it was remarkable. Sam Reynolds, C-Dog (Clemens Kaudela) and Nico (Vink) did an incredible job.
Which feature was your favourite and why?
It had to be the Twisty Wizard between the 90 footer and the hip. I didn’t get to jump it that many times, but the times I did it felt amazing. That thing was awesome!
What was it like riding through the course for the first time?
First hits were gnarly this year. It took me a while to work up to everything. I went straight to the step-up and jumped it like 100 times, then moved up the course and was able to do the top section no problem, but I must have done at least 20 run-ins to the 90 footer before I let it loose. It’s tough with jumps this size, you need to work up to them and with the wind and conditions it was tough for the first hits. There’s not too many opportunities to hit them cause the weather conditions need to be perfect, and you gotta be feeling it, you gotta be on it and when it’s time go, it’s time to go.
Which riders impressed you the most?
Definitely C-Dog (Clemens Kaudela) impressed me the most. He rode like an absolute champion, broke his bike and then got on Reynolds’ bike and broke that bike. Of course Nico Vink, always impressive and Andreu Lacondeguy – those guys really stepped it up. Aggy (Graham Agassiz) and Makken impressed me as well. The list goes on.
What does riding an event like this mean to you?
It means the world, because at one point I smashed myself so hard that I thought I’d never ride a bicycle again. So for me to be there with the best riders in the world, riding the biggest jumps in the world – that’s the biggest accomplishment ever for me. It means a lot to me that I’ve made it this far.
How much does riding an event like this take a toll on your body and bike?
You know, if you’re smooth, it’s all good and it doesn’t effect you that bad – the transitions and the angles work really well. If you’re smooth out there, your body’s good and your bike is good. But, the problem is when you’re not smooth, when you’re coming up short or going deep, the forces are so massive if you’re not landing in those sweet spots, it’s just catastrophic what can happen to your bike. We don’t even want to talk about body parts if you fall off the bike – it takes it to a whole new level. The biggest factor when you’re out there riding jumps like that is the mental component, and the heat – the heat in Cape Town can really get to you and wear you out pretty quick.
Your highlight of DarkFEST?
My highlight was definitely pulling the Flip Candybar – dream trick, always wanted to do it and finally feeling strong enough to get it done. Also flexible enough to get it done, I could never get my foot over the handlebars like that so I’ve been stretching a lot and feeling really good. Finally, boom, I could make it happen.
Photos by Ale Di Lullo and Syo van Vliet.