One of the biggest names in the Freeride MTB world is none other than the OG himself, Nico Vink. The master of riding big lines with a the steeziest style that has us in awe every time we see him ride.
We caught up with Nico to get his thoughts on DarkFEST 2019, the course, riding and more.
How would you sum up your experience of DarkFEST 2019?
Pretty epic. It was our third year in South Africa for DarkFEST, our second edition at this venue and it just progresses every single year. The jumps get bigger, the level of riding increased and everyone was sending it, so yeah – good fun!
Give us your thoughts on this year’s course?
I absolutely love it. The last jump scares me a little because it’s hard to judge with the different wind directions. It’s super nice when you get it right, but when you get it wrong it gets scary.
Which feature is your favourite and why?
I don’t really have a specific feature that I like. I usually like flow, so I like doing top-to-bottoms. I love long runs and I love linking everything up.
What were the first hits like?
Scary, pretty scary! Especially the last one but the other stuff I’ve done before last year. The drop-off is big but we do that kind of stuff quite often, the step-down is fine, and just going that fast into a takeoff that tall and that steep (the last jump on course dubbed The Rocket launcher), and judging your speed makes a big difference.
Which riders have impressed you the most this week?
I’ve got respect for every single rider that’s riding DarkFEST. Adolf (Silva) is mental, Andreu (Lacondeguy) is a boss, Brendog (Brendan Fairclough) is a boss, Clemens (Kaudela) is a boss, but everyone was absolutely doing their best and I’m a fan of every single one of them.
How would you best sum up DarkFEST and what does riding an event like this mean to you?
To me it’s good vibes with buddies and the opportunity to create dreams, or make dreams become reality. This is what we dream of as kids and even beyond, and sharing it with your best buddies while progressing the sport at the same time is the ultimate.
How much does riding an event like this take a toll on your body and bike?
The hardest part about it is mentally, like getting over the fear and suppressing your fear to hit these jumps. Especially this year, wind direction kept changing, and going into the 90 Footer you’re looking at the trees just before dropping in and it feels different every time so it was hard to be consistent, and that’s scary. If the conditions were the same every run, you could get used to it but you kind of walk on egg shells all the time and that’s tiring mentally.
Your highlight of DarkFEST?
Seeing everything work and seeing our buddies enjoy it!
Photos by Ale Di Lullo, Syo van Vliet and Eric Palmer.