Words: Miljan Milekić
It’s hard to overestimate the mark Sam Reynolds left in action sports. From MTB slopestyle to downhill, from Fest events to Red Bull Rampage, from winning contests to creating insane videos, he’s done it all. With help from the nice people at Monster Energy, we caught up with him at Royal Fest in France, to talk about his career, future plans, much more. Check it out!
Hi Sam! You’re back at the Royal Fest. What’s your favorite thing about it, and what would you single out as your favorite events?
Sam: All the Fest events are my favorite, just because the jumps are big, and it’s always exciting to come and scare yourself on the big jumps. My favorite fact is the Nico [Vink] built it, so you just know it’s going to be perfect before you come. It was awesome.
You are actually the first-ever person I got to ask this. Red Bull Rampage – what goes through your mind when you’re up there, and ready to drop? How different is the Rampage comparing to other events?
Sam: Rampage at the top is actually terrible. When you’re about to drop, you’re ready, but it’s like the hours before and the nights before that are the worst. Even in the hotel, you can see how scared everyone is. No one’s really talking the night before, because everyone’s just terrified, I guess. So, that is one of the worst ever. That’s why I don’t really like it. It’s a bit too much, especially after two weeks of the building, because you build your own line and stuff. You have a lot of time getting worried about it. But I was kind of lucky, I’ve done everything on my run before the finals, so it wasn’t that scary at the top, and I was ready to go.
One more special event you’ve been a part of is the Masters of Dirt. Unfortunately, I only saw the Belgrade show back in 2013, and you weren’t there. How was it to be part of a show and a team like that?
Sam: Yeah, mental! Masters of Dirt is pretty cool. Everyone there, they’re living their dreams and making their passions happen. They put the craziest shows; it’s super sick. Those guys, they live it. And that’s why it’s so successful, I guess. Because they just live freestyle life. We all watched videos, they’re mental. And they are good dudes.
How challenging is it to be surrounded by top athletes, and trying to top yourself night after night?
Sam: That’s the main thing I guess, trying to beat yourself. That’s why the Fest is cool because there’s no real contest. We want each other to do good; we work out the jumps together. We always ask each other and give each other tips. If someone’s tried the jump, they will say like – “oh maybe a little bit of break or make sure you do this or do that.” There’s no competition, really. We were kind of competing against ourselves to try and go one better, day after day. It’s tiring if you do a lot of laps because you’re always trying to do something better and better, but it’s always fun.
You have built your name through contests, but you are also known for your Pure Darkness videos. How did you get to the idea of doing it, and how much time and hard work go into those videos, from planning, preparing, to the release?
Sam: Pure Darkness came around from just a crew at home, really. We didn’t really like the videos, there was too much slow-mo and we didn’t really like music and stuff. We like the older videos which are like more punk rock and crashing and stuff. So we went out and set it for a week. Crash loads, had no slow-mo in the video and everyone seemed to like it. So, we moved onto Dark Fest and joined up with the Fest series and, kind of, saw that we’re doing similar things. We kind of brought them both together and found an epic location in South Africa and made some friends there, too.
So now we have Dark Fest, which is actually my biggest mission of the year. It takes six weeks to build, and many months to organize. But that’s my favorite part of the year. For the future, I hope I can do more, and more, and build onto the end of that line. Last year, we really got a perfect line, which is one of the best I’ve ever ridden. So hopefully, Ryan pays and we can do it again. (laughs) I love Dark Fest, can’t wait to go again.
Also, every single one of those videos has a sick soundtrack. Did you personally choose it?
Sam: Yeah, that’s obviously such an important part for the vibe of the video, so we have to make sure we assign those songs to ourselves.
And do you listen to music while you ride?
Sam: No, actually. I used to but, I was riding a skate park once back at home, and there was a bit of a rhythm section. In between every rhythm was like the beat in the song. So, I was like riding around the park to the beat almost. Then I took my hands off, did like a no-hander, and then I was putting them back on to the beat. I was like too into the music, but I already landed, and the bars flew out my hand, and I smashed my chin. I still have the scar, my chin got open.
After that, I never rode to the music again because I got too into it. I started riding to the rhythm and nailed myself. (laughs) I wasn’t concentrated properly. I don’t really like riding with headphones, but I like it if it’s in the background, that’s cool. It’s cool when you’re up there, having a bit of the party almost, while you’re waiting, but when you drop in, you can’t hear it anymore. I like that.
A few years ago, you teamed up with Sam Pilgrim for an amazing project called Sam’s World. However, I only remember a few episodes. How was it to work on it, and what happened?
Sam: Yeah, there are only a couple of episodes because I think we were just too naughty, and Monster didn’t want to sponsor us anymore. (laughs) I think we exploded the budget a bit hardcore as well, doing fun stuff, like go sitting there and eating out. That was great. I don’t really hang out with Pilgrim anymore, but we used to be best mates. It was super fun times back then, but he’s gotten sort of one way, I’ve gotten the other, sort of Fests and downhill bikes. So, we don’t really see each other anymore, unfortunately. I’d like to hang out with that guy a bit more.
So, you’re an unstoppable force – from dirt to downhill, to even motocross, how do you find the balance and the time to do the things you love? Can we expect to see you in some completely new role?
Sam: I quite like doing all the different staff because it keeps it fresh. I don’t really do slopestyle so much anymore, just because I did it for like eight years, and it kind of gets a little boring, or you don’t quite have the same passion for it. That’s why I like to ride motocross, and that’s why I like to ride downhill and recently the Speed & Style events, or Crankworx because it’s something new to work on. It’s similar, but it’s just something a little bit new to concentrate on and to keep the excitement alive, you know?
One last – do you have the time to follow and other sports as well?
Sam: I follow F1 and Moto GP. They’re the sickest ones. And motocross as well, not completely, but I watch every F1 and every Moto GP.