Professional mountain biker Carson Storch is a leader in the sport of freeriding. This popular discipline of mountain biking is defined by building and riding big features including jumps and drops on steep trails. The growth in this sport across Oregon is reflected in the newly abundant lift-accessed freeride trails at mountain resorts, an increase in public freeride trails, freeride-oriented youth camps, and top-tier events on local calendars. Storch can be found at the center of almost all these happenings, as one of the most talented athletes and active advocates for the sport.
We caught up with Storch at home in Bend during a break from filming his new movie Quarterpoint Film. The film, a two-year passion project set to release in late 2021, will feature incredible freeriding in a range of dramatic Oregon landscapes from the Eastern deserts to the forested trails of Central Oregon, to the temperate rainforest of the Coast. The movie will feature Storch alongside fellow top-tier riders including Cam McCaul, Dusty Wygle and Kyle Jameson, plus up-and-coming Oregon riders showcasing and progressing the sport.
A Homegrown Oregon Freerider
Storch was a born and raised in Bend, he started out snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor and riding BMX bikes around town. Storch took those skills and air awareness and translated it to dirt jumping on his mountain bike. Storch says there weren’t any structured programs or coaching at the time, “I just started building jumps and riding in construction areas around town.” His skill on a bike eventually translated to big wins for the young rider on the freeride contest circuit, earning the cover of Bike Magazine and feature parts in movies. Storch really hit the big time in 2016 when he earned an invite to Red Bull Rampage, the ultimate exclusive freeride event held on sheer desert mountainsides. Storch launched a huge 360 mid-run earning an impressive third place for the rookie rider. This win and his ongoing progression in the sport, as well as his undeniable style, have firmly established Storch as a top professional in the sport.
While Storch travels the world to ride and compete, he shares that he’s perfectly happy riding at home in Oregon. He says, “Oregon freeriding has turned into a bigger community for people to come together to ride and race. All around the state from Hood River, to Oakridge, to the [Lumberyard] bike park in Portland—there’s so much different dirt and terrain. That’s why I live here—there’s a lot of space to ride and a lot going on.”
In Bend, Storch has his own training facility at his house, but he also points to areas like The Lair, a dirt jump area within the Phil’s Trail Complex and the Homestead Pump Track in Redmond as great local riding venues. He’s especially excited about the Mt. Bachelor bike park, which recently unveiled the new advanced Redline jump trail as part of its lift-accessed trail network. Storch is a fan of the trail, designed and built by Dirt Mechanics’ Paul Lissette and pro freerider Kyle Jameson. “They killed it, it’s exactly what Bend needed—a truly progressive jump trail. It’s an all-time trail that never gets old—it’s definitely the crux of the bike park now.”
Storch is stoked to see these venues cultivating a scene of young up-and-coming riders. He says, “It’s so cool seeing these big crews of groms getting into freeride and downhill riding here, there’s so much more accessibility now. It just means the progression for these kids is so much quicker.” Local programs including the Bend Endurance Academy and Mt. Bachelor bike camps, plus weekly Gravity Series races are adding fuel to this youth progression.
Top Tier Freeride Events In Central Oregon
In 2014, Storch struck up a relationship with the crew at the Oregon Dirt Park in Prineville, a Moto track where he started building private big dirt bike jumps and freeride features. This led to Storch and fellow pro Kyle Jameson throwing the first Black Sage Festival, a freeride contest that has featured some of the biggest named riders in the world throwing airs in front of a fans. While the Black Sage Festival is currently on hiatus, fans will have the chance to see their favorite riders at the inaugural Proving Grounds event at the Oregon Dirt Park (September 10–11, 2021). The event will feature the top invited men’s and women’s freeriders from all over the world competing on massive jumps and features. Storch is excited for fans to have the opportunity to see this level of riding close up in person, he says, “There’s never been anything to this level that’s been held in Bend. I hope it helps to grow the freeride side of mountain biking in Oregon.”
Advocating for the TORTA Trail Network
Storch is enthusiastic about the freeriding across Oregon but notes that each area excels in specific seasons. There is however one place where Storch sees the potential for prime year-round riding and he’s putting time in to get the trails and terrain built. This is the in-development public Tillamook Off Road Trail Alliance (TORTA) trail system in Tillamook. Stoch has spent the past few years training and filming for Quarterpoint Film on private land around Tillamook, while working to bring attention (and funding) to the planned 35-mile coastal trail network. Storch says, “I’ve been involved from the start in promoting it. It’s one of my favorite places to ride for dirt, the terrain and the potential.” He points to the topography and terrain of the proposed trail system, “On the progressive side, it’s steep, with a 1,600-vertical-foot elevation drop down to the beach. But there’s also something for everybody.” According to Storch, the area has the ideal dirt conditions thanks to the temperate rainforest climate, “The dirt doesn’t get too wet to ride, it doesn’t get too dry. I honestly think it’s going to be some of the best riding in North America. I’ll stand behind that.” While the project is still a way off from completion, Storch’s excitement is palpable— “I can’t wait for the public to go there and ride because it’s epic!”
Ride With Carson Storch
Storch coaches during the summers at Milepost 35 Mountain Bike Camp, a summer camp on Mt. Hood based out of the Windell campus in Sandy. The campus features mountain trails, dirt jumps, plus an Airbag for practicing tricks. Campers also load up to ride somewhere different every day, including the lift-accessed trails at Mt. Hood Skibowl, Hood River’s Post Canyon trail network, and nearby Sandy Ridge. Storch coaches during one of the six weeklong camps held throughout the summer.