Words by Seb Kemp
Photos courtesy of SRAM/Truvativ
“People say to me all the time ‘Do something crazy Kenny.’ and with this, Kenny Smith sighs, “They all want me to do something really gnarly and do it just for a web video. But I’m not going to scare myself just for a web video. I don’t even like doing it for a real video.”
Kenny’s problem is that he is too damn good at entertaining people with his wild riding. He does things on his bike that other riders don’t even consider feasible. He also does things that have other top-flight athletes and paid-for-danger freeriders scratching their heads. Some have even tried talking Kenny down from the edge of what they consider a suicidal stunt.
Kenny Smith, in short, is the kind of guy who makes professional daredevils wince and consider their own life insurance policies.
Kenny Smith may not be a huge name throughout the mountain biking world, but any connoisseur of chaos or carnage will know who Kenny is. In Whistler he is a living legend among the fraternity of top-flight riders. Smith’s a renowned hell-raiser on a bike who loves the hardest of heavy metal music played to the sonic limits, and who has crafted some of the wildest freeride lines around the area. There’s chapter and chapter of folklore surrounding Kenny. Some are true, some just exaggeration of the truth, like the story of Kenny catching and skinning a grouse with his bare hands on the GLC patio after one of the local beer league races.
Kenny didn’t catch it with his bare hands–he stoned the bird first, then he skinned it.
Kenny is well known as a rider with bigger balls than a grizzly bear. Slowly his infamy has spread beyond the borders of British Columbia. Three years ago Kenny was featured on a SRAM poster that showed him riding down what looked like an utterly sheer and far-from-smooth Utah red stone cliff face. Last year he had a full part in the Coastal Crew’s action movie Inside Out. Word is getting out.
While Kenny Smith isn’t the most recognizable mountain biker on the scene, his blend of on-the-edge riding and death-defying stunts are gaining favor. With this growing notoriety comes a different set of pressures than the ones he faces every time he drops into one of his abominable lines. “I’ve always gotta look for the next big thing, the scary thing is always having to do bigger things.” Kenny is predisposed to thrilling himself. He isn’t immune to fear, in fact, Kenny will admit he loves conquering it.
Although he confesses that he has been “jumping off buildings since I was eight or nine years old,” and his preoccupation with feats of daring lead him to jump off the roof of the local gymnasium, when I asked him why he does what he does he shrugged, smiled and then laughed. “Dunno, I’ve always done stuff like this. I suppose I do it because when you finally do, it makes you feel so damn good about yourself. It keeps me stoked all winter…winter sucks, man.”
Kenny, wherever he is right now, is probably cursing the cold and storing that pent up aggression for a summer of ‘hein’ (it is a verb that Kenny has adopted to describe the abominable things he does aboard a bike) slaying. He already has a chunk of footage clocked for the forthcoming SecondBase Films release, some of which Bike Magazine were present for. We’ll be releasing more exclusive backstory about Kenny and the movie as the release date nears.