Video by Rupert Walker
Photos and Captions by Anthony Smith
Story by Brice Minnigh
It took Malibu, California native Marshall Mullen five years to perfect his private backyard oasis of dirt jumps. All this work has given him firsthand insight into what it takes to execute a line that can be ridden seamlessly. Our exclusive video and photo gallery show his appreciation for the art of creating your own trails.
Story from the March 2014 Issue of Bike magazine
Marshall Mullen first started digging jumps in his family’s sprawling backyard in Malibu, California, when he was just 13 years old. By the time he was 16, what started out as a childhood diversion had become more of an obsession. So he set out to build a cohesive line through the main gully of a field that had served as a sheep farm until his grandparents bought the land and built a house on it some 50 years ago.
“Up to that point, I had jumps scattered all around the field, but I started looking at it as more of a whole,” says Mullen, now 20. “I wanted to use the field more efficiently, so I weaved one line that went through the whole thing.”
Four years and thousands of labor-hours later, Mullen’s ambitious project has become one of Southern California’s most meticulously manicured jump lines. And as word of their size and flow has spread, they also have become heavily sought-after, with local kids and big-name pros alike asking to ride them.
“I’ve had to learn to say ‘no,'” Mullen says, explaining how much work it takes to maintain the jumps. “If it wasn’t in my backyard, and if me and my close friends weren’t the only ones working on them, it’d be different. Everyone says they’re willing to help work, but not all of them actually do it in the end.”
Notable exceptions are Mullen’s friend Tyler McCaul—who has spent many long days digging with him—and the likes of Logan Peat and Brandon Semenuk, who recently visited with a view toward filming a “Life Behind Bars” segment and ended up spending several hours behind a shovel after sessioning the jumps.
“Brandon and Logan dug so much more than anyone,” Mullen says. “At one point I told them we were all good and they just kept digging. It really showed me how much those guys get it.”
They also knew how to ride the jumps.
“Most people who ride my jumps have to stop during their runs and scope them out, but Brandon was absolutely flawless his first time through,” says Mullen. “And on his second run, he did things I’ve never seen anyone do on them. It was unreal.
“It’s my favorite thing to watch when people make it all the way through, from top to bottom, on their first run. It’s just the best feeling ever. It really makes me feel like I did it right.” —Brice Minnigh