There’s big, there’s FEST big, and then there’s Darkfest big. After two wild years of South African-sending at the Hellsend compound in Stellenbosch, Sam Reynolds, Nico Vink and Clemens Kaudela climbed back into their diggers and spent three weeks shaping an even more massive course than past iterations. When the orange dust settled, their beast was longer, flowier and arguably bigger than any set of mountain bike jumps ever built. That’s an accomplishment in itself, but then a boisterous bunch of the world’s best freeriders showed up and started riding bikes over it all.

It would be difficult to find words that capture the heart-stopping, jaw-dropping, cloud-hopping madness that went down when the crew started working top-to-bottom, so strap yourself in and feast your eyes on some of the action captured by longtime Bike photographer Ale Di Lullo.

Graham Agassiz sizes up the enormous new trick jump at the bottom of the course.

Left: Nico Vink, one of the Darkfest masterminds, enjoying the African vibes. Right: Aggy steels himself for first hits, aboard his new steed from Evil Bikes.

Nicholi Rogatkin is known for moves like this on smaller bikes and smaller jumps, but showed up in Stellenbosch with his Demo and threw down.

Same jump, a few minutes later. Andreu Lacondeguy closed his eyes and pretended he was twisting throttle over an FMX ramp.

Makken Haugen, Jordie Lunn and Lacondeguy escape the sun.

Kaudela built the jumps, then proceeded to go bigger than anyone else. He walked away with the King of Darkfest crown.

Nico getting nasty.

Vink sideways as Lacondeguy prepares to get all kinds of corked. It was a week of busy airspace at the Hellsend compound; there are rumors of an air traffic control tower going in for next year…

Left: Jordie earns his air miles. Right: Brendog freeraces through the mist.

Kaudela and a classic Darkfest view.

Nico shuts it down.

All photos by Ale Di Lullo.

#darkfest19