Darkfest 2019, live from the Hellsend Compound in South Africa, combined some of the biggest mountain bike jumps ever built with many of the world’s best freeriders. A whole crew of similarly-pioneering camera operators were on hand to capture the madness, resulting in a certifiably jaw-dropping highlight reel. Check it out above, and read on for photographer and event insider Eric Palmer’s recap of all the action:
“DarkFEST 2019 was one for the books! The most epic line and amazing line up of riders didn’t disappoint. One week here treated us to some incredible riding and a few serious slams.
Once all the boys had arrived and gone to check the course out, the new feature at the bottom had a few a little intimidated, but in no time Brendog opened up the course with the first top to bottom run and made it look effortless. Not long till big tricks were added in and a few others getting in their first full runs.
The course is so long this year that the wind would be in different directions all the way down and to time the perfect gaps were challenging at times, so when the conditions were perfect we made the most of it.
The massive step up in the middle was always a safe warm up, because it’s a bit sheltered, so while we waited for the wind to drop to ride the full line they could get a few tricks in and for a warm up, the guys didn’t hold back.
This year because of the unpredictable wind there were 2 open days for everyone to come and watch the guys destroy the line. The morning sessions were always the best and on both days it was perfect and the guys treated the crowd to the best riding all week! One of the craziest trains of all time went down with Brendog in front followed by Andreu & Adolf. All eyes were on the last jump, the rocket launcher. Andreu sent the highest flat 3 that has ever been seen and Adolf, close behind him went for the double flip! From where I was the rotation looked good, but heard something explode on impact and thought he went down. After seeing some footage, he had landed the double perfectly and rode straight into an overexcited Brendog and ended in a heap celebrating.
Saturday morning had everyone excited and looking forward to another good session and to get to everything they had wanted to do on this giant line. Some trick packed runs went down all morning and some big 450’s over the hip and a flip on it from Bren. Clemens was sending it too hard and after breaking his bike, he borrowed Sam’s and broke that too after landing a little sideways in a soft patch. Then it was Loco Adolf’s time to get to business. He tried to flip the 90footer and over rotated a little and somehow managed to come out of it ok. So the obvious route for Adolf is to rather try to double flip it. Next run down he goes for it & it was looking so good, but he just landed a little nose heavy and at that speed it’s not going to be a good time. Some how he managed to get out of it relatively well and just ended up with a few bruises and burns from sliding on the solid, glossy dirt.
Many of the guys had a few tricks for the big step up and Darryl was extending huge superman variations, but one got away & he hurt his neck and back. Macduff was digging into the oldschool and did the most insane flip candybar’s, while DJ & Nicholi battled the cork 7 and Aggy, Nico and Makken were getting the bikes backwards on the way over.
Such an amazing week watching these guys ride these massive jumps, sad that Sam couldn’t join in, but we’re all already hungry for next year!”
Video by Chris Seager, Jacob Gibbons, Thomas Sandell, Hayden Brown, Justin Whiting, RensenFPV & Kevin Schnider.
Check out BIKE’s Darkfest Photo Recap