(Gentle Music) Welcome to this is Utah.
I'm your host, Liz Adeola.
On this episode, we're taking you on the road less traveled for an in-depth look at adventure seekers who push it to the limit.
Join us as we ditch paved roads and give Overlanding a try, an offroad adventure where you can forge your own trail.
And speaking of trails, try to keep up on this one as we learn a few lessons from Freeride Mountain biker Jaxon Riddle.
This is Utah is made possible in part by the Willard L. Eccles Foundation, the Lawrence T and Janet T. Dee Foundation, and by the contributions to PBS Utah from viewers like you.
(Upbeat Music) - A Utah man is using his downhill bike to show the world how creative and fearless he can be.
Jaxson Riddle may be young, but many say he rides like a veteran in the world of professional mountain biking.
- [Announcer] Jaxson Riddle.
Three, two, one.
- [Jaxson] When I'm like rolling in to my run, I'm kind of just focusing on staying in control.
(mellow orchestral music) And then, when it comes to like the first big jump, focusing on my braking, trying to remember speed from practice.
(mellow orchestral music) And then, as soon as I go into that I start trying to remember the tricks that I'm gonna do on each feature.
And then, if those all go well, I just do that all the way to the bottom.
- [Announcer] Great.
- [Jaxson] Adrenaline's going, nerves are going.
It's cool to be in the biggest event in free riding and it happens to be where I'm from.
People know I'm there to just have a good time, put on a show, have fun, know that I'm happy to make it to the bottom and yeah, it's an amazing experience.
My name is Jaxson Riddle and I'm a professional mountain bike rider.
(upbeat band music) Yeah, so when I was growing up in St. George, it obviously wasn't as big as it is now.
I'd always be riding to the skate park, just always riding my bike.
It's an amazing place to grow up in and that's why I love it so much.
I think St. George has shaped me for who I am today and yeah, is kind of the reason why I am in the position that I am in.
- [Lindsay] So he'd just be riding around town and nonstop, they'd come to my shop where I worked at and he would just be, mom, I'm so thirsty.
Their face were faces were just beet red, you know but they were like.
I'm like, Jaxson, you should really rest for a little bit.
And he just, nope, getting back out there, mom.
Yep, can't get that bike away from him.
- [Peter] Adjectives to describe Jaxson as an athlete.
The confidence, style and creativity.
Jaxson rides like Jaxson.
You see a clip of Jaxson, I don't think you necessarily even need to check who it is.
His riding is unique enough that that is the story.
- [Jaxson] So, I try to implement freestyle motocross into my mountain bike riding just 'cause it's what I grew up watching as a kid and it's cool that no one else is doing it.
My dad grew up racing dirt bikes so he just got me into it and yeah, immediately loved two wheels and haven't stopped since.
- [Lindsay] Look at him, go.
- [Jaxson] Growing up I would always just be like, Dad, like let's go ride like after school every day.
That's all I ever wanted to do and thankfully, I put myself in a position where I can do that now.
It's been amazing to get to where I am today and I owe all that to my dad.
Watch me ride (unintelligible), daddy?
- [Lindsay] We let Jaxson pretty much do, like what he wanted for the most part because he really didn't give us a reason to worry.
With me and dad not having, you know, a lot of money to keep him, you know, doing what he was doing and staying focused, he just found a way to get out there and make it happen.
I think dad kind of looked at that and was like, wow, Jaxson, like you're not gonna let what we have going on in our own lives as a family and it's not gonna stop you from pursuing what you love.
- [Lindsay] How do you feel?
When they were building this place, they reached out to me.
And, when they were building it, I was just kind of testing everything before they opened it publicly and then yeah, as soon as it was built, I saw a job opportunity here.
Worked here for probably two years.
Yeah, I'd bring my bike to work, ride.
This place would always be packed with kids, families and everyone to just come enjoy it and ride bikes.
Was working here for two years and I was like, I could work here another five years and not chase my dream.
Doing what I want to do, riding bikes professionally.
So, decided to leave this place and go fully in on trying to become a professional bike rider.
Ended up pretty good, I'd say.
- [Peter] I like distinctly remember over a six-month period like holy heck, like this is happening.
Like we're just riding one day and he's like, hey, should I quit my job?
And I'm like, dude, you should do it.
And like a couple weeks later, he's on Red Bull.
(upbeat band music) - [Jaxson] So, I would probably equate Red Bull Rampage to like a Super Bowl of mountain biking.
Like it's the biggest and best event in free ride mountain biking and 18 of the best riders in the world get together, get two diggers.
And, we get two weeks to build the craziest line anyone's ever ridden.
Yeah, we have big show happen.
We each get two runs and hopefully make it to the bottom.
- You have to build your own run from scratch.
Rider kind of chooses where they want to go and what features they want.
For Rampage, we try to be a little more unique than others.
Most people are riding big shoots and drops but we try to make like a fun line down the mountain.
More or less, you know, so he's just having a good time.
- Yeah, in Jaxson's case you know there's the moto, then how does moto apply to the bike?
Okay, I need to jump big enough to be able to do a motocross trick.
What motocross tricks am I gonna do?
What is he gonna wear that shows the moto?
One influence affects every part of his personality on the bike.
- [Jaxson] It's my favorite time of year 'cause it is mentally tough, physically tough, just like the craziest week of your life.
Super hectic but the memories that you get from it are priceless and yeah, I'll do it for as long as I can.
- He's always so calm and collected and confident.
So, it makes me feel a lot better, that's for sure but the nerves are still there.
I'm nervous for everyone but it should be good.
I'm stoked for him.
He's good at what he does and I'm confident that he'll crush it.
- I'm doing actually really good.
I feel awesome today.
I'm just super pumped and excited to see Jaxson out there.
- Like I'm shaking.
- I know, seriously.
- So, for me this year, when I was sitting at the top about to drop in for finals day at Rampage, like I was just kind of observing where I was looking around and I was like, I'm just at home.
Feels like a normal day other than you just have like two helicopters in the sky and a thousand people at the bottom.
We do know the risk.
It's all calculated.
It's years of hard work, years of practice.
So, there's a lot that goes into it.
It's not just a bunch of crazy guys just picking a line and going for it.
- [Announcer] Watching that with his dad, Scott Riddle, he taught him how to ride dirt bikes.
- [Jaxson] So, my dad passed away December of 2020.
It's been a long road.
You know, no one writes a book on how to handle it.
It's different for everybody.
But yeah, I've just tried to persevere through and take that tough experience that I went through and see the light at the end of the tunnel and just keep pushing on for him and everyone else.
I was lucky enough to have an outlet riding bikes so I'll just put my energy into that.
Focus on that.
You know, focus on everything that I still had didn't focus on.
Yeah, I lost my dad but I still have great family, great friends still here.
Like, just try to focus on the positives.
- [Lindsay] I think he's super impressed with Jaxson and I know that he's up there smiling right now and proud of him for just not letting anything get in the way and stop him from pursuing what he loves.
- [Jaxson] The 84 comes from my dad.
That was his number racing dirt bikes growing up.
Yeah, that's my way of kind of remembering him and taking him on through my riding.
- [Lindsay] I would definitely say he matured a lot over the last little, like in this short amount of time that it has been but I can tell Jaxson seems to be doing really well and he keeps me positive and he's like, it's okay mom, we got this.
- [Lindsay] I love you.
- I love you.
- All right, I gotta turn this thing off.
The battery is gonna die.
- [Announcer] So, know your roots kids.
This is a kid who knows his roots.
His bike's a tribute to TPS, RM 125 from 2001, the year that Jaxson was born.
As this kid was raised right.
And man, he's one of the most exciting mountain bike riders on the planet right now.
Here in a second Rampage.
Stylish over that long gap hip.
No way, he gets a saran wrap sticking his feet through the handlebars.
Straight up tribute to the early 2000s' moto movies.
Yes, going for that nine o'clock knack influence, getting that bike sideways, those feet hanging off the opposite side.
He's chilling with that.
(spectators cheer) And, the eject button.
- [Announcer 2] You think he's fired up?
- [Announcer] What a run.
(spectators cheer) People don't do stuff like that.
- [Announcer 2] Absolutely not.
I love this kid.
I got to spend some real quality time with him this summer.
- [Announcer] Oh buddy.
- You know, he's been working through some.
- [Lindsay] It's nerve wracking but you know what, I'd rather be there than not be there and 100%, supporting my son.
I know that the skill that he has, it's just amazing.
Like with all the practice that he does out there, I just know that he's fine.
Like you just, yeah.
- [Announcer] Is there no doubt, your Michelin style award going to Jaxson.
(spectators cheer) Going back to back.
Did it last year, so stylish.
Let's hear it one more time, Jaxson Riddle.
- [Jaxson] Having fun, making memories.
You know, not putting pressure on myself to perform and get first place is way better than having a lifelong of just being stressed or angry or whatever it is because I didn't win.
- [Peter] You see his name on the leaderboard and he's in ninth.
He has the biggest smile on his face of anyone in the finished crowd.
He's holding the style award and I think that just speaks to Jaxson.
And the coolest part is, is this has happened two years in a row.
- Thank you.
Yeah, I just had that determination, that drive.
I loved it so much.
It's all I wanted to do and I wanted to make it my job, you could say 'cause I just grew up idolizing all these guys and I still do, but yeah, now I'm on the same stage as them which is crazy to even say.
I made it.
I made it in there.
(chuckles) (mellow piano music) - And we're gonna make it a rule next year for this jump.
You're gonna have a tan cause there's some real white bodies showing up here.
(participants laughing) - Today's events can be quite challenging because these people, participants are volunteering to jump into these very cold and frigid waters.
- My name's Manny and we're gonna do the monster plunge.
- My name's Ravian and I'm doing the monster plunge as well.
We asked the guy and he said it's gonna be like 32 degrees.
- One of the things they're gonna be experiencing is what we call hypothermia.
This is something that comes on very rapidly.
(participants whooping) - Ready?
(participants whooping) - Have you been in the tank where they talk about hypothermia?
- That would probably scare me too much.
(man chuckles) I'll learn about it after, you know?
But like, I think after the plunge I'll also be like, it was like worth it.
Cuz you know you don't get to do it every day.
Like jumping into like a super cold lake.
(water splashes) - Immediately when they hit that water first thing that's gonna happen to them is that the body's gonna react and they're gonna be gasping for air (water splashes) cause their body just went into shock.
Now as they're working their way from where they jumped in at to the boat ramp, as they're moving through the water they're gonna start experiencing some shutdowns.
The body's doing, that is the extremities, the fingers, the hand, the legs will freeze.
This kinda gives them a real brief exposure to the effects of hypothermia and how quickly it comes on.
(celebratory classical music) - My name is Natalie Anderson.
This is my dad, Steve Anderson and we are doing the boat regatta today.
We built a boat outta cardboard and paddled it out into the freezing cold waters.
- Two, one.
- It took a lot of time, a lot of painting, a lot of cardboard cutting.
I'm really sick of cardboard.
- While the rules are pretty strict if you follow 'em, you can only use cardboard, duct tape and glue.
- Yeah, we like the Bear Lake Monster idea.
We wanted to go along with that.
(classical music) We're all little green.
Yeah, my hands are green.
Yeah, those shoes are even green.
Yeah, we're all just green everywhere now.
(climactic classical music) - I'm Robert Richie.
I came out here cuz I seen a video of how cardboard boat racing was done here at Bear Lake and it looked awesome.
I wanted to participate.
It's something to get outta the house and do something during winter time.
(climactic classical music) I came first place, second place and - I have no idea.
- I had a soggy paddle.
(Robert and a young lady chuckles) - Good community up here and a lot of fun.
(climactic classical music) (Imspirational Music) - While some people cling to the notion there's nothing new under the sun, there's a growing subset of adventure seekers who beg to differ.
They venture off-the-grid exploring areas that most people will never see in their lifetime.
That is, until now.
- [Mike] I think the allure to the West for me is the wide open landscapes.
(gentle music) My wife now, but my girlfriend at the time, we took a trip down to Goblin Valley and we had a great time.
We stayed at the campground and it was beautiful.
But I remember we were coming back and there was this car, this truck, it was just bombing down a dirt road and had a big rooster tail of dust.
And I kind of wondered where did that guy go this weekend?
(gentle music) (group chattering) - Voila.
Here we go.
(gentle music) For me overlanding is being able to use that vehicle to access these beautiful remote wild places in Utah.
The key is that you're kind of self-sufficient.
So have all your food, water, shelter, necessary adventure gear, whatever you might be doing.
What I usually do, honestly, is I open up a map.
We're going to point A to point B.
How could we get there that's maybe a little bit off the beaten path.
And then when I discover a route, what are some things that we can do along that route?
That's where I'll look at guidebooks, the internet, and have those experiences along the way.
It's maybe like 40 to 50 feet straight down kinda down this old log (indistinct).
(group chattering) - [Lily] Okay.
- [Hiker 2] Yeah.
I've seen- - [Mike] Man, there is some really cool, cool remote wild places, you know, in the United States and in the world.
If you put a little effort into them, you can experience them.
- [Hiker 2] Scarlet.
- I think the rappelling, the climbing that you might encounter that you're expecting to encounter, it is, for me it's very emotional.
The whole concept of letting go really presents itself when you decide that you're committed to backing over a cliff.
If I didn't have that trust in Mike, I couldn't do it.
We've double-checked the harnesses.
We've done everything right and we're going to go down and we're gonna be okay.
(dramatic music) You go from highs to lows, and I feel like that's part of the adventure because once you get past those really hard points, the next time you go to do it, it like, it becomes easier.
As hard as it is, having a little child bringing them camping is ridiculously impossible.
But somehow between Mike and I we made it happen and we started to realize that Lily could learn the simple ways of being out here and just enjoying being unplugged and just trying to be in the moment.
- After a while of doing it, I kind of just started to love it.
You know, I wouldn't be able to rappel if it wasn't for what people have taught me.
And so it's saved my life at some points.
You know, I have a hard time in school, so, you know, coming out here, it's like a getaway from that and I get to be with the people that I love most in the world.
(gentle music) - [Louise] If women or other girls her age saw her doing this, they'd be like, really?
I can do that too?
Well, yeah, you can do it.
(gentle music) - You know, many of us are connected to a fast paced world.
Taking that time to disconnect and truly disconnect, you realize that you're okay and things are okay and you can have a great time.
(gentle music) When we'll travel with friends and family and they get excited, it kind of rejuvenates us to stop and go, yeah, these are really cool, awesome, beautiful places and we should appreciate them and smile and say, glad we're here too.
You know, the Utah desert is definitely a fragile environment, but there's many things living, plants and animals.
It could be anything from a tarantula that we saw a couple days ago to, you know, a juniper tree that's 200 years old.
When you visit these places, you just kind of have to be more mindful and cautious of what impact you leave on the place after you're gone.
(gentle music) When you're traveling through areas like this and you see the signs of the past, whether it's a Butch Cassidy signature, whether it's a eight, 900 year old ruin, whether it's a rock art that might be 1,000 years old, my mind always wanders back to what was their life like?
(gentle music) - [Louise] Oh, my gosh, I wonder what it was like having kids on this ledge that drops 200 feet and how did they do this?
How did they survive?
- When your daughter brings up an experience and you're laughing because you remember the same experience and the same trip, those memories are really phenomenal.
And as my daughter gets older, I realize before you know it, she'll be off to college and we'll have to try to bug her to come back to do some of these things.
- [Mike] I think it's really important that people in my opinion just go for it and, you know, you want to be as smart as you can.
You wanna be prepared as you can, but don't let having all the equipment or all the necessary gear stop you from going out there and exploring.
- [Hiker 1] A lot.
- I think for me personally it's just kind of what I want to do, kind of simplify things, food, shelter, clothing, and activity for the day.
And that's a pretty good day.
- Society, pressure, technology, all that, when you get out here, you just don't sweat those.
Your mind just kind of clears and the simplicity comes back.
I can just enjoy, I can breathe.
- Okay, Lil.
Oh, go to your left a little bit.
- [Lily] I go camping with these people all the time and they bring out what the desert and overlanding is all about.
They bring out the fun in it so it's not always so serious.
(group chattering) - You know, overlanding has impacted Lily I think in a couple different ways.
I think number one, she's gained a little bit of self-confidence, like, for example, I showed her how to start a fire and cut some wood with an ax and so now that's kind of her little job to do around camp.
Obviously being a 14-year-old with an ax, we still want to be careful and mindful of that, but her confidence of like, "I got this.
I can do it."
- Yeah, I enjoy it.
(ax smacking) - Nice.
That's it, girl.
You're a natural.
- [Hiker 2] Do you want to do one?
- [Lily] Yeah, sure.
(gentle music) - [Louise] If anyone around me even knew where I just was or if they ever had the opportunity to be where I just was is like a gift and I'm so grateful for that final moment when I can sit down and enjoy the view and breathe.
You know, I'm glad we could give it to Lily to find that peace in herself.
(gentle music) (drums beating) (group chattering) (piano music) Just get in the water (Upbeat Guitar Music) and try to try to stay together, at least Wow.
I am blown away by all the incredible dedication it takes to do all that.
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Until next time.
I'm Liz Adeola and This is Utah.
This is Utah is made possible in part by the Willard L. Eccles Foundation, the Lawrence T and Janet T. Dee Foundation, and by the contributions to PBS Utah from viewers like you.