The Hillbilly Huckfest: Going Large in Norway
The Hillbilly Huckfest is a week to remember with a hell of a good course. Words and Images by Jacob Gibbons.
The HillBilly Huckfest is a week to remember with a hell of a good course...
Taken From Dirt issue 140, October 2013
The first thing I was told when we rocked up to the very aptly named ‘Hillbilly Huckfest Farm’ was, “MAN, the course is the best ever!" And then, “Last year some drunk guy smashed his moto right through the bar wall at the party". When you turn up and hear two things like that, what the rest of the week has in store can only be good… right?
In the weeks leading up to the event Sam Reynolds (who I was travelling out with) just kept on posting up photos of jumps so big that I kept looking for the motorbikes in them! And he kept telling me about the ‘next level’ parties and hospitality. I had only ever been to Norway once before for the Hafjell World Cup and I thought that the country was amazing. Expensive, beautiful… everything just works. With that in mind I had no reason to doubt that this mystical contest had the potential to be something pretty special. It all sounded a bit too good to be true.
Click through to view the full gallery of Hillbilly Huckfest before reading on...
As it turns out I was right holding out on believing the hype. After one of the best flights ever with Norwegian Air, where for some reason they let you weigh and tag your own bags (overweight bikes are no longer an issue) and free WiFi on the plane, we landed in Oslo and made the four hour drive to the farm. Now in any other country that drive would be two hours, but the roads here are so long winded and mountainous, the speed limit so low, and the fines for breaking it so high, you get forced into the Norwegian pace of life pretty much immediately.
We get to the farm and met up with local legend and course mastermind Mads ‘Makken’ Haugen who gave us a bit of a tour, which was basically standing at the top of the course just jumping about shouting with excitement and scrambling to get pads on as fast as possible and join the already wild session. Other than Makken and Reynolds there where some other big names in attendance. An elite hit–squad of freeriders was invited out including Nick Pescetto, Andreu Lacondeguy, Nico Vink, Kurt Sorge, Graham Agassiz, Louis Rebul, Trond Hansen plus a load of other local wild men. With the entry being hand chosen by Makken, with rules like ‘No French, No Nerds’, etc. (Louis made the cut as he is just an animal on and off the bike).
It looked like everyone that got an invite to be there took it with both hands and made sure they were there. And as Makken said, with such a small close group of guys, the week was planned as almost a holiday with best mates, amazing riding and good parties, and he didn’t want anyone to make the week anything other than fun.
The course was about a minute long, built to push the limits of how big mountainbike jumps can be, and made for DH bikes. None of this nice buffed, ‘should be on a BMX’ freestyle stuff… this was man’s work! A big drop to start, then it was off the brakes, spinning–out, you couldn’t pedal if you wanted to. Then four or five 30–60 feet jumps and hips in a row.
All the riders kept on saying the whole week how it was “the best course I have ever, ever ridden man". And when I saw them all out at Crankworx a few weeks later a lot of them where still talking about how the two matched up, and whispering words like, “that’s like that jump at Huckfest". Not bad for an event no one in the world had heard of, and very few riders where even at.
There was a small but killer group of media there from a few different companies and teams, but the coverage of the event was a big step–up on previous years (it’s been going a good few years already). The edits and photos have started to leak out, and all we can hope is that people take note of the kind of track/course that is here, and how big and fast it is. It’s good to watch, good for people who know nothing about the sport, and the riders seem to love it as well.
Although finding riders who can ride these limit–pushing courses means flying them in from all over the world… and you either need to offer them a week that’s pretty much the best holiday ever, or lots of prize money. This was the first option.
There where no judges, no real schedule, no stress, no people shouting at you to do anything. It was just a group of best mates, in a stunning part of the world, with one of the best bike courses to play on, just having fun. When you were not riding you where eating, or sleeping, or partying, or swimming in rivers, or down buffing the jumps ready for the next day’s riding. It was a refreshing take on freeride and couldn’t be any further from events like Joyride if it tried. It was pure.
The average days ran something like this: stay in bed ‘till lunch time nursing the memories of the night before (spent staying up round a fire pit smoking and drinking into the small hours catching up with mates from the other side of the world that you don’t see), go eat some of the many free hotdogs (the contest was sponsored by some hotdog company), go ride for a few hours in the evening (‘till 10pm, as it gets dark so late up there in the summer) then go and party/drink. Repeat for a week, throw in some people documenting it all, a crowd of crazy hicks stoked on bikes and drinking, and you pretty much have the image in your head.
Despite all that it was still a contest, and the riders did some pretty crazy tricks. Aggy (Graham Agassiz) flat–spinned a DH bike over a 60 foot jump! The ‘winners’ where picked on the Saturday night, before the main days riding with the biggest crowd, by the riders themselves, pretty drunk. “His Holyman was good, best trick?" or “his whip was huge, it has to be him". It was for the riders, by the riders, on every level.
It is what it is, it doesn’t have delusions of grandeur, it’s fine being under the radar, and it’s so invite–only that even after reading this you want to go, chances are you never will. Bad luck I say. Here's to the next one, God knows how Makken will top this year’s, but I for one know somehow he will.