Darkfest | Tweaking the Beast | Behind the Scenes with Eric Palmer.

Sam Reynolds has returned to the Pure Darkness jumps in South Africa with Nico Vink and Clemens Kaudela to take things to the next level.

Building on the Pure Darkness work from 2016, Sam, Nico and Clemens to sculpt the jumps that will bring the madness at this year’s DarkFEST. Nico and Clemens are the boys when it comes to crafting massive jumps with a digger. Eric Palmer sent over part 2 for our delectation.

The 2nd week of building at DarkFEST is seeing massive progress, despite a bit of rain the jumps are almost done. A few measurements and tweaks and they’re ready for testing!

The end of last week saw the birth of a 82ft long and low that goes over the berm leading to the step up. Nico was on duty on that right line and spent the week dialing it in and making another slightly shorter set up jump for a massive booter at the bottom.

The local yacht club invited us to a braai off, where you bring the finest steak you can find, braai it over the coals and add your special touch & technique to make it as tasty as possible. Everyone involved tries a bit of each steak and votes for their favourite at the end of the evening. Needless to say we all devoured tonnes of the most delicious meat until we couldn’t move. To help the digestion we went to a very interesting club that resembled a psychedelic curry house and sampled some of the local DB&C’s.

Saturday was a slow start after enjoying the curry house a bit too much, so once we all surfaced we made our way down to Sedgefield for some takeout and supplies. Rain rolled in again and was quite heavy during the evening & the next afternoon and made things a bit too wet to work with, but luckily the boys made such good progress that they were planning to take the weekend off.

Merida OneSixty Leaderboard 2023

Sunday was fun day and we went for a trail ride on some demo bikes Scott had out, next was a mission to meet Chris Botes in Knysna for a spin on his powerboat. He is the minister of fun and took us out between the heads and into the sea over the rythm section of swell and cut a few berms into the water almost getting the boat vertical. The sun and sea air makes you very hungry so we headed to Totties for some local Afrikaans food at a massive buffet! These boys don’t do anything small!

With so many activities the boys were desperately in need of a chill at Black Snake River and had a little afternoon swim & snooze. That revitalised them so much that we went to the dirt jumps at the bottom for a fun little sunset session, followed by the mandatory braai.

Monday was back to work, after the rain drainage was needed desperately, so Clemens and Sam got some pipes and got to making dirt funnels while Nico piled the dirt for the last lip in the long & low line. The shark fin was worrying Sam with the DH bikes, so they decided to have a little test to put their minds at ease and it worked like a dream! Sam went on and tested the 2nd jump and that was also working perfectly.

The step down wasn’t 100% ready and groomed, but he decided to give her a go anyway and came up a bit short, cased 50/50, got thrown over the bars and slammed hard. Luckily he came out with only a sprained wrist and is still good to go! Nico was getting used to things and warmed up on the first 2, getting more and more smooth with every run. Clemens hit the line for the first time and cleared the shark fin nicely, but when he went for the 2nd jump he had to eject, his bike’s suspension was too soft and absorbed the lip too much.

Tuesday was another solid day of digging. With the digger hours coming to an end it was time to get some rakes out to smooth everything out and move the last two lips after getting the tape measure out. We all went down to town to meet MacDuff and Louis and have supper at a local restaurant for a bit of scenery change.

With an even bigger crew now everyone grabbed a rake or spade & things were getting manicured before your eyes. Final touches to the last lip in the long & low line with the digger and more measuring to make sure the gaps were right for the speed you would carry. After a good morning beauty treatment and some lunch we headed down to the river to cool off.

Everything is coming together nicely here, the lines are almost all done and ready for proper testing with a week to really dial things in. All the other guys are here this time next week and the madness begins! Can’t wait to see what unfolds on these mountains!

Big thanks to Eric Palmer for bringing us this sneak peak of what goes into building some of the biggest mountain bike jumps on the planet. Keep your eyes peeled for more!