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72 Hours With the PNW’s Most Prolific Trailbuilders

A winter weekend with the Shire crew


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Many people have different sports for different seasons. Mountain biking and skiing, baseball and basketball, cornhole and ice fishing–the list goes on, but it’s pretty standard to hang up one set of gear when the weather changes and swap for another. In Bellingham, Washington, there’s a trio of fellas who share a love for two different sports; activities that do tend to fall under some kind of seasonal jurisdiction in many locales. Yet, like many of us who are too committed to our preferred pursuits to simply abandon them for some unknown number of weeks or months out of a year, these gentlemen simply change their approach with the seasons, and ride bikes and build trails all year long.

Spencer Baldwin, Ian Carpenter and Scott Scamehorn are part of the core of the Shire crew, known for their pristine playground of a dirt jump spot in Bellingham. “The Shire” is a place where, on a spring evening, the greens and golds do feel Tolkien-esque, but the jump lines that weave under the canopy are anything but hobbit-sized. Beyond the trails themselves, the guys have carved out their own distinct place in Bellingham’s heavily-saturated bike landscape. They’ve helped build a community of smaller-wheeled senders who work through fear together, pick each other off the ground when someone comes up short, and relish clean landings as one. And they’ve given back to the wider scene through their company Shire Built, as the shapers of Mohawk—one of the most popular trails at one of the most popular riding spots in the world—and Bellingham’s huge waterfront pumptrack.

The common thread here, of course, is building–trails, confidence, community–and if you’ll allow me to call digging a sport, then these guys could be on our Olympic team. They’re prolific; working on trails all over town, travelling around the country to build custom lines for film projects, and of course always expanding and refining their namesake jump spot. They’re also artists on the tools; clean lines, square edges, everything solid and buttery smooth. Spencer, Ian and Scotty all dug at Red Bull Rampage this past year on different dig crews–a testament to the mastery of their craft, their ability to absolutely bury themselves for a line, and to the trust that some of the world’s best riders have in their shapes.

The guys are a joy to watch work. They’re individuals with their own personalities and strengths, but together they’re a well-oiled machine of swinging tools and high-speed banter. When myself and Beta’s photo director Anthony Smith spent a weekend with them, we were floored by just how much they could knock out in just a handful of hours. Over two days, they cleared, buffed and added to hundreds of yards of trail, with a casualness that implied not much more than a quick pre-ride tune up.

It was December, smack in between some significant flooding and the first heavy snow of the year in Whatcom County. The Shire jumps, therefore, were tarped and hibernating, and the 20-inch and 26-inch bikes hanging somewhere in a damp shed. But like I said, these aren’t the kind of folks who simply move on for a few months, and of course winter is a fabulous time to work on mountain bike trails. So they were doing just that; trading T-shirts for rain jackets, and stiff semi-slicks for suspension and spikes. In two days, the Shire crew served up quite the reminder as to just how much potential is held in dirt, shovels and two wheels, and to the rewards that follow if you choose to get out there and get after it.

Summer is a fine time for dirt jumping in the Pacific Northwest, and these boys love to float off a big, steep lip as much as anyone. Winter means curling fog, big-bike shuttles and mud-splattered grins, and they love all that too. Really, I can’t see much need for an off season.

Foggy mornings make for damp dirt and prime digging conditions.
Ian Carpenter eyeing up the job at hand.

Dig. Ride. A simple recipe for happiness.

Scott Scamehorn and Spencer Baldwin making mods.

When perfect digging conditions get more perfect.
Ian Carpenter took his dirt-slinging skills to the desert this year where he helped Reed Boggs secure his first podium finish at Red Bull Rampage.

Brage Vestavik had the good fortune of Spencer Baldwin’s skills on the shovel during his massive build at Red Bull Rampage.
Tools of the trade.

For Jordy.
Soup's on.
When the tables look as good as the jumps. Baldwin laying it flat.

Scamehorn lent his shaping skills to Rampage veteran Thomas Genon at this year’s event.
As good as gold.

Scamehorn brings a classic BMX style to the ‘big bike.’ This clicked nac is a thing of beauty.
Working at the speed of three.

Taking the left line.

December in the Northwest is a roll of the dice when it comes to the weather—we won big on this day.
Dig all morning. Hike laps all afternoon.

The effortless style of Spencer Baldwin.

Perfect dirt and perfect light make for a happy crew on both sides of the lens.

The attention to detail stands out on everything Shire Built.

After the mushroom, crank it to the left.
This crew cleared this leaf-covered trail and brought it back to life in a matter of hours.

Traction, defined.
Making quick work of winter's wrath.

An accurate representation of Shire Built speed.
72 Hours is supported by Schwalbe and Yakima.
Check out more 72 Hours HERE – and get inspired for your own adventure this weekend.

 

Photos: Anthony Smith

Video: Satchel Cronk