Hucker and Enarson Ride and Inspire at Historic Sheep Hills

RH-14Apr09-124179

The helmet bobbles atop the young grom’s head as he pumps his pedals. Speed is his greatest adversary. Speed and weight and experience. He coasts through the two lead-up rollers, racing toward the jump and its four-foot gap. The jump is more up than out. He flies into the air, elbows locked, hands holding the grips firmly. He’s momentarily airborne, full of hope – and just about enough speed. He’s short, his bike coming to a halt atop the jump, just short of the transition.

The grom is no less discouraged. He tries again and again.

“I used to be that kid,” says Mike “Hucker” Clark, watching from a distance. “I used to come ride all the time and I’d bug the older guys. A lot of times they’d leave, but not because of my talking, but because I’d be trying tricks that I shouldn’t and they didn’t want to be there if things went wrong.”

Hucker is hoping that won’t be the case with this young BMX rider. He’s the son of one of Hucker’s long-time sponsors, so his interests and concerns are many. He offers a few suggestions, psyches the grom up with his trademark energy and steps back. The grom tries again, with the same result.

“Hold on, I want to get a photo of when you make it,” says Hucker and sets up aside the jump with his iPhone. This time, with one of his heroes rooting him on, the grom successfully clears the gap and rides away cleanly. It’s hard to discern who’s more excited, Hucker or the grom.

Sheep Hills, located along the Santa Ana River, on the border between Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach in Southern California, has history. Maintained for decades by the riders and for the riders, it’s served as a training ground and testing ground and proving ground for legions of riders, from newbies to seasoned locals to the traveling pro.

Hucker is a regular at Sheep Hills, riding there whenever his busy travel schedule doesn’t have him competing somewhere else in the world. When he’s in town, he’s regularly helping maintain the trails, working on his riding and always offering advice and positive vibes to anyone and everyone around him.

On this day in April, Hucker’s at Sheep Hills for a photo shoot with Oakley, and brought with him one of the top BMXers in the sport today, Dennis Enarson. But Enarson is a Sheep Hills first-timer.

“It’s a bit tough to figure out,” Enarson admits to Hucker after a few laps. Hucker does his best to help his talented friend figure out the Sheep Hills ropes. The pair ride for a couple hours under clear skies, trading banger trick for banger trick.

The few locals on hand mostly watched and captured a few frames on their iPhones. Hucker and Enarson smiled and continued to ride hard. Enarson called it a day, needing to save energy before a trip the next day to Mexico for a contest. Hucker keeps riding, trying a few newly minted tricks, but after a few close calls, he plays it safe and calls it a day as well. The sun is setting over the trees and the “work” is done.