Florideah Swampfest 2018 took place in the Astatula Central Florida Motorsports Park... Greeted by a monster truck at the end of a long driveway you already knew what kind of venue it was. The spot was quite open, but that didn't hold back the craziness that was about to kick off.
The best thing about the weekend was that you could do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, everything was always open. There was no real designated camping area either, people just kind of parked next to the course and that was that.
"The best thing about the weekend was that you could do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted."
Kids started sending the loop from the get go, hyped up by friends – no matter how good or bad the first attempt was everyone got right back up and sent it again and again, and this thing was big.
The first half of the day was filled with people arriving, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones as well as getting their first runs in through the jumps or around the park course. Sessions were going on constantly.
Words and photos by Martin Grainger
The first ‘event’ of the day was the park jam. Anyone thinking it had been wild up until then was about to be surprised, as it got cranked up yet another notch... Everyone descended on the ramps, there were people literally everywhere. Crandall was screaming down the mic, everyone had cameras and no individual runs were taken – it was just a free for all, it was chaos.
At one point Gary Young was pedalling full speed at the double, navigating himself around other riders on both take off and landing. He sent it onto the toast-shaped wallride with a simple call of "heads up!" to the riders standing on the deck, launching over them and back in off the wallride. A true professional!
"Nobody was in the way because everyone was in someone's way. What?"
Kenneth Tencio charged the whole course as if it was a FISE stop and made it seem like the ramps rode ten times better than they looked. (They really were as sketchy as they looked.) Max Vu also found a channel gap to wallride that he sent a few times and eventually got, just scraping the edge of the crowd on landing. Nobody was in the way because everyone was in someone's way. What?
SWAMP AND BOOTER
Next up was the Swamp Rail and it's still hard to believe how messy it really got. Austin Augie started by claiming he wasn't doing it this year but after a few attempts from the others he was right in there. It's incredible (and hilarious) how many people got fully submerged in that gunk.
Mark Burnett made it across first but this didn't slow down any of the other guys and, one by one, more people were giving it a go. At one point, two bikes were tangled in the swamp with a couple of people trying to get them out whilst another rider was hurtling towards the rail for another attempt. He only spotted them at the last minute and had to use everything to stop.
"It's still hard to believe how messy it really got..."
After that mess it was on to the Scotty Cranmer Best Trick jam. This started off with just a few people sending the double that had been set up from a choice of two wooden kickers leading onto a soil landing, but it was only when Vick Behm and Nasty got hold of the choice kicker and moved it about 10ft back, claiming the gap was too small, that the show really started. We then saw a mix of flips, trains and heel-clickers involving everyone from Vick and Nasty to Dylan Stark to Chris Doyle and Clint Reynolds. With no roll in, these dudes were furiously pedalling from a standstill. Proper old school, it was amazing.
On came the jump jam. The jumps were definitely good fun and half of this was down the trenches full of dirty water at every bail out point, making riders pay a penalty for not making it through the line. What might not of been mentioned a whole lot is that on Friday night, Trey and the boys got to work on putting in more trenches so when Saturday came, there really was no room for error.
None of your standard straight sets here, instead only hips and offset jumps – these were made for FUN. I watched handfuls of people hit them, and you could watch someone hit them perfectly with style one run only to get booted into the water the next. What was really great about this was the mix of riders, everyone from older legends, the current pros, through to hungry young riders and the up and coming. All three of the young Halahan brothers and 9yr old Jake Rutkowitz were real standouts, hitting the jumps with not only tricks but good style too. The jump jam didn't really end either, it just sort of carried on into the night. Even whilst Trey was giving out prizes and the new S&M Credence video premiered on the side of one of an RV, there were still people riding.
"This really oozed BMX in all its glory..."
All in all, Florideah Swampfest 2018 was unbelievable. Hats off to Trey and the boys.
It was non-stop craziness yet still laid back at the same time, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. I don't think anyone would. This really oozed BMX in all its glory, from talking shit, watching amazing riding and even sharing toilet rolls (you know how valuable these are when camping in a field in unfamiliar territories.)
If you weren't there, you missed out.