The East Coast, specifically Pennsylvania and New York, are home to some of the most famous trails of all time.With that in mind, imagine the excitement a desert rat from Scottsdale, Arizona, like KC Badger must have had when he finally got a chance to ride some of the renowned East Coast trails on a recent Kink trip.

 credit: Jeff Zielinski

What’s the trail scene like in Scottsdale, Arizona?
Currently the trail scene in Scottsdale is real slow. We have a set of trails but no one really cares about them or rides them. They’re in the middle of the desert and when we (Justin Kielman, Josh Hofer, Mark Hicks, and I) started them we figured that no one would ever find out about them and that we would have a great set of trails for a long time. But a few months after we started them the city roped off the land like they were going to build something so we thought the trails were done. We kept riding, but we hardly built anymore because we were afraid all that work would go to waste. To add to the ropes, a few months later the city closed off the one road that led to the trails. At that point we figured the trails were done for good and we stopped going there for about a year. Justin got married and the rest of the crew pretty much gave up on the trails. Then around last February I heard that the road that went to the trails was open again so I thought I’d check it out and see if the trails were still there and to my surprise they were, and they looked perfect still. So I decided it would be a good idea to get the trails going again. This time Billy Frenevsky, Jeshua Constantine, Dominic Dicello, Thurman, and I got to work and got them going again until the summer when we stated to get lazy. Granted the summers are super hot, but we’re still lazy nonetheless.

One-footed Euro table at Hooligans.  credit: Jeff Zielinski

How long have you been riding trails?
I started racing when I was ten and we always had little mounds and “tracks” to ride around my house. There was a spot named after an older local kid that lived behind the lot named Sheldon. He kind of quit riding when he turned 16, so Dominic Dicello and I took over the spot and started building up what was already there; I think I was 13 at the time. I ended up moving across the street from the trails when I was 15 and that’s when the trails really came to shape. I’d wake up and build before school when it rained and even go out at midnight, if it had rained. Around this time we’d also go ride at Union Hills (Brian Vowell, Fatty Patty, Ryan Huber, Boaz and Merkle’s trails). And then the Beardsley trails after Union Hills got plowed. At this time the trails scene in AZ was awesome. Since then our original trails got plowed along with Beardsley and the ones we started after that had all been plowed by the time I was about 18 or so. Then we heard that some crazy kids in Prescott had huge downhill trails. These kids ended up being Adam Baker, Tom Alward, and Josh Bradley. The trails up there were awesome! I spent every weekend up there for almost two years. It was almost like they were my local trails (an hour and a half away), but I didn’t really help build so I can’t say I was a local. Sunset has since been plowed, but Adam and the crew aren’t as lazy as we Phoenix kids are and they started on a new set right away. They rented a bobcat and now the new trails are unbelievable! Right now I have to go all the way up there if I want to ride trails and since I’m lazier now, I usually only go oncce a month or whenever Adam is actually in town.

How do you think your scene has shaped the way you ride?
Originally dirt was all I knew. I was a little racer kid (Powerlight Spin Mags and toe clip pedals) and I did what all racers did back then—ride trails. Racing and then onto trails was the natural step and from there I got into ramps and some occasional street too. I think that racing and riding trails helps you look at things a little differently and now I think about lines and flowing rather than just doing a thousand tricks. Being a trail rider has made me believe that style and flow are more fun than doing tricks. It has shaped my whole outlook on riding—even life.

Since it only rains a few days a year and there’s hardly any trees, how do you manage to upkeep the jumps?
Lately we haven’t been keeping up the jumps at all. We’re seriously just lazy and hope that other people will fix them. Which obviously doesn’t happen. Like I said before, when I was younger I would wake up in the middle of the night and go build when it was wet and wake up early and go build before school. Shmoove and Spin had two 50-gallon barrels that we would fill up before we went to the trails everyday too. We would water the trails before we rode and then dump the excess water into pits to build new sets. That didn’t make the best dirt, but it was better then nothing.

Turndown over a step-up at one of those East Coast trails.  credit: Jeff Zielinski

On a recent Kink trip to the East Coast you had the opportunity to ride a few sets of trails. How was it?
My expectations were really high from seeing and hearing so much about East Coast trails. I was super excited to see what they had to offer. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t too great and it rained a ton so I didn’t get to experience all the trails I would have liked to. My favorite place was Buck’s trails in Erie, Pennsylvania. They were exactly how I pictured, thousands of lines and a really good big downhill section with hips, a berm, and rollers. I had so much fun there. We also went to Hooligans, in Long Island, and they were real fun too. Although they were a little smaller than Buck’s, they still flowed well and had fun lines, hips, and rollers. Thanks again to all the locals from both of those trails—you guys rule!

Are you going to be bummed to go home to your trails after sampling what the East had to offer?
Since my trails are pretty much beat…yeah, I’m bummed. But I’m excited to go home and head up to Prescott again. Even after riding the East Coast, Prescott’s are still my favorite trails—downhill, big, and fast with huge hips and berms. I’m also excited to start working on my trails again. This trip has definitely reminded me how fun hanging out at the trails and riding with your friends can be.

Would you ever consider moving somewhere else for better trails or a better scene?
I’ve definitely thought about it. But I think I have it pretty good in Arizona. It may not be the best, but I’ve got a lot of options. If it’s too hot I can drive an hour north and ride with Baker at the best trails ever where it’s 20 degrees cooler. Between Prescott and Phoenix, I can ride trails year-round here, where as on the East Coast it’s a seasonal thing.