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Free The Ride

Free the Ride

Gravity grips as I drop into the fall line, my speed races, the cold air rips against my gore-tex as I penetrate its stillness my velocity increasing.

I rock slightly back, extending off the front foot, flexing the rear thigh, shifting pressure into the outside edge of my rear foot and back beyond to flex the tail, the front of the board slowly rises.

Flat base straight down the middle of the chute, the snow is deep and silk, the ride is smooth, effortless, I let my speed max as I race through the narrows eyeing the next open section.

The rock walls close in on either side, the snow gets shallow, pop over the rock and then I’m through the doorway.

Flex the tail, pressure moves forwards, tilt to the front heel, feel the edge touch, pressing the arc, moving back, rear foot starting to tilt, rear heel gaining pressure, sinking back and down, I pull the front foot upwards away from the snow, the tip of the board is arcing up towards the lip of the bank on the right, I crank over deep to my rear heel, feeling the highback support as all the energy flows down the rail towards the tail, flexing the board into a tighter heel arc out of the fall line.

Still cranking some speed, pushing into the tail, resisting with a strong rear thigh as I sink into deep hard angled balance, one leg squat over the rear contact point burying it deep into the pow, full power, full gas.

Up the bank, the crest of the bank curls ahead like a glassy wave as I snap the tail hard, simultaneously release the pressure using it like a spring, pressure forwards down the length of the board tilting across towards and over engaging front foot tilt, toe edge angles over, the board flexing from rear heel to front toe edge in one smooth movement, feel the toe edge contact point bite, my body follows dropping into the apex of the arc as my board carves around above me, pressure moving backwards along the toe edge bending the arc tighter onto the lip. The tail is released above the lip for an instant, my board slides the crest, I can feel the perfect balance between my feet, the edge skimming the lip, gentle contact, left hand skimming the surface of the snow inside the arc, right hand balanced outwards, skywards, body torqued in the direction of momentum, snow streams into the air above me.

Increase toe edge pressure, more edge tilt, feel the bite, pressure back engage the tail, full power, extend and push, feel the flex.

Slam max pressure into the rear toe contact point, feel it bite, extend hard then release, sink through back into balance as the board floats back to the fall line. I’m eyeing the deep pocket up the bank to the left, the perfect goofy heel snap turn awaits, I glide, I feel my front foot flatten, and now, rock slightly to the front heel, pressure drive to the rear heel, through to the tail and then bang, pop forwards flexing the nose towards the toe edge, front knee driving, over and upwards, the board banks upwards towards the deep pocket up top left.

The toe edge bends, pressure drives back to the rear toe edge contact point, the tail sinks into a tight arc, carving up the left bank.

Snap the tail, drop the body into the turn, left arm drop wallet behind, right arm towards the apex, the board arcs around above me the heel edge sliding across the silken surface with out grip, rotating against momentum, ready to engage, let it slide, let it slide, the lip approaches, tilt hard and dig, the power comes on immediately, the board bites and flexes into a crazy arc as the sky fills with powder and I disappear, the white room, extend, hold, tilt, extend the front leg, flex the rear, snap the tail hard and release. My body swings back into balance as gravity pulls me first upwards and then over and downwards into the clean cold crisp air below and my hand instinctively reacts to wipe the snow from my goggles…

Like an onboard computer, my brain constantly assesses the feedback from my whole body, energy transfers between my feet, center of balance, softness, resistance, folding, extending, tilting, torquing, flexing.

I explore the building blocks of the turn, every turn, I understand the technicalities of the board, what makes it turn, where the pressure needs to be and when it needs to be there.

Flex the board, rebound, tilt the board, energy point, transfer so that it arcs by design rather than force.

I explore and play with the micro movements within the movements, let the edge skip, let it skim, let it slide then bang, engage and arc.

I create my line within the terrain, the line controls my speed, the line flows, it arcs. I use the banks to lose speed, the steep to gain speed, the drops flow into arcs, never on the brakes, tail slides for arts sake.

I absorb the conditions, I see the wind effect, UV effect, sunlight, temperature, re freeze. I see the shade, I see the shallows, I see the deep, I see the crust, I see the ice, I see the shelter, I see the safe, I see the risk, I use the contours, I let the mountain be my guide.

I first came up with my company tag line, ‘the fine art of riding mountains’ way back in 1995 when I started ‘mcnab snowboarding’ and every year it rings more and more inline with the journey that I follow and the riding that I love.

Since my first day on a board I’ve been ever so slightly obsessed with exploring the dynamics and technicalities of carving the perfect arc in perfect snow on the perfect feature.

Its an impossible search, a journey with no end, an enigma, the closer I get the further the goal posts shift as I come to expect more and more.

What a journey, what a goal to chase?

The perfect turn, an unachievable goal, but the shots, the attempts to score, they just keep on getting better and better.

Last Winter, my 34th Snowboard season was by far my most enjoyable yet.

It seems hard to believe that each winter can keep on getting better and better, but I think I’m learning to enjoy the ride more and more, connecting the mind and the body on the journey, learning more about the terrain and conditions and yeah, just simply enjoying the ride.

Its no longer about the physical or mental challenge, the most exposure, the steepest face, the highest speed or the gnarliest line.

The ego has gone and all that is left is the desire to ride, the desire to flow, to grin, to smile to laugh and to soar within the terrain I choose, doing what I love to do…

Join me next winter as the journey continues, the search for the ultimate ride, the perfect turn, be it a carve on the piste, a slash on a windlip, an arc on the steep or a powder shot through the trees. Come and explore ‘the Fine Art of Riding Mountains’, learn the intricacies of the arc, the flow of line and the technicalities of the carve.

Next Winter I want to take you with me on my search, but I want you to want more from your riding as I want more from mine. I want you to see the micro movements within the movements, feel the link between mind and body, understand the flow of the terrain and explore the creativity of your line.

I want you to see the how the terrain works, how it helps, how it dictates and guides your line how it lets you soar.

I want you to feel the power of the mountain under your feet, the calm of nature surrounding, the elements in harmony, in balance…

I want to inspire and in turn I want to be inspired by you.

freeride high fives

But above all, I want you to enjoy Snowboarding as much if not more than I do myself as I know this feeling and to share it inspires us all.

Look out for a whole new exciting format coming your way next winter with my New St Foy ‘Free the Ride’ Camps.






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