Horn’s Hill

Interview – Dave the Builder

Here’s the second in the series of folks that “git er dun” down at Horn’s Hill.  Dave Huff is quite handy shaping earth with a couple of tons of metal around him.  But he’s also got big plans for 2011 as new team manager of the Horn’s Hill Collective.  Get the low down below.

Dave the Builder

Tell us a bit about Dave, how long you’ve been riding, your background, and what makes you tick.

Well I haven’t been riding too long at all. I got my first DH rig in 2009. I actually grew up riding and racing motorcycles from around the age of 5. As far as what makes me tick… I’d have to say that trail building is up there.  There’s nothing better than seeing people bomb your trails with a huge smile on their face.

You had a big part in the creation of Horn’s Hill, what role did you play there?

I actually met Bob Bevard through one of my moto buddies. I basically eves-dropped on their conversation and told him that if he needed a machine operator that I would help out.  I had no biking background at all but had built numerous MX tracks in the past.  I was the man in charge of the machine operation at Horn’s.

So that’s where your handle Dave the Builder came from then.  What do you like better, building or riding?

Man that’s a tough one.  I’m going to have to say that building trails is amazing and a great workout so I’d say building. If you threw racing in the mix I’d go with racing because there is nothing that replaces that feeling of having a perfect run top to bottom.

Dave the Builder

You’ve taken over the Horn’s Hill Collective race team for 2011, what changes are you making and what is your vision for the team?

Yeah, Bob Bevard started the team and managed it the past two years and he just wanted to step down and focus on some other things ya know.   The main changes I made were to separate the team into two levels.  I mainly did this to be able to provide the guys that were on the PRO or CAT1 level a better level of support with our sponsors.  I wanted to be able to give back to the riders that focus on an entire series or lay it on the line for the team.  I also found a company in Columbus named Heath Care Logistics that donated a 2000 E350 Cargo Van to us for $1!  I’m in the process of converting it to a full on race vehicle to haul our bikes and work out of at the races. That was huge!

My biggest vision for the team is to make our team a well known name in the Downhill scene and let people know that these dudes from Ohio can throw down.

So who is on the team, and what races are you focusing on?

Man we have some fast guys on the team this year.  There are like 20 riders this year!  We picked up Josh Clark, Shawn Metcalf, Vance Nonno, Davis Nonno and Blanton Unger.  Also picked up a Pro level Slopestyle rider from KY named David Thacker that has a ton of BMX and 4X experience and Conrad Scouton also living in KY that will be a CAT 1 DH racer this year with us.  Returning from last year are Harrison Reynolds, Scott Lowery, Dan Watts, Scott Metz, Bob Bevard, Bill Lamar, Rick Burchfield, Jake Hostettler, Jamie Johnson, Chuck Kales, Tommy Agler, Connor Smith and myself.  We basically have a guy in nearly ever class to offer our sponsors so that’s huge for getting our name out there.  We are going to focus on the Gravity East Series and Snowshoe Powerade Series this year as well as hitting up the US Open and Nationals @ Beech MTN.  There will be some random races we are going to as well.

There’s some strong talent there!  And it’s more than just Horn’s Hill locals.  Sponsors?

Yep there are some super fast guys for sure. We look to be on that top step a lot this year.  Our sponsors have been awesome this year.  We have Kenda Tires661ONE IndustriesDivision 26 clothingAzonic hardware,Backcountry.comHuck N Roll.com and Stone Brewing Company helping us out this year.  Mongoose is also helping me and a few others on the team out which is a big reason for why I can continue to race so I wanted to give them a shout out.

Sounds like a borderline professional production!  It’s great to see this for the sport in Ohio.  Where do you see gravity riding headed for Ohio, and how do you think we should get there?

Man I’m doing my best to give the riders what they need to go fast.  Our pits will look legit and I know we’ll have some results to back it up.  Yeah, when we get to the races in Vermont and New Hampshire it always turns heads when they announce that we’re from Ohio.

I’d say the sky’s the limit for gravity riding in Ohio.  The biggest thing is making sure the folks with the ideas and passion find the riders to help them get their ideas in the dirt so people can shred it.  The biggest obstacle to trail building is finding the helpers to make it a reality. How’s that quote go?  Ideas are nothing without execution.  That’s so true in trail building.

Any personal goals for the coming season?

Well I won my class last year in the Gravity East Series so I’m moving up and it’s going to be tough.  I just want to have another great season and try to stay injury free.  I think if I do that and stay consistent I can get another class championships this year.  I’d also like to see an Ohio Gravity Series come to fruition this year.

Anyone that has ridden Horn’s I’m sure sends their thanks to you for your work there, and I know the Horn’s Hill Collective is looking forward to next season.  Keep up the good work man!

Thanks Aaron.  I’ll do my best.  See you on the trail.

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Interview – Big Drop Bob

I thought it would be cool to do some interviews with some of the main characters on Ohio’s downhill scene.  So I’ll start things off with Bob Bevard, the man behind Horn’s Hill.

Bob, you’re a pretty legendary figure in downhill circles around here. Tell us a bit about yourself – what’s your background?

I raced dirt bikes for about twelve years but quit doing so in my mid-thirties. A former student of mine presuaded me to try mountain biking. I was skeptical that it would be much fun. That was 16 years ago. Did cross country for 11 years before the lure of downhill grabbed my attention five years ago. It’s very much like the excitement of racing motorcycles. I still do cross country and road biking.

They call you Big Drop Bob, how did that name come about?

When I got my first DH bike, I was horrible at dropping. I built a drop in my back yard that was adjustable. That winter when I was in Arizona riding, I did a very big drop and my buddy filmed it. It was crazy big for my skill level at the time, but I was successful. I showed the footage to Mark VanMeter (the originator of Chainsmoke downhill website) and he nicknamed me Big Drop Bob as my name on his website. I still like dropping.

You’re one of the main men behind Ohio’s most successful new gravity scene at Horns Hill, can you give us a brief history of Horns?

Horn’s is unique. I went up there on two different occasions thinking cross country trails, but the terrain was too steep. The second time, I had just begun riding downhill and I realized that it would be great for downhill. I tried contacting the city about building there, but there was big political battle going on over that park at the time.

I rented a mini-excuvator and built a couple berms and table tops in my woods, but I don’t have a huge amount of vertical. I said at the time, “this is just my prototype for building dh trails at Horn’s Hill.” People laughed…”yeah right.”

A year later, the parks director went to the Bike Doctor looking for someone to build mountain biking trails there. Sean knew that I was interested in building there so he called me. How it all came together is actually pretty amazing. Dave Huff wasn’t even riding bikes, but he happened to be coming over to visit his motorcycle buddy right when he and I were walking Horn’s to get ideas about building there. Huff told me he could run an excuvator and he’d be willing to help since he wasn’t working at the time. He wasn’t just blowing smoke! He put in amazing number of hours up there with me building trails, just for the fun of it. And then he got the bug…. Anyway, thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours have gone into building Horn’s. It’s amazing how much time and money have been donated to make it all work out. Thanks to everyone!

So what does 2011 hold for Horns?

We made some nice improvements last year. Trail four is coming together nicely and trail three got some big re-works. We were able to raise about $600 last year (actually rather disappointing) so we don’t have the money to do anything extensive. We will probably just stick with improving and maintaining what’s there. There is still the need to make a sustainable erosion control design for where trail one and two converge at the end and I’m sure Rick will be improving trail four some more.

Do you have any personal goals for 2011?

I turn 60 in three months. It’s a little like when the odometer on your car rolls over. You have to wonder whether to go for another hundred thousand or trade it in on a new one. I feel that I could do downhill another ten years, the good Lord willing, or I could back it down a notch and not race as much as last year (13 races). Either way, I’ll keep riding road, cross country and some downhill. I benched 235 at the end of my pyramid two days ago so my strength is still decent. I guess I’m still trying to figure this one out. I love having a reason to stay in shape and downhill sure provides that.

What about the gravity scene in Ohio, do you have any ideas to progress things and make it grow?

I think location and sustainability are the keys. You have to have a location that is close to a fairly large population. That’s one of the Keys to Horn’s. The paved access road is also key. Mohican is awesome because it has natural downhill. Rock requires no maintenance where slopestyle requires a considerable amount of maintenance. Always having some easy trails is important. When I’m in Phoenix I downhill on South Mountain. It is awesome downhill and the city is the fifth largest in the U.S. yet it’s a very small group that rides it. I think it’s too challenging for many people. We have a tendency to always go bigger and more challenging, but we have to remember the beginners and intermediate riders. We need to combine fun days with some light competition.

I’d personally like to thank Bob for the time and commitment he has to promoting our sport through events like the Ohio Gravity Fest and especially for his work at Horn’s. Thanks Bob!