When Sammy Mercado started building jumps in the hills of Riverside, California more than two years ago, he surely had no idea that one day he would be riding them with pros Darren Berrecloth and Carson Storch, with every moment captured by a professional photographer. That’s exactly what happened to the soft-spoken 28 year old from Guadalajara, Mexico, though. Click past the break to see how this all came to be, and watch them hit the lines…
Meet Sammy Mercado – construction worker by day, master trail architect on the weekends. Wanting to push himself as a rider, he decided to build the biggest, baddest jump trail he could. Having worked on it for over two years, he finally completed his RedBull Rampage-inspired run. One of the many challenges Sammy faced was where to get water to wet the dirt and make it hold the shape of a ramp? In the California desert? Simple, just bring it with you. Lugging water out to his trail in the 5 gallon buckets he’s sitting on (above) and using only hand tools, Sammy found peace in his solo task. “My motivation comes from being out in the mountains – I feel so relaxed there. Nobody telling me anything, it’s just me.”
Sammy met pro riders Carson Storch (left) and Darren Berrecloth (right) at the 2016 RedBull Rampage in Utah. And when he finished his line back home, he invited the guys to come check it out. He says he was almost a little reluctant to have the pros come ride his trail, and who wouldn’t be? “I had met Darren and Carson at Red Bull Rampage last year, and it was amazing to have them come out. I was nervous – I didn’t know if they’d like the trail…. It’s always hard to build something from scratch and then not know if it’s going to work, or not.”
Clearly, it did. Darren and Carson were blown away by the caliber and scope of Sammy’s hand work. The jump lines they ride are often built with bulldozers and heavy machinery, and regularly maintained. Sammy says he built the trail with longevity in mind, “I don’t want to build jumps to ride today. I want to build jumps that will last forever.”
Carson and Darren both left impressed, and eager to see what Sammy crafts next.
Seeing his hard work and dedication definitely impressed them. As Carson (above) put it, “It was humbling to come and ride the trail that Sammy had built and to see how much work he had put in. Now that I travel the world riding trails and jumps that other people build, it’s inspiring to see Sammy’s passion and fun to experience the grassroots way of mountain biking again.”