If a film can become a sensory experience, this is it. Where the Trail Ends documents Canadian extreme bikers as they follow their sporting bliss, to fly in the air on the toughest, untouched bike trails in the world. Thousands of feet up into the atmosphere, they throw themselves down mountain cliffs, defying death on a regular basis. The phenomenal visual of them actually flying, against exotic mountain ranges is at first unbelievable, then thrilling.
Their hunt for “unblazed” trails whether in the deepest reaches of far off lands or at home is based on raw passion, a sometimes dangerous addiction to their sport and to movement. They challenge the mountains and the mountains challenge them right back, as they travel to places we will likely never see in our lifetimes. The men interact with the land in intimate, powerful ways from their two wheeled steeds. What they do isn’t for beginners. It takes years of practice.
Extreme professional freeride mountain bikers Darren Berrecloth, Cameron Zink, Kurtis Sorge, James Doerfling and Andreu Lacondeguy trek to Virgin, Utah’s craggy desert mountains as an annual tradition but notice new bike prints in the sand, and more human debris, cartridge shells and garbage. It’s been discovered, so they set out for new unconquered sites.
The team manages to travel around the world, hire helicopters and special boats, sherpas and translators in order to get to these places, which often takes days of dangerous travel from any given airport. That’s a lot of money and planning. Commercial sponsors look after that, freeing them to focus on the task at hand.
Their incredible journey takes them to Cafayate, Argentina, China’s Gobi Desert, Nepal’s Mustang Province, Fraser River Canyon in British Columbia and finally, back to Utah. Seeing these majestic places through their eyes is an unforgettably vivid experience. Each desert and mountain has its own look and feel, the sands are different and their spines and tunnels of the mountains are extraordinarily varied. They must adjust to each new mountain face because there are no rehearsals.
These guys are the hardest of the hardcore bikers to have their own movie. And they’re not afraid to show their low moments, like a broken collarbone and broken ankle in two separate attempts to “front flip” down a cliff. One of the men who just recovered from a broken back vents his painful frustration at stopping short over and over. As a viewer you want him to succeed, but you don’t want to see him killed.
Nothing is scripted. We hear conversations, cries of triumph and pain when accidents occur and the sounds of a vast natural world. Driving rock music is slapped on for excitement but as far as the traditional documentary film goes, it’s a uniquely quiet, meditative experience.
The images of these dedicated sportsmen flying and flipping through the air, defying and working with nature, are breathtaking. Seeing these guys giving their all, and risking life and limb every day to do it and to bring it to us, is an incredible, profound thing.
Where the Trail Ends opens October 28 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto and November 9 at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver.
Featuring: Paul Basagoitia, Robbie Bourdon, Kyle Strait, Cam McCaul, Tyler McCaul, Mike Kinrade, Garret Buehler
Directed by: Jeremy Grant and Brad McGregor
Top image: A scene Where the Trail Ends. Courtesy Red Bull Media.