KEEPING THE FIRE BURNING WITH ROCKET RAMPS

KEEPING THE FIRE BURNING WITH ROCKET RAMPS

Teddy Jaramillo and Henry Lanman are on a wild ride

Together they started a company called Rocket Ramps to build some of the wildest and most fun bike trails in New Mexico. They're world-class riders themselves, which means they were tired of the uber-safe, speed-scrubbing, resort-style intermediate flow trails that are popping up seemingly everywhere.

Their formula is simple: make trails that let riders choose their own speed, their own lines, rather than forcing safety slowdowns and annoying pedaling with all these over-banked corners and unnecessary uphills.

The result? Intermediate flow trails where, even if you're a pro, you can still have a blast. And if you do have the skills, you can pick more advanced lines with wildly creative drops, jumps, step-up, and berms.

Here's one of their more famous intermediate builds, Chips and Salsa in Glorietta:

In order to serve the rest of North America with that same brand of crafted geometry, they build and ship ramp kits, which you can find in bike parks everywhere.

But now it's summer, which means busting ass and building trail in their home state of New Mexico.

Teddy and Henry spend months on end living in their truck campers out in the woods. For half the year or more, they're out on the job site every night, no matter the heat, cold, wind, rain, or snow.

And that got us thinking... 

These guys are perfect for running a long-term endurance test on the HOWL

Sure, we've put years and years of testing into the HOWL. But because we have kids and jobs, our test trips only last a few weeks at a time. Not months. 

 As keen-eyed power users and consummate gear heads, Teddy and Henry will be able to deliver detailed, quality long-term data on how the HOWL performs for them. And since they're also renowned product and experience designers, they can offer insight on improvements or refinements to inform potential future generations of the HOWL.

Here's how they'll be running the test

Each day, working hours are from sunrise to sunset. Most of the time is spent operating machines, each of them in their own cab, but always on the phone with each other to solve problems – or crack jokes.

When they’re not in the cab, they're building up callouses with hand tools, test-riding their in-progress sections of trail, and absolutely firing off of ramps – just to keep their skills and stoke up.

Out here, they seem relaxed. But just watch a while and you'll notice their pace of work is frenetic. They can't wait to hand their newest masterpiece over to the community of frothing local riders, who in turn can’t wait to run laps on it. To slow them down, every so often, fans like us come out into the woods wanting to see what they're creating. So they graciously share the vision of their work.

As you'd imagine, this all takes its toll. 16 hours of puzzling over terrain and angles, hard physical labor, summer sun, and distracting visitors is a lot. So at the end of each day, they take 30 minutes or so to just sit out on their camp chairs, relax, and watch the sky turn to dusk. 

Those 30 minutes don't last long. By 8:30, their heads hit the pillow so they can do it again tomorrow. 

That sliver of 30 minutes is their key to keep on charging

It’s their time to relax, reset, and revel in the trails – and lives – they're building. Sometimes they would use a wood-burning SoloStove, whenever the fire danger was low, and when burn bans weren't in effect. But that hasn't been too terribly often in New Mexico in the summer.

Even when it was allowed, burning wood presented problems of time and effort. With only 30 minutes, they’d spend most of their downtime getting it lit, blowing on embers, and adding logs. By the time it was actually going, they’d just have to douse it.

The HOWL is already a big upgrade for their use case. But like all professional testers, they're in data collection mode, reserving their judgement until after the test is complete. We'll share their results with you here in a few months.

While they're doing that, we just can't get over how cool a life these guys are living, so we did a little digging...

How did Teddy and Henry even get here?

Henry Lanman spent a whole year building his dream mountain bike trail from scratch. Right as it was nearing completion, he broke his leg, so he couldn't ride it. But his passion for trail building only grew. Another year and he was back to riding, so he built another dream line, and hasn’t looked back.

Before that, he was a grom building sketchy homemade jumps and crashing bikes in his backyard. A geologist by training his knowledge of rocks, sand and soil shows up in every turn, informing the radius, the bank angle, the friction you feel, and how it holds up to erosion. And just after school, he spent a couple years with the godfathers of freeride, seeing how they analyzed and shaped the terrain.

Follow Henry on IG

Teddy “Janker” Jaramillo is a maestro of machinery. He can balance a mini excavator in spots where most folks wouldn’t be to ashamed to hike their bikes. He trained up in Angel Fire and for years was one of the fastest mountain enduro bike racers in the US. Ride with him today and you’ll see he still makes good time. 

After the international circuit, sampling the absolute best trails on earth, he put his own hands in the dirt, building trails in Missouri and Arkansas, before returning home to Santa Fe.

Follow Teddy on IG

How did Rocket Ramps take off?

A mutual friend Adam Craig introduced Teddy and Henry by email, and soon they were spending all their free time together just out building jumps. A year or two later, Henry bought an excavator, they formed an LLC, and managed to talk a tiny local ski area into letting them build trails on the mountain for basically zero money.

Those trails were so well crafted that they both intermediate and expert riders loved them – an extraordinary and rare feat. Word got out, and soon they had more build requests than they could handle. But they’ve doubled down on their home turf, partnering with the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, the US Forest Service and a bunch of others to build insanely great trails in New Mexico that are always free and open to the public.

More to the story

You really have to see their riding style. Watch the Rapha Short here:

Henry's got a clever way of thinking about terrain, geology, and flow, which you can see here in "Vision’s Path":

And finally, you can hear Henry and Teddy tell these stories and more in their own words here on the Trail AEffect podcast.

Special Thanks

From our Team here at HOWL, sure we want to thank Teddy and Henry for helping us with this test. But even more, we want to thank them for their work in the Santa Fe community, for getting more folks out and responsibly enjoying the forest.

The way we see it, the more people love and rely on our forests, the more they'll notice when forests are being mismanaged, and the more they'll do to keep these places alive and accessible.

Building trails – and getting more people out to responsibly forest use – is a big play in the long game of keeping the forest and the campfire alive.

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