This April, Sammy Mercado, 28-year-old bike-jump aficionado, invited mountain bike professionals, Carson Storch and Darren Berrecloth, to Riverside, CA to joyride through his handmade mountain bike dirt-jumps.
From humble beginnings in Guadalajara, Mexico, Mercado was raised in a broken home losing his father at age 8 and working jobs that inspired him to take initiative and move to America in pursuit of a dream. Upon arrival to California from Mexico, he started mowing lawns regularly in the area. One of his clients was the Diamond Bar Skatepark, a fun well-groomed park with mellow transitions and plenty of street obstacles from big to small. Mercado found himself spending countless hours at Diamond Bar and picked up English from his newfound community led by mentor and local-pro-BMX rider, Mike Saavedra, at the skatepark.
At 18, Mercado had fallen in love with bikes and saved up his mowing money to purchase his first 20” BMX bike. From that moment on, Mercado was never seen without his bike – sometimes biking roughly 40 miles to Diamond Bar from Long Beach just to ride with friends. After learning the art of building dirt jumps and earnestly watching the intricacies of the sport, Mercado discovered his passion for Downhill Mountain biking. Experiencing the freedom of his local hills and striving to become the best rider he could be, Mercado took action to create a private line of his own. Using his own manpower, along with a shovel, pic axe and some water — water he carries into the desert using 5-gallon buckets — Mercado carved a slice of freeride paradise into the hidden hills of Southern California.
To Mercado, learning to build offered a sense of freedom, gave him space for creativity and an opportunity to leave a legacy. “I don’t want to build jumps to ride today,” says Mercado, “I want to build jumps that will last forever.”
At Red Bull Rampage 2016, Mercado was digging and actively participating alongside some of the worlds best jump-builders when he met pro’s Carson Storch, the up-and-comer placing 3rd that year, and Darren Berrecloth, a godfather of MTB. The crew decided to make the trek out to Southern California and get the keys to a day of riding Mercado’s private trail together. “It was humbling to come and ride the trail that Sammy had built and to see how much work he had put in,” Storch says, “It brought me back to when I was young and I’d dig all of the stuff that I wanted to ride. 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.”