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Kriss Kyle is a busy guy. By the time I speak to him at 10am, he’s already been to the BMX park for an hour or so in preparation for spending the morning talking to journos like me about his new Red Bull-sponsored film, Out of Season. And when he’s done with us, he’s going to go out and ride his mountain bike.
While doing phone interviews doesn’t seem like hard work, Kyle has had to improve on many aspects of his riding life in order to get ‘Out of Season’ filmed and finished. Getting used to chatting to journos is one of the easier aspects compared to tailwhipping a Stumpjumper EVO
If you don’t know Kriss Kyle’s name, it may be because he’s more of a household name in the BMX world, but you may still have marvelled at his ‘Kaleidoscope’ edit that came out in 2015(!). It was a studio-based BMX playground with strong visuals, similar to MacAskill’s ‘Imaginate’. Now, though, Kriss is in a completely different world – riding a mountain bike through some impressive stunts in the middle of a Welsh winter.
The five minute Out of Season features some impressive stunts, some truly awful-looking trail conditions, a great Silversun Pickups soundtrack and even a cameo from MacAskill himself.
So… enjoy the film and then see what Kriss Kyle had to say about this venture into the world of muddy mountain bikes.
Here’s the video link (opens in a new tab)
Kriss Kyle, the Singletrack interview
Chatting to Kris Kyle, there’s the sensation that he’s a rider who is absolutely loving the life he’s currently leading, even if the transition to riding steep ramps and drops off road took a huge amount of readjustment. He’s no stranger to having to work hard for his goals, having actually lived at his local BMX park so that he could ride there more – but this was different. As he says, having to throw a large trail bike around takes a lot more physicality than the relatively nimble BMX.
The same is true for the obstacles. Normally, Kyle will always be looking at street scenes, imagining what he could ride (and what he can get away with before being chased off) but here, in a small valley somewhere in North Wales over the winter, he was given a blank canvas to create his own stunt park. He’ll admit that this was his most pressured shoot he’d ever done – he’s only been riding mountain bikes seriously for the last couple of years and so when he was pointing at the landscape, putting a drop here and a ramp there, he had no idea if he could actually ride the things he got his small trail crew to build. While he knows what he can ride on a BMX, the different demands of riding a mountain bike in the wet are very different.
The very first stunt involves a drop from a rooftop onto a ramp build on to a tree and Kris admits he wasn’t even sure that he could ride it after looking at it the first time, and his first attempt – well, we’ll just say that there’s plenty for the ‘Behind the scenes’ extras film below.
The film is slickly edited, with several stunts having two or three different viewpoints, not to mention some stunning drone flying. This all makes what is a pretty compact area look far more expansive. There’s still time to marvel at both the conditions (there are some truly filthy-looking scenes in Out of Season – something that Kris said he never even considers riding in on his BMX – if it’s raining, he’s off home or to the indoor park – yet he said to me that he ‘loves riding in the slop’ and is looking forward to more riding like this) Despite this, every jump is razor-edged and perfectly smooth, a testament to the behind the scenes trail crew of four diggers and a couple of ramp builders.
Having headed to Wales for the shoot – some takes taking days to perfect, it’s good to hear that even Red Bull-sponsored athetes like Kriss Kyle suffer from the classic British trail rider issue of ‘Damp shoe syndrome’ – and he admits that with only two pairs of shoes, he was often out with damp feet before shooting had even started for the day.
As we wind up our chat, I can tell that this isn’t the last we’ll see of the cheery Scot. This, his first mountain bike film is definitely not his last and he’s already planning a new shoot with Specialized. In addition, moving in the same Red Bull circles as his hero Danny MacAskill will only fire him on to greater things. And talking of Danny MacAskill, a little bit of ‘Oh, can we get an overhead shot of this scene?’ involved MacAskill donning Kyle’s distinctive Endura jacket to stand-in for Kriss after he’d broken a rib on one of the stunts. Don’t worry, you’ll spot him… And Danny served more than inspiration – he also gave Kyle some practical bike-setup tips too. Until recently, (and usually) the mountain bike riding that Kriss does is nothing gnarly, ‘just woodland singletrack near home’ so any advice that Danny could give him about setting his bike up for steep stunts was warmly welcomed.
So what’s next for Kriss Kyle? More of everything by the sound of it. He seems to be a rider who enjoys riding all bikes, at whatever speed and wherever the location – some of the riding in Northern Scotland is definitely on the cards, as is Innerleithen and further afield. It’s not all British, though, as he seems very keen to explore some of the riding in Utah. Wherever he reappears next, make sure you’re tuning in for the sequel to Out of Season.
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