Cruising That Catty Clay
Mutiny's week-long Autumn stay at one of the best trails in the world.
Words and photos by Rob Dolecki
2014 has brought the best summer and fall weather to Catty Woods in years. Pretty much every run was open for business: grooved-in, dry and fast. Sessions have been heated and plentiful, without plentiful heat and precipitation. When Mutiny head honcho Gaz Sanders decided to spend the first week of October on a trip to eastern Pennsylvania with Robbo, Matt Roe and Andy Martinez, it couldn’t have been at a better time.
Having journeyed across the pond annually for the past decade, Robbo’s been around the Catasaqua blocks more than a few times. But Roey, Andy, and Gaz were new to the Bethlehem clay experience. And they were in for a good one. Between the daily rides at Catty, an epic dual session that included Posh, and a rainy day break that detoured to playing tourist in New York City, the days were full and the boredom minimal. Eccentric filmer extraordinaire Rich Forne also ventured along to document all the action. It was also his first time to Bethlehem, and despite the challenge of trying to film trails in the harsh shadow/ light situation, as you can see in the trip edit, he made do just fine.
One point that should be emphasized is that, as it was Andy and Roey’s first time riding Catty, both were doing so brakeless. These days, the “brakeless downhill trails rider” is definitely becoming less of an anomaly. But I’ve seen only a handful of them really go beyond the fear of rolling through large and high-speed downhill trails like Catty and casually cruise many sections beyond Roller Run there. Yet, despite a couple of spectacular free-falling “I thought I could fly” bails, these guys managed well. Really damn well. That 100% commitment upon rolling in every time, especially into a section like West Side for the first time, is obviously impressive and speaks volumes of their established bike skills. Welcome the future of brakeless trail riding.
ANDY MARTINEZ - " It was pretty overwhelming; no brakes… Catty Woods."
This was your first time in Bethlehem, how was it?
What did you think when walking into Catty the first time?
I was pretty much blown away. I had butterflies in my stomach for sure. It was pretty overwhelming; no brakes… Catty Woods. (Laughter)
So you forgot your brakes.
Yeah, totally; brand-new brakes are sitting on my kitchen counter as we speak. It was good, though.
I take it you’ve ridden other trails without brakes?
Yeah, local trails like 9th Street; I’m really used to those since they are my home turf. But they’re nothing quite like Catty; it was nerve-wracking. I’m just really glad that everyone helped me through them, following people. It ended up being quite the trip; really good.
What was your favorite section at Catty?
It was really hard to choose a favorite. I rode West Side all day the last day, and it was really fun. Wham Bam was great too. The scarier one was Drunk…
Going into that turn with no brakes and some heat.
I followed someone a few times, then rode it myself and OTB’ed. (Laughter)
It’s the judging-proper-speed thing into and out of that lower turn. I can’t imagine riding that section for the first time without brakes.
I got a little excited riding the other lines. Even the smaller lines were fun; so much variety.
How would you compare 9th Street Trails?
I love 9th Street, because it’s a historical landmark and it’s made a lot of really amazing people; I have an appreciation for it. Right now, there is no comparison; it’s like Catty Woods’ fart. (Laughter) It’s a different style of riding. Catty, basically, you’re cruising, it’s all downhill. 9th Street, you’re working to get through, pushing, pumping. I could see going from one to the other being a challenge; it was for me.
What’s your least favorite part about going to Catty?
This has been a really good trip. Sometimes trips can be stressful with street stuff and producing or whatever; it wasn’t like that. From the time we got there to the time we left it was a smile from ear to ear. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like. The fact that we got to ride there by ourselves one day; to have that privilege was amazing. Mad appreciation for that.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I want to give mad props to all the locals for letting us be there, and all the dedication in keeping the spot going.
Matt Roe - "It’s been amazing waking up every fucking morning, and thinking, 'I’m riding some trails.'”
What did you think when walking into Catty the first time?
I was just nervous before I even got in there. I’ve seen it in so many videos of it before; you don’t even know where to look when you first get in there. You don’t know what you’re looking at, do ya? Once you start seeing the lines, how it all goes together, and trying to make sense of everything, it’s insane.
Then the lines start becoming apparent.
“How do I get down that? Wow!! What… from that?! Fuckin’ hell!” It’s good fun.
Did you end up following someone through the lines?
A couple of times. The majority of it was just looking another line through on the way back up after having a good ride through, intensely looking at it and picturing yourself going through it. Get to the top, stop and go straight away and not even think about it.The more you think about it, the more it hinders you. It’s brakeless, you know what I mean? Once you go, you keep going, land, if you don’t make it you gotta slam your feet down, and majority of the time go off the lip and land in the middle of the pit. It’s stressful.
Being that you always ride brakeless, were there any expectations going there that ended up being different?
I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I didn’t realize it was going to be so fast. The top bit is one level, then you go into the hill which is a whole new level. There are a lot of points where you have to anti-pump, and you gotta keep yanking to stop yourself from going forward. It was quite hard to judge. I didn’t ride Chicken, but that one looked fast.
What was your favorite line?
They’re all favorites in different ways. I wanted to ride each line one day at a time. It’s hard to put a finger on which one. West Side was probably my favorite.
You ride with Robbo in England; how was it riding trails with him here?
It’s good to see his life here, knowing all the people around here, knowing all the jumps…
Fun watching him roll through K-12 at Posh first run after over a year since his last visit.
Local. He’s been coming here for 11 years. Without Robbo knowing everyone here, we wouldn’t have been able to have the privileges of having Catty to ourselves one day.
How was it riding with some of the locals?
Amazing. Didn’t get to see them all, but they are all good riders. They’re all pulling back, fucking yanking all the time. A lot of underground riders here. Good people as well.
What did you think of going to New York City for the first time?
I know we didn’t go the busy parts, but it was a lot tamer than I thought it was going to be. It’s a nice place.I’d like to go again, and do all the tourist stuff, and have a ride as well. I can imagine there is loads of stuff to ride.
What did you think of the 9-11 conspiracy theorists posted up in front of World Trade Center?
They were definitely saying how it was, weren’t they? (Laughter) He wasn’t scared. I was shocked to see someone being allowed to be saying what might be the truth in front of the World Trade Canter, in front of the police, and not get arrested for it. You couldn’t do that really in England.
Anything else you’d like to say about the experience?
It took me back to the time when I first came to America. Seeing all the scenery, the smell of a skunk, the housing. I think the second time I came to America I went to Minersville, that big hip on Thunder. What a great place; always real fun. It’s been amazing waking up every fucking morning, and thinking, “I’m riding some trails.” Just a good thing to come back to PA. Thanks to Janis, and Schwantz- he’s always working hard, and all the boys at Catty.
Robbo - "It’s good to show people; because then they understand why I’ve been coming back for so long."
You’ve been coming to Bethlehem for about ten years?
Yeah. The first time I came here with three guys from back home. I came here for three weeks. As soon as I left I wanted to come back.
How was it coming back this year?
Normally I come here and just chill, see friends. I didn’t even film anything here last year; still rode. Kind of cool doing that. A little bit different this year. It’s good to show people; because then they understand why I’ve been coming back for so long. It’s a good time. It’s good to see everyone enjoy it.
Did Catty seem any different this year?
It was running fast, because it was so dry. It always changes a little bit every year, but the majority of it is the same. I thought Posh rode really well too.
How was it running through K-12 as your first line and run since the last time you’ve been in a year?
That’s one of my favorite lines there; I’ve ridden it so much. You just know it; it’s in the back of your head. It’s probably the fastest line there. The berms at the bottom, I always try to hit them as fast I can. People who ride it brakeless, like Aussie Russ- fuckin’ hell.
How was it doing the Catty/ Posh dual session?
Good, I haven’t done that in a good few years. I was real young. I sometimes used to ride from Catty to Posh. Catty’s Catty; like a roller coaster.For three years I didn’t ride anywhere other than my trails, Posh and Catty. There’s so many trails spots in England, but I don’t drive.
How would you compare Villij to Catty or Posh?
Kind of similar, but there aren’t many straight jumps at Villij. I got loads of inspiration from Posh and Catty. Trying to mix the both together.
Any final words?
Good times. I wish I could stay longer.
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