A trip to the Minnesota Jib Farm with Erik, Bjorn, and friends.
I awoke early and hungover to a very loud, very annoying noise … the phone was ringing. It was Transworld Senior Photographer Andy Wright, and he had a plan that involved me departing from San Diego in about three hours and flying to the land of 10,000 lakes. There are actually 11,842 lakes in Minnesota but that doesn’t look nearly as good on a license plate. Anyways, I wiped the crust from my eyes, downed a few Advil, and began to digest the haphazard plan I’d just committed to. We were heading straight to the heartland to meet up with Erik and Bjorn Leines-we were going to Leines Land.
I collected my thoughts as best I could, got cleaned up, bought an expensive plane ticket, packed a bag, and made it to the San Diego airport in record time and with none to spare. Two flights and a solid layover later I met up with Andy around midnight at the Minneapolis airport. He’d already dropped in on the rent-a-whip so we were ready to roll, and might I say flossing quite hard in that little Pontiac. We proceeded to a local diner, had a beer, had some extremely mediocre food, and then made it to a nearby airport motel to catch some z’s. The room was dark, the floor was sticky, and the whole building retained a faint but ever-present smell of damp cigarette butts, but it was late, it was a room, and it met our necessary requirements-it would suffice.
The following morning we packed what little had crawled out of our bags, got coffees, and headed on down the highway. We were headed out into Greater Minnesota and to the Leines brother’s property in the township of Big Lake. Well, really we were headed to their grandfather’s property just across the road from the house that Erik and Bjorn’s father built some 35 years ago, and which Bjorn now calls home during the summer months with his wife and kids. After all the stuff they’ve done, and exotic places the Leines brothers have been for snowboarding, we were going back home with the boys to shoot a feature story in their backyard, in Minnesota.
Big Lake sits quietly about an hour and a half outside of Minneapolis; it’s bigger than the smallest towns, but not much. Their grandfather owns a sizeable plot of land there, which serves as a base for a large scale industrial gas and oil pipeline business, leaving behind lots of forgotten debris that is perfectly suited for sliding snowboards around on-all you need is a little gumption, and a little snow. Actually no, you need a bit of earth-moving construction equipment as well.
The idea behind the jib farm had been tossed around for the past three years, but it had yet to be realized. When it’s mid winter and dumping, it’s hard to justify coming out to Minnesota for the jib farm. So it got put off year in and year out. But finally, this was the year. Bjorn and Erik’s dad was down to help build it, and their grandfather gave them the green light since all the pipes were his.
It had recently snowed a lot in the gopher state-about three feet, but right after the serious dump, it warmed right up. The sun scorched the land, and relentlessly chipped away at the massive drifts of snow. By the time we’d arrived, the scene was looking bleak. Driving out to the farm, fields were wet and muddy, and snow was a scarce commodity.
We remained optimistic, and rightfully so, upon arriving at the scene things were definitely on the up. Bjorn Leines was behind the wheel of a large front loader that was packed full of fresh, white snow he’d harvested from a nearby stash. Quebec City representer, and ultra-talented rail technician Max Legend was accounted for and shoveling away. Rome filmer extraordinaire John Cavan was standing in a puddle of mud, and local shredder Matt Siefert-a real good ole boy-was gnawing away on a fistful of chew, and dousing the slushy snow with a large bag of salt. Pipe gloves doubled as work gloves and everything began tto click-Leines Land was coming to life-even if we were on an island of snow surrounded by a sea of mud.
Pipes, tubes, and rails of all shapes and sizes were strewn about the winter oasis. Two large water-tower-looking things served as drop-in ramps, and the larger of the two may have been the sketchiest feature on site. To get enough speed you had to be slung in by two guys, fly down a rickety, narrow, wooden in-run that was flanked on either side by rickety wooden handrails chocked full of rusty nails. It was dicier than dropping in on a game of high stakes craps in Vegas on borrowed mafia money.
After a healthy first-day session, we all went out for dinner at a sports bar in town. A bunch of snowboarders in a cowboy sports bar definitely gets weird looks, especially Max. All the same we had a good dinner, and Matt told us a story about how he ate something like 250 shrimp in Breckenridge and then expounded on the aftermath of consuming that many shrimp-he doesn’t eat shrimp anymore. I should also mention that Siefert had about a half-can of chew in his mouth throughout the course of our dinner-food, drinks, everything. It was awesome. Dinner eventually wrapped and Andy and I retired to motel number two, enjoyed a few High Life’s, set boots out to dry, and got ready for another go the next day.
We had to get on it pretty early due to the high rate of melt going down. When we showed back up at the farm, the crew had grown. Erik had flown in late the night before and ran into another Minnesota loc’, Zac Marben at the airport and brought him along for the ride. Marben was a sick addition to the crew, and once he started kicking out methods over the jump it was on. With more riders came a lot more energy on day two, and by then most of the kinks had been worked out as well. Things were running smooth as a freshly oiled John Deere tractor.
In the end everything came together, it may have taken about ten massive bags of salt to make it happen, but the two-day session rode off into the beautiful Minnesota sunset as a success. The jib farm finally went down, Leines Land happened, we were there, and we were loving it. The trip reminded us that you don’t always have to fly halfway around the world to exotic locations to get it done; sometimes it’s the spots closest to home that can make the best trips-it’s all a matter of creative perception.
Last we heard Minnesota’s neighboring state, Iowa, is currently the methamphetamine capital of the United States. Those iced-up Iowans need to flip the script and do it like Zac Marben here and tweak the sh-t out of a drug-free method-not smoke the sh-t out of a broken light bulb.
Quebec City hammer dropper Max Legend is way out of his element here in the heartland. But that didn’t stop him from tossing a back three tailpress onto this rusty, cylindrical object.
Marben was the surprise addition to our Leines Land crew, and he definitely came to send. Evidenced here by dirt nasty moves, like this 50-50 180 switch 50-50.
After taking all the time and effort to set this monster rainbow up, it looked like it wasn’t going to be hittable. The gap out was too long, and there wasn’t enough speed on the in run. It was all but written off ’til Matt Siefert sacked up and sent it, pulling off this gap-to-back 50-50 first try.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Matt and Erik haul trashcans full of snow to the top of the drop-in to keep it nice and smooth for sending.
After getting slung down the sketchiest drop-in ever, maneuvering through the other obstacles, and riding through a small river that had developed throughout the day at the base of this feature, BJ gets up and over with a perfect noseblunt stall for the last photo of the trip.