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JAM REPORT
TOWER TRAILS

Interview with Conrad Faklam,
Pictures by Teresa Grauten and Alessandro Izzo

 

Conrad going high.
Picture by Teresa Grauthen.

 

Today we would like to talk with you about the Jam at the Tower Trails that went down a few weeks ago. Why you had the idea to invite people for a good session?

Hey guys, I am at home at the Tower Trails in Schwerin. Yes, it is true I invited a small group of people to ride at my trails. Unfortunately, the restrictions due to the Corona Virus had still been strong at that time. I was forced to keep it mellow. The trails are located on private property, so we were lucky to organize a small event regardless.
The actual reason is that I like to ride with a good crew. To be honest good sessions do not happen too often in Schwerin because there are not many BMX dudes who ride trails.

The Tower Trails are well known in the trails scene in Germany. They have the reputation to be difficult to ride. What is your opinion about that?

Hmm, what should I say. I think the level of difficulty evolved through the years. The jumps got bigger, the flats got shorter and the lips got steeper from year to year. Some people say I forgot to dig flats. True to the slogan: less flats more jumps! The spot does not have much slope. You have to carry the speed through the line. From my point of view the standard line at the spot is the most natural thing in the world. To be fair the rollercoaster line is quite wild. You better know what you are doing when you ride this line. For sure the Tower Trails are not meant to be a facility to learn new tricks rather it is a spot to just surf some clay

 

"ANOTHER REASON IS THAT THE MAIN FOCUS NEVER HAS BEEN ON TRICKS."

 

Conrad

 

Did you ever thought about changing your lines in order to make them easier? What are the reasons to have technical lines as your homespot?

I have been asked that question a lot lately. Actually, I spent a lot of time in making jumps wider and make the radius` smoother. But the main character of the line will remain. I like the mix of steep landings, rollers, corners and hip jumps. Let´s be honest, if it would be different, we could all go and ride mellow trick jumps. Another reason is that the main focus never has been on tricks. I enjoy it a lot when people find out about the secret of the Tower Trails and get stoked. Pull up!

You have been digging at the Tower Trails many years ago. Then there was a break while you have been living in Hamburg. Did you have another spot at that time? What happened to the Tower Trails?

You are right with that. It is my twelfth year at the Tower Trails. The years in Hamburg had a big impact on my riding. Also because I was riding Skateparks and Bowls too. In Hamburg I have been active at several spots. It always has been a little bit difficult to work with the locals. That’s why I never stopped to be involved in the Tower Trails and sometimes I drove over 100km just to dig or to cover the jumps for the next rain. Then a few things came together and it ended up me moving back to Schwerin. A few spots in Hamburg got ploughed and my roommates quitted the apartment we had in Hamburg. I will never forget the good times and the amazing sessions at the spot in Heede (One of the ploughed spots closed to Hamburg). Unfortunately the crew from back in the days is now spread across Europe. During the time that I lived in Hamburg the crew of the Tower Trails crumbled. Maybe there were four left. This did not stop unfortunately, today we are three dudes that works at the spot. Since we have so many jumps, we are busy enough to keep those jumps in good condition, but there is no time to build anything new.

 

Jan Lemke stretching a T-bog

 

When did you start to ride mountain bike? Who was your inspiration in that time?

I always have been riding bikes a lot. It was a simple thing. We were lucky and had a pretty good single trail close to us, it went around a beautiful lake. Until today I really like to spend time at the lake. But after riding that trail a few times it became boring and we started to build the first small ramps. After that the father of a friend gave us the possibility to build jumps on his property. I was 17 at that time. That basically was the start of it. I can´t tell you who has been my inspiration during that time. I would say that we pushed each other and that was our motivation to ride. Back in that time the new world disorder parts have been amazing. But I can not tell you a single rider. We have been living in our own bubble. When I came to Hamburg, I met Hendrik Tafel, Alessandro Izzo, Simon Pfreundschuh and Andre Vogelsang. It was crazy, I learnt so much in a short amount of time.


Who is your inspiration today?

This is easy for me. The people that I ride with and the people I meet at other spots inspire me a lot. They give me the motivation to keep on riding and digging. To be honest in the last years I have been really close to quit riding.
if you want to have names of people who are my inspiration, I would say Andreu Lacondeguy and Larry Edgar, this is pure style on a bike.

I find it remarkable that you name a mountainbiker and a BMXer. What do you think about that topic? Sometimes I meet you and you are the only dude with big wheels at the spot.

Everyone that knows me, also knows that I don´t care about the size of the wheels. The important thing is that it has pedals and a bar. From time to time I spontaneously pick a BMX of a friend and have a few laps on it. I do that to show that there seriously is no difference. The only thing that I am not at all interested in is street riding. Most probably because I suck at street.
For those two names I said before, I simply love the style. It is not about putting the fourth tailwhip in one jump or to put the tenth barspin in one line. I just really like to push the limits on every single jump, going high and land nice and again. Off course you can throw in a few tricks here and there however you feel.

 

"WE HAVE BEEN LIVING IN OUR OWN BUBBLE."

 

Your lines are absolutely diversified. Where do you get the ideas?

The digging hours in the woods are pure regeneration of the daily grind. Most of the ideas pop up while digging. You have no idea what wild ideas for new lines go on in my head. Sure, a lot of those ideas came from other spots that I have been to. The optimal use of the property is important too off course.

You have a wife, a child, a job as application technician for welding, a classic camping van in splendid condition and besides that, you care for a trailsspot with 3 lines and round about 30 jumps in total. How do you manage your time? What is your secret?

It is one simple thing. I have a very understanding and lovely wife. She know´s exactly what I need and she has no problem in sending me on a weeklong roadtrip. Even on our common holidays she has no problem with spending a day in the nowhere so that I can ride bikes with the traildudes.
Once she untarped the Tower Trails line with me, just so that I can have a session on my own. The biggest thank goes to Patricia, my wife.


That sounds lovely! I almost forgot that you have a dog too. He has been at the jam every day. Does he also keep company while you dig?

 I said it a few times, I do most of the digging alone. And he is my company while doing that. Plus no one can get anywhere near us without him knowing. I could actually leave my stuff somewhere at the other end of the spot, if someone comes, he would notice. The property is quite big and you can not see really well. It also is nice to have a walk with your dog in-between digging. I really don´t want to miss this little dude.

 

Groundchuck by Jan Lemke

 

All around good dude Erik Schulenburg flows through the hip line

 

The Tower Trails Jam went from Saturday to Sunday. And a few even came on Friday to camp at your spot. What makes that place special?

It is funny, we even had a few people doing holidays with their kids at my spot. That is probably because of the nice forest. It also is not far away from the city but still you can have your peace. With bikes you can be at the lake in 5 minutes too. When people come from the highway and drive to the spot, they cross some less privileged districts, but apart from that, Schwerin has a lot to offer.

 

Jan Lenke handled the trails like a boss, eventhough he was the only one who rode brakeless.
Picture by Teresa Grauten.

 

Photo by Teresa Grauten.

 

     

 

Trains in Schwerin are awesome, and scary. Jannik Meyer and Erik Schulenburg handling business.
Photo by Teresa Grauten.

 

Just like the guys from the Strawberry trails (read the interview of the Traildays Berlin Jam Report) you don’t have any access to water at the trails. How do you keep the jumps wet enough?

We started early to dig out holes and put barrels inside. When it rains the water from the flats goes into those barrels and we can use it. Unfortunately, this does not work well anymore since it does rain less every summer. The solution has been three of one cubic meter tanks that I fill with water in the wintermonths. I get the water from lakes and small rivers.


In comparison to other spots, you have plenty of trailvibes at the Tower Trails? The jumps are steep on every side, wooden shelter with a place for bonfire, lovely green forest and a lake just around the corner. Do you feel comfortable at your spot? Is anything missing?

Unbelievably comfortable! It is my second home. The only thing missing are more locals. I can only ride when people from outside come for a session. Sometimes the jumps are covered for four weeks or more because the is no session happening. I work hard to get the young people on the bike and to the spot. We have built a pumptrack, a table line and a trickjump. The problem is not that Schwerin has no BMXers/MTBers. But the kids are even too lazy to uncover the jumps before the session. That is the least I would ask for.

 
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CAMPING GALLERY

 

Marcus Wallborn "Walter" Turndown

 

You really put a lot of effort to support the up-and-coming. Regardless it seems that it does not work out like you hoped. Do you think trailsriding is a sport for old boys?

That is hard to answer. A lot of old dudes stop riding because they can´t find the time for it. There do exist spots with young kids. First of all I have to think about the Strawberrytrails. They figured how to motivate the kids to dig and to ride. For them it worked for generations.
I noticed that a lot of kids are to lazy when it is about working at a spot. They prefer to go ride and have fun quickly, also when the barspin does not work out within a week they give up. There is not enough endurance and will.

I have built the trickjump in a way that everyone can ride it, even when I am not at the spot. That means it is not locked. But even removing one cover seems to be too much work. They would prefer that everything is prepared and they don´t have to do anything.
When I was younger it was more about the session itself and having a good time with good people.

Honestly, there is nothing better than to build a new jump, ride it, and see how it works in the line. A lot of people do not come to the spot because they think it is only about the digging. They believe that, because they see me digging, only digging. But the reason I am only digging is, because there is no one to ride.
In my opinion the reason for most kids spending their time in the skatepark is not that they can not ride trails, it is because they are to lazy to spend their time digging. How many kids put effort into getting a new Skatepark in their town? A lot of spots have the slogan “no dig no ride”. And they are too serious about it from my point of view. No one is allowed to ride when they have not worked on the shovel at least for a bit. That is not the best way to get kids keen to ride.

 

"...IT WAS MORE ABOUT THE SESSION,
ITSELF AND HAVING A GOOD TIME..."

 

Your lines are so unbelievably long, sometimes I get lost riding them. People could think that the locals have a lung like Lance Armstrong. Is that the case?

The lines got longer from year to year. Until two years ago we had one line with 18 jumps. But one day I took the covers down and let it die. A line with three jumps is not enjoyable to me. To be true, sometimes I wish for a line like that for a short session after work. 


How big is the scene in your area? And in comparison to that, how big is the crew that digs at the Tower Trails?

The scene is not small. Last fall I have been at the skatepark in Schwerin and counted 17 bikers. Unfortunately, they have not the same enthusiasm than we had in their age. They visit me at the spot one or two times and they doing surprisingly well, like ride really good. But they never come back. That´s why I am alone at the spot most of the time and sometimes Stefan (@pierso_tt) and Mika (@stk_mika) come to help me.

 
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Coming back to the jam, what did you liked the most?
I am really happy to spend time with all the trailheads and watch them riding my line. Also I like to push the others to fight their fear and ride new jumps. Obviously there is nothing better than doing tight trains and taking over each other. The barbeque and beers at the fire are evident. This is the reason why I do all this shit.


The Saturday of the weekend you have been unlucky with your bike. You had to ride home to change your pedals and your brake. Others have gone crazy about this happening at one of the most important days of the year. How did you managed to keep calm and manage the situation in a relaxed way?

My bike had to go through a lot of beating. Unfortunatly my new bike has not arrived yet due to Corona. It does not help to go crazy in this kind of situations. Worst case would have been, that someone would had to lend me his BMX. My motivation was just to come back and keep and riding with all the dudes. The session was in full swing at that time.

 

Jan Lemke all day long

 

Are there any plans for more jams this year?

It would be nice to have another small jam. I have to consider my family when I make plans for jams. The preparation of a jam eats plenty of time. As always it also depends on the weather. The Tower Trails are located in the north of Germany and moth of the people have to drive a long way to get here. If the weather forecast is not the best, the guys rather stay at their spots.


What else do you want to say?

Support your local traildudes! No one expects that you dig 1000 hours. Sometimes it can be a big help to take care of the rain covers after a storm for example.
Apart from that just come over and we ride! Just one more thing, respect the
work of all digheads!

In case someone got curious how nice your spot actually is, how to get in contact with you?

You can contact me on Instagram via @conner_rad or @towertrails. But I guess most of the trailriders around will have my number.

Thanks for your time and the inside view on your trailslife!

 
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