Our People: Eric Bell at Ohio Dreams
We recently had the idea here at MtnRanks to begin highlighting certain people in our blog posts. Not huge name pro athletes or CEO's of outdoor companies, just the everyday people who's qualities and contributions make life a little more fun for everyone around them. The people that dig the trails, stock the fish, fight the wildfires, serve the drinks, make the food, fix the bikes, you know - the blue collar contributors to mountain sports. "Our People" will be an ongoing series where we interview these unique individuals and offer a glimpse into their lives and what makes them tick. Their names might not make headlines, but the people on the inside know that they deserve some credit.
For the first installment of Our People, we stopped by Ohio Dreams Action Sports Camp to chat with Dirt Crew extraordinaire and avid mountain biker, Eric Bell. Located about one hour North of Columbus, OH Ohio Dreams is a training hotbed for talented youth in a variety of action sports, as well as a colab partner with MtnRanks.
After getting his start as a camper, Eric returned to Ohio Dreams to trade his time working on the trails and BMX track for riding time. His unique sense of humor and passion for digging and riding keeps campers and staff stoked, and trails running smooth.
Full Name: Eric C. Bell Williard
From: Silicon Valley, CA
Sport: Mountain Biking
Job: Dirt Crew Manager at Ohio Dreams Action Sports Camp - Manage dirt crew workers/projects, make sure all dirt tastes good, looks good, and rides good.
We caught Eric taking a break from riding, he was performing a harp solo on his rear wheel
MtnRanks: What do you like about working on dirt jumps and how did you get your start?
Eric Bell: I started with some friends in a backyard when we started breaking pieces of plywood to lean against logs as the base for dirt jumps. What I enjoy so much about building is the reward you get from working your butt off for a long time, and then being able to enjoy the aesthetics of good looking jumps and the quality riding that are the fruits of your labor.
Mtn: How did you get your start in mountain biking?
Eric: When I was 9, I was riding freestyle BMX. I went into the bike shop and there was a movie playing in the shop, New World Disorder 7. It was all of these crazy dudes doing everything I was doing on a BMX bike, but they were on mountain bikes and it looked a lot cooler. My Dad rode cross country, so I already had a mountain bike and I started jumping and playing around on XC rides. From then on, I never really looked back on BMX, I just kept riding mountain bikes.
Mtn: What is your favorite trail(s) that you've ever ridden?
Eric: Aptos, CA - Post Office jumps.
Mtn: Good choice. Do you have any key techniques or philosophies to building/maintaining dirt jumps?
Eric: First thing, be realistic. You can do a lot of cool things, but sometimes you have to check yourself. You might see a jump and want to make it a few feet bigger and move the entire landing, but you have to ask yourself, will this make a big difference? Is it practical and is it worth my time to put all of this effort in for something that might not make a big difference?
Second, packing with the flat head [shovel]. Not only do I love to do it, I would also say it's an expertise of mine.
A freshly built up and smack packed landing in the Lilly's jumpline at Ohio Dreams
Mtn: So you're a Jedi Master of smack packing?
Eric: Eh, I wouldn't say Jedi, I would say Jedi in training.
Mtn: So you're like a Padawan?
Eric: Yea I still haven't found my Yoda, and I haven't had him ride on my back through the swamp.
Mtn: But you're coming up through the Jedi Academy?
Mtn: What are your favorite features to ride and favorite features to build? Cross country, downhill, dirt jumps, peaky stuff, mellow stuff?
Eric: New Stuff! You can build a whale tail or a double, and that's cool, but you can also build a whale tail, to a whale tail, with 90 degree hip transfers off the side. Mostly slopestyle stuff, like new innovative slopestyle stuff for both riding and building.
Mtn: If you're not riding your bike or building jumps, what are you doing?
Eric: Making music (under the moniker playgroundnarcotic), eating dirt, racing golf carts in Japan - number 1 in Japan - and challenging my mortal enemies, as in myself and I.
The Ken Brok #1 Cart - Fastest in Japan
Mtn: What is your favorite line to ride at Ohio Dreams and favorite line to work on at Ohio Dreams?
Eric: My favorite to ride is Lilly's because it's floaty and you can have fun training it and throw some style in. My favorite line to work on is Lilly's, because I love to ride it so much.
Whipping into the sunset on Lilly's
Some of Eric's handiwork, smooth lips and landings on Lily's
Yes, he really does eat dirt
Thanks for your time and hard work Eric, Ohio Dreams is lucky to have you.
If you would like to nominate someone who you think is one of "Our People", shoot us an email at email@example.com, or leave a comment below.