The sound of Kody Clark’s treaded tires whirling against the dirt path could be heard well before he came into view. The late afternoon sun barely crept between the thick trees at the trail system in Snoqualmie on that Friday afternoon.
Clark eventually emerged, wearing a full face helmet and goggles, pedaling his mountain bike down the steep hill, reaching nearly 25 miles per hour. Then, was in the air.
“It feels like you’re jumping off a cliff,” the Duvall resident said of that particular jump, which lacks much of a ramp up before the rider flies off, landing significantly farther down the hill.
However, he’s keenly aware that the stunt is nothing compared to what he’s training for this coming summer. Clark, who’s a sponsored downhill mountain bike racer and former professional motocross competitor, is planning on breaking the Guinness world record for longest power-assisted ramp jump by bicycle this summer. He began preparing for the endeavor last spring.
“When COVID hit, I just had the urge to do something different that no one has actively set out do,” he said.
To break the record, which is the Guinness World Record website lists at 116 feet, 11 inches, Clark intends to go at least 120 feet. But the 28 year old would like to eventually go around 150 feet or farther.
He said he’s seen videos on YouTube of people going much farther than the 116 feet record in unofficial jumps and wants to make sure “nothing’s disputed.”
“I just want to beat everything that’s out there,” Clark said.
The jump will likely take place in August – a date chosen so that will definitely be in one piece at his wedding in June.
Clark admitted that he feared his fiancée Holly Hagensen would try and talk him out of the jump, so he tried organizing many of the logistical aspects of it and committed to doing it before he told her. Hagensen is also a motocross racer, but she still wasn’t thrilled at first about her partner choosing to send himself more than 100 feet through the air on a mountain bike, he said.
“She’s warmed up to the idea,” he said.
With his decades of experience, Clark is very confident he can land the jump. He began riding dirt bikes at age 3 or 4 and soon started competing in Supercross races. He kept racing well into his 20s, eventually moving around the Western states to find better opportunities in the sport.
Clark eventually quit motocross racing and moved back to Washington when the pressure made it less enjoyable. He recalled that while living near the beach in California, he was “so motocross-focused” that he was too afraid of to go in the water and risk injury.
He’d been mountain biking for fun most of his life, but in 2013, a friend of his suggested he try racing. And he hasn’t stopped since.
During his years riding a dirt bike, he said, he’s jumped much farther than 120 feet and thus is sure he’ll feel comfortable when the time comes.
“My confidence is there,” he said. “I know it’s something I can achieve.”
To prepare, he’s had his suspension enhanced by a professional tuner, added inserts in the wheels of his bike and gotten a stronger bolt pack. He said the companies from which his parts came from are not as sure they’ll hold.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t break,” he said of his bike.
For the ramp, he’s tracked down and received permission to use a few suitable options and is in the process of deciding which one to choose.
As for him, he’ll be wearing more heavy duty motocross armor and he’ll take additional precautions on site in case something goes wrong.
Clark is no stranger to injuries sustained from mountain biking. Since he began downhill racing, he said, he’s cracked ribs, broken his wrist, fractured his tibia, and done permanent nerve damage to his head and neck.
His outlook is optimistic, saying that five major injuries over eight years is pretty good, even though one of those wrecks was nearly fatal.
Nonetheless, Clark is already looking ahead to even farther jumps in the future after this summer’s attempt.
“If the ramp and the landing are right,” he said, “there’s no distance that isn’t achievable.”