Using his own manpower, along with a shovel, pickaxe and some water – water he carries into the desert using five-gallon (23l) buckets – Sammy Mercado has carved a slice of freeride paradise into the hidden hills of Southern California.

Mercado’s passion for the sport is tantamount to the best riders in the world. Even if no one was watching, he’d still be out in the dirt, doing his thing.

From humble beginnings in Guadalajara, Mexico, Mercado was raised in a broken home losing his father at age 8 and working jobs that inspired him to take initiative and move to America in pursuit of a dream. Upon arrival to California from Mexico, he started mowing lawns regularly in the area. One of his clients was the Diamond Bar Skatepark, a fun well-groomed park with mellow transitions and plenty of street obstacles from big to small. Mercado found himself spending countless hours at Diamond Bar and picked up English from his newfound community led by mentor and local-pro-BMX shredder, Mike Saavedra, at the skatepark.

At 18, Mercado had fallen in love with bikes and saved up his mowing money to purchase his first 20” BMX bike. From that moment on, Mercado was never seen without his bike – sometimes biking roughly 40 miles to Diamond Bar from Long Beach just to ride with friends. After learning the art of building dirt jumps and earnestly watching the intricacies of the sport, Mercado discovered his passion for Downhill Mountain biking. Experiencing the freedom of his local hills and striving to become the best rider he could be, Mercado took action to create a private line of his own. Using his own manpower, along with a shovel, pic axe and some water — water he carries into the desert using 5-gallon buckets — Mercado carved a slice of freeride paradise into the hidden hills of Southern California.

To Mercado, learning to build offered a sense of freedom, gave him space for creativity and an opportunity to leave a legacy.

“I don’t want to build jumps to ride today, I want to build jumps that will last forever.”

At Red Bull Rampage 2016, Mercado was digging and actively participating alongside some of the worlds best jump-builders when he met pro’s Carson Storch, the up-and-comer placing 3rd that year, and Darren Berrecloth, a godfather of MTB. The crew decided to make the trek out to Southern California and get the keys to a day of riding Mercado’s private trail together.

Read up on Sammy’s story from his perspective on the Red Bull site for more insights into this epic story…