Full Support: The Art of “The Backyard”

“Travel the world, do what you love, make films and never ever know the grind of a Monday morning in the office.”

A generation ago that kind of “irresponsible” career planning would have made most parents cringe but right now it’s working just fine for the Coastal Crew, a trio of mountain bikers who’ve made a name (and living) playing in the dirt. And 25-year-old Coastal Crew rider Dylan Dunkerton’s parents not only support his unorthodox career path, they helped him build a super badass office.

 

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By Tannis Baradjiez    :    Photos by Mason Mashon

“The Backyard” is a stand of second-growth rainforest behind the Dunkerton’s Sunshine Coast home. Over the past 8 years or so Dylan and his Crew have transformed the land into five acres of some of the best freestyle bike terrain in the Coast Mountains.

“[Dylan’s parents] Andrew Dunkerton and Joanne Laird let us do whatever we want with everything they have,” says 27-year-old Coastal Crew ripper Curtis Robinson. “Maybe because we are younger and stronger, and we’ll overpower them.”

 

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The truth is, Dylan’s parents didn’t put up much of a fight. “We said to them, ‘If this is what you love, then you should go and do it,’” says Joanne. “’Make it into a job and have fun while you’re young.’”

That “fun” manifested into a slalom track, a pump track, an X-wall, numerous tree-trunk “boner logs” jutting from the earth, and a number of huge primordial-looking dirt jumps. The Backyard is every downhiller’s dream, a Jurassic Park of mountain bike creativity built from joy, sweat equity and a little bit of inspiration from Mr. Andrew Dunkerton.

“I grew up splitting wood and watching him in the shop. All these experiences around the farm taught me a good work ethic, and I learned how to build.” —Dylan Dunkerton

“Having that guy as a dad was instrumental,” Dylan says. “I grew up splitting wood and watching him in the shop. All these experiences around the farm taught me a good work ethic, and I learned how to build.”

 

 

The Burn from The Coastal Crew on Vimeo.

Andrew Dunkerton, 68, is a cabinetmaker and carpenter who now spends his days carving Northwestern BC-style First Nations art pieces. Using tools given to him over 30 years ago, his intricate carvings and diligent work ethic has been paramount to the creative vision and execution of Coastal Crew ideas.

“Art can be a hard thing to describe,” the elder Dunkerton says. He built most everything on his land by hand and you sense he can find art in a building or a bike obstacle as easily as he does in his current favourite carving, a yellow-cedar eagle mask haloed with feathers.

 

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“Andrew’s just a friggin’ creative, super hard-working guy,” explains Curtis Robinson, “So that really rubs off on us. We’re like, ‘Holy shit, he’s three times our age and working harder than us.’”

Having a strong DIY role model (and his expansive workshop and tools) enabled the Coastal Crew to hammer, shovel and pound The Backyard together. “Dylan’s creativity took off at an early age,” Andrew says of his son. “He’d bring me pieces of wood when he was three, four, five years old with pencil marks and say, ‘Cut here, dad,’ and it would look fabulous.”

Dylan now does much of the video editing for the Coastal Crew’s unique (and highly successful) “Mountain Bike Lifestyle movies” but he’s equally creative out shoveling dirt and jumping with the boys.

 

Growing up in a woodshop hasn’t been without its hardships. When Dylan was five years old he lost three fingers on his right hand to a wood planer. “There were plenty of tears,” Andrew recalls, “but not for very long.”

“I’m definitely proud, there’s no doubt about that,” Andrew says. “It’s amazing the stuff he does in the air on his bike. And hanging on with only his index finger and his thumb on that right hand… it bothers me more than it bothers him.”

Growing up in a woodshop hasn’t been without its hardships. When Dylan was five years old he lost three fingers on his right hand to a wood planer. “There were plenty of tears,” Andrew recalls, “but not for very long.”

 

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Joanne remembers the incident well. “By the time we got to the hospital he’d already figured out there’d be no tennis in his future but that he could still play the violin. Of course he quit the violin not long after because it involved too much sitting still.”

For kids the backyard is paradise – a place to eat dirt and have fun, a magic kingdom where anything from monster slaying to human flight is possible. For Dylan Dunkerton and the Coastal Crew, nothing has really changed, they just fly higher over monster gap jumps, proving that mountain biking, like most other things worth doing, is an artform and in the Dunkerton family, art is in the land as much as it’s in the blood.

“Art is something that feeds you from the inside,” Andrew says. “I think it’s a necessary component in all our lives. It takes some people a long time to figure that out.”

And others are just born with it.

 

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