Craig Ditchburn

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Story & photos by Holtzy

This is one of my all time favourite FMX stories. Back in the early days of the backflip in Australia when Jono Porter and Rob Felli were just starting to land a few, a totally unknown rider in a remote town in south west Western Australia grabbed his own piece of flip history. The only difference is that aside from his mates around town no one knew he had done it until now and there was never any fame, glory, women or paychecks for his effort.

35 yr old Craig “Ditch” Ditchburn from Esperance West Oz is your classic humble Aussie country boy who loves to ride a motor bike. I could imagine that if FMX had come on the scene a few years earlier Ditch may have been one of the hero’s that feature regularly in this mag. Instead at the ripe old age of 32 way back in October 2003 he took a week off work from the mines and decided it was time to do a backflip.

There was no science to his attempt, no research, no padding on the downramp or multiple camera angles to capture the glory of it all. Just a few mates on hand to cart him to hospital if need be, a dodgy handycam to film the moment and a big set of balls. Yet on just his second attempt Ditch landed the flip as smooth as you could ever imagine and possibly even to this day is the oldest person to land a flip. As soon as he pulled it he dropped his bike, raised both hands in the air in triumph and went straight to the pub to celebrate. An act that did a lot more damage to Ditch than any flip attempt courtesy of a truckload of bourbon.

The footage from the day is gold and can be seen in the bonus sections of Homegrown 4 due out in November this year. As for Ditch he still rides bloody well and is a sort of godfather to all the new breed of Freestylers emerging from Esperance. I caught up with him for an interview on my first trip to Esperance a couple of months before another Esperance lad Brad Landers went out into the dunes and became the second West Aussie to ride out of a flip. Here’s what he had to say

HGM: So when the Crusty’s videos came out and Freerider MX etc. Did they have much of an influence on you?

CD: That had a huge influence. Especially with The Crusty’s and the whole idea of going big. That’s what got me into it. We went and watched a show in Kalgoorlie and ended up picking up their old ramp that got left there and dragged that home and started doing freestyle.

HGM: So take us through the whole thought process for doing the backflip.

CD: When Carey Hart first did it I always had it in the back of my mind and then a few young guys that were coming out and riding with me were starting to bust big with all the grabs and tricks like that. I cant really do too many tricks. I tried a few but came unstuck and I thought well I will give the boys something to chase and thought I could do it and had a bit of confidence and went out and nailed it.

HGM: What was the setup for the backflip. Did you do any research on it before you went for it?

CD: (Laughs) Nup. Didn’t have any. I had to go around a mates place and borrow some armour. The ramp didn’t quite look steep enough so we got some blocks of wood to chock it up. I had probably three runs just to see how high I would get and how far I would go and basically just went from there. So no research or practice just one of those crazy things at the time. I thought I would have a crack at it.

HGM: You didn’t have any padding on the downramp?

CD: Nah it was a hard packed downramp. I thought about putting mattresses there but then if you made it and hit the mattresses you would probably fall off anyway but I wasn’t planning on landing upside down.

HGM: What happened that day?

CD: We got out there and had a bit of a ride. We had a ramp and jacked it up. I came in for the first attempt and I was in second gear and didn’t get the drive off the ramp I wanted and under rotated so halfway around I had to bail out. When I bailed the bike came down and landed on my legs. Straight away I knew I was in the wrong gear. The adrenaline was pumping hard, all my bars were bent and I was a bit jacked off that I didn’t get it first so it made me more determined to jump back on and have another go. I came back in first gear and just went for it and pulled it off quite sweet.

HGM: Did you ever have any thoughts about doing it again?

CD: Yeah I always wanted to do it again. The old saying get the monkey off your back because a lot of people thought I was full of it. So I will defiantly do it again.

I have also thought about doing a front flip in the dunes off a ramp. Just come in fifth nailed and as you hit the ramp just lean forward and put the front brakes on. I have seen them doing it on BMX’s so it could be done on a motorbike but yeah that’s just a bit of a dream (laughs).

Pic Above: Ditchy loves the Esperance dunes

Pic Below: Ditchy (second from right) relaxing after a dune session

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