Risk Vs Reward:
It’s that time of the year again for mountain bike fans around the world. Two months after the dust has settled at the final slopestyle competition of the season, a select group of the worlds gnarliest riders are headed to Virgin Utah to etch their lines into the brutal hillsides that look like something created in a horror movie. This will be the 11th year that riders have had the chance to risk it all for the most respected title in mountain biking, Red Bull Rampage.
I watch every mountain bike event of the year live, it is an under exaggeration to say i am a super fan, most of the events I feel just feel excitement for. In all events except for rampage riders start at the top of a prebuilt course and do their best tricks on the features, these features are well manicured and the riders are given a week or so beforehand to get comfortable on. A lot of the features they ride on course are similar to features riders are able to build in their backyards and get comfortable with. They are big and scary, yes, but they are for the most part safe. This is not the case with Red Bull Rampage. Most people would look at the terrain in Utah and think there is absolutely no way anyone could use it for anything. It is virtually straight up and down with massive cliffs, crevices, canyons and gorges strewn everywhere. The raw, rugged terrain is unlike anywhere else in this planet. Which is what makes Rampage so terrifying. A handpicked 20 riders are invited to rampage and they are allowed to bring 3 other people to help them build their own unique route down from the top of the mountain. They are given just a week to build, perfect and ride their line down the mountain. The event has been subject to scrutiny since its return in 2012.With many riders choosing to back out because the risk to reward ratio just does not balance out. Within the one week the riders and their build team are allowed to be on course they are expected to build a unique line, which takes a minimum of 4 days of at least 12 hours of shoveling under the hot desert sun. This leaves only 3 days to try and get comfortable riding off of 50 plus foot cliffs drops while maintaining control on the 45 degree terrain in between. At the end of the day its not going to be enough for the rider to just ride the lines they are going to have to tricks the whole way down off of these features. If a rider does not have at least one backflip and a 360 there is a small chance that they will even be in contention for a podium spot.
I love mountain biking and I do love Red Bull Rampage but I feel as much nerves as I do excitement watching it. I have seen so many of the world’s best riders get seriously injured and I fear its a matter of time until one of my hero’s life is taken at Rampage.