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After a grueling, tedious week of work on the Red Bull Rampage course, the new start area is finally complete. This will be the first year competitors will be starting their descent from the highest possible elevation on course.

There are two new routes off the top for athletes to pick from: Rider's right goes over the “scissor drop” and down a steep chute before veering further right and hugging the face of a cliff for 100 feet and continuing over to much more terrain and route choices. Rider's left goes down “Shocker Ridge,” which involves a gap jump to knife-edge landing, followed by a series of drops down the ridgeline.

Josh Bender and Randy Spangler have completed most of the work up top, occasionally joined by Lindsey Beth Currier. The area needed a lot of meticulous work to widen the chutes, landings, plateaus and trails across steep faces. Cliffs needed to be trimmed back to ensure that riders' bars won't snag as they pass by. This work was especially slow, as the rock was quite hard and work had to be done by hand with picks and hammers because of the precarious location.

Due to the dust and dirt that would linger in the air during work, Josh and Randy have been wearing bandanas over their mouths to prevent inhalation of particles. Combine the bandanas with sunglasses, straw hats and torn sleeveless shirts and put them either in Tom Cars (small dune buggy-like vehicles) or on dirtbikes and they often resemble characters out of “Mad Max” rather than trail builders.

When the builders were asked how the name “Shocker Ridge” was bestowed, the story was told of an incident two years ago when Spangler was struck by lightning in the very same area. We had witnessed multiple lightning storms over nearby mountain ranges in the past week, so it was difficult to question the validity of his story.

A typical work day for diggers starts around 8:00 a.m. and continues until 2:00 p.m. with a two-hour break until 4:00 p.m., when they head back out to the site and continue until sundown -- around 8:00 p.m. It isn't hard to work late when the sunsets are absolutely breathtaking. Riding back in the dark isn't bad either, as nights are generally clear and the moon and stars provide ample illumination for the journey home.

Stay tuned for more updates as Jeremy Witek and Russell Shumaker have been busy working on the new ladder bridge to quarterpipe, a brand-new feature for this year that will definitely up the stakes at the finish line.

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