Canadian mountain biker Darren Berrecloth is known for seeking out unique terrain and cutting his own lines where others don’t bother to tread, which makes him a perfect match for the open format of Red Bull Rampage.
Instead of showing up to a groomed, pre-set course, Red Bull Rampage competitors are dropped into a collection of ridges near Virgin, Utah, where, armed with picks, shovels and water jugs, they survey the terrain before planning and building their own line from the pre-determined start area to the bottom of the mountain.
Berrecloth owns two third-place finishes at Red Bull Rampage; his latest was earned the last time the event was held in 2010, and he did it on a line nobody else put tires on. He’ll share the course with other experienced big-mountain riders, as well as a collection of newbies with only a dirt-jumping background, some of who will likely struggle with the sheer drops, jagged rock and dusty soil at the venue.
With originality and creativity of the line down the mountain being just as important as how well you actually ride it, Red Bull Rampage stands alone as a true test of a rider’s all-around, big-mountain skills. In an effort to see just what goes into a competitor’s run at this event, we had Berrecloth give us a little insight.
You have a lot of experience with this event as well as a wide range of other mountain bike events. Do you prepare differently for Red Bull Rampage?
Absolutely. Leading up to Red Bull Rampage is always a little different, because you’re mainly out on your big-mountain bike trying to get in as many downhill laps as you possibly can.
For me it’s actually similar to the 2010 event, because I was injured coming into that and I’m injured coming into this now [Berrecloth broke his back at Crankworx in August]. I just got on the bike a couple of days ago, so I’ve just been getting the feel of the bike again, getting confident and getting all the heebie-jeebies worked out.
What goes into your process for selecting your line at an event like Red Bull Rampage? How do you set yourself apart from the other competitors?
For me, it’s always been the same: I look at the terrain and try to find something that stokes me out, in terms of what line looks super fun and rad, and then I set my goals for what I want to accomplish. Then I go out there with my pick and a shovel and dig my way through it. We’ll see how it goes this year; it sounds like they’ve been building stuff everywhere.
"There’s an art to finding lines, and it’s pretty evident who can go out there and produce and have an overall vision of what’s possible."
How do you choose between incorporating those “built” features into your line vs. using the natural terrain? Is there an ideal balance?
I always try to do my own thing, but I still think it’s cool whatever people choose to ride. It’s awesome to see the boys go out there and throw down to see what’s possible in these big mountains with a few man-made features. For me, if there’s a man-made feature in the way I’ll do my best to avoid it, but if I can’t…
Do you think a lot about what the judges are looking for or do you go into it with your own goals in mind?
I know what the judges are looking for, but at the end of the day that doesn’t really concern me as much as you’d think it would, because I like to go up there and do what I think is right. If they don’t like it, so be it.
Once you’ve picked your line and started digging, what if it doesn’t come together like you thought it would? You have a limited amount of time; do you abandon it at some point or stick to your guns?
If you chomp into a line and set your goals for building and digging and it doesn’t work out it’s tough because that’s what your mind has been wrapped around, that’s what you wanted to do. At the end of the day, you really just have to make it work.
Some of the riders with less experience on this big-mountain terrain may be tempted to ride as much as possible while the others are digging their lines. What’s the perception if they then try to piggy-back on other riders’ lines?
I think poachers are lame. You have to work for your own keep. It’s lame when someone says, “Look at all the hard work everyone’s doing. I’m just going to ride my bike more and when that person finishes working, I’m going to jump on their line and make it look better than they can because I’ve been on my bike for the last five days.” I’ve never been a big fan of that. I’ve been a hard worker myself for all these years, so I know what it’s like when someone tries to destroy all your hard work.
What’s the right way to do it then? The Red Bull Rampage venue is huge, but there are still a lot of riders looking for lines out there. Is there a way to work together to avoid poaching?
It’s cool if dudes team up together, it happens quite a bit. At the end of the day people are going to be riding some of the same stuff whether you like it or not, that’s just the way it goes because there’s limited space out there. Everyone’s entitled to doing it their way.
With all the choices available, many riders will be taking drastically different lines down the mountain. Do you feel it’s really possible to judge this format and come out with a clear winner?
It’s not really about who should “win” or who shouldn’t win, it’s more about who shredded the hardest. In my opinion, it’s the rider who picked the raddest lines, showed the world what’s possible on a big-mountain bike and really impressed everybody.
There’s an art to finding lines, and it’s pretty evident who can go out there and produce and have an overall vision of what’s possible. It takes experience to realize what is and isn’t possible. When I first started going out to these big-mountain terrains I got spanked a bunch of times trying to do stuff that didn’t work. I’ve got ten years of going out into this terrain and learning what’s possible and what isn’t.
You’ve researched, explored and ridden in exotic locales all over the world. Do you still get excited coming to Red Bull Rampage after all that?
Absolutely! It’s always a fun time. I wish I felt a little better on the bike and had a good season coming in, but at the same time, I know that once I get comfy on the bike, which won’t take long, I’ll be stoked and all will be well.
- Check out a gallery of XL photos of Darren Berrecloth
- Watch the full Red Bull Rampage 2010 DVD online now
- The Legend: Darren Berrecloth