Red Bull Rampage is not your average mountain biking contest. It's the ultimate freeriding event, with riders free to choose their own path down a descent of 1,500 vertical feet in the unforgiving landscape of Southwestern Utah. On a series of sandstone ridges, the competitors seek out huge drops, technical passages and impossible gaps as they find - and build - their ideal line according to their own skills and preferences.
What's it like to worry not only about riding the course, but also building a major portion of it in the first place? We talked to several returning Red Bull Rampage competitors in order to get a glimpse into their mindset as they prepare to push the progression of freeride mountain biking once again.
The Question: At most events, you show up to a fairly defined course that you then try to dial in. At Red Bull Rampage, you show up and they give you a shovel. What’s your approach when it comes to picking out your line at this event and building/sculpting/refining it?
|It's a massive landscape; you have an idea what you’re looking for, but you don't really have a clue where you’re going to find it. You spend hours in the blistering heat scouring every ridge, cliff, and bluff, hunting for lips, transitions, chutes, drops, jumps – and it all has to link up fluidly into one line. Everyone wants their line to stand apart, so you’re always trying to get as creative as possible.
–Graham Agassiz (Canada)
|This year presents a new opportunity with so many pre-built jumps; if you choose one obstacle then it narrows down your choices to funnel into or out of it. It will be interesting to see how many people build a 100% original line as opposed to utilizing the pre-built features. Either way, we will have no idea what our lines will be until we show up to the gnarliest event mountain biking has to offer.
–Cameron Zink (USA)
|That’s one of the cool things about Red Bull Rampage - you actually get the chance to build anything you want that fits your style. Usually I try to build something more on the technical side rather than hucking myself off some huge cliff, but sometimes building those tech lines leads up to those big hucks anyway...
–Paul Basagoitia (USA)
|I’d like to find some original line with more downhill and steep sections, with some style. Something that other riders aren’t doing. I’ll be working on a line as hard as I can; it’s hard to bring something new to a freeride event, but I’ll try to do it. It’s a chance for me to bring new wind from Eastern Europe.
–Michal Marosi (Czech Republic)
|I think of it as if I were out looking for a line to film for a movie. I want it to be as big as possible, while at the same time something that will really suit my style of riding and that I can ride my best on. It needs to be unique and have a big “wow” factor.
–Kurt Sorge (Canada)
|I come into Red Bull Rampage with excitement because big mountain riding is my favorite. I try to walk around and find weird obstacles that look like fun to ride and link up. Once I start building a line I won't stop until it’s finished, which was what happened in 2008. I wasn’t able to finish my line and actually ride it before finals!
–Darren Berrecloth (Canada)
|At Red Bull Rampage it’s not just how you ride down the hill, it's also the decisions you make about what line to ride before you drop in. When you turn up to the site your imagination runs wild! But you have to be realistic and make sure the line you choose isn't going to take too long to construct, that it's going to work well and that you are capable of shreddin’ the hell out of it!
–Kelly McGarry (New Zealand)
|When I show up at Red Bull Rampage, I’m pretty much going to do the same thing I do when I'm at home looking for big mountain lines: I look for a line with a little bit of everything in it. This year though, I think I want to find a line that is more tech and has more big moves in it. It's a different story when you actually get there and the pressure is on, though!
–James Doerfling (Canada)
My approach has changed a bit over the years. I've been finding that the more time you spend building, the less time you have to practice, and realistically, any rider can, and usually does, come along and ride the line you spent all your time working on. Right now my approach is to see what has been pre-built and try to find a line that I can dial in and practice. I want to find something very unique but I also don't want to spend a ton of energy building something for someone else, unless they want to help :). Let's all work together and have a shit-ton of fun!
–Mike Kinrade (Canada)
I'm looking for a line that has a variety of things, based on the judging format. Something that’s fluid and smooth, but also has amplitude and big air and has the tech factor as well. I don't want to spend too much time digging, a mistake I made in 2008. If I have any doubt in my mind about a line not working, I won't even begin working on it. With the time limit, you really need to have 100% confidence that the line will work with minimal build effort so you can get on your bike and practice it.
–Garett Buehler (Canada)
Red Bull Rampage is a whole new ball game. You have to use your imagination; think about what's cool, what's possible and what will look good. I’ll be looking for a fair-sized technical line personally. I definitely try to go outside of the box and find something new.
–Geoff Gulevich (Canada)