This week, as riders start to descend upon the Red Bull Rampage venue to scope their lines, center stage has been set with the completion of the Oakley Icon Sender. The crew of Canadian builders made up of Adam Billinghurst and brothers Dennis & Robbie Bourdon put the finishing touches on it this week.
Red Bull Rampage 2012 | Builders Blog
With Rampage nearly a week away, construction on the course is nearing completion. Slowly over the past week a few riders have ventured into the Virgin desert to consider line selection, and wrap their head around the massive site. The sheer quantity and potential for lines off the top of the site is staggering. While the builders have tirelessly manifested amazing dirt & wood creations for riders to link into their lines, it is yet to be determined how creative lines from top to bottom are going to be.
The long days in the desert heat are really starting to pay off for the builders. Most of the builders are on their last major projects, most of which are nearing completion almost simultaneously. Where one set of builders is finishing up a project, just below them another set is putting in the necessary following section so riders can find their way through these enormous lines.
Deep in the heart of the southern Utah desert, the world’s most outrageously talented mountain bikers will gather for this year’s Red Bull Rampage. Never seen the event before? It’s just as crazy as it sounds. Forty foot drops onto bone crushingly solid rocks, insanely large custom-built features designed to launch grown men to unimaginable heights and some of the world’s most crazed mountain bike riders willing to push the limits of gravity, speed and human capability.
With all the builders in town, and fully enveloped in desert life, the Rampage build is nearly halfway over, and everyday is full tilt for the builders. It is very obvious walking and scurrying around the deep gullies, canyons, and ridgelines of the site that every builder is deeply committed to constructing some of the most progressive and challenging freeride features for this year’s event.
Adam Billinghurst, along with Robbie and Dennis Bourdon. All three men happen to be Canadian, and extremely talented professional bikers. Adam had a segment in last years “Strength in Numbers” film, and has been a member of Whistler Bike Park trail crew for many years. Dennis is a former racer, and Robbie has competed at Rampage every single event save one, when he was injured. Robbie will be competing again this year. These builders bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to an already stacked team. Work on the Red Bull Rampage course is proceeding ahead at an ever faster pace as we reach the midpoint of the build. Every day new features seem to pop up on course out of nowhere, and pre-existing ones are drastically increased in size.
After a grueling, tedious week of work, 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 100ft 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 ridge line. 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, torn sleeveless shirts and driving either Tom Cars (small dune buggy-like vehicles) or dirtbikes, they often resemble characters out of “Mad Max” movie rather than trail builders. When asked why they decided to name the ridge to the left “Shocker Ridge”, I learned it came from an incident two years ago where Randy Spangler was struck by lightening in the very same area. We had witnessed multiple lightening storms over other nearby mountain ranges in the past week, so it wasn’t hard to question the validity of his story. A typical work day for diggers normally starts in the morning around 8am and continues until 2pm with a two hour break until 4pm. They then head back out to the site and continue until sundown – around 8pm . 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 starting work on the new ladder bridge to quarter pipe. This feature is brand new for this year, and will definitely up the stakes at the finish line.
One could say the theme this year is simply “Bigger”. With the course in such phenomenal shape and many pre-existing features looking better than they did 2 years ago at the previous competition, not much work is needed other than simply increasing them in size. Quite a few take-offs and jumps are being made larger, along with their respective landings being made longer and smoother. The digging crew wants to construct the best features possible for the riders to throw down their top tricks and wow the judges. In a mere 3 days the diggers have managed to increase the size of the landing for the infamous “Canyon” gap by a monstrous 6ft in vertical height, along with starting work on trails coming off the top from the new start location.
Construction for the premier big mountain freeride event of the year – Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution is now officially underway. Building commenced this past Saturday, with the digging crews arriving on site and moving equipment out to the venue. Since its inception, Red Bull Rampage has worked with Todd Barber of H5 Events, and this year they have put together an extremely talented crew of diggers to sculpt, shape and construct the competition venue features. The team includes Jeremy Witek of Global Action Sports Solutions, Randy Spangler, and Josh Bender who is responsible for introducing the original site location to Todd and Red Bull.