For one week a year a collection of the best freeride mountain bikers gather in Virgin, Utah for an event like no other. The Red Bull Rampage, now in its 12th year, is the premier freeride completion in the world. The event Is unlike any other as the riders have the opportunity to invent, build and sculpt their own custom line down Rampage mountain. The mountain features sheer cliffs, exposed ridgelines and some of the steepest terrain capable of being ridden on two wheels. The riders have two weeks to create their lines for the event and rely heavily on their build crews to achieve the near perfection required to complete a top to bottom run. After countless hours digging in the heat of the Utah desert the riders have a mere three days to practice and plan their runs. The days leading up to competition are quite literally filled with blood, sweat and tears. The athletes and their dig crews work simultaneously to ride and finish building the course. The majority of riding is done the two days before finals when the features are nearly all built. This is the time that athletes can practice their lines and hone in the groundbreaking tricks that have been kept secret until now. Riders can be see all over the mountain dialing in speed for drops, figuring out the lips of jumps and finding the courage to ride the ultimate exposed line.
The morning of competition is filled with a heavy feeling in the air. The usually light-hearted athletes have a focused intensity in their eyes, a premonition of the events to come. As first light breaks over the mountain riders can be seen pushing their bikes uphill to take advantage of the last minutes of practice before show time. At 9 am there is a mandatory riders meeting, a time when all athletes gather to discuss the schedule and safety for the day. The mood is serious and the riders are focused. As the meeting ends the first few athletes depart for the long hike to the top. The crowd intensity builds as the announcers begin their usual pre-run hype. By the time the first riders reach the top the spectators are yelling at full volume and the helicopters, drones and media are all in place. The time has come and it’s now or never to drop in on the heaviest competition in the world. I’ll let the photos do the talking from this point. *I apologize for the images, our blog post is not allowing the correct photo colors*