Take extreme skiing, the well known "you fall, you die" sport, transfer it to mountain bikes, hold it on a bare desert mountain with all the rocks showing, invite 26 of the world's best freeriders to do their best tricks riding down the best lines they can find, and watch what happens.
That's the Red Bull Rampage, a legendary event even though it's been gone since 2004. Now it's back. This totally sick contest will be held Oct. 2-5, on a rocky ridge in the desolate desert near Virgin, Utah. Call it "extreme slopestyle." Riders will get speed and air on slopes that, if they were covered with snow, would be rated double black diamonds.
This photo from the Red Bull Rampage web site (redbullrampage.com)
shows a rider picking out his line as he plans his next trick. Should he
try for air, or just let the mountain throw him into it?
The contest is run like an extreme skiing event. Competitors have four minutes to get from start to finish, and are judged on amplitude, line, style and fluidity. But a big difference is that on bikes, riders have to adjust for the fact that loose rocks and gravel will slide under their tires, and even if they nail a trick, the mountain surface can fiendishly wash them out.
You don't do this for just bragging rights. First prize is $10,000, plus the Utah Sports commission is awarding an additional $5,000 for the best trick. Photo: Red Bull website
Think twice before going to Virgin, Utah, to see this amazing event. It's taking place in a real desert, closer to Las Vegas than Salt Lake; which is about 250 miles away. Red Bull warns on the Rampage web site that this contest is not for the "casual observer." The warning sounds dire, with the location described as "remote, hot, dangerous, and unforgiving." Just getting to the event site is an adventure; requiring a four mile hike or bike over "uneven" terrain to get to the course, no motor vehicles allowed. Spectators can only watch from the finish area, no one but riders are allowed up the mountain. And, no dogs allowed. Also, bring your own food; there are no snack bars. No bleachers. It isn't only the riders who rough it.
Those who brave the terrain to watch the Rampage will certainly see the most radical action sports event around. There will be crashes, helicopter life flights, and the most daring riding in the world.