If you think you do steep, then think again. The 30 riders invited to contest the third Red Bull Rampage in the canyons and gulches of Virgin, Utah do steep like no-one else. The Rampage is the pinnacle of freeride competition, where the world’s best huckers and chancers pit their skills against the terrain, the clock and, most importantly, themselves.
Looking over the parapet of Josh Bender’s line it’s easy to see why your average Joe isn’t allowed to ride the Rampage. Bender is a local and knows the ground but it still looks like an episode of Jackass is being filmed ere without the riders’ knowledge. Bender is first man down. Literally. He hucks the 30 ft drop but crashes into oblivion on landing.
The riders have four minutes to get down the mountain using the most imaginative lines possible. Which to you and me means the scariest, most nadgery, suicidal drops we can think of. The riders love it though… Russ Morrell rides the event on a hardtail, charges the start and crashes, knocking himself cold and taking the chopper to the nearest hospital. Likewise solitary Brit Gee Atherton who is there as a sub and gets a late call up. Gee’s line is tricky – a 15-20 ft drop onto a very narrow transition. He makes the gap but lands heavily, going over the bars and onto the stretcher. But when crunch time comes it is the veterans of Rampage that come to the top – or bottom.
One rider of note to miss the cut is Mr Freeride himself, Wade Simmons, who sits it out and watches the show. His BC partner Richie Schley runs the final but cannot match the sheer panache of Frenchman Cedric Gracia. Gracia hits a 40ft gap jump clean in his first final run and on his second (with a digicam on board) completes his first back flip in competition. The crowd goes crazy. For Cedric it’s just another day in that strange place he calls an office.
More Rampage at www.redbullrampage.com.
- Cedric Gracia (Siemens/Cannondale)
- Andrew Shandro, (Trek/Sombrio)
- Glynn O’Brien (Orange/Sombrio)
PhotosAll pictures © waughphotos.com