Biking is a strange thing to do, and so is traveling by bike. From commuting to road racing, fat biking, gravel biking, downhill, trials, Peloton, and BMX, this may be the widest and most versatile sport out there.
But in the end, it all comes down to getting from point A to point B on two wheels. Even though cyclists in one discipline don’t often ride with cyclists in other disciplines, there is no doubt that sharing knowledge and different ways of riding can be helpful.
In October, we went to Utah to see Red Bull Rampage, which might be the scariest and most dangerous cycling event in the world. In one day, 16 competitors take turns bombing mountains on a course they built themselves. Since 2001, this event has been the most important race for the most extreme cyclists in the world. We’re talking about huge drops, flips, speeds you can’t even imagine, and aerobatics that make your stomach turn.
Oddly enough, in order to do all of that safely, drivers have to do some of the most careful and thoughtful driving on the planet.
That made us think. What can the Red Bull Rampage riders teach the average rider about riding to work if they can stay in control and follow the rules in such dangerous and exciting situations? We all know that a cyclist who doesn’t pay attention can die on the road. So, how can we use our mountain biking skills on the way to work?
“You have to pay attention to a lot of things, like the wind, keeping your speed up, and the big turns coming up. A lot of things take place. It’s easy to lose your focus. Just keep it in mind and tell yourself that you’ve got this and that you know what to do. Even if your trip is short, keep your cool. The most important thing is to trust yourself.”
— DJ Brandt (USA), 13th at Red Bull Rampage 2022.
Manage your speed
“Speed is the key to everything. It’s the difference between making a mistake and not making a mistake. You have to have the right speed so you don’t fall short or get weird in the air. Everyone can go fast, but not everyone can stop well. That’s what makes the crashers different from the non-crashers.”
— Nicholi Rogatkin, from the United States, is number 2 in the world.
“Get ready for the worst and hope for the best. You have to think ahead about what could happen if you fall off a cliff. So you should expect that something will go wrong. Figure out where you’re going and keep your cool.”
— Jaxson Riddle of the United States came in ninth at Red Bull Rampage 2022
Be respectful of your fellow travelers
“Drivers in this sport help each other out a lot. This shows that if you work together, you can do more than you think you can. All the time, our pilots help each other out. It’s amazing to see how much respect there is.”
— Nicholi Rogatkin
Take the weather into account
“The only bad weather for us is the wind. It can be overwhelming when it’s windy because everything is out in the open. But it can be hard to know where the no-ride line is. It depends on your mood. Sometimes you feel invincible and you’re like, “Ah, fuck it,” and other times you’re a little more careful and want to wait until the conditions are good.
— Thomas Genon of Belgium came in fifth at the Red Bull Rampage 2022.
Practice falling, at least in your head
“You have to be better at crashing than riding. If someone is in your way, you have to know how to get out or you will hurt yourself.””
“The most important thing is to know how to fall without getting hurt. Before I started riding a bike, I did parkour. He knew how to jump off a roof and land in a safe way. When freestyle riding, if you feel like something is wrong, you have to get off the bike and hopefully land on your feet.
— Szymon Godziek from Poland came in second at the Red Bull Rampage 2022.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
“The most important thing to remember is to pay close attention to where you’re riding. Whether they’re at Rampage or somewhere else. You have to know what you’re riding inside and out. That keeps you from getting any unknowns”
Gee Atherton is from the UK. He has won several national titles and the World Cup.
“There is a lot to do to get ready for cycling. You need to keep track of your time and think about how you can improve and work better. Try out different routes and tools. You have to always give it your all and try to get better.
“Rampage is scary, but when I’m on my bike, the main thing I want to do is have fun. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t care if I crash hard or break my bones. I have only my goal. I worry less about what could go wrong and more about how things will turn out.
— Szymon Godziek
Respect the risk
“This sport is very important to us. It hurts a lot when they knock you down. When you’re recovering from an injury, you think about how eager you are to get back on the bike. We know the risks and respect them. We also know that if you push yourself too far, you might get hurt. You have to really like your bike.”
— Nicholi Rogatkin
Get back on the bike
“The fall I had a year and a half ago was the worst of my life. I broke my leg, my ribs, my lung, my nose, and my eye socket. Even though the injuries were serious, if you are fit, healthy, and determined, you can get over almost anything.”
— Gee Atherton
If you are interested
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