Ready for Redbull Rampage

Redbull Rampage, debatably the most notorious freeride event of the year, goes down next weekend (October 11-13).  One of my first posts for The Mountain Bike Life was about the competition, and why I think it’s so important to the sport.  Next weekend, the bike community will gear down and watch one of the most visually spectacular competitions.  I write this partially out of my own sheer excitement, and also partially in response to an article I saw on Pinkbike concerning the evolution of Rampage.

While the sport progresses every year, so do the courses and features.  Slopestyle is now in the X-Games, and the use of man-made features has permeated the Rampage scene. Pinkbike touched on the important issue of this increased use of constructed terrain.  Without taking a side, Pinkbike interviewed many of the riders, and their opinions varied from valuing the bare bones approach to appreciating well-made features.Most would agree that freeride is “freeride” because of its absence of anything artificial, but part of the debate lies in the question: what if the inclusion of some man-made features increases the overall flow or movement of a course?
Without citing too directly from Pinkbike’s article, I’ll say that the riders were pretty split about how the competition should evolve.  Some brought up the idea of a new location; didn’t riders in Where the Trail Ends say that Utah was basically a played-out terrain for freeride?  Some were all for big wooden features, which mean an evolution of tricks.  A few advocated for the purist, ride-what’s-there approach.

In my opinion, man-made features are for slopestyle, while the magic of freeride is using only available terrain.  One rider mentioned what I think to be a very realistic compromise: if an artificial structure is necessary to traverse an impossible section, so be it.  However, the magic of rampage lies in the rider’s creativity to see a line in the rock face, and then build a run.  Constructing something like the “Oakley Drop” definitely gives the competition something to plaster all over the advertisements, and it looks cool as all hell, but is it freeride?

I say push the technical trick aspects in slopestyle, and go big and flowy in freeride.  The beauty of mountain biking is the growing diversity of sub-catergories.  Rampage doesn’t have enough tailwhips for you?  Check out dirt jump or slopestyle.  Not enough natural, fluid terrain in the slopestyle? Want to watch people push the limits of downhill on aggressive and unforgiving desert terrain? Welcome to Red Bull Rampage, we hope you enjoy your stay.

You’ll be able to watch the live broadcast here!  Also check out any of the promotional videos or interviews.

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