The mountain bike community eagerly awaited an event that combined the technical advances in the sport of mountain biking and the skill of free riding. Finally, with the help of Global Event Management, Josh Bender, and Bike Zion, Red Bull provided the perfect opportunity for this contingency of 22 free riders.
“One of the challenges that faces the free ride community is finding the right location”; Wade Simmons, the winner of today’s event, recognizes the difficulty of seeking out an accessible, yet credible event site. Well-known for its pristine parks, its array of ridges, drops and technical lines, Virgin, UT is a highly desirable location for the new movement in free riding. With the help from one of the most progressive BLM districts, Red Bull held the inaugural free-ride competition amidst these untouched canyons. Better hospitality couldn’t have been found as the Virgin, UT town mayor helped build jumps, and kids volunteered to carry the competitors’ bikes up 1,500 vertical feet.
“We don’t need those fabricated courses, this is it!” Unlike traditional mountain bike competitions with set courses, the Red Bull Rampage decided to take advantage of the burly terrain and let the world’s best free riders choose their own lines. Judged similarly to a free skiing competition, difficulty of line selection, control, amplitude, fluidity and style all factored into the overall scores. As Josh Bender, one of today’s most progressive free rider, stated, “This event gave the stagnating mountain bike community a swift kick that it desperately needed”, the Red Bull Rampage conceded, and pushed the limits.
After the first day of qualifications, 12 highly diverse riders advanced to the final round. The competitors included 14-year old Kyle Strait, Canadian competitors, Wade Simmons, Robbie Bourdon, and Thomas Vanderham, and Moab, UT rider, Greg Smith. Upon first glance, the only viable lines were loaded with impressive gap jumps, technical landings, and big drops. After over 3 hours of preparation, the competitors were finally ready to conquer the canyon and the show began.
Going into the finals, Wade Simmons was seeded in first place, with Robbie Bourdon and Myles Rockwell close behind. Yet, after the first run of the final competition day, Chris O’Driscoll had the top score of 73.2, while Simmons fared at 67.6, and Bourdon was down to a 59.8. Upon the final run, Bourdon chose one of the toughest lower lines taking an 18-foot leap off a drop and landing safely at the bottom. As a first alternate, Greg Smith advanced and gained a well-deserved score of 76.4 with a very aggressive and consistent, yet extremely technical line. But it was Simmon’s final run that dominated the competition as he executed the most technical line that any rider had chosen from the start and scored a 78.4.
In addition to the divided $8,000 prize purse, winner, Wade Simmons was granted an all-expensed round-trip to Australia for the Red Bull Ride. To conclude the event, a $500 prize was granted to the “Flyin’ Lion”, Kyle Strait, for the best trick in the Big Air competition.
Like a Rock
Even former downhill World Champion, Myles Rockwell, pushed his limits and he realized the defying feat that faced him on this vertical course. Competitors needed not only strength and talent, but also skill and knowledge in order to complete the challenge. Rockwell claimed: “This competition will make anyone into a rock.”