Red Bull Rampage is one of the biggest events in mountain biking and definitely the biggest in freeride mountain biking, being sponsored and run by Red Bull one couldn’t expect less. Rampage started in 2001 with 22 starters, 12 of which advanced into the final. Rampage continued until 2004 when it was cancelled for being considered too dangerous. In the year 2008 Rampage came back bigger and better than ever. It was 17 year old Brandon Semenuk who won with a score of 82.2.
The six and a half hour drive between Phoenix and Virgin has some incredible terrain that varies from flat, dry, plains to huge 1000+ft cliff faces. The drive takes you through Lees Ferry which is a popular place for kayakers and hikers alike. The drive also takes you past north rim of the Grand Canyon which sadly I didn’t have enough time to have a look at as it was slowly getting dark which is the time that deer and elk like to run out on the road which is annoying cause they tend to get hit by cars and I wasn’t prepared to total a rental car. The rental car was a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LT which was perfect for the drive up, as it was super comfortable with big leather seats and heaps of boot space to put bikes etc in. Next year I’m definitely taking the same vehicle.
Due to a huge storm the Rampage final was brought forward a day, which meant I only had two days to shoot, down from a planned three. Arriving in Hurricane and slowly feeling more excited for the following days I stopped in at a burger place called Barristas which had extremely mixed reviews on TripAdvisor (which, according to the owner, is a certain religious group that is popular in Utah not liking their restaurant mascot which was a golden bull sitting above the door). Whoever had created this bull was somewhat generous to the size of a certain area of his anatomy. Hurricane was quite a similar town to the one I live in, in New Zealand. It was a small country town with a whole lot of utes driving around that have unnecessary lift kits on them. Being less than 15 minutes’ drive from Virgin, Hurricane is the best place to stay in if you ever go to Rampage.
Being a Rampage virgin, I felt like I knew what to expect after basically researching and watching youtube for the last couple months leading up to the trip, but it turns out I didn’t know what to expect at all. The Rampage site was set on the side of a huge cliff, small roadways were crafted to help organizers and emergency services get around the site, which was so steep the quads and the buggies had a hard time to get up. First rider down was slow and didn’t really do many tricks so he was kinda underwhelming. After a couple similar runs it Ryan Howards turn who I was surprised he had to even qualify for the event. Ryan flipped and whipped his way down the hill to a first place which he held until Tyler McCaul hit his huge drop which he named El Presidente. Graham “AGGY” Agassiz managed to win the qualifying in his first run, which was amazing to watch and made me wonder why he had to qualify, as he won the qualifying stage last year. My personal winner of the day was Nicholi Rogatkin, falling 40+ feet down a cliff and basically climbing straight back on his bike and finishing his run with a flip over the final gap, things like that is how you make a name for yourself in our sport, and become a legend.
Finals day of any sport is always the biggest day. Finals day at Rampage was big, heaps of people heaps of jumps and some big crashes, especially the crash of Paul Basagoitia who had to get airlifted out of the site and taken to nearby St George hospital. Paul is still in hospital with reports of him slowly improving, he has even released a video on his twitter account of him thanking the people who have helped him. In the video it is clearly noticeable that Paul is in tremendous pain as he journeys on the road to recovery, and a donation page has been set up to help Paul in his recovery.
The finals day was made slightly windy from the impending storm, but all riders put their all in down the hill with all the top 5 scores being above 90. Kurt Sorge prevented Andreu Lacondeguy from being the first person to consecutively win Rampage with the highest ever recorded score at the event. Sorge beat Lacondeguy by .75 points which is the same difference between Kyle Strait and New Zealand's own Kelly McGarry in 2013.
Due to the wind picking up Lacondeguy and Sorge were unable to complete their second runs as it was considered to much of a risk.
The top 10 was:
1. Kurt Sorge- 96.50
2. Andreu Lacondeguy- 95.75
3. Graham Agassiz 94.75
4. Brandon Semenuk- 94.25
5. Thomas Genon- 91.25
6. Cameron Zink- 89.25
7. Darren Berrecloth- 87.00
8. Brendan Fairclough- 85.50
9. Sam Reynolds- 83.00
10. Remy Metailler- 82.50
Next year is rumoured to be at a new site in the Zion National park as this year was to much of a struggle for riders who were competing for trail space.