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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 103 > ON THE RAMPAGE BEHIND FREERIDE'S BIGGEST FREAKSHOW

ON THE RAMPAGE BEHIND FREERIDE'S BIGGEST FREAKSHOW

EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT THE RIDERS OF THE RED BULL RAMPAGE; THE DROPS AND HUCKS. BUT NO ONE EVER SEES THE HUNDREDS OF FAITHFUL FANS WHO CAMP IN THE UTAH DESERT AND TREK MILES TO WATCH AND HELP MAKE IT THE SPECTACLE IT IS.
PICTURES BY ROB NORBUTT

Probably the first things you’ll notice are the contrasts: the brilliant cobalt blue sky against terracotta red mesas, flecked by juniper green dots. Or you may notice the billowy cottonball clouds against the dry air, strongly scented with sagebrush. But come the middle of October in Virgin, Utah, the biggest contrast – the one everyone has come here to see – is the age-old ‘man against mountain’. More precisely, Red Bull Rampage is ‘man against desert’ where as Edward Abbey predicted: “An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches.” The Church of Freeride is holding its annual pilgrimage.

Glamping it is not.

Oddly, while the bicycle industry has abandoned freeride, a growing number of riders express their passion by digging their lines, flying with style and taking time to session. And, of course the pros do it with so much daring that Rampage is easily mountain biking’s biggest spectacle. But, unlike most pro sports events, Rampage has a shadow side, one that holds dear to its grassroots: a Mad Max culture where, at times, it is difficult to tell the difference between the riders, spectators, diggers, media and Red Bull staff. And those are essentially the divisions, along with a few VIPs thrown in. Each of these divisions, made identifiable by wristband colour, have different levels of entitlement and access. Sure, you might be a bit jealous of the swamp-cooled shady tents or catered lunches that some with a higher standing than spectators receive. And you may want a little bit more access or the ability to move around unimpeded, but all of that matters little to most spectators at Rampage. They are all-in.

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About Singletrack

We've got our fat bikes and thermal clothing at the ready and we live in hope of snow. So far all we've got is mud - on the trails and in the streets. If this carries on, issue 104 may contain a grouptest of wellies. However, this issue we bring you: We Work Here - Ragley. Barney takes a look a this Northern Irish manufacturer to see what innovations are leading their revival in the market place. International Adventure: Czech Mate - Rowan Sorrell takes a look at some purpose built trails​ in the Czech Republic​. The name of the place is unpronounceable but the trails are excellent and make for a perfect long weekend adventure. International Adventure: The Goat - So, you win a goat, you let it roam free in the mountains, and then later you decide to go and see if you can find it. Nathan Hughes takes us on an unlikely adventure with pro rider Timo Pritzel.​ Classic Ride: Pete Scullion rides Dumyat near Stirling, Scotland. Race Head: Rampage! Most of us will have spent some time on the internet watching clips from Red Bull Rampage, but there's a group of die-hard - or possibly fool-hardy - fans who make the trek into the desert to watch it live. Grinder Bike: Greg puts a beautiful looking titanium Vaaru through its paces. Is it as good as it is pretty? Bike Test: Full Plussers - a new generation of slimmer-than-a fat-bike full suspension bikes is appearing. Chipps put three ​from Salsa, Scott and Specialized ​to the test. In our exclusive subscriber section - available to subscribers or to purchase through our shop or premier dealers: UK Adventure: Sam Flanagan rides Black Sail​ pass in the Lakes​. A bit more remote than your average ride, he considers what skills and equipment it takes to step up your riding from trail center to the middle of nowhere. Last Word: Dann Allbright reckons he has the answer to all your technical questions...
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