With the world's biggest freeride event right around the corner, the mountain bike community is eagerly awaiting the mayhem that will ensue out at the Red Bull Rampage. Who better to dish out the goods on this historical contest than Kyle Strait. Kyle is one of the few riders who have competed in all 7 events, and seen 'the good, the bad and the ugly' go down (cue in theme song). With his last win back in 2004, you can bet that Kyle is as hungry as ever to leave his mark once again on the brutal and rugged terrain that awaits in the Virgin, Utah desert. What have you been up to lately? I heard you had a chance to do some line scouting out at the location recently, how's everything looking out there?
Lately, I have been traveling a ton! Even with all of the contests, filming and airplane rides I was able to make a quick two hour drive after Interbike to go scout some lines for the upcoming Rampage. Things are looking huge out there, as usual, and I can't wait. I have done that the past two years and it really helps me get into the mindset of hucking some meat in the desert.
Do you think there is still a lot of life left in that zone, as far as building new and creative lines, or is it close to being exhausted?
To me, I would say the site is at 'its last leg of being a Rampage site. With so many riders there just isn't enough ridge lines and cliffs. We have pretty much done every line that is worth riding in that zone without making a ton more wood features. What's going on with the new "All lines are open" rule? How much will riders be fighting to keep their hard work from being pillaged?
It pretty much goes down to there are only so many ridges that are on the mountain. With 40 plus riders, you are for sure going to be on someone else's line. There isn't much raw real estate that you can find.
As far as line etiquette goes, is there a big difference between the first time riders and the veterans, as far as knowing what is "off limits" and what lines are open?
I think that back in the day it was a bigger issue. Nowadays, a lot of riders will just ride the lines that have already been built with some minor changes added. But, I do know that if a rider were to try and ride a line that someone else has built that year, things will go down... It's an unspoken rule that sometimes needs to be broken out. What are the restrictions on how many people can help a rider build, and how many days do you have to work your line?
We will have three official days to dig and are allowed three diggers per rider.
Are there any limits as far as tools and materials that a rider can use?
Ha ha I see where you are going there... As far as I know, the only thing they are limiting would be the use of sand bags. They will be providing the correct ones that we are allowed. If they deem it necessary to use. I do know it got a little out of hand last year with the sand bags. They are very useful.
Are you in favour of the wooden features being added, or would it be better to go back to natural terrain only?
Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of them being at Rampage, but they are usually one of the biggest / baddest features out there, so I am more than happy to hit them. Also with the progression of this sport you have to build things to make them bigger in certain zones to keep up with riders' demands. Having to ride a gnarly line with the wind howling has got to be pretty sketchy. How big of a factor has the weather been for you in the history of Rampage?
I would say it's damn near the only factor beside your own brain telling you what's possible. You just have to tell it to "shut up" and "I got this" to keep it going. I try to put the wind out of my head, along with trying to plan out lines that are not affected by it as much.
When you look back to the first three events, riders were pretty much wearing football outfits to protect themselves, compared to nowadays where T-shirt, knee pads and a helmet are standard issue. Can you explain the evolution of protective gear in this event from the riders perspective?
To be honest... I believe it was from riders like Zink and myself and a few others that decided we didn't want upper body protection. For the first 3 years my good ol' pops made me wear it, but as soon as I was old enough, I ditched it. Partly because I didn't feel a difference between having it and not when I crashed in that area. Chicks dig scars anyway! Since then, I think that a lot of riders have gotten used to the look of seeing someone ride Rampage without it.
Can we expect to see some custom Fox kits on the team again this year?
You will just have to wait and see... Last year, a few spectators accidentally knocked over jump markers (AKA: rocks) and walked over crucial areas of riders' lines, which ultimately may have affected their run. Have you ever had any bad incidents from people walking on your line, etc.?
Yes, I have had a few people standing on my landing before. It's one of the other gnarlier things that you encounter at Rampage. It has been a while since something like that has happened though. It can really mess you up when someone moves one of your markers. Those two little rocks can set you up between crashing and cleaning a drop. Everything is so blind out there.
| Kyle gets in a few hucks close to home before heading out to the desert.| What is the craziest thing you've seen from spectators in the early days of Rampage?
I would have to say '04 when a lot of fans dressed up for Halloween. I saw a Clown and a giant baseball running around the mountain. How did it feel bringing home the win at such an early age (17) back in 2004? Did you do a lot of preparation leading up to that?
Like I always say, ''winning is bitchin'
" and you can't feel better than that. I had an amazing season racing world cups and filming and just felt really good on my bike. Nowadays I do way more to prepare for upcoming Rampage's. There has never been a repeat winner in the history of Rampage. Is that a major goal for you to accomplish? Where does the motivation to succeed come from?
Of course! That has been my goal since I won in 2004. It comes from being the first person to ever win that event twice. It gives you so much drive.
Last year, Cam Zink survived one of the most insane crashes ever seen over the massive 65-foot canyon gap. Is it getting to the point where you literally have to put your life on the line to get on the podium?
Zink's crash was super gnar! I still think of how crazy it is that he is okay from that. There have been the manliest crashes of all time at Rampage, so I think you always have to put your life on the line. All the dudes that have competed at Rampage have pushed the limit every year and we will never stop. How crazy is it seeing one of your best friends crash like that?
I have seen Cam crash a billion times over the years. Like he says, "When it goes really bad, it doesn't end up that bad in the end
". So for that dude to be in that much pain to not be able to ride, I was worried. He is one bad dude. You never want to see any of your friends crash, or any of the other riders. You have to keep that out of your head.
Can you tell us a bit about your bike setup that you plan on running at the next event?
I run just about the same set up as home. The only thing I do different would be to throw on a 2.5" front and rear and up my spring rate by about 100lbs. Not a whole lot different. Are there any special tweaks or customizing that you do to your bike to ride this type of unique terrain?
I run pretty big tires. I am really accustomed to that terrain, so I just ride a little further back on the bike due to the soft dirt.
Did Norbs really "get robbed?"
Ha ha ha the year old Pinkbike argument! I definitely think that anytime you are one of the first riders to drop in at a judged event you get robbed. He had an awesome run though and I was stoked for him. But at the same time with judging and going first they do not have a scale of where that rider needs to be since there hasn't been any other riders. I pretty much always throw out that first run and hope that they are paying attention on the next if I have to ride at the beginning of the start list. All in all, judged events are tough. And that would be one of the reasons why I love racing.Previous Rampage winners
2012 - Kurt Sorge
2010 - Cam Zink
2008 - Brandon Semenuk
2004 - Kyle Strait
2003 - Cedric Gracia
2002 - Tyler Klassen
2001 - Wade Simmons
Good luck to Kyle and the rest of the competitors!
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