There was still plenty of dirt being moved and rocks being dislodged well into this evening, but more and more riders began sessioning their lines with what little light they had left. As they tested section by section, small pockets of cheers would erupt throughout the canyon to alert onlookers. Each section of riding was punctuated with a consultation with fellow athletes or diggers; landings were adjusted, speed was calibrated, and - after over a week of building - some anxiety abated.
Earlier in the day Adolf Silva, who is new to the event, talked about what it took to design his run. "It was actually kind of stressful and hard to choose a line because it's a new place and it's a new thing for me as well. I wanted to go a lot of places, but it was hard to see stuff. But I had my diggers and they helped me see stuff we could build." As nearly everyone has found this year, teaming up is the only way to complete a top-to-bottom line in time in time for the competition. "It helped a lot because there are a lot of big builds this year. I ended up teaming up with Ethan, Tom van Steenbergen, Sorge, Aggy, and T-Mac on the bottom. We basically started with the drop that they had already built. Then we have a couple rolls between two rocks and then a berm on top of the ridge into a step-down. Then after the stepdown, we have a big right hip and then we have a berm to berm feature - like a berm to berm jump - and then I have the biggest step-down that is 72 feet, I think. Then after that, we have a jump on top of the ridge as well, then another berm, a little chute, double drop, and then we have the last big drop that is 55 feet, I think into a step-down and the last trick jump." When asked what he was looking forward to most about his line, Adolf replied, "I'm actually excited to hit everything, to be honest, I think the line looks really good, everything looks big and I'm stoked on it!"
Sharing parts of the line Adolf described is last year's winner, Kurt Sorge. "It's a pretty steep venue and kind of narrow." Sorge describes how he read the terrain for the first time; "the left side is kind of tough to connect through the line and on the right, there were landings that we saw all the way down. We just pieced her together, but she's steep so you're going quick." The new location has more complex terrain than in past venues. "It is definitely less straightforward and you've got to get a little more creative for sure, it's not just ridgelines going down straight, it's a lot of weaving and turning all over the place, it's a bit more tech to find a good line down. I've got a couple big drops, they are both pretty big so I'm excited to get those in the bag."
Also contributing to the line is Tom van Steenbergen and his build crew. "We teamed up with a lot of people which really helped [to manage our timeline] but we are still going to be working into the final couple days and obviously we've got to tweak a few things. Hopefully, it will be pretty minor, and we won't have to make too big of changes. It's looking pretty good. We are kind of sharing some features and then going our own way and then sharing another few. There's a big step down at the top that's going to be really cool and then a big drop at the bottom and then the final jump will be really fun as well."
Matt Mcduff has been building for Brett Rheeder and is finally taking a break from five days working the pickaxe. "Building a line this year has been pretty hard so far, the mountain is really steep, it doesn't have too much dirt on the top, and where we went through a lot of the dirt has been washed away. It's been really hard rock, so for us, it's been pretty difficult so far. What took the most focus for sure for us has been Brett's second drop, and there's been a huge white rock and there was about 8 feet of white rock that we had to pick through so that has taken all of our attention, we've been up there for five days. I feel pretty good, I'm pretty excited to be off the pick and it feels good to be on the shovel, my hands don't hurt so much anymore, and I feel really good."
Rémy Métailler, who got his wheels in the dirt today, he was careful not to be too ambitious with his build. "When we came here, it was so much higher than the old one and it's so much gnarlier, I didn't want to go for something too ambitious, and risk not finishing on time. I think it's a bit smaller than I want it, but at least we are pretty much done." Despite erring on the side of caution for the timeline of his build, Rémy was genuinely excited about what he had after he started riding it. "I'm looking forward to doing some more riding and get more comfortable. Honestly, I'm excited about the entire line. I didn't want to have just one good feature, I wanted to have a succession of good features. I'm super happy with what we've been building and hopefully, everything works out really smooth and it'll be fun."
Riders finally relinquished their bikes and tools to the dark and began filing out of the site along the winding and bumpy road. Tomorrow is their final day for building and practice. And in just two days, the previous two weeks in the desert will culminate in an incredible display of teamwork, athleticism, and pure talent. And then we will begin the countdown once more to the next Red Bull Rampage.