Freeride's finest are back in the desert of Virgin, Utah for the 14th edition of Red Bull Rampage. We were welcomed to the site this morning to dust flying and the sound of axes, shovels, and rakes. The cliffs are even more monstrous in person than they appear on the live broadcast, looming far above the desert floor. The start hut is a tiny blip near the top of the mesa and the lines that run down from it seem impossible, with terrifyingly steep cliffs surrounding the gigantic drops and jumps. For most of us, these lines are impossible to ride.
But for the 17 riders who are embellishing the lines they cut into the hillside in 2018 and the four riders who are building completely new lines as they get to take their shovels to the new site for the first time, this is the ultimate test for their skills. Reece Wallace is returning to Rampage after a hiatus while Juan Salido, Bienve Aguado Alba, and Emil Johansson are getting a first taste of what it takes to build a Rampage line.
Although it was only the first day that riders could take their bikes up the hill after four days building, we saw quite a few of the returning riders put down their tools and start testing the new features on their lines. Kurt Sorge, Tyler McCaul and Tom Van Steenbergen were some of the first riders to put rubber to dirt as they tried out a new drop into step-up combination near the bottom of the mountain early in the morning.