Video & Photo Story: What it Takes to Race Red Bull Hardline

Jan 29, 2019
by YT Industries  

Red Bull Hardline, a fresh perspective on the difficulty of Downhill mountain bike racing. It puts our crazy, yet niche sport into the mainstream. We first saw Hardline in 2015, with the concept and track developed by Dan Atherton you can believe it's no easy ride. Over the past four years, we’ve watched this event develop year after year, not only in terms of the track and spectator numbers but more of the world's best riders attempting to take the win.

In 2018, Erik Irmisch (IRM), World cup racer and YT test rider got invited to compete in hardline. There was no doubt, he was going to give it 100%. IRM has competed in over 25 World Cups, proving he’s no stranger to a challenging track or race conditions, although as many riders will tell you Hardline isn’t comparative to a World Cup. Below we chat to IRM about his journey leading up-to Hardline, during and what influenced one of the hardest decisions of his career, the decision not to ‘drop in’ to ultimately get an insight into how hard Hardline is.

bigquotesI was lucky to get invited I guess, it's a huge honour! At the same time, it's a pretty gnarly feeling as the event gets closer. For me, it was a massive challenge and learning curve but I couldn't have asked for a better 30th birthday present!Erik Irmisch

The World Cup season had just been wrapped up, only a week after World Championships, 20 of the worlds best downhill racers were invited to this prestigious race. The track in Dinas Mawddwy, Wales, isn’t for the faint-hearted. A combination of classic technical downhill features, massive free-ride features and often a lot of mud makes this one of the most challenging MTB tracks in the world.

A nervous looking IRM with his custom painted TUES.

The schedule is pretty relaxed, with riders choosing to ‘session’ the huge features over the conventional method of full runs.

bigquotesMy favourite part is the chilled atmosphere, the camaraderie between all the riders sessions during practice. People are having fun but at the same time you can see in everybody's eyes that there is a mental game going on!

IRM hanging out with fellow YT rider Rob Warner between practice.

Many riders including IRM favour the relaxed atmosphere. Between swinging axes when conditions were too hard to practice to signing posters for the fans, there's plenty of good times on and off the bike in Mid-Wales.

bigquotesTo me it’s the most mental thing I’ve ever done. It's something completely different compared to other downhill races. It's difficult to stay focused and cut out all the external factors trying to screw you up. Of course, riding your bike down that hill is no easy task either!

bigquotesThere's not just one or two hard sectors, it's just one big sector! World Cup tracks are made to go as fast as possible nowadays. Of course, there are gnarly sections but at the same time there is bike park stuff. There is no bike park at Hardline.

Hardline has a history of bad weather, like most events in the United Kingdom. Conditions are known to turn to the polar opposite rapidly and leave track conditions typically British. The race is yet to be won by a rider from outside of the UK. Is this because British riders are accustomed to these conditions?

bigquotesDuring the last practice session I wasn’t feeling confident on track. The track was soaked, rain was pouring down, I could barely see a thing. I hadn’t even hit the finish line jump, which happened to be the biggest jump at Hardline. I didn't really know what I was doing up there and felt more stiff than ready for a full run against the clock. Another factor was injury, I couldn't risk an injury because of some RnD obligations at the YT headquarters.

IRM unfortunately pulled out of Hardline just before qualifying for a multitude of reasons.

IRM is stoked for his next opportunity to tackle the beast that is Hardline.

bigquotesNext time I race Hardline I’ll be more relaxed because I’ve got some experience on the track and at the event. My bike setup will be different as well. I will be more focused on working that full run out, which wasn’t achievable this time around.

Photos: Rick Schubert

MENTIONS: @YTIndustries

Posted In:
Videos Hardline


  • 34 0
 Each of the features would kill me to death. So mad respect for doing most of them IRM.
  • 16 0
 Awesome video. Mad respect for knowing how you felt that day and not chancing getting hurt to feed your pride. There's always another day to ride.
  • 17 0
 Hard enough in the dry, what a nightmare in the wet! Props!
  • 14 1
 I would love to see some rampage riders at this event, or someone like jordie Lunnnie even Aaron Gwin. Be really cool to see them ride the features
  • 3 0
 I could see Jordie showing up if invited, but I think Gwin is too risk adverse. There was that interview last year where he was asked who would win in a scrub off on dirt bikes between him and Dakota Norton and he said Dakota since doing scrubs were too risky on dirt bikes. I don't think he'd risk major injury to race something that isn't a world cup event, unless contractually required. Neko on the other hand...
  • 7 0
 Fantastic video. What a perspective on just the immense amount of confidence and nerve needed. I really hope you are back next year. I would love to see a video of the progression! Congratulations for overcoming so many of those features and battling through! Such an inspirational video!
  • 8 0
 That whole track is just one huge Nope
  • 9 1
 That looks intense as f
  • 7 0
 When Kerr says "pretty easy", you can bet it's gonna be pretty hard! Big Grin
  • 2 0
 That vid gives a real insight that you simply don't see on the Red Bull footage. They are certified nutters!

Also was that a V22 Osprey flying along the valley below the camera drone? Suprised the Yanks didn't shoot the drone down.
  • 5 0
 that was the best video i've seen in a while, real content, real emotion, not just some marketing BS.
  • 1 0
 So much respect for you on this Irm......amazing all the stuff you hit and hope you get another go at 'er. Great vid and many thanks for the behind the scenes look......I can't even imagine what it takes to make it down this thing.
  • 1 0
 Respect for riding all of that, so gnarly! They need to add some massive gaps to the World Cup tracks, would make those races even more exciting and bring in more views from people who don't ride.
  • 3 0
 Klasse Video, nachvollziehbare Entscheidung!!! Wird schon noch, Irm.
  • 1 0
 The track is looking terrible during nice weather, deadly in rain :-D Props for taking the challenge and maybe next year if you have better feeling for the track?
  • 2 0
 I just feel terrified by watching this video. Huge props to all the riders doing it!
  • 1 0
 Remember watching the GOAT and one fo the presenters rode the course for a preview, got to the road gap and it was like..yeah nope. That whole track was narly AF.
  • 2 0
 you know it's a spicy track when the easiest feature is a fat road gap
  • 1 0
 Pretty sweet to see an event where everyone is in the oh shit stance on the bike the entire way down.
  • 3 2
 He who fights and runs away...
  • 8 0
 ...lives to fight another day
  • 1 0
 "a nervous looking IRM"... I wish my nervous face were that cool
  • 1 1
 so much respect homie!

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