What Does Rampage Mean to the Longtime Builders? - Interview

Jan 7, 2016
by Lunchbox Larry  
Welcome to Rampage.

They are the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. They know the terrain better than anyone else. They have spent more time on the mountain and they know how dangerous every little nook and cranny can be. They know how to survive out there; working in the heat for long hours. And they know how to build massive jumps, carve lines, and pack trannies. They are the Red Bull Rampage Build Crew.

A couple of them are past competitors (one was even on the podium at the very first Rampage back in 2001) and some of them travel the world building trails and pump tracks for the biggest and best mountain bike parks. When the weather threat pushed Finals to Friday, I found myself hanging out with the build crew at 'El Builder Rancho' with my spare time. After an impromptu celebration for the riders on Friday night, Saturday was a pretty interesting day at the ranch, no one did much of anything...all day. A couple of the guys drove to the site to make sure everything was okay, Adam laid on the couch, Robbie made a steak dinner, but overall it was a well deserved day off after weeks of toiling in the desert. I took this time to ask some questions that I thought would give some perspective to just who it is building these 75' canyon gaps and what they love about the greatest mountain bike show on earth.

Adam Billinghurst.
ADAM BILLINGHURST

Age: 36
Hometown: Bracebridge, Ontario
Current: Whistler, British Columbia

What was the first year you attended/worked/rode at Rampage?
First year for me was 2008 working with Big Red Ted and Kenny Smith.

How many years have you been involved with building at Rampage?
I have been on the Rampage build crew every year since 2008. (6 years)

What is your favourite thing about building at Rampage?
Favourite thing is being part of the best mountain bike event on the planet.

What is your least favourite thing about building at Rampage?
Least favourite thing is building something that could seriously injure a rider or worse.

Do you feel that the 'diggers' that help out at Rampage is a good or bad thing? Has Rampage lost its raw big mountain feel?
The diggers are absolutely a good thing. They build this event more than we do. We'd be back in 2004 without them. If you think it's lost it's big mountain feel you've clearly never stood on the start deck.

Do you think there needs to be more or less pre-built features?
I think there is a good amount of pre-built features. If the next venue is bigger than the current one there may even be room for 1 or 2 more. Every rider that has won since '08 has ridden a pre-built feature.

Which rider do you feel had the most difficult line this year?
Nico Vink's line was pure insanity, but there are so many 'most difficult' lines.

Which rider were you most impressed with this year?
I'm impressed by so many riders there. I don't think I could pick one single person.

In your opinion who had the best run?
I think Brandon had the best run.

Final words, thoughts or comments?
I really hope this event continues. It is the best mountain bike event. Several things need to change for it to happen again, but they are all possible. I'm proud to be a part of it and hope to be there again.

Trail tool graveyard.
  Where old tools go to die - the Rampage tool graveyard.


Randy Spangler
RANDY SPANGLER

Age: 48
Hometown: Auburn, California
Current: Nor Cal, above Sacramento

What was the first year you attended/worked/rode at Rampage?
The first year 2001. I attended and rode; placed 6th.

How many years have you been involved with building at Rampage?
I feel I've been helping build Rampage since the beginning (metaphorically), in the sense of verbal out reach to people, the videos that have come out, mag shots, etc. I feel everyone that has been involved has helped build Rampage in their own way along the way.

What is your favourite thing about building at Rampage?
Knowing that I have been selected to help build at an event that pushes new limits and progression to the next level.

What is your least favourite thing about building at Rampage?
For me, my least favourite part of Rampage is knowing that it's only for a few weeks.

Do you feel that the 'diggers' that help out at Rampage is a good or bad thing? Has Rampage lost its raw big mountain feel?
Riders having dig crews is good and bad. The positive: your friends are out there keeping you pumped and focused to ride, keeping your energy up to finish your line. I like seeing how creative some of the builders attack and achieve their visions. The negative: you start to see some lines become too overly buffed out and some of the raw or gnar goes away.This started as a big mountain event and needs to stay that way in some aspects.

Do you think there needs to be more or less pre-built features?
The pre-built features are now in places for access points within the course. If we didn't have them in place, riders would be [more] limited on their line choice.

Which rider do you feel had the most difficult line this year?
I can't just go with one; Nico Vink and Cam Zink. Must be the 'ink'.

Which rider were you most impressed with this year?
Probably Sam Reynolds, seems like he changed up his big mountain game this year. For his first year at Rampage he had a good showing.

In your opinion who had the best run?
I think this answer needs to refer to a judging questionnaire.

Final words, thoughts or comments?
I've been super lucky to have been involved with this thing we call Rampage, love seeing what it's done for our sport and all the friends I've made from something I really enjoy doing. Thanks to Todd Barber and RedBull for making this bad ass event happen.

Cheddar smokies a la Billinghurst.
  Sunday was a big work day, tearing down jumps, crushing lips and dismantling features. Perfect day for a Rampage site BBQ!

BBQ at the event site.
  Bourdo working on his own special creation.

Steak gorgonzola and sriracha sauce a la Bourdo.
  Gourmet cuisine in the desert. Filet mignon topped with gorgonzola cheese and Sriracha sauce a la Bourdo.


Mike Fucci
MIKE FUCCI

Age: 37
Hometown: Hempstead, New York
Current: Lake Tahoe, California

What was the first year you attended/worked/rode at Rampage?
2004 was the first time I saw the glory of the Rampage site.

How many years have you been involved with building at Rampage?
2008 was the first year Todd got me a black wristband; I got to help Pondella hike camera gear around and help random riders dig. I've been involved with the official build crew since 2009.

What is your favourite thing about building at Rampage?
My favourite thing about building Rampage, among many, is working in relatively cooperative earth surrounded by mind-numbing grandeur.

What is your least favourite thing about building at Rampage?
Least favourite thing is watching people get owned on things you helped build. Luckily it is far and few between.

Do you feel that the 'diggers' that help out at Rampage is a good or bad thing? Has Rampage lost its raw big mountain feel?
The digger question is hard to answer, I think the riders should be more on their own to kick in lines between features we build.

Do you think there needs to be more or less pre-built features?
I think we need to build more. Three zones worth of equal scoring features with the riders choosing their own lines to link everything together.

Which rider do you feel had the most difficult line this year?
Zink had the most difficult line for sure, but that isn't the only criteria in this event.

Which rider were you most impressed with this year?
Andreu's line and run was the most impressive. Blowing shit up literally.

In your opinion who had the best run?
Andreu had the best run for sure.

Final words, thoughts or comments?
Rampage should always be held in the highest regards, and spoken about with accelerated heart rates. It has made so many riders careers and truly is the premier event to showcase the progression of the sport. There would be a hole in a lot of peoples lives without it. Hope the world is well.

Good-bye canyon gap take-off.
  Good-bye canyon gap take-off, see ya next year.

Event site the 2 days after.
  A few days earlier this place was a zoo, today eerie silence...


Robbie Bourdon.
ROBBIE BOURDON

Age: 34
Hometown: Nelson, British Columbia
Current: Nelson, British Columbia

What was the first year you attended/worked/rode at Rampage?
Rode in the first Rampage, it was an unknown event and I had no idea what I was in for, pretty much no one did, we were just figuring it out. Worked out though; I got 3rd place.

How many years have you been involved with building at Rampage?
Started officially building the first year of the Oakley sender, me and my brother Dennis built the tower.

What is your favourite thing about building at Rampage?
The best part of the build is just being out there with a good crew and makin' shit happen.

What is your least favourite thing about building at Rampage?
There's really no bad part for me.

Do you feel that the 'diggers' that help out at Rampage is a good or bad thing? Has Rampage lost its raw big mountain feel?
They are good and bad in my opinion, I just think that there are to many diggers and too much actual dig time. There are no raw lines anymore, it's all like packed wide trails. Lame!

Do you think there needs to be more or less pre-built features?
I think what were doing now is a good amount of features.

Which rider do you feel had the most difficult line this year?
Too many to name.

Which rider were you most impressed with this year?
Antoine Biset, he was definitely goin' for it.

In your opinion who had the best run?
So many close runs, it's crazy, I couldn't decide who should have first.

Final words, thoughts or comments?
If we lose this contest, big mountain comps will be done, there's nothing that matches it. It's all just slopestyle comps and big jump contests. Rampage is what mountain bikes are made for!

Bonfire last toast.
  Late night bonfire shenanigans with Billinghurst and Bourdo.


The 2015 Rampage Build Crew.
DAVE SMUTOK (second from left)

Age: 33
Hometown: Northfield, New Hampshire (Highland MTB Park)
Current: Olympia, Washington

What was the first year you attended/worked/rode at Rampage?
I was asked to be a judge in 2012, that was my first year attending Rampage.

How many years have you been involved with building at Rampage?
I have been building for 2 years.

What is your favourite thing about building at Rampage?
One of my favourite parts about building Rampage has to be just being in the dessert day in and day out from long before the event until after everything is torn down and gone, the cycle is really cool. Also, building features and seeing what the best riders in the world can do on them is pretty special.

What is your least favourite thing about building at Rampage?
Watching crashes and tear down.

Do you feel that the 'diggers' that help out at Rampage is a good or bad thing? Has Rampage lost its raw big mountain feel?
I think that the diggers are paramount in the progression of Rampage and what the riders are able to create and ride in the time frame of the event.

Do you think there needs to be more or less pre-built features?
I think the few features spread out toward the bottom of the course works well. The features are designed and placed on the course to try and accommodate all of the athletes.

Which rider do you feel had the most difficult line this year?
I think Vink’s upper line was the most difficult I have ever seen and some may think that it wasn’t possible, but I think if he dialled in his landing a little more he could land it.

Which rider were you most impressed with this year?
I was impressed with the usual powerhouses, they all seemed to step up their lines and I thought the Rampage rookies rode really well too.

In your opinion who had the best run?
I am not sure who had the single best run, I feel like the top 6 all had winning runs but there has to be a 1st and a 6th.

Rampage Teardown Bonfire
  What you do when you need to dispose of a bunch of wood? Burn it.


MENTIONS: @Lunchboxlarry / @redbullbike




54 Comments

  • 85 2
 Bourdo is only 34?!?! For some reason I feel like we've been watching him go big for like.. 30 years or something lol.
  • 8 1
 It's been a while! He's been sponsored since 1998 or 99, rode for redbull for a while too.
  • 7 0
 Was thinking the same thing. Now I feel old again...
  • 1 3
 no shit, I thought Bourdon was in his 40s. dang. sad
  • 47 2
 Just a reminder that building can be as rewarding as riding. Don't forget to grab a shovel once in a while. I always get an extra grin when I'm ripping through a section I know I put some sweat-equity into.
  • 36 27
 Also DO NOT ride after a big rain storm. It will destroy the trails, instead, like said above, pick up as shovel.
  • 6 2
 100% agreed on both accounts^^. (why ibis is getting neg props is beyond me. Most trails will do better if left to dry a little after rain)
  • 6 0
 Probably from most UK users who would spend winter off the bike if we didn't ride after it rained. Heck, most of October to March is spent riding IN the rain.
  • 2 0
 More like October to October this year!
  • 2 1
 Fair enough. But in general, I think there are more trails with a dirt/clay base than a rock or rocky base, especially in North America. Hence the general guideline to give wet trails a minute after heavier rain
  • 3 1
 You definitely need to let the trail dry out a bit. Those who don't usually are not builders. It takes a lot of effort to make a trail with features that are fun to ride.
  • 1 1
 Only if it`s a steep hardcore natural dh line.. riding in the rain helps to make things get even better Wink
  • 3 0
 all depends where you live and your soil type. in aberta we have a clay based soil. step in it when it's wet and when it dries you have a boot depression that can be as hard as concrete. trails get rutted out pretty good around here if ridden wet.
  • 18 3
 Did anybody else notice that nearly every person interviewed talked about Rampage as if the event was unsure of it possibility to continue? What was up with that, or maybe I was just drawing conclusions.
  • 4 0
 I noticed it too.
  • 3 0
 Got that sense too???
  • 4 0
 There was lots of negativity and questioning of how the event was run that surrounded the wrap up of the last Rampage. Could be in limbo
  • 6 0
 Paul Bas needs to have a speedy and full recovery.
  • 1 1
 It could be done by riders with out TV coverage and it would work on the internet! The redbull people had sub par safety personal there 2 years ago, people from canadia were complaining, they (redbull) are at level 2, it could be a level 10 event. Why not let it die and bring it back in a better incarnation? Rampage was sponsored by the Utah nation guard 2 years ago, that shit is Completly f*cked. Bombs/killing and hucking do not go together, f*ck redbull 1000%.
  • 12 1
 I'd probaply never knew these guys without this interview- thanks PB. No dig no ride! In my opinion builders should be more known because they create all of that shit things.
  • 8 1
 Adam Billinghurst is such a legend...fun fact, he also built Semenuk's line in Unreal, which is probably single highhandedly one of the best scenes from 2015. I just want to double on his bike with him so bad....
  • 5 1
 Thanks to all the people who throw dirt! Enjoyed seeing pic's with people training down lines at rampage, why isn't that content offered in video form? It's like so much radness goes down and 5% is released out there.

Glad it's been put on and continues. Rampage has Inspired me as a rider and makes me realize it's not only possible, but normal riding.

Great to see people pushing limits.
  • 10 2
 Can I have some of those tools from the graveyard?
  • 7 2
 I that's a tool graveyard I'm digging with a ghost
  • 6 0
 All the ones in the grave yard with spray paint where mine. The clean up crew got antsy. I snagged them all back.
  • 3 0
 Good, because those are some perfectly good tools. Hockey taping the handles would make them much better.
  • 2 0
 That was exactly what I was thinking, they all look brand new! Graveyard...........................
  • 5 1
 I love the red bull just as much as any one. ... with that said I watched it from the beginning and I have to say they lost what it really means to Freeride... at this point they should call it the dessert slope style. the riders really have the lines picked for them. they have to hit the big built jump for the show.. it's no longer who can make the best line out of nothing... now it's who can throw the biggest trick on pre built jumps. Isn't that what the slope style is for and not the rampage?
  • 6 1
 I don't know if it's been suggested before, but maybe they should set a limit of say, 2, builders per rider to even the game and lint the trail "smoothness"
  • 2 1
 Loved being at Rampage sharing brews with the workhorses behind the scenes this year. Being there opened my eyes to what it takes for builders to allow their riders make a vision become real. Good job PB to go after this perspective and bring awareness.
  • 4 1
 it means, getting to see people flying off something you built, landing is just a bonus
  • 4 0
 Stoked to see all the love for ROCKSHOX by the builders.
  • 3 1
 "Least favourite thing is building something that could seriously injure a rider or worse." - Adam Billinghurst

He must hate everything he built for rampage then lol
  • 1 0
 Ok so cam should be the announcer for now on..........An whwere will RaMpAgE go next......think they need to start some where new!
  • 2 0
 Venue Change for 2016 - These guys needs challenges to build stuff in terrain they are unfamiliar with.
  • 6 4
 Nico Vink, 2016 RB Rampage winner
  • 3 0
 Is your exclamation mark key worn out?
  • 2 1
 Rampage is what it's all about, those riders go huge and I like to watch and say I can do that, pff ft I wish
  • 6 3
 irideforpaul.com
  • 3 1
 sad they have to tear all that junk down. thanks litigators...
  • 2 0
 No Dig No Ride!! Props to all the builders out there!!
  • 2 1
 Can't wait to see what the builders create next year
  • 3 2
 nice to see mark wahlberg is part of the crew
  • 3 3
 .....somebody PLEASE get fucci a haircut and shave that mess on his face..........dude........spangler, please........
  • 9 1
 parents don't let you date guys with facial hair?
  • 1 2
 .....yea, he has enough problems already........bender, frampton, arquette.....somebody shave this homegrown "terrorist".....
  • 2 0
 FUCCI!!
  • 2 2
 Dust has settled down after Paul's crash so it's time to rebuild positive image of RR.
  • 2 2
 Filet Mignon with gorganzola and sriracha??!! I'm doin' it. Thx, Robbie.
  • 2 2
 I love dessert.
  • 2 4
 RANDY SPANGLER is like Cam McCaul in a few years!
  • 4 1
 I remember Spangler being on Drop In like 15 years ago and being an old man! I loved what McCaul and him brought to mountain biking and that show!
  • 1 1
 Smile )) isnt it the other way around you wanted
  • 2 1
 I was referring to his face! They look really similar!

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