|YOU'D NEED A graduate degree in Extreme Recreation to stay on top of freeride mountain biking, a sport that has splintered in the past five years into the velo-genres of stunts, steeps, urban assault, and now big air. Of this last category, no one hucks meat more merrily, or from more absurd heights, than 26-year-old Joshua Bender. Thanks in part to the cult success of New World Disorder and Down, a pair of recent bike videos, the Virgin, Utah, resident inked a two-year, $24,000 contract with Fox Racing. And while he's mangled ten frames, tacoed nearly a hundred wheels, broken six bones, and knocked himself unconscious three times since he started his gravity experiments two years ago, Bender claims he's just getting started: "My goal is to drop a 100-footer," he says. (His record to date: 60 feet, off a cliff near Kamloops, B.C.) In the 30-foot jump above, filmed last October outside Glendale, Nevada for the upcoming New World Disorder II, Bender successfully landed his custom-built Karpiel bike, which, at 50 pounds, is tricked out with a full foot of front and rear suspension. Why risk life and limb just to huck? "It's like Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier every time I go out."
Fast and Lit
With UPS drivers sipping from CamelBaks and just about everyone using carabiners as keychains, the gadgetry of the outdoor world continues to surface in unexpected places. Witness the Photon Micro-Light II—an ultra-lightweight LED flashlight, about the size of four stacked quarters, prized by trekkers. Now the device has found a following in, of all places, the rave scene. That's because when clipped to a whirling raver's extra-large trousers, the Photon leaves neon-colored tracers of light in the darkness (see above). The manufacturer, Oregon-based Laughing Rabbit Inc. is getting into the groove, and in March will unveil a tiny light expressly for dance-floor exhibitionists, for about $30. The beam will change color when moved and a crystal prism lens will scatter the light in all directions. "I am making it so that it is awesome," states company president David Allen. Whoa...Intense. —James Glave