On October 26, the legendary Red Bull Rampage freeride mountain biking competition wrapped its 13th year of competition in Virgin, Utah. It was the first year for a new and—if you can believe it—even steeper venue that added 160 feet of vertical drop from start to finish. Heavy wind and rain scuttled practice sessions, and crews worked from dusk to dawn sculpting dirt into takeoffs, berms, and landings. After a number of notable injuries, both before and during the contest, many riders were satisfied with making it to the bottom in one piece.
Because of the location change, crews of diggers had to build new lines from scratch.
Turning the desert into something even remotely ridable is a lot of work.
A digger builds a berm with a steep cliff behind it, leading into a huge drop. Small build pieces are often just as important as the lips and landings, because flowing from feature to feature is key to maintaining speed.
Canadian rider Brandon Semenuk discusses the course with a friend after a practice run.
Even the mellow sections of Rampage have high consequences. Eventual champion Brett Rheeder took a fall practicing his line the day before the contest, nearly sliding off the edge of a cliff.
Digger Jacob Spera tosses some dirt for rider Rémy Métailler’s line.
Métailler looks out at a series of jumps that culminated in a massive 60-plus foot long kicker into the finish corral.
Brendan Fairclough, a 30-year-old Brit, surveys the lower portion of his line.
Fairclough stares down a near vertical chute to drop feature. Riders typically try to complete each individual feature on its own before linking together their full competition run.
Rampage rookie Adolf Silva consults with a builder.
The 21-year-old Silva sends a long step down.
Shortly before the competition, Darren “the Claw” Berrecloth, a 37-year-old Canadian, announced that cumulative injuries were forcing him to retire and he wouldn’t be riding at this year’s event. But that didn’t stop him from lending some veteran advice to the new kids.
Many spectators rode their bikes four miles into the venue to watch their favorite riders.
Adolf Silva and Tom van Steenbergen give a critical look at the biggest drop on course. Both sent it on their runs, earning People’s Choice and Best Trick awards, respectively.
Spaniard Andreu Lacondeguy speaks with a digger during last-minute practice.
Fairclough drops into a technical chute.
Ethan Nell, a southern Utah native, chucks a massive suicide-no-hander off the big center-stage drop on his way to a repeat third place finish.
Reed Boggs sends a huge double drop with style to spare. Though technically making his sophomore Rampage appearance, he was unable to compete last year due to a crash during practice.
Andreu Lacondeguy, a former Rampage winner, backflips on his way to second place.
Polish rider Szymon Godziek 360’d this giant drop.
Brett Rheeder on his victory lap.
Rheeder, a first-time Rampage winner, basks in the glow of victory in the finish corral.
“Sign my face! Sign my face!” a young fan cheered. There are no casual Rampage fans.
Tom van Steenbergen snagged the Best Trick award with a flat-drop backflip off a 55-foot step-down.
Brendan Fairclough received the McGazza Spirit award, in memory of legendary freerider Kelly McGarry, who died of a heart attack in 2016.
Rheeder shared the podium with former Rampage winner Andreu Lacondeguy (left) and Utah local Ethan Nell (right).