THE RED BULL RAMPAGE VENUE IS TAKING SHAPE


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One could say that the theme for this year’s Red Bull Rampage course is, simply, “Bigger.” With the course in such phenomenal shape and many pre-existing features looking better than they did at the previous event in 2010, not much work is needed, other than simply increasing them in size.

The digging crew wants to construct the best features possible for the riders to throw down their top tricks and wow the judges. Quite a few of the take-offs are being built larger, with their respective landings being made longer and smoother. In a mere three days the diggers have managed to increase the size of the landing for the infamous “Canyon gap” by a monstrous six feet in vertical height, and they’ve started work on trails coming off the top of the venue from the new start location.

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THREE VETERANS JOIN THE BUILD CREW


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Three new members of the Red Bull Rampage course build crew have showed up on site: brothers Robbie and Dennis Bourdon, and Adam Billinghurst — all three Canadian, and all three extremely talented professional bike riders. Adam had a segment in last year’s‘Strength in Numbers’ film and has been a member of the Whistler Bike Park trail crew for many years. Dennis is a former racer, and Robbie has competed at every single Red Bull Rampage event save one, when he was injured. He will be competing again this year.

These builders bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to an already stacked team. Work on the Red Bull Rampage course is proceeding ahead at an ever-faster pace as we reach the midpoint of the build. Every day new features seem to pop up on course out of nowhere, and pre-existing ones are drastically increased in size.

The ladder bridge is now complete, and serious work is now focused on perfecting the landing and quarterpipe at the finish line. Russell Shumaker, who is a former professional ATV racer, was kind enough to test-ride this feature to help the crew place the landing after the gap “just right.” Up top, the Coffin gap has been buffed out and reshaped, along with a series of additional drops and jumps. Everywhere the eye looks there are features tucked away just waiting for riders to test and work into their lines.

A rider favorite — the large wooden step-up near the bottom, is returning this year, with a twist. A second, massive 60-foot-tall dirt step-up jump is being built nearby to provide athletes with more options to showcase their skills. The new run-in to the dirt step-up leads down from Shocker ridge, and it’s looking fast. These two features will allow for bigger tricks to be thrown, such as backflips, tailwhips and 360s.

This season has been unnaturally wet, and there has been an excess of rainfall lately. Yesterday the Virgin area was issued tornado, lightning, and flash-flood warnings. The huge deluge of water that fell quickly turned the abundant sand to a thick, sticky quagmire which made travel rather difficult — rather “sticky” to say the least. However, once it hardens up it will reinforce and strengthen the dirt structures and trails.

After a day and a half of torrential, monsoon-like rainfall, we had another absolutely spectacular, jaw-dropping sunset out in the desert. Watching the sky ablaze in color and listening to coyotes howling at the setting sun isn’t a bad way to end a long work day. Stay tuned for more updates as the Bourdon brothers and the rest of the crew go to it with a vengeage on the infamous Oakley Icon Sender.

Red Bull Rampage course build

NEW START AREA FINALLY COMPLETE


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After a grueling, tedious week of work on the Red Bull Rampage course, the new start area is finally complete. This will be the first year competitors will be starting their descent from the highest possible elevation on course.

There are two new routes off the top for athletes to pick from: Rider’s right goes over the “scissor drop” and down a steep chute before veering further right and hugging the face of a cliff for 100 feet and continuing over to much more terrain and route choices. Rider’s left goes down “Shocker Ridge,” which involves a gap jump to knife-edge landing, followed by a series of drops down the ridgeline.

Josh Bender and Randy Spangler have completed most of the work up top, occasionally joined by Lindsey Beth Currier. The area needed a lot of meticulous work to widen the chutes, landings, plateaus and trails across steep faces. Cliffs needed to be trimmed back to ensure that riders’ bars won’t snag as they pass by. This work was especially slow, as the rock was quite hard and work had to be done by hand with picks and hammers because of the precarious location.

Due to the dust and dirt that would linger in the air during work, Josh and Randy have been wearing bandanas over their mouths to prevent inhalation of particles. Combine the bandanas with sunglasses, straw hats and torn sleeveless shirts and put them either in Tom Cars (small dune buggy-like vehicles) or on dirtbikes and they often resemble characters out of “Mad Max” rather than trail builders.

When the builders were asked how the name “Shocker Ridge” was bestowed, the story was told of an incident two years ago when Spangler was struck by lightning in the very same area. We had witnessed multiple lightning storms over nearby mountain ranges in the past week, so it was difficult to question the validity of his story.

A typical work day for diggers starts around 8:00 a.m. and continues until 2:00 p.m. with a two-hour break until 4:00 p.m., when they head back out to the site and continue until sundown — around 8:00 p.m. It isn’t hard to work late when the sunsets are absolutely breathtaking. Riding back in the dark isn’t bad either, as nights are generally clear and the moon and stars provide ample illumination for the journey home.

Stay tuned for more updates as Jeremy Witek and Russell Shumaker have been busy working on the new ladder bridge to quarterpipe, a brand-new feature for this year that will definitely up the stakes at the finish line.

Spin up Three Rock with TeamAwesome


Ok so yesterday all the lads got together as two of our team members are home from canada british columbia. We start at a point in dublin called taylors three rock its a  pub but has parking and is a free..
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Turns out 9 of us were there so it was going to be an epic spin.we set off all at our own pace on college road its a short 1km ride to get to our first climb. Once done we start a long gruelling cat 3 climb offroad up kilmashogue its 3.4-3.6km oh up hill indurance riding whats needed is big lungs and strong legs which i have neither hahaha. Once up the top we all regrouped and set off onto another climb its the bottom of a trail called ninja express way this will then lead us onto our final ascent to the top of fairycastle…
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At the top of fairycastle we again regrouped got some oxygen to the lungs and powered on like soldiers onto a trail called boggy descent.. Its self explanitory from the name but once the bog gets wet its a mucky wet trail of carnage… Even still its an awesome track.after that we rode a small bit of metro 1 and cut into another trail here i had a few over the bars moments but finally a deep rut chucked me over the bars… The ground was soft so it wasnt all that bad…

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Here is a pic of our team awesome member that has come home from canada and came out for a spin with us togged out in his steadcycles gear and using a full suss rocky mountain bike.

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Here is a pic of an amazing view of dublin with the light fading over the city. It was one of the best spins i have been on in a while.

PODIUM FOR GEE IN PIETERMARITZBURG


A strong performance for GT Factory Racing at the first World Cup of the year in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Under constant changing conditions the Brit pair of Marc Beaumont and Gee Atherton took to the challenging track at the Cascades Mountain Bike Park in a bid to start the season off on a flyer.

The weekend started badly for Beaumont who hit a tree on the first day of practice, he had tonurse that injury through qualifying which he did well to take a solid 15th spot. Team mate Atherton started slowly in the hope to build up for the finals on Sunday, his qualifier a very solid 4th spot and just 1.7 seconds from fastest rider and native Greg Minnaar.
The weather however threatened to change things dramatically as a heavy rain storm sat over Pietermaritzburg for 4 hours on Saturday evening, the risk of a wet track was not to anyones likings as the soil tends to turn to ice making even the Worlds best struggle down the hill on the clay based surface.
Thankfully for all the competitors the weather improved next morning and the track dried through practice.

When Marc took to the track for his race run the course was looking in great conniption but a mistake on the steepest part of the track meant he lost valuable time on the first sector, with the bit between his teeth he pushed hard on the lower two thirds to bring that time back, a credible 4.06.854 was a agonising 4 seconds off the podium but only good enough for 18th on the day.

Gee’s turn and he had been given a tall task as Australian Mick Hannah had set a blistering time up on the top section, Gee struggled to get going on the top but turned things around on the lower and middle sections. He flew into the finish arena just 4 tenths behind Hannah.
Reigning World Cup champion Aaron Gwin bettered Hannah’s time only to see hometown hero Greg Minnar push hard in front of the home crowd to claim the win. Gee happy with 4th made the podium once again and started the season on the right foot while Marc eyes up the next round in Italy where both he and Gee have won previously.

A big break to that race in June, enough time for Gee’s sister Rachel to return to racing and start her assault on World Cup glory.

All photos: Sven Martin