There’s never been a more challenging MTB competition than Red Bull Rampage. Every year since 2001, we watch the boldest bikers of the world rush down the steep slopes of Zion, Utah, to write their names in history. One of them is Tyler McCaul (31) who moved from California to Utah recently just to get closer to the best riding spots. We reached him online to make a short interview about how dangerous it is to drop from a 10-metre-high cliff on the bike. We wish you a fast recovery from your latest injury, Tyler!
You’ve been competing in Red Bull Rampage since 2010. How has the event evolved throughout the decade?
The event changes so much every year. It’s crazy to look back on what it is now compared to what it used to be like even just since I started competing in it. The main thing is how much we have all learned to work with that terrain and build bigger and better things and utilize the water to shape and pack the dirt so we don’t sink in and crash as much. That lets the riding progress even more and helps us to land things that we otherwise may have crashed on.
What are the essentials for a Rampage participant? Is there something that makes an athlete predestined to take part in the event?
I’d say having a background in downhill racing, or just being comfy on a downhill bike is definitely necessary. That and having the ability to find a line while looking at a blank canvas in the desert, and knowing how to build that line, is also very important.
What do you experience in the air while doing the monstrous drops like those in Rampage? Can you tell us what you feel during such a long flight? What is the most crucial part to land the stunt? Will the size of drops and jumps grow or have humans reached their limits?
It’s the most fun feeling ever to me. You pick up speed so fast, and some drops truly feel like you’re free-falling. The most important part is making sure that you get the speed just right. If you go too fast or too slow on a big drop, it can be pretty bad. I don’t think we’ve reached anywhere near the limits of how big drops can be. I think the perfect set-up exists somewhere in the desert to go way bigger. It would need to have the right dimensions with a long steep landing, and I think we could go way bigger. I hope to find it one day.
What has been the scariest moment of your career so far? And what has been most painful?
Ahh, that’s a tough one. I think anytime you’re in the air, and you know that you are going to crash and there is nothing you can do about it, those are the scariest times. I think the most painful might have been this injury I’m dealing with right now, but it’s hard to say because I try to block some of those moments out of my memory!
Anyone watching you riding in videos might think you’re crazy, but there must be a lot of experience and training behind the skills. Did you find a perfect blend of training activities that made you a master of freeriding? Are there any other sports involved to make you perfectly fit?
It’s all I know and it’s just what I grew up doing and I never stopped. I think it’s funny when people call it crazy. I think working in an office every day is crazy!
How has COVID-19 affected your (professional) life? Have you discovered something new while the world’s been caught in lockdown?
My fiancé and I have been doing our part in trying to social distance the best we can, but luckily we pretty much live in the middle of nowhere out in the desert so that hasn’t been too hard! I’ve been rehabbing a pretty bad ankle injury since January actually, so I’ve pretty much just been stuck at home while I recover anyway. Been spending my time trying to learn a little more about photography and video editing, so I can step my game up on creating things once I’m back at it.
The Accomplice movie featuring you and your brother Cam will be out soon. Why anyone reading this interview should watch it?
Ya, I can’t wait to see the movie. We had a lot of fun filming for it, and I’ve heard that the other segments in the movie should be pretty cool to watch as well. People should watch it because fully produced movies like this are pretty rare these days, and to me, movies are a whole lot more satisfying to watch than scrolling through a million different garbage videos on Instagram. Long format, high production value movies need to be supported so that they don’t end up with the same fate that most print magazines fell into.