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Races That Can Hurt:
Now and then

By Adam Marsal

40-foot jumps from rocks and speeds of up to 60mph? In this series we’ll show you the toughest mountain bike competitions on Earth! Today we picked the most popular one and the one which started it all.

Red Bull Rampage

Rampage changed mountain biking and created what is now known as freeriding. Because of the excessively high rates of injury, the competition that was first held in 2001 has been cancelled for a number of years in the past.

The organisers have tried to find a different location to stage the event but have always returned to the tried and trusted, unrivalled venue that is Virgin, Utah. Nowhere else in the world offers the same conditions, with the soft surface of the red rock meaning that all sorts of new routes can be created.

Andreu Lacondeguy - Lifestyle
(Photo: Redbullcontentpool.com )

The race is not against the clock. The riders themselves work out where are they going to leap from the buttes down into the gulches below. The judges reward them according to the artistry with which they tackle the terrain. Riders jump from rocks more than 40ft high or sail across 70ft canyons. As the sport’s level improves, the tricks become more demanding. Cameron Zink, last year’s winner of the best trick award, landed the biggest backflip anyone has ever seen. The height difference from take-off to landing was 78 feet! We can look forward to this year’s race on the 28th of August. And watch Zink’s backflip again and again:

(Video: Youtube.com)

Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze Downhill

Full helmets, pads, maximum shock absorbers and above all incredible speeds of up to 60mph. Nowadays it is nothing unusual, but back in 1994 it was revolutionary. The best downhillers of the time competed against each other. American Myles Rockwell and German Jürgen Beneke became the finalists in the world’s maddest knock out race over a 3.4 mile track.

The track was wide and clear, but the gradient was horrifying and the bikes constantly juddered and bounced over the white gravel. The chances of skidding and ending up somersaulting down the slope in an avalanche of sharp stones were extremely high. It was difficult to maintain traction on the corners and by the end of the race both riders were exhausted. But only one rider could win.

(Video: Youtube.com / Brian Hunt)

Back then it was Myles Rockwell, who held the lead for the entire run in the final. The Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze Downhill became a legendary event. Last year, as part of the Mammoth Kamikaze Games, the race was staged again after a break of nearly twenty years!

Learn more about other extreme races!