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The Hans Rey Story: Did Somebody Say Impossible? ‘No Way’!

By Adam Marsal

If anyone ever said something was impossible to ride down on a bike, Hans Jörg “No Way” Rey tried to prove the opposite. Even in his 51 years of age, he still belongs among top mountain bikers. He is a trial rider, freerider, stuntman, pioneer of sport and, above all, a huge legend and a hero for thousands of bikers around the world. With all those achievements, he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1999.

Glaciers, cliffs or active volcanoes were all part of his playground even when his sport was not named yet. After arriving in the USA at the end of the 1980s, he told everyone to call him Rey, which sounded way more familiar than his true German name Hans Jörg. While riding in the mountains, there was always someone who doubted if some risky parts of the trail were possible to ride without asking for an injury. Since Hans was always able to respond with an incredible stunt, his nick name became “No Way” Rey and it’s remained with him till today.

Rey started with extreme riding at the beginning of the 1990s – it was the era when neither Internet nor YouTube existed and the word freeride was not yet invented. Everyone started from scratch. Hans Rey became famous for nailing a huge jump over a car on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles or balancing on the edge of a volcano in Hawaii. To the best stunts in his career he counts the first ever MTB descent from the Mount Kenya’s in Africa. He also gained a world-wide reputation for photos taken on Ireland’s narrow paths over the high sea cliffs.

Nowadays, thanks to a mountain bike, he’s discovering interesting places on the planet Earth. In his documentary movie series, he’s ben combining sport and mysticism. In the past, he cruised through Egypt following the steps of Moses, or at Cuba he rode along the route where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara fought against their enemies. Hans is a real traveller, which might come from the fact the he was born in Germany, has Swiss citizenship, and lives in Laguna Beach, California. During his cycling career, he has visited more than 60 countries so far.

Hans Rey at the Cairo Pyramids, Giza, Egypt.

In addition to his own film series, director Willy Bogner chose him as a stunt coordinator for “Fire, Ice, and Dynamite” and “White Magic”; as well as for the “Pacific Blue” TV Show. In 1996, he performed at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Recently, “No Way’s” trips have been combined with charity after Hans and his wife founded the non-profit organisation Wheels4Life. The society buys bikes and distributes them to people in the Third World. It helps the poor in countries without public transport to change their lives. Someone would object that it is more important to provide health or education in Africa or India, but according to Hans Rey, the bicycle is the mean of transport and without it these services couldn’t be reached or provided in these countries.

Among other things, Hans set about building trails all over the world. The correct ‘flow trail’ is described as an undulating cycle path that rises and falls for a while. It should not be extreme nor dangerous and the result should be a great fun to ride.

As a keen mountain biker, Hans tries to defend the legality of riding even in places where differently interested groups are trying to evict cyclists. He also tries to explain to the general public that the whole society can gain advantages from the cycling form of tourism. “Mountain biking tourism is a great way to make your country more popular and contribute to its economy,” says Hans Rey.

World Champion mountain biker Hans Rey with camel at the Pyramids Giza.

Despite having more than fifty sponsors, Hans belongs to the most loyal athletes ever, since his main partner – GT manufacturer – has been continuously supporting him since 1987. This is one of the longest-lasting sponsorships in the entire cycling world!

He won a number of trial races, and he even got to stand on the podium of the famous X-Games, however, most importantly his daring photos were hanging in thousands of households. For a whole generation of bikers, “No Way” Ray will remain one of the heroes of their childhood.