Stoke Lab Issue No.3
Whoa…been a while since I’ve dropped anything here. 6 weeks on the road in BC with little time, energy or internet access forced me to shun the blogosphere but there’s a content a’comin! Over 12,000 images shot with an epic crew in all time deep deep deep conditions should keep winter stoke flowing all summer and well into fall. Hell, editing the files might take that long. Just about the time I left for BC, Stoke Lab Issue No. 3 dropped and inside was a piece I’d produced covering the 2010 Red Bull Rampage. The piece that ran was a pretty gutted version of what I’d written which strikes me as really odd given the low cost of pages for a digital only edition of a magazine but I digress. I’ve been wanting to release the original version for nearly two months now but didn’t have the file with me so here it is along with the imagery.
At first glance the corner of Hwy 9 and Camino Del Rio in Virgin, UT might seem like little more than a dirt lot leading to yet another subdivision unrealised in the post bubble real estate apocalypse. Millions of people have zipped past this seemingly innocuous crossroads on their way to and from the insane beauty of Zion National Park for decades. Yet to a select tribe of athletes this juncture is the gateway to mecca. That’s because just over the bridge spanning the Virgin River is a left turn that takes you 5 miles up a rutted out jeep road and here lies the hallowed grounds of Red Bull Rampage.
For 101 weeks this dusty address has lain dormant, biding it’s time for the next eruption of freeride mountain biking’s definitive event. For two long years the desert has reclaimed the venue, all but erasing any trace of the sites previous insanity. For 729 days the world’s best riders have been evolving to a crescendo that only this place can abide. Now, with the once empty dirt lot decorated with every conceivable flavor of Red Bull signage, dozens of the ever charming Red Bull girls flitting about in Mini’s crowned with overgrown cans, a fleet of box vans from every major bike manufacturer on the planet and the seemingly endless stream of heavily racked and stickered dirtbag F-150’s, 4runners and Outbacks, the time has come to once again peer into the fiery depths of this slumbering monster. Rampage the Evolution 2010 is on.
What transpired over the course of the next 72 hours is unlike anything else in sport. Here the sublime and ridiculous, the impossible and unthinkable are like many of today’s preeminent actions sports events, commonplace. What sets this event apart from any other is a combination of geologic and human forces coming together to create rolling epiphanies that merge the laws of physics and the creativity of the participants into a cauldron of kindred freedom and expression that has to be seen to be believed. A place where the only limitations placed on the event reside in the imaginations of the competitors themselves, for they are given a mountain as a blank canvas on which to create their own masterpiece. Shovels, picks and axes are swung in the heat and dust sending the venomous denizens scurrying for safer accommodations. What is wrought from this turmoil is a place where 60 foot canyon gaps and 40 foot 360 spins are, for a few brief moments, melded in total harmony with a landscape like no other on earth. A place where for a few hours every few years mans most noble invention, the bicycle, is itself seemingly reinvented, at least in terms of what was thought possible for it to do. This is Rampage.
When this dust storm finally settled a new champion was crowned and in an instant the din of the crowd faded into the silence of the wind. The final helicopter’s departure leaves only the call of the raven to once again be heard echoing off the canyon walls, man made features are burned in ceremonial tribute to the competitors that left their blood, sweat and tears in the dirt for all to see. As quickly as this spectacle was erected the desert will reclaim it’s red rock amphitheater leaving us with only the shallow artifacts of what transpired and the dreams of what is yet to come the next time this tribe gathers at it’s Mecca. The evolution of Rampage continues.