What Stresses Out the Gnarliest Mountain Bikers?

Red Bull Rampage competitors tell us what makes them nervous at this premier big-mountain event.
Mountain bike rider Mike Kinrade crashes at Red Bull Rampage
Mike Kinrade ejects at Red Bull Rampage 2003 © Ian Hylands/Red Bull Content Pool
By Mike Berard

Red Bull Rampage is daunting. Uniquely massive, its peaks and ridges unnerve the most seasoned competitor. With the main event just weeks away, we ask the athletes:

What is the most stressful part of competing at Rampage?

Kelly McGarry:
Choosing a line is the most stressful part for me. There are so many different options; it's a battle to find a rad line that is different from the other riders but that the judges will like, and that shows my strengths and what I'm capable of.

Mike Kinrade (pictured at top at Red Bull Rampage 2003):
The huge drive down from Nelson B.C. Then trying to make sense of all the options out there.

Brendan Howey:
The time leading up to the contest can be stressful. You want to be prepared, but it's hard to know what lines you will ride until you get out there and see them for yourself.

Antoine Bizet:
The top part of the course is the most stressful for me!

Thomas Vanderham:
There are many things that add to the level of stress at Rampage. Mentally, it’s getting your head around the fact that you're going to push your own limits throughout the week and you may not have the time to do it at your own pace. On a film shoot you can be a little bit more methodical about how and when you ride a particular line, but contests don't always allow for that. You have to be ready to push yourself.

Mike Montgomery:
Riding your line!

Mads Haugen:
I am from Norway and live in cold weather, so I think the heat is going to be the hardest part for me. The rest is just bike riding.

Yannick Granieri:
For me, the most stressful part of this event is that you don't know what to expect. You have no idea which line you will choose, so it is stressful to not know where you are going.

Thomas Genon at Red Bull Rampage 2012 © Ian Hylands/Red Bull Content Pool

Thomas Genon: (pictured above)
The most stressful part of Rampage must be the size of the jumps and how big and crazy you have to go if you want to even get into the final!

Garret Buehler:
The exposure on some of the lines is pretty stressful; it’s what really separates the Rampage zone from a lot of other spots.

Wil White:
Everything about it is stressful, but I think the most stressful part has to be trying to find and build a line that's easy enough to ride yet hard enough to place well in the short amount of time we have.

You need to find a line that will be the hardest thing you've ever done on a bike, but not so difficult that you can't pull it off. 

Cam McCaul:
The most stressful part of Rampage is the process of choosing your line. There are so many options and you need to find a line that will be the hardest thing you've ever done on a bike, but not so difficult that you can't pull it off. It's not uncommon for rider's eyes to be bigger than their stomachs... There are a few leftover lines from last year that were built but not hit, so it will be interesting to see if anyone revisits them.

Ryan Howard:
The most stressful thing for this contest would be having enough time to build a unique line, guinea pig it, then throw down a contest run -- all within one week.

Pierre Edouard Ferry at Red Bull Rampage 2012 © Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Pierre Edouard Ferry: (pictured above)
The most stressful part of Rampage is the big mountain ability you need to ride down this mountain: big balls and real bicycle skills. For me, Rampage is the best contest of the season because you can really ride what you want and what you like. You can make your line match your personal style of riding.

Kyle Norbraten:
I'm having a hard time pinpointing what is most stressful. It is either finding a line that is worthy or riding all the features for the first time. There's a fair bit of stress on contest day but I try to put that aside by being prepared and confident in what I am riding.

Kyle Strait:
I would say the most stressful part of the contest is all the build-up before the event starts. As soon as I get on my bike, there is no more pressure. It all goes away.

James Doerfling at Red Bull Rampage 2012 © John Gibson/Red Bull Content Pool

James Doerfling: (pictured above)
I think the most stressful part is the couple weeks leading up to the contest because it’s always on your mind. I catch myself constantly thinking about what's going to go down and what my game plan is.

Chris Van Dine:
I think the most stressful part of this contest is what you allow to affect you negatively. For some, maybe it's the pressure, fear of injury or a cross-wind gust at an inopportune moment, or wrapping your head around the consequences of blowing a crux line or gap. There are many factors at Rampage. I respect this contest and the desert, but I don't fear them.

Nico Vink:
The most stressful part about Rampage is trying to not get too stressed while hitting the biggest stuff out there, all in one run and making it down smooth.

Bookmark the Red Bull Rampage site to experience all of the content leading up to, during, and after the October 11-13 event days. Watch the live webcast of the finals on October 13, follow the Road to Rampage video series, and mark your calendar for the December 21 Red Bull Signature Series highlights broadcast on NBC.

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