The Physics of Kelly McGarry's 72-Foot Backflip

Explore the numbers behind McGarry's massive canyon gap backflip at Red Bull Rampage 2013.
By Mike Berard

What does it take to nail a 72-foot backflip over a gaping chasm that threatens to swallow you? Other than testicular fortitude, it takes precision, experience and an innate understanding of physics. Kiwi freerider Kelly McGarry showed up to Red Bull Rampage in 2013 with all these tools in spades.

In the video above, watch as McGarry's electrifying feat is dissected through a scientific magnifying glass and spelled out in numbers:

  • He starts 91 feet above the canyon gap
  • He lands on the in-run going 31 mph ...
  • ... and must reach 40 mph before the takeoff
  • If he went 1 mph slower McGarry would fall 4 feet short
  • If he went 2 mph faster, he'd land 9 feet long
  • He launches on a 38-degree angle
  • He travels at 30 feet per second
  • 50 feet above the canyon floor
  • 72 feet across the gap

And then watch what happens when you overshoot the landing, as McGarry did in 2014. 

Watch the live broadcast on Oct. 16 on Red Bull TV to find out what happens over the canyon during the 10th edition of Rampage.

UPDATE: Due to heavy rains and thunderstorms expected in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, the Red Bull Rampage schedule has changed in order to ensure the best and safest possible conditions for both competitors and spectators.

Can’t wait for the best event in freeride mountain biking? Head over to the official Red Bull Rampage event page to see highlights of the first nine competitions, as well as more exclusive videos, photos and stories, like these:

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