Downhill mountain bike master Aaron Chase recently accomplished the unthinkable: Riding from the summit to the base of a mountain without brakes, literally.
Riding Highland Mountain Bike Park's famed jump trail "Hellion," Chase removed his brakes, and chain, before dropping in — this video is a must-watch!
We caught up with Chase to figure out whatever possessed him to ride America's Bike Park's most popular, and high-speed, trail without the ability to manually control his speed — read on to learn more.
I decided to fully commit and take my brakes off.Aaron Chase
RedBull.com: How did this idea come about?
Aaron Chase: I love the Hellion trail and I rode it so much that I started death gripping the whole way down, except for two spots on the trail that I had to brake. Then I figured out a way to not brake for those other two spots and I had so much fun doing it — my buddies were getting a kick out of it — so I decided to fully commit and take my brakes off and really do it, brakeless.
Who's running follow cam?
A buddy named Alec Daigle, he’s also one of Highland Bike Park’s bike patrollers and a medical first responder — so he was on the clock and ready for any situation ...
There were definitely a few spots where I knew I better not make any mistakes.Aaron Chase
What was most intimidating about removing the brakes?
It’s dropping in at the very beginning — you're committed to the entire run the moment you start, because you’re riding with no brakes.
What was the scariest terrain on the mountain without brakes?
At the exit of a few of the big, long, high-speed Talladega-style berms there are some big trees just a foot off the trail — I had to really worry about what my "out" would be, should something go wrong ...
Without brakes, how would you save yourself?
I tried to think of every escape method — like if I were going too fast, maybe I’d have to simply fall off the back of the bike, rather than to the side. There were definitely a few spots where I knew I better not make any mistakes.
I wore more safety gear ... because if something were to go wrong, it was going to go majorly wrong.Aaron Chase
Any other escape methods you had mentally prepared?
I thought about if I started getting squirrelly and needed to really slow down, I could put both feet on the ground and sorta pick the bike up towards me, pushing my feet down like how a kid stops on a Strider bike. But this technique only works if you’re going in a straight line.
Did you take any other safety precautions?
I wore more safety gear with extra hip and tailbone pads, just to be ready because if something were to go wrong, it was going to go majorly wrong. Thinking about what I would do if I came around a corner and the trail was obstructed — fallen rider, debris on the trail, whatever — and bailing off the back of the bike would be my last-ditch option.
What other riding techniques did you use to regulate your speed?
The Hellion trail, or any trail, wasn’t built to be ridden without using brakes. So there are some spots where you have to ride the sides of the jumps and edge of the trail to find soft dirt that will slow you down. Or just slalom down long straightaways to increase the distance traveled to slow. I really had to concentrate on leaning the bike onto the side knobs of the tires at times — putting your tires on sections of the trail that you normally never would if you had brakes because you’re all over the trail. And even turning three or four times right before a jump just to chop a little bit of speed.