Remy Morton brings the gnar to a pure Utah mountain bike freeride line
First off, tell us why you want to take part in Rampage?
It’s the pinnacle of all mountain bike events. The Super Bowl. I’ve wanted to do it forever; it’s the top of the game, a bucket list thing. I’ve done all the other events I wanted to do, from racing World Cups to riding enduro bikes at Mega Avalanche and those kinds of things. Rampage is the one event left, so I really want to try and achieve it. I think only two Aussies have ever done it – and then not for about 10 years – so it would be pretty awesome to get it done.
Naturally for the edit, you wanted to film in Utah where Red Bull Rampage takes place, is that right?
We actually wanted to do it in South Australia but it fell through, so we made a last-minute decision to go to Utah where Rampage takes place. We knew we’d find the terrain we wanted to practice on, obviously! We knew it would be pretty insane. It took a heap of phone calls, re-organisation and logistics but within a week [in June 2022] we were in America and got into it.
What was the toughest aspect of filming in the desert in June?
It was a pretty big learning curve. I’d never been to America. I had no idea what the desert was like. I found out it was definitely the wrong time of year to go. It was 45 degrees out in the sun every day. We started the trip by watching Red Bull Formation, which let us witness some of the best women athletes riding at a high level. It was a good welcome to show us what goes down and let us know what we needed to do to make the reel as gnarly as possible.
So how did your first time riding in the Utah desert go down?
We were on the same range as the Rampage sites. You can see a lot of the spots from the access points, so we went over to the 2012/13 site as that is more hidden and we’d have more privacy. We picked the lines that followed some old runs and then linked in between three different runs, building a few of our own features in between.
I’d never ridden on such exposed edges. A lot of the time you’re standing on cliffs or ridges. I’d never had to be harnessed in before when we were building stuff. We were building for 22 days when we’d only intended on 10. We bit off more than we could chew. The main delay was that we had to hike all the water up because it was all so dry. We were carrying 300-400 litres a day up the mountain. We didn’t have a van so we were hiking up with 20-litre jugs. It really sapped your energy, which was the biggest battle.
What are your proudest moments in the edit?
The section I was most stoked on was midway through the edit. It’s two big drops in a row with a shark fin in between. That was the proudest. That landing took so long to build because it’s so steep. We were on a harness for a week, just hanging off the cliff doing 12-15 hour days building it. It was the biggest hand-build we’d ever done and one of the biggest drops I’ve ever hit. Diagonally it was 46ft [14m]. Really big.
It was the scariest thing I’ve ever hit in my life. I’ve ridden drops but not a heap of natural drops. The ones I have ridden have been tested. When you build it yourself, you do your best but it’s pretty gnarly. It was the first time in a few years I’ve really made myself uncomfortable, but it was a great feeling afterwards.
So you escaped the shoot without incident?
Not really. There was one bad overshoot on the first drop I did. I tore my pants in half. I head-butted the handlebars super hard and got super lucky. It was during the longest drop – the final clip on the riding edit. It was the first time I went 60ft [18.2m] in distance and the gap was 45ft [14m], so I misjudged it pretty bad.
What was the biggest takeaway from filming this?
Knowing what is achievable in a timeframe and knowing the battle of being in the desert. It was important to learn the dirt. The different mineral colours in the dirt – I now know what to go for. The white was super hard and the red was soft. I’m happy to have worked out a few things like that.
I learned a lot about speed, too. You don’t think about your forward projection and distance as you fall if you haven’t ridden a heap of drops, so it was nice to work that out. By the end of the trip, I was really confident in that.
Any iconic riders on this sort of terrain you look up to?
It was a trip when we went there. I thought a lot of things were cool. Perspective is weird. In real life, some of the stuff I thought was really impressive on video actually wasn’t as impressive as some of the stuff that didn’t look as impressive on film. Just in terms of size and blindness – some were way gnarlier when you see them in person.
In terms of riders, Brandon Semenuk is at the top of his game, I guess he’s won there a few times now. Seeing his lines, I really appreciated it as a trail builder as well as a rider, it’s such a high level of quality. I couldn’t believe how well all of his stuff was done.
What are your expectations if you ever get to ride at Red Bull Rampage?
I would like to bring my own kind of flair to the event. I have an in-between style of riding from growing up as a downhill rider and also riding BMX and dirt jumps, so I think I can bring my own style. More of a bike park mindset to that terrain and different types of riding which I don’t think many other riders do. I feel I have a good balance and mix of everything, so I’m very keen to bring my own flair.