HucknRoll.com athlete Mike Hopkins kicks up Navajo sandstone at the sixth Red Bull Rampageby Dan Hall
On the first weekend of October 2010, gun-proud Virgin, Utah, residents tolerate an infestation of dirty mountain bikers for the progression-pushing sixth Red Bull Rampage—where Big Mountain and Slope Style riding converge. In a remote desert outside of Zion National Park, riders and their diggers are given a week to manipulate a dangerous network of ridges so as to build routes that link man-made features with the natural geography.
During the competition, athletes drop more than 1,500 feet in a couple minutes and are judged on choice of line, technical ability, and complexity of tricks. HucknRoll.com athlete Mike Hopkins returned to the event for another shot at the podium and to push the limits of his riding this season.
Mike Hopkins' Runs
Hopkins worked the ridge without the Oakley Icon Sender and stepped up to the massive 60-foot canyon gap that he owned last year—only to suffer two brutal crashes. One, caused by a slipped pedal, resulted in a tip-blistering grundle grind that would cause a mortal to quit riding altogether.
The second attempt resulted in a mid-flight bail that sent Hopkins' bike into the landing with enough force to snap an ultra-burly Marzocchi Triple Eight—and to send Hopkins pointed for the E.R. for X-rays. Luckily, his custom-painted FOX Rampage Monster helmet and Leatt neck brace each performed its respective job.
We caught up with the godfather of going effin’ big for a little Rampage beta.
Bender, how did this event come about?
We wanted to do something along the lines of freeskiing for mountain biking, like Valdez in AK, and started to look for locations. Around 2000, the location we had needed longer runouts, so I suggested the place that I lived in at the time, Virgin. Two weeks later, Todd Barber came down, checked it out, and was like, “Yeah, this will work.” That venue was soon outgrown, and the Rampage moved to its current location.
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen today?
Aside from Zink's pinnacle run, Gee Atherton's runner-up line with the giant transfer to wall ride.
It’s pretty obvious looking at the lineup that it's stacked with our neighbors from the north; what does America have to do to start pumping out some more talent?
Well, we need to get out of the parks and onto the mountains. Get a triple clamp. U.S. resorts need to start accepting mountain biking for the potential it has and need to start catering to the riders. Only making money during the snow season doesn’t seem like the best idea, especially with global warming.
The Red Bull Rampage has reached a point where—like freeskiing—the big-mountain perspective has grown so large that athletes now seem diminutive against their backdrop. It has reached a point where athletes have approached the limit of grandness—but the technical and trick aspects will continue to evolve.