This is the final part of a Four part series, following Kyle Norbraten on the road to Red Bull Rampage. Check out the full Part One by clicking here. Check out Part Two by clicking here. Kyle is a professional mountain biker from British Columbia. Through his own words, follow Kyle on the journey through one of the biggest tests of skill and guts in the world.
Done and Dusted
Red Bull Rampage is done and dusted for 2016 and I have to admit it was the scariest venue I’ve taken part in to date. The amount of exposure on the upper ridges made for very calculated moves not only on the bike, but also on foot while we dug and smashed rock away to make sections possible to ride. There was no room for error and we definitely pushed our limits.
The exposure on the top section of the course is what made it so scary – narrow ridge tops atop hundred foot cliffs on either with side no room for error. I would compare it to walking or riding a bike across a tall bridge, that’s only the width of a side walk, minus the railings, then having the wind kick in – kinda gives you jello legs doesn’t it? Overcoming the stress of building and practicing the lines we built was the hardest part for me. So much of the event is mental. I knew I had the abilities to ride the lines we built, but I had to remind myself of that every day we chipped rock, moved dirt and neared the finals day.
Everything changes once I get on my bike and ride everything for the first time. Getting my tires in the dirt and landing every drop, jump or technical exposed section clears my mind of the stress I felt before hand. There’s still a fear and anxious feeling because the task of putting a whole run together is the ultimate goal and what I’m working towards, but practicing the lines gives me the confidence to know I can put it all together.
I think every athlete knows the feeling of game day, when all the prep and practice counts. It’s like state of heightened emotions and anxiety that’s controlled by clarity and confidence. Sitting in the start gate on a knife edge ridge, helicopters in position, cameras pointed at you, everybody watching, radio calls saying course clear, and then having the count down to drop in is a feeling like no other. It’s such a rush.
On my first of two runs I rode every section of my line how I wanted to, the flow was there, I landed my first trick, and as I made my way down to the last jump I set up and backflipped but once I took off I knew I was flipping too slow. I tried to pull it around but I came up short and went over the bars in a fluid crash and was back on my feet before I knew it. Fortunately I was bruised a not broken. I knew then that I had to take another run for redemption. Unfortunately on my second run the wind had picked up through the afternoon and a lot of us struggled against the wind. I was close but didn’t put the run together that I wanted.
It’s a bittersweet feeling to not accomplish the best run I could put together, but the most important thing to me is to leave Rampage as safe and sound as I can be. This event is without a doubt the toughest thing I put myself through and just to take part in it and compete, is a major personal accomplishment in itself and I can still leave with a smile on face.