This week marks one of the most anticipated events in the Red Bull Signature Series that airs on NBC: Red Bull Rampage. Airing this weekend, the Red Bull Rampage features one of the manliest, toughest sporting events in the mountain bike world, bringing the creative, unrestricted ethos of free-ride mountain biking to the contest arena, while staying true to the sport's core ideals. Poised on a sandstone ridge in the brutal landscape near Virgin, Utah, riders choose whatever line they dare between an established start gate and the finish line 1,500ft (500m) below. Exactly what happens between those two points will be legendary.
Competing in the event is Darren Berrecloth, is one of the world’s top freeride mountain bike athletes. Hailing from Parksville, BC, Darren has been widely regarded as one of the best freeride mountain bikers in the world, ever since he exploded onto the scene with a third-placed finish at the 2002 Red Bull Rampage.
Known for taking lines that other riders don't even consider, Darren's success and sheer guts and determination has seen him beome somewhat of a legendary figure – even more so, since breaking his back in 2011, but returning to competitive riding for 2012. If you're looking for further evidence of the man's daredevil sensibility and razor-sharp agility, do yourself a favor and check out this GoPro clip from this year’s event.
CraveOnline recently caught up with the man whose friends call him The Claw ahead of the Red Bull Rampage event to discuss his current plans, a sequel to his tremendous Where The Trail Ends biking film, Red Bull Rampage and more!
CraveOnline: It's been a pretty crazy year for you, between the release of Where The Trail Ends and all the events happening all the way up to this Red Bull Rampage event.
Darren Berrecloth: Man, I tallied it up and I don't think I've spent more than a month at home this year. But I'm always out doing something fun.
You've had tons of broken bones and some pretty serious injuries – do you feel any of that when you're out riding, even casually?
Yeah, there's always aches and pains I'm always going to have to live with, a little residual stiffness. But for the most part I'm pretty good at working through all my injuries, making sure I can do whatever I can to minimalize all that stuff.
There are a few elder statesmen of the sport who have transitioned into more of a mentor and brand rep role within the sport – do you have any long term ideas as far as that's concerned?
I think I've done a pretty good job of integrating myself into the companies that I work with, and I do my best to make it so I'll have a long time to stick around. I gotta stop doing all these crazy things so much (laughs). The great thing about my sport is that I do all these things that involve a lot of trail riding, and so I don't have to be doing all this crazy stuff all the time.
At what age does it generally become time to hang up the real competitive pedals? Or is it something you feel…
It varies for everyone. I mean towards the end of someone's career, maybe they'll get a big injury and that's that, or if you'll start getting your butt kicked and you find yourself among young guns chomping at the bit… or, you know, some people just burn out as well. So it really varies. But I've seen it as early as 25, as late as say, 38. But then you look at a guy like Kelly Slater, and he's still winning world championships at 40. You have all this medicine and advancements in technology, and the prime age is getting later and later in life.
You've designed quite a few courses in your time – what are some key elements necessary to making an ideal course for you?
First off it's gotta be fun. We don't do this other than to have fun on our bikes, so it's gotta be fun. It's gotta be challenging, big…. and at the end of the day it's gotta be safe.
The Bearclaw Invitational course is permanent, so there are no teardowns – how to you keep it fresh year after year then?
Well, I try to change it a little bit every year. I'm always looking to make it that much better, and to change it up and keep things fresh for everyone. I just want to make it more perfect every year.
The evolution of the sport really seems to be picking up – how much of that do you attribute to things like Red Bull Rampage and the Bearclaw Invitational?
I think a lot of the popularity of the sport just comes from more people getting out on their bikes, and they look over their shoulder and suddenly see a bunch of other people. Then there's magazines and events and such that make people say 'oh whoa, I didn't know this part of the sport existed, let's check this out.' So then you've got all these events like Rampage, and this movie Where The Trail Ends, it just gives that much more popularity and exposure through the mass media.
Your Where the Trail Ends movie is fantastic – you've gone out of your way to say that it's not bike porn, but visually it really is a beautiful thing.
Yeah, that's always a tough thing, because all those little tucked away towns that you find really authentic and special – they're so far out of the way that going back would be such a pain in the butt. So I just put it in the memory bank and just remember it as it was. Maybe someday I'll hit some of those places again.
Do you have an itch to do more filmmaking?
Yeah, I've been filming movies for the past ten, twelve years. This one was the pinnacle of all of our careers, and a sequel is already in the works. Ideas are already being thrown around.
To catch all the Red Bull Rampage 2012 highlights, tune into NBC on Saturday, December 8 at 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m.