The Rampage is a spectacle: it’s spectacular spectating.
Mountain bike riders careen down the mountain, hucking off cliffs and jumps while choosing a route that will impress the judges watching from below. To that end, Red Bull and the riders build themselves personalized jumps and buff out landings below jumbo sized cliffs. Then they push their bikes to the top, saddle up and bomb down.
Redbull might have chosen a tag line less jinxy than “the land will rumble again” for the 2010 Rampage if they’d known what the weather was planning. On Saturday, while the riders were finishing their prep for the following day’s competition, a nasty little storm rolled in sending vendor tents flying as athletes scrambled for lower ground.
We were out for an evening ride when the sky turned from mildly overcast to murky orange and menacing. The strengthening t-storms were churning the desert sand and filling the sky with plumes of Zion dirt. Steering down the trail became interesting as powerful gusts pushed us sideways into the sagebrush. With lightning striking the ground only a few miles away, we pedaled the trail in record time.
Sunday was lined up to be a repeat of the day before: a few little dawn cirrus clouds were joined by happy little cumulus cottonballs. Suddenly, the purple underbelly of a cumulus nimbus rose from behind a nearby ridge, coughing out distant rumbles. It tracked straight towards the Rampage venue. Wind began snapping the Red Bull flags sprinkled along the cliffs and then the guys next to me tied bandannas across their faces. The next two riders crashed when gusts carried them away from the transitions they aimed to land on. The event was postponed. Wind hold, they announced as fat rain came in sideways.
It rained and stopped, rained and stopped, cleared again, rained once more, then, when I was sure the weather had soured for the day, suddenly went blue. The helicopter took to the air and the athletes soon followed suit. The event finished without any serious injuries to any riders.