In the last of the Four by Three videos from the Athertons Gee takes on the Red Bull Rampage. He has good form at this event with two second places to his credit (2004 & 2010). In the interview below by Gemma Lacey he talks about racing the Rampage. Click here to watch the Four by Three episode.
You’re obviously very successful as a downhill rider – what is that drives you to test that and take part in things like Rampage, which are so much more dangerous?
It gives me that opportunity, like you say, to push things a bit further. When you’re racing World Cups each season, everything is very calculated, and I think that I felt with things like Rampage you can get a lot more creative and push yourself on, and I love that feeling of being at an event knowing the only way I’m going to get through this is using every ounce of skill and knowledge about riding that I have.
How do you decide when you get there where to ride, when it’s such a huge expanse – are there parts where you say, “I definitely want to ride that… or avoid that?”
The way I approach it is playing to my strengths, because I’m not a freerider – that’s not my style of event, so there’s no point in me trying to keep up with those guys and doing tricks and whatnot, so I’m going to go fast and ride the big stuff. The tricky thing is when you arrive on the first day, everything looks huge and so intimidating – so you can start building a line that looks huge on the Monday, but by the Wednesday or the Thursday, you’ve got used to it, everything starts to look a bit smaller and you find your lines that little bit more timid than you wanted. So you really have to take that into account when you’re scoping out that first line.
The crash was just an example of how a small mistake at Rampage can cost you so much
Is there a high point for you, or is it a more general love of the event that has you hooked?
The high point in my line was the gap that I crashed on and unfortunately that was my first try, so I didn’t actually get to ride it, but I think if I’d ridden that out it would have been a pretty cool line. That’s how Rampage is, you spend the whole week building and then crash, and you don’t even get to ride it. It’s pretty harsh.
Do you get scared riding these lines and is that part of what spurs you on?
Well, it’s not so much getting scared while you’re riding, it’s the bit before. You’ll find the line the first few days and you build it all week, and in your mind you know you’re riding it at the end of the week and you’re like, “Is it too big? Is it big enough? Am I going to be able to do it?” You really have to just have that belief in yourself, that you know you can ride it – you know you can do well and you’ve just got to keep that in mind.
Obviously you had a bad crash out there, how was it when it happened?
I’d had a crash earlier in the week and damaged my ankle, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to ride or not. Then I managed to ride on the Saturday so I was stoked I was out there again, but when I had the second crash, it was just… I don’t know. I was feeling good and on top of everything. It was just an example of how a small mistake at Rampage can cost you so much…
Can you remember what happened?
I remember all the run in and coming up to the lip and thinking my speed was good and I was going to be on line. Then I took off and I remember thinking, “This cliff is in front of me and this isn’t good, what’s happening here?” Then I remember thinking, “This is going to be a horrific crash and really painful,” and then it skipped from there when I hit the cliff to me being on the floor, and I remember thinking, “That’s all right, I’ve not had to go through all that crash.” Then I was thinking, “Hang on a minute, why have I not?” Then I realised I’d knocked myself out! I’d forgotten a little bit of it and I remember at the time being happy about that as I knew the crash was going to be pretty unpleasant and I didn’t want to go through that.
I was super lucky, I remember checking myself over after the crash and I couldn’t believe that there was nothing broken or dislocated.
What happened next?
The medics are really good. They’re up on the hill waiting and they were there within a few seconds and my mechanics were up on the course and I almost landed at the feet of one of them, there were a lot of people around to help you. I was super lucky, I remember checking myself over after the crash and I couldn’t believe that there was nothing broken or dislocated. I was cut up and bruised and that was it. I was kind of amazed about that.
Once you were back on your feet, what did you do?
I went and chilled out in the riders’ tent and kicked back, got a cold Red Bull down me. I was so beat up, I was feeling rough, I knew then I wouldn’t be able to ride the next day after knocking myself out and I was pretty bummed, but at the same time you’ve just got to accept Rampage is going to kick your arse out there.
Has it put you off, or can we expect to see more of this type of riding from you?
It’s hard to tell next year, as I’ve got a whole World Cup season to get through between now and then, so you can’t predict these things, but as it stands right now, I’d love to go back for sure.
In the meantime what’s next for you?
Look out for the last Four by Three – it’s going to be one of the best! It’s the one we can be most creative with too.