Skilled riders make watching as adrenaline-pumping as riding. You know you’ve spotted one when the words “that guy’s crazy” repeatedly escape your lips. By the third time you say it, you’ll want to be crazy, too.
You are one of these guys if you can’t ride to the coffee shop without airing out a staircase or alley-ooping a wall. You manual (“wheelie”) through crowds to kill time (seconds) navigating around slower movers. You name your dog “Endo,” a pit bull or blue heeler or some other stout ball of energy who literally trembles waiting for the signal to go fast—kind of like you. Adrenaline is the drug, and fear is the dealer. Ripping down trails and sending big drops with steez (style and ease) obviously meet the requirements, but technical terrain that forces you to think about lines thrills you, too.
These risk-takers aren’t really taking the risks an untrained rider might think. They know the terrain and the tools they need to conquer it, especially getting air. They’re not just going downhill fast. They’re going downhill smart (usually). Smart just allows for fast and airborne. Fast and dumb doesn’t last long.
If you watch these guys huck twenty-plus feet or pin it through a rock garden at thirty mph, it looks like aim-and-shoot madness, as if courage alone gets them through. Listen to them afterward, and you’ll hear technical discussions about how to tweak their bikes, where there’s a better line, and how they almost missed a landing. Really, it’s not that different from a beginner describing how a rock threw them off balance. They’re just bigger rocks—much bigger—and the dexterity reflects an understanding of how bike interacts with earth that can only come from experience. These aren’t book-learned skills.
They’ve got that experience because gravity riding’s actually been around for quite a while. They’ve got secret stashes all over the county, even the state, but that doesn’t make them any less inclined to encourage new people to take up the sport—they want to see it grow, if only because it means more access for them. In fact, the only thrill greater than sending the drops and throttling the downhills is knowing that someone saw you do it. And maybe letting them take your picture.
Bomb down these blacks at Keystone: High Speed Dirt serves up steep rock gardens with multiple lines through the rocks, a heart-pounding step-down, and challenging technical terrain. Peppered with step-downs and doubles, Milky Way delivers the goods with a flowy ride through rooty, technical berms. Paid in Full pays off with super high-speed open ski runs; Wild Thing with rock drops, untamed twists, and steep, hairpin corners. Helter and Skelter rattle with rocky descents—sometimes twisty and steep—and optional jumps. Jam Rock: all of the above. When it’s all said and done, corkscrew down Sanitarium for a mind-blowing finale.