Baltimores inner harbour this week hosted the third annual red bull bike battle. The worlds best freeriders, trials riders and dirt jumpers took to the challenging course designed by BMX legend Nate Wessel. Nate spent weeks putting together a mix of wooden ramps, wallrides, dirt and rails, designed to test and push the riders to their riding limit.
A near miss by hurricane Ivan nearly saw the weekend turned into something more resembling a water park than a freeride park, but organisers swore the event would go ahead whatever the weather and everyone had their fingers crossed.
Sunday morning came and the sun shone on the righteous, the 32 riders each competed in a sixty second solo run to decide the level they were riding at on the day, they were then paired off in head to head heats with like riders.
The two riders entered the arena in this two-minute head-to-head battle, with the best rider from each round advancing until one champion emerged. Competitors were judged in five areas: use of course, magnitude of moves, flow, style, and technical difficulty.
22-year-old University of Vermont student Dave Smutok came out of relative obscurity to take first prize. Dave landed huge tricks including big airs out of the quarter pipes, Superman-seat-grabs over the cab of a tractor trailer, 360s, backflips, and a drop in from a rail 15 feet above onto a 10 foot bowl that the riders had lovingly nicknamed "The Death Drop".
Second place was taken by 17-year-old Reno resident and BMX rider Paul Basagoitia, who only started riding mountain bikes in the last 3 months. Paul smashed the competition with new skool tricks, winning over the judges with big tail whips over the ladder bridge.
Third place went to bike battle veteran and defending champion Aaron Chase. "Today was truly a battle. The weather held out for us, the crowd showed up, everyone was roaring, and the riders were killin' it, tearin' it down. Bike Battle is the all out battle. You gotta just throw down the gnarliest thing and hope your score holds up" he said. Judge Ralph Sinisi was blown away by Aaron's run: "I gotta say the wall ride that Aaron Chase did over the death channel was the best thing that's gone on today." Now whether Sinisi wasn't paying attention when the first ever mtb front flip in competition was landed by 24-year-old Maryland resident Jim DeChamp I don't know, but if he was Chase's wall ride must have been something truly special.
So yet another red bull fuelled event is over, as ever the big names, big obstacles and big tricks that have become synonymous with the red bull tag didn't let us down, lets hope the battle returns to Britain again next year.
Words by Wysiwyg