When you’re cruising around the locations of events like the Red Bull Rampage freeriding competition, you meet some people that have a different take on mountain biking.
So what is freeriding?
“Anything but racing, “said freeride mountain bike ambassador Jeremy Hottinger.
Hottinger lives in southern Utah, not far from Zion National Park and the Arizona border. It’s a place that lends itself to this extreme genre- one of riding mountain bikes down incredible, risky and challenging terrain.
In freeriding there are no trails, just lines: paths of least resistance, even if that means hurling off a cliff or sailing over gaps in the landscape.
“It’s pretty much riding down exposed terrain that’s untouched.”
Hottinger says the Virgin, Utah area is where it’s at for this kind for riding. He knows it, as do freeriders from around the world who converge on the desert slopes and rocky terrain.
“It’s just the most progressive riding. You can hone in of any skillset. You can express the way you view riding, come out and build anything. To me this is the ideal spot.”
Freeriding is gaining attention, and Hottinger has earned support from companies like Zeal Optics, Dakine and Giro.
So what goes through Hottinger’s mind, approaching a drop off or jump that sends him 10, 20 or even 50 feet into the air?
“I’m thinking about the next one,” he said. “All in all, I’m doing what I love. There are moments of sheer terror but it’s pure euphoria at the end of the day, so that’s all that matters.”
“It takes a particular kind of person and specific mindset to be attracted to something this dangerous.”
What about the bikes?
“We have way more suspension. Wheels are bigger, tires, more knobs, bigger brakes… more burly.”
When asked if people find him crazy, he laughed.
“I sure hope so.”
To Hottinger, freeriding, is just that: free. No trails. No rules. Nothing to stand in his way.
“I can ride anywhere I want,” he said. “I can just do my own thing. No signs or fences are going stop me. I’m just going to go ride and freeride.”
This post originally appeared on adventurepro.us in May 2018.