Half a dozen things to ponder
The third edition of the Red Bull Hardline went down at the weekend in North Wales. The self-described “world’s toughest downhill race” was won by Bernard Kerr.
It was a fantastic spectacle and a truly one-of-a-kind event. Here are six talking points about it.
1. Is Bernard Kerr the best all-round rider of the moment?
Hot on the heels of an impressive World Champs performance, Bernard Kerr’s win at the 2016 Red Bull Hardline didn’t seem to surprise anyone that much really. Sometimes a rider just has the momentum. Sometimes a rider seizes the zeitgeist (if you can do such a thing – but you get what we mean). Kerr most definitely is the man of the moment.
Some riders are fast. Some riders are exciting. Some riders are stylish. It’s rare for a rider to have all three of these qualities. Kerr has them in spades.
2. Are we going to see more non-World Cup ‘gnarl DH’ events?
You could tell from the reactions from – and the interviews with – some of the riders at Hardline that they were loving competing away from the World Cup series. They were loving the extremely awkward and sketchy areas of the infamous course. The sort of stuff that you would never encounter in a World Cup in a million years.
Red Bull Hardline is a weird mix of timed racing and Rampage-style hucking. We’d love to see more events like it taking place please!
3. Hardline was a type of riding we could all strangely relate to
Riders pushing themselves – and each other. Taking risks. Crashing. Being scared. Being thrilled. Having a laugh. Being competitive but in a social kind of way. Although the riding was massively out of reach of the sort of stuff that we get up to, the general vibe and intent was the same.
4. Is Red Bull more powerful than the UCI?
Or more important at least? As you can see from the photo credits, Red Bull are their own media house and production massive these days. In terms of getting exposure, a Red Bull event is far more effective than most of the events put on by the UCI.
In a traditional race-sense, the Hardline isn’t that significant. It’s only been going three years and there’s not many competitors who actually do it. But in this new age of social media sharing and YouTube views there’s a growing number of riders who are prioritising Red Bull events over pretty much any other sort of racing.
5. It’s all fun and games until…
… someone loses an eye. That’s what all our Mum’s used to say isn’t it? There is something a bit freakshow and rubbernecky about events like the Hardline and Rampage. It’s all about being extreme and pushing things. Inevitably this is going to result in broken bones – at least. We’re all guilty of egging-on the spectacle but who is going to ultimately take responsibility should the unthinkable finally happen?
6. What about the women?
It’s all a bit of sausagefest isn’t it? Is there a way of tailoring a ‘gnarly DH’ event for female competitors?