His hands blistered and sore after seven days of building trail in the Utah desert, freeride mountain bike competitor James Doerfling lived up to his international reputation as a steep slope rider willing to take near-vertical descents at this year’s Red Bull Rampage.
“I didn’t do as well as I had hoped but I made it home alive and in one piece — and that’s a feat in itself when you’re competing in Rampage,” said Doerfling, who placed 14th in the invitation-only, world-reknowned event last month.
“I just wanted to put on a good show and make some memorable moments and I think I did that.”
Did he ever. Doerfling wowed the crowd and announcers when he successfully rode the steepest line in the competition, which he shared with Kamloops rider and friend Graham “Aggy” Agassiz, also competing.
“I knew I wanted to build a line off the face, something crazy and steep to wow the people right off the bat … it was like I was on a bike,” he described of the section. “Once you drop in, it’s full on.”
Doerfling, who has competed in Red Bull seven times now, said organizers changed the format, making for fewer riders with no qualifying rounds.
“That made it less stressful.”
To compete in Red Bull, riders choose two builders to help make their line in seven intense days leading up to the competition. Doerfling chose Jeremy Stowards and Mitch Cheek and shared a portion of his trail with fellow rider, Agassiz, who crashed badly between Doerfling’s runs.
“A lot of people crashed because of the wind,” said Doerfling, who had to watch and wait while medics rushed to assist Agassiz, who broke his pelvis during the event.
“Mentally it’s hard,” he said of seeing a rider go down. “Over the years you learn to block that out, or at least you try. When you’re at the top and you’re about to go you get tunnel vision and then you just go for it. It’s a pretty amazing feeling, just making it to the bottom.”
These days Doerfling has been taking advantage of the warm November weather, keeping busy riding and filming for future segments on biking websites. He is also preparing for his role in a second full length feature film which, in part, will be shot locally in the spring. He said the film will focus on the mental and physical struggles of big mountain riders like himself.
“I love being out in the mountains where there’s no one around, creating unique content,” Doerfling said of what motivates him to take such risks.
“Laying down first tracks, and knowing no one is ever going to ride it again.”
Doerfling was also just featured in bikemag.com.