Words & Photos by Tyler McCaul
The first time I went to Virgin, Utah was back in 2003 to watch my brother, Cam competing in his first Red Bull Rampage. I was only 13 or 14 at the time and I couldn’t comprehend that people actually rode bikes down that kind of stuff. I thought I was a pretty good rider at the time, but out there I was a pussy. I couldn’t even walk on those ridges without feeling like I was gonna die. Cam took a huge crash during the event and I was devastated. I said I’d never ride Rampage and that the whole thing was just stupid and crazy.
Here we are almost 15 years later and Virgin is my favorite place on earth to escape to. What’s more, Red Bull Rampage is my favorite event to ride every year. I guess my 14 year-old self would call me a hypocrite as I’ve come so far from my first experience there. There’s just something about the desert there that just draws me in. You can do whatever the f*ck you want out there without anyone bothering you, and from a big-mountain riding perspective, there’s no place in the world that compares to it.
A couple of weeks ago was the first time I did a trip out there with absolutely no agenda. Usually when I make the 11-hour drive through the Mojave Desert east-bound for Utah I have a lot on my mind. I’m either going for a video shoot on a crunched timeline and know that I have to scare myself in order to get some good enough clips, or I’m going out for Rampage. The stress of that event alone makes the already long drive that much more unpleasant.
This trip was a different story though. I literally just went out there to have fun. A buddy was supposed to come with me but he bailed out last minute, so I decided to make the drive out anyways. My camping setup is pretty on point these days so I knew I’d be okay and pretty self-sufficient out there.