Extreme Cycling Reaches Unprecedented Heights

Mountain bikers are familiar with the feeling; a particularly gnarly stretch of train or a sheer downhill drop-off makes the stomach plummet and the nerves ignite. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at once… And, barring a  nasty fall, the experience usually results in a share-worthy story.

High risk cycling has exploded in popularity. Riders are pushing the envelope, testing the limits of themselves, their bikes, and the path ahead.

Last week, Norwegian cyclist Eskil Ronningsbakken tackled Trollstigen, a 3-mile stretch of road hugging the edge of a fjord. Thanks to the 10-percent grade,  Ronningsbakken travelled about 50 miles per hour along the downhill stretch. And did we mention that he was doing the ride backwards? Sitting on his handlebars? Watch the video here.


Ronningsbakken isn’t the only cyclist to conquer death-defying rides. Chile’s famous Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race requires that cyclists navigate narrow stairways and slanted alleys, navigating around the audience while plummeting downhill at unprecedented speeds. Take a look, courtesy of Treehugger.

“Daredevil cycling” has been criticized by many people in the biking community, who believe that it enhances the image of cycling as a high-risk sport. This, in turn, halts legislation that could mainstream cycling as a primary form of transportation in towns and cities.

In an interview with Bicycling Magazine, famed daredevil cycler Lucas Brunelle shed some light on the trend. Brunelle, who has participated in over 150 alleycat races, is famous for filming his high-risk rides, a move that has earned him critique for “glorifying” the movement.  He stands behind his actions, noting that “Almost daily, I get e-mails from people who tell me I’ve inspired them to ride more. And they’re taking risks in their lives… For a lot of people, ‘No, you can’t’ is a motto. I’m saying, ‘Hey, you can live life on your own accord.'” To Brunelle and his fans, extreme biking represents freedom and independence; it enables people to act out on their dreams. The catch? You might get seriously injured if you try to replicate his antics.

Mark Twain famously said, “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” Today, bikes fulfill many roles: They are a way to get from here to there as much as they are a way to experience freedom. And as they become ever-increasingly integrated into society as a primary mode of transport, it’s important to remember the magic that biking can give… Whether you’re plummeting down a mountainside at 50mph, or simply cycling down the block.

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