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Mountain Biking

We Asked Danny MacAskill About The Scariest Day He’s Spent on Two Wheels

Heavy rain, high winds and a concept too crazy to have ever been considered before...

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Danny MacAskill doesn’t have the most sheltered routine. If he’s not off filming in some far-flung part of the world, he tends to spend his evenings making use of the local street furniture, usually in such a way that causes cups of coffee to drop unnoticed.

From riding around the ruins of long-abandoned towns to defying physics on top of Scottish cranes, the trial riding star lives life on the edge. Often the edge of cliffs, cranes or castle walls to be a bit more precise.

But out of all his insane stunts and venturesome videos – which have over 150 million YouTube hits between them – which single moment would Danny MacAskill mark as his most dangerous ever on a bike?

Photo: Red Bull/YouTube Screenshot

We caught up with the man himself at the Edinburgh International Science Festival to ask just that, and it turned out to be a fitting location for the question.

“One of the scariest things I’ve ever done was definitely the front flip off Edinburgh castle back in 2010,” he remembered. “It was a trick I had never tried before and I only had an hour and a half to learn it and then to try and pull it off at the castle.

“It was raining and there was a 40mph wind. The health and safety officer was behind me with a wind gun… ”

“It was raining and there was about a 40mph wind blowing. The health and safety officer was stood behind me with a wind gun as well, because if it went over 50mph we would’ve had to abandon it. There was a lot of different thingsthat made it pretty heavy going.”

The stunt was an eventual success of course, and became the jaw-dropping opener to Danny’s stunning feature ‘Way Back Home’.


Not even the best trials rider in the world can stomp every shot first time though, and when the stakes are as high as they were, this simple fact can prove rather unnerving.

MacAskill continued: “Around that time I had been off the bike for about nine months, prior to the start of filming Way Back Home. We’d been filming a little bit already but I didn’t have a huge foundation beneath me at that point.

“The first couple of times I was lucky in having a mat I could try the flip on to. To my surprise the bike actually did start going round. I didn’t think it was going to work at all.

Still find it mad that Danny MacAskill pulled a front flip off that wall… Not the worst view! #edinburgh #castle #scotland #trials #mtb #bike

A photo posted by Stuart Kenny (@stuartkenny92) on

 

“It was a big deal at the time. You know what you need to do and you know you can do it, so you just need to get on with it. There was a lot of running about and getting my thoughts together, but in the end it’s just a case of chilling out and getting it done.

“I landed it twice and crashed twice in the end. The first time I landed it we weren’t happy with the shot, but we got there in the end!”

There’s no doubt that the concept was a remarkable one. From conception to execution, the idea was ambitious, demanding, even a little surreal.

Tell most people that they’ve got 90 minutes to learn how to front flip then try the trick and they’d probably burst into tears. Drop in the fact that they’ll be trying it off the wall of a 900-year-old fortress and they’d probably have a heart-attack.

Photo: Red Bull/YouTube Screenshot

So was it this combination that made the trick even more formidable than the likes of riding ‘The Ridge‘? Partly.

The rider continued: “The technique behind the front flip was all quite complicated. There’s a lot of power involved and there’s a very precise technique to get it right. In my mind there was much more of a chance of injury there than somewhere like the ridge.

“On top of the ridge, because there is such serious consequences if you went off the side of the cliff, you have to keep your riding within a certain comfort zone.

Photo: Red Bull/YouTube Screenshot

“A lot of the stuff up there was just me riding along lines. Whether I was climbing with the bike or riding it along the edge of these cliffs, I did feel quite comfortable. That’s something I’ve been doing for years, so it was quite a natural feeling, whereas when I was doing the front flip it was a completely new sense or feeling.”

There’s no reward without risk for Danny MacAskill…

There’s certainly nobody in the world who can claim MacAskill isn’t courageous anyway. Once the rider sets his mind on something, it’s going to happen whether it takes one day of seven.

Sure, there may be some minor or major setbacks along the way – he’s actually spent over two of the past five years off his bike injured – but there’s no reward without risk in the world of Danny MacAskill.

We’re sure we’re not the only ones who can’t wait to see the rewards of his next risk either.

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