Mountain Biking

Watch: The Physics Behind One of the Most Googled Moments in Mountain Bike History

Science explains the Red Bull Rampage video with 26.5 million hits...

You all know the video. You’ve all seen it. You’ve all loved it. You’ve all probably shared it with your friends in the past, shouting at the screen as you watch it time and time again in disbelief.

It is of course Kelly McGarry’s backflip over the 72ft canyon gap at Red Bull Rampage in 2013; a stunt that would rack up over 26.5 million hits on the original point-of-view YouTube video alone and make McGarry a US celebrity in the process.

The video was played so often after McGarry stomped it that most biker’s mums and dads would still recognise him to this day. The guy was popping up on morning television, chat shows and all sorts of places you’d never expect to find a rugged-haired mountain biker.


So just how exactly did McGarry nail the trick? How did he overcome the fear of not only stomping a 72ft canyon gap, but doing so with a backflip in there for good measure? Well, Red Bull have just dropped a video that shows you the physics behind it.

At the start of the drop-in for the gap, 91ft above the jump, Kelly is pretty much stationary on his bike. He then drops a cliff, “initiating a freefall of 25ft” and accelerates at 32ft per second. When he touches down, the rider is then travelling at 31mph.

The video notes that for a rider of Kelly’s size and build, the optimum speed for the jump would be 40mph. If he was going 39mph, he would come up four feet short. If he was going 42mph, he would go nine feet long. Kelly hit 40mph just as he launched off the ramp.

Powering off the jump at a 38 degree angle, travelling 30ft per second, McGarry initiates the backflip. After some top judging from the rider, who at his height was 50ft above the canyon floor, he makes the landing, and goes down in mountain biking history.

The feat made McGarry not only the most Googled man, with the most Googled moment, in mountain biking at the time, his footage also became one of the 100 most searched for things on the internet in 2013.

After all that physics, you’d be forgiven for thinking that McGazza had been working this out through practice and had done the jump before, time and time again, but our favourite part? It was his first attempt. Hell yeah!

Of course, Kelly’s run isn’t the only footage from Rampage to have caused an internet meltdown.

The start-to-finish Red Bull feature uploaded in 2013 has a huge hit count too – racking up over 12 million views on YouTube.

That would of course be the year that Cam Zink, king of the Rampage insanity, dropped a backflip over the Oakley Icon Sender, a stunt with over a million views on YouTube.

Many still believe his 2010 360 drop was the best trick in the history of the competition, but y’know, this wasn’t so bad either:


What can we conclude from all this? Well, basically that Red Bull Rampage is absolutely wild, and it only gets even crazier with every year that passes.

With Andreu Lacondeguy getting the highest rated score of all time at the comp in 2014, we’re eagerly waiting to see what he’ll do to defend his crown this year – and there’s already been reports about Nico Vink’s crazy line and Brandon Semenuk’s “terrifying” build getting ready to steal the show.

Rampage seems to be when mountain biking really comes into the public eye, setting the sport apart from other bike sports like road cycling and BMX. It’s the ultimate insanity to end a season that’s been filled with exactly that. And we. Can’t. Wait.

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