- The Olympics might have dominated mountain biking news of late, but another event saw some Olympian efforts too
- Hosted in Wales, this is considered the world’s most testing combination of speed and technical downhill riding features
- And it featured a single South African, who showed no fear
There is no hiding at the Red Bull Hardline.
Hosted on a steep slope in the Dyfi valley, it showcases Welsh mountain biking terrain at its most extreme.
The Red Bull Hardline is exactly what it says: the toughest downhill mountain bike trail with huge jumps and a road gap that triggers anxiety within even the bravest downhill mountain bikers.
Hardline was the vision of some daring designed by the Atherton family, which amongst them, count an amazing seven mountain biking world championship wins, amongst three siblings.
Only the best, get to ride
For Hardline you can’t enter. Riders are invited based on their abilities. It is a select list of 24 and the challenge they face is immense.
No feature is considered too extreme and the result are some terrifying jumps carved into the Welsh mountain range.
By far the most testing part of Red Bull Hardline is the 20m road gap launching off a dizzyingly exposed ramp.
To some, Hardline is the purest downhill race in the world. A true test of skill, fitness, strength and courage.
Although Hardline was cancelled last year (like nearly everything else), its return in 2021 heralded the most ambitious track yet. And a South African entrant.
Cape Town’s Theo Erlangsen was invited and found himself amidst some of the world’s best downhill riders.
Boosting huge jumps and getting lots of air-time
Finishing a run down the Hardline course, without crashing or suffering an injury, is a feat in itself. Riders must contend with swirling wind conditions, generated by the Dyfi valley microclimate.
With Red Bull Hardline riders getting so much airtime, they are exposed to the real risk, of being unbalanced by gusts and crashing.
In the end, the event saw 21 of its 24 attendees finish, with England’s Bernard Kerr, winning his third Red Bull Hardline.
Much to his credit, Erlangsen finished ninth and showed that South Africans can ride the biggest features, with speed and style.