Urban mountain biking is all about recreating the thrill of riding through nature at breakneck speeds in a more accessible environment.
We tend not to think of cities in the same way that with think of rural landscapes. Cities are flat, controlled, tame areas; their personality comes from the people and things built by people that inhabit them, whereas the woods and forests get their character from the way that they were made by nature. But this isn’t always the case — there are plenty of urban areas built in surprisingly dynamic ways — and there’s no better way to illustrate this than by taking a bike and hurtling yourself down the streets of that city.
Check out these 5 breakneck urban biking videos for your daily fix of Adrenaline.
In this urban biking video, two riders take on the streets of Taxco, Mexico, which appears to have basically been built into the side of a mountain. In their case, taking on the streets doesn’t just mean cresting some little uphills and downhills: they fly down staircases and across bridges built over steep drop offs, using roofs and other features of the city streets to get around. The momentum they build up, meanwhile, seems almost impossible to control, increasing with each different corner they take and bridge they manage to traverse, but they’re up to the challenge; as fast as they’re going, you never get the sense that they’re ever in danger of falling. Which is good, because falling while going that fast, at these types of downhill angles, would not be a fun experience at all.
Just looking out from the start of this race in Columbia, you know you’re in for something insane. It begins going straight down a steep hill, and it doesn’t get any easier from there — the biker, still being carried by the momentum of the downhills, then goes down staircases and even up ramps off the sides of building walls, then across other ramps and jumps through the streets. These urban biking ramps aren’t just trivial obstacles there to make him look cool, either; if the rider doesn’t stick the jump or the landing, he won’t be able to make it through the course, and he could end up taking a very hard, nasty fall. For that matter, the course itself is very unforgiving; there’s not a lot of room for error, and any error would be met at best by a complete loss of momentum and speed, and at worst, a bit of pain.
This course is a bit of a hybrid: it combines the urban landscapes of the last two videos, including the stairs and ramps and steep streets, with forested landscapes as well. The riders go from the streets of the city into the woods, where the course becomes much tighter and more in need of navigation, and then back into the city. As a whole, this urban biking course is more claustrophobic and has sharper turns than the other two, as well as a few incredibly narrow passageways that require what you might call deft maneuvering.
This video starts with a view of the entire area, and how steep the drop is, giving you an immediate sense of the altitude we’re dealing with. Soon after that, the rider skates right by a pole that was in his path. All the while, as he handles the incredibly challenging maneuvers that, were he to put one wheel wrong, could have him falling dozens of feet into the valley, we keep getting glimpses of the beautiful landscape. Whatever you think about the challenges and qualities of this course in particular, it’s hard to argue that the surroundings themselves are anything short of dazzling.
Here’s something a little different. The last four videos we looked at were all of cities built into the sides of hills, giving them great natural downhill qualities. But there are downhill aspects of completely man-made urban structures as well. One of those structures is malls. Called the DownMall, this urban mountain biking course features riders handling all of the details of urban malls that we’re used to traversing on foot: the escalators, the second-floor corners, the tight walkways. The escalators in particular — which have been stopped, just so you know; biking down a moving escalator would be an impressive feat indeed — pose the most significant challenge. They’re like man’s version of the downhill slope: just far bumpier.