Queenstown mountain bike rider Conor MacFarlane says the Red Bull Rampage 2016 was the most brutal week of his life.
The talented rider created a daunting ‘line’ down the steep sandstone cliffs of Utah, United States, at the world-renowned event last weekend.
Commentator and leading pro rider Cam McCaul said it was the most talked about and feared in the competition.
“If you held a gun to my head and said ride this line with the tricks he has planned and the preparation he’s had, not a chance,” McCaul said as Macfarlane prepared to drop in.
Macfarlane had taken two huge slams on the first day of practice on the biggest features of his line, leaving him with cuts to his face, body bruising and a wrist injury.
That left him unable to practise the line again before the competition.
Macfarlane says: “Come competition day I strapped up my wrist, took a bunch of pain killers and tried to get a quick bit of practice – five small jumps down the bottom to be precise.
“My first run I just mucked up the jump before the one I crashed on and lost a bit of speed.
“That resulted in my coming up about half a metre too short, which sent me flying over the handle bars.
“I winded myself pretty good but apart from that I was fine.”
Thousands of people watched the nasty crash live online on Red Bull TV.
And there was a sense of disbelief when the camera later found Macfarlane at the top of his vertigo-inducing line, lining up his Knolly bike for a second run.
Macfarlane says it was a difficult decision.
“I didn’t get any signs that I definitely shouldn’t and decided I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.
“So I went up feeling like I had gone a few rounds with Tyson.”
Unfortunately, he crashed out on the second one, too, but at least managed to avoid careering over the sheer drops on either side of his line.
“I don’t know what I was thinking to be honest. The body was too beat up to function properly, really.
“Hindsight is a beautiful thing.
“It was definitely the most brutal week of my life. All good though – walking away so can’t complain.”
Wildcard entry Macfarlane finished 18th of 21 riders at the big mountain event last weekend, won by Brandon Semenuk, with Antoine Bizet second and Carson Storch third.
“Hopefully they let me back next year so I can fix a few things on the line and nail it.”
His no-guts no-glory attitude did however see him win the new Kelly McGarry Spirit Award, created as a memorial to the late Queenstown-based rider who died in February.
“I feel pretty honoured to win a prize voted on by other riders and also for it to be about someone who embodied some of Kelly’s values.”
‘McGazza’ competed seven times at Rampage, including pulling off an insane backflip over a huge canyon in 2013.
Macfarlane: “Kelly was one of the most genuine people in the sport and loved by all so I’m honoured.”
Macfarlane’s now on his way back to Queenstown for some well-earned recuperation.