Downhill Urban Mountain Bikers in Colombia Test the Limits of Sanity

This Red Bull video from the Manizales race winner's helmet is mortifying.

Andres Jaramillo/Red Bull Content Pool

In the city of Manizales, Colombia, mountain bikers conglomerate to publicly showcase their cojones in an event called Urban Downhill. Red Bull is, naturally, involved, given its adoration for public showcases of derring-do. This year, a 25-year-old hometown biker named Marcelo Gutierrez won the race — by 4 whole seconds. The point-of-view GoPro footage from the race is what I imagine composes a lunatic’s nightmare.

If there was ever a born-bicyclist, Gutierrez is one. He’s been riding bikes since age 3, racing BMX since age 6, and bombing downhill since age 10. His hometown advantage is strong: he’s now won five times.

It no doubt helps that he knows the streets intimately. The riders he’s up against undoubtedly practice the course and are aware of its contours, but that hardly compares with actually growing up on those same streets.

The Urban Downhill competition makes a daring, daunting labyrinth of Manizales’ streets. Bikers navigate outrageous turns, cruise over off-kilter jumps, and rush down massive stair sets — and they do so as fast as they humanly can. (I’d be ecstatic if I simply made it to the bottom alive; I’d go see a psychiatrist if I made it down in Gutierrez’s time of 1:44.)

Gutierrez won the prestigious Valparaíso Cerro Abajo race in 2013, and finished runner-up in 2014. Footage from those courses is equally awe-inspiring: