Interview with Redbull Rampage Freeride Pro Dustin Schaad
When I met Dustin Schaad, it was in a bustling coffee shop in Salt Lake City, the usual setting I pick for interviews. I strolled into Coffee Garden, frantic from not being able to find my wallet nor pens to jot down notes. Once I collected myself, I scouted the room for the guy who gave out the most badass vibe, and immediately took my chances with the guy in the red flannel and gray beanie. I walked over to introduce myself and instantly blushed due to his sincere charm and good looks. We exchanged mutual friends and places where we liked to ski. I almost forgot that I was the interviewer because Dustin kindly took the time to get to know me and the Spread Stoke movement.
As an avid mountain biker myself and a witness to this year’s previous Redbull Rampage event, I was excited to delve into the mind of a big mountain rider. This past summer, I started every morning playing ‘Where The Trail Ends,’ dancing around in my bike shorts, fueling the stoke. What I really wanted to know was how the riders hucking their meat on the televisions’ STOKE compared with everyone else’s STOKE… Thanks to Dustin, I now have a better idea.
Dustin Schaad’s insight to the free ride biking world has come from a life-time of shredding and being a part of the sport’s progression. His passion for biking started on a pig farm in Ohio, where you would need a bike as a kid in order to transport on the gravel roads. Living out in the country, Dustin had plenty of space, always building jumps and dirt tracks to practice on. At 8 years old, Dustin began to race BMX bikes, and by the age of 15 he discovered what would change his life forever, mountain bikes. The mountain bike seduced Dustin around the same time 26 inch tires came out, he could now mob faster, romp bigger, and his playground was endless. Adopting the mountain bike lifestyle, Dustin headed west and landed in Truckee, Tahoe for 10 years where he progressed.
Dustin’s other outdoor indulgences: skiing and flying helicopters landed him in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2008. When Dustin wasn’t going to helicopter school or skiing pow at Alta, him and buddies would cruise to Southern Utah to explore limitless lines. Out of everywhere Dustin has traveled, including Whistler Blackcomb and New Zealand, Southern Utah takes the cake, ‘there is no other climate, dirt, and terrain quite like Utah, it is really a special place’ Dustin trails off. I can tell he has temporarily left the conversation to do some shredage day-dreaming. Dustin explained his love of big mountain riding and how he preferred shoots and film over competitions. Free riding is still developing, ‘we are trying to be all natural, yet we are throwing wooden features in, Dustin acknowledges that a direction is still being found within the sport. In fact, he was one of the few at Redbull Rampage that didn’t hit any man-made features on his runs. Although an all-natural run is just as gnarly, Dustin explains that you usually have to use the wooden features to win. Either way, all Rampage riders share a common humbleness and I’ll just go ahead and say it, balls, for the intimidating terrain.
The riders that compete in Red Bull Rampage arrive to the event site in Virgin, Utah two weeks before the competition. Each rider perfects his line with the help of three diggers. The best part about Red Bull Rampage for Dustin is ‘the day before the competition, super fun… riding with my boys’. According to Dustin, the competition takes the fun out of it because you are constantly waiting to drop in, sometimes waiting two hours, which can be discouraging. The several thousand pair of eyes might also have something to do with it too. With a crowd that size and a mean looking ban of cliffs staring you down, I had to know what went through Dustin’s head before dropping into his line. Nothing, everything goes silent and Dustin is in the moment, no better place to be.
Dustin rides year round and already has several big trips coming up including Southern Utah and New Zealand. His favorite bike town is Queenstown, a resort town on New Zealand’s south island. I already wanted to book a flight when he explained its bike-bum qualities, something I could relate as a second generation ski bum myself. Before he takes off to his extensive bike trips, Dustin is rehabbing his sprained ankle from one of the most gnarliests of Redbull Rampage crashes. Luckily, he will be okay, as for the viewers who witnessed it, we have to live with that image for the rest of our lives ;).
I refrained from asking if he wanted to go tear up the dirt sometime together, and wished him the best for his coming adventures. After the interview, I guilty listened to ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ by The Glitch Mob in my car, a song from ‘Where The Trail Ends’. It was than when I realized, the ‘STOKE’ big mountain riders like Dustin and myself shared didn’t come from the difficulty of the terrain but rather aspects like riding with your friends, challenging yourself, and doing what you love every minute you can.
Thank you Dustin, for being a bad ass and inspiring everyone to get after it!