You best find your rhythm. And you'd best find it right away.
Motocross rider Ryan Dungey tells Edge that he’s “blown away” by the Red Bull Straight Rhythm course, a dirt track that removes all corners and sends riders head-to-head down 2,900 feet—twice the length of a supercross track—of jumps, whoops and tabletops.
“It is exciting,” Dungey says. “You have to pick your point and work at hitting your marks and being perfect. Once you make a mistake it is really hard to rebound and catch up.”
Last year Red Bull set up a test track that Dungey and other Red Bull-sponsored riders tried out. This year, though, Red Bull Straight Rhythm offers a full event, with 32 riders competing at the Auto Club Raceway at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 4.
The 32 riders go head-to-head on the 25-foot-wide track in a best-of-three bracket format. But the riders won’t worry too much about the guy across the dirt.
“You definitely have to focus on yourself,” Dungey says. “If you take the focus and worry about the other guy you will make mistakes. You are used to racing against 20 guys, so this is a little bit better. It is simple, win or lose.”
Dungey says that last year’s track offered him “the most fun I’d had on a dirt bike in a long time.” This track will test a rider’s rhythm even more.
With 10,000 cubic yards of dirt, the 80 jumps could have riders spending more time airborne than on the ground.
Overall, there are 300 feet of whoops in three types of whoops sections—wave whoops, 12 regular whoops and sand whoops. Five back-to-back tabletop sections provide a first in motocross competition. To control riders’ speed on a track with no turns, four 10- to 12-foot obstacles have been erected to break momentum. The highest jump on the track is 10 feet high and the longest jump is 90 feet, peak to peak.
“Anyone who knows supercross knows there is very little room for errors,” Dungey says. “If you’re in a rhythm section and over jump, you screw up the whole section. A mistake and you can lose five seconds. If you make a mistake, you have to hope for [your opponent] to make a mistake.”
The best-of-three format takes a little pressure off, but not much.
Without the turns, Dungey says, the course runs quick and requires a steady pace at the highest possible level. “This is all-out, everything you got,” he says. “You are trying to scrub as much speed, get the bike to the ground as fast as you can to get traction. You are trying to squeeze everything out of the course.”
Dungey will compete against the likes of James Stewart, Brett Metcalfe, Dean Wilson and the returning Travis Pastrana in the 32-bike field. They all just hope they can find their rhythm and hold on for 2,900 feet.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.