When Danny MacAskill, legendary Scottish trials bike rider (and all-around god on two wheels), says at the beginning of his new short film, The Slabs, that what he’s about to ride is “pretty scary,” then you know goddamn well that it’s going to be a truly epic descent. One that would make mere mortals like us crumple to our knees, whimpering as we tearfully bail on the ride and slide back down the steep trail on our butts.
“I am a big fan of rock climbing and have been inspired by the various men and woman who set new routes and test themselves on some amazing faces around the world so I set out to find some challenging Slab Rock routes on my home Island of Skye with an aim to ride them in a continuous line and test what was possible on my bike,” MacAskill writes in the intro to the insane video.
He starts the show off by climbing to the top of The Slabs, located off the coast of Scotland, for his 1,600-foot ride down to Loch Coruisk below. The initial downhill seems fine, tame even. It doesn’t look that hard as you mumble to yourself. “Ah yeah, I could take that line, no problem.” And as it progresses, “I huck drops like that on [insert local trail here] all the time. No big deal.”
Then come the massive rocks and the gaps and the steeps. MacAskill goes from a languid but intense mountain bike ride down gently sloping side of a huge slabs of gabbro (a grippy, coarse type of rock similar to basalt) to dancing across boulders and bounding over huge gaps. The scale and steepness isn’t quite comprehendible until the drone shooting the descent starts to swoop and spin, showing the true angle with MacAskill silhouetted against the mountains behind him.
Craziness ensues as at one point he seemingly is about to run out of room on a precipitous knife-edge of rock that shoots down to the valley below. But MacAskill, being who he is, bounds up and out of the predicament, climbing like a goat and then continues to drop 650 feet down an even steeper, almost vertical, slope.
“I specifically picked lines that funneled me along a one-foot-wide ledge with cliffs dropping to the side,” said MacAskill in a recent interview with website UKClimbing. “It was quite a powerful feeling up there actually, I really quite enjoyed it,” he says. “Normally I’m used to doing tricks, so you’re maybe exposed for seconds at a time, whereas up there you’re doing a run where you’re exposed for a lot longer than that. It’s a bit more like climbing, I suppose.”
Check it out for yourself and bow down to the king of the death-defying stunts on two wheels.