'You've got to be good at crashing': How two mountain bikers produced a stunning feat of skill

Hurtling simultaneously down a dirt-track on a mountain bike may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but for Kade Edwards and Brandon Semenuk, it’s a chance to push the limits of what’s possible on two wheels.

The pair recently collaborated to produce ‘Parallel II,’ a video which has totaled more than 400,000 views on Red Bull Bike’s official YouTube channel.

It’s a second take on a previous video from three years ago which now involves a camera fixed to a motorbike filming the duo as they ride mountain bikes down intertwining tracks at speeds of around 60 kilometers per hour (about 37.3 mph).

“It’s really just staying focused on what I’m doing and not worrying about Kade,” Semenuk, one of the best freeride mountain bikers in the world, told CNN Sport.

“It’s a bit choreographed. Like, we know our timing. We know what speed we need to hit, so I’m literally just trying to hit my marks.

“Kade’s in front of me, behind me, I’m not even thinking about him. I’m just trying to make sure I’m on point because, if I miss a beat, that’s where I have to consider that maybe I should stop or maybe I need to get out of the way sooner.”

Despite riding within a hair’s breadth of each other, both men say they felt calm throughout shooting, owing to the trust and respect they have for each other.

The moves were all planned in advance and set to a newly built route in British Columbia, Canada. Both riders agreed that the location was crucial to producing such an atmospheric finished product.

The location of the route, which took around two weeks to build, had previously been a paradise for mountain bike riders before much of it was burnt down last year.

While benefiting from the “ash in the air and the dust trails,” Semenuk said the project also looked to help get the property back on its feet.

“I think the imagery probably captured it a little bit more than the actual video, but just the light hitting the dust and the black trees; if you’re a cinematographer, it’s kind of a treat,” he said, adding that he hoped more routes would be built in the area as a result of the video.

“We got spoiled with that one, as sad as the whole situation was.”

‘Just go with it’

It was the first time both men were working together, but Semenuk never had doubts about asking Edwards to be his partner.

The British rider is a former junior downhill world champion and frequently competes on the toughest downhill racing tracks in the UCI World Cup, but he is no stranger to projects such as this.

For Edwards, the chance to create something beautiful with one of the legends of the sport was too good to turn down.

“We turned up there and we’d test the line that morning and that afternoon we’d be filming it,” Edwards told CNN Sport.

“Obviously, you’d have a good few goes, you’d have maybe 20 goes on it, so you kind of figure out what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go, what the timing is going to be because there’s so much to think about.

“At the same time, you just kind of have to not think about it and just go with it.”

Semenuk estimated that they reached speeds of around 60 kilometers per hour on the steeper sections and that even the jumps and tricks were done at an estimated 40-50 kilometers per hour (about 24.9-31.1 mph).

With both riders so close to each other at multiple points along the track, you’d think accidents were commonplace but both remained relatively unscathed throughout.

Certain tricks and skills may have taken longer to film than others, but both men were content with the finished product.

“To be an athlete, you’ve got to be good at crashing because you’re going to crash,” Semenuk said.

“But if you’re the athlete that crashes and hurts himself, then you’re not going to be an athlete very long.

“So as good as you need to be at landing the trick, you have to be as good at crashing on it.”

Semenuk’s need for speed

Adrenaline for Semenuk is simply a way of life. When he’s not stunning the world on two wheels, the Canadian can be found driving rally cars at breakneck speeds.

Although the two sports are different in many respects, the thread of fast-paced, daredevil action is a constant throughout his life.

Like many who excel in such compromising situations, he says it’s all about keeping calm.

“I think if you start to panic, you’re kind of having trouble already, you know? If you’re calm, it means everything’s going well,” he said.

“As an athlete, you know what you need to do. So until something starts going wrong, there’s no real panic.

“Kade, as well, like we put ourselves in a situation daily where we need to focus or there is some risk and you just kind of get used to it.

“Riding is honestly my most calm state because you are just focused on this one thing.”

Watch the video at the top of the page to see more of the remarkable route.

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