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Brett Tippie in Peru and the World of Freeride

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Brett Tippie in Peru and the World of Freeride

If you are a mountain biker but don’t know who Brett Tippie is, then I suggest you start getting to know him! He is an absolute legend in the mountain biking scene. In the words of YT-Industries:

“When Tippie started mountain biking in 1983, most of us were still in diapers […] As pioneers of a new era of mountain biking, they didn’t care about lycra and race results—only about pushing the limits of what’s possible on a mountain bike.”

Tippie was freeriding before “freeriding” was even coined a term in mountain bike lingo. By the way, freeriding can be loosely described as riding natural terrain with no real rules or set course; add into that some steeze, amplitude, and tricks, and you have a basic definition of what freeriding means in 2021. Brett, along with his buddies Richie Schley and Wade Simmons, created the first freeride team ever, The Rocky Mountain Fro Riders. These guys were launching completely rigid mountain bikes off of cliff sides and looking for MTB lines that didn’t even look rideable. They started a new discipline in the mountain biking world that gets your adrenaline pumping just watching it! Absolute legends!

Red Mountain Brett Tippie freeride Photo: Steve Shannon Photography

As ERGON comments about the Fro Rider team,

“The Fro Riders were the first professional freeride team and the craziest bike trio the world had ever seen, known for their brutal riding style inspired by giant cliff drops and steep slopes. Absolute superstars in the MTB world, they’ve appeared in countless films, magazines, and advertising campaigns. Before anybody really knew what freeriding really meant, the sport was given an identity by the Fro Riders and their films—like the Kranked series from 1997, or, somewhat later, New World Disorder.   Mountain bike freeriding was born.”

The Most Famous Freeride Event in History: The Red Bull Rampage

One of the biggest events and most coveted titles in freeride is the Red Bull Rampage. This major event takes place in Virgin, Utah, almost every year. Rampage has evolved tremendously since its conception in 2001, when one of the Rocky Mountain Fro Riders, Wade Simmons, took the title. One can hardly believe the bikes these guys were using in the first Rampage events! During the first years of the Red Bull Rampage no one had a dig crew—nor were there any sculptured jumps like the event nowadays. There was no water hauled in to pack down the lines and create safer landings. Line building consisted of moving a few rocks and raking a bit of dirt. Brett competed in the Red Bull Rampage of 2002 when the course was completely raw and as impressive as ever!

Red Bull Rampage

Huge Mountains with Big Descents: Brett Tippie in Peru

Over the years, mountain biking in Peru has become increasingly known for big mountains and epic downhill descents. Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire and a world class mountain bike city, sits at 3400 m. (11,150 ft.) above sea level. The shuttle rides alone take riders to an altitude higher than the entire continental USA. The Lares scree field, which does require a 15- minute hike a bike, begins at 4462 m. (14,640 ft). This descent is over 1536 m. (5,000 ft.) of pure, wild descent! MTB guides in Peru often hear the phrase, “This is higher than I have ever been in my life!” Naturally, with all of its big freeride lines and long descents, Brett Tippie was interested in mountain biking in Peru!

Brett Tippie rides in Peru Photo: Steve Shannon Photography

In 2017, the co-founder of Haku Expeditions, Nicole Koch, got in touch with Brett to begin organizing his first trip ever to Cusco, Peru. The tour came together in May of 2018, when Brett and four awesome adventurers came out to Cusco to begin riding some of Peru’s most iconic MTB trails ever. Haku created a 10-day Cusco Mountain Bike Adventure with some of the best shuttle downhill rides in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Brett’s contagious humor, combined with the epic scenery and 1500 m. (5000 ft.) descents, had everyone dreaming for more. Before the tour was over, Brett began scoping out the huge freeride lines that lay all over the region. He also began planning a bigger trip that would combine a 7-day MTB trip (containing the best local trails), along with a 5-day backcountry freeride expedition in the wild Andean countryside.

Freeride Expedition in Peru with Brett Tippie and Jordie Lunn

Nicole and Brett spent the next year planning and organizing for 2019. Brett invited Jordie Lunn, and Haku put together a cool crew of riders to explore Peru with these two legends. Adidas-510 and YT-Industries sent out Andrew Young and Steve Shannon to document and film the project. On the first day of their epic Peruvian MTB expedition, they headed out to the Rainbow Mountain/Red Valley area to begin some serious freeriding. First ridden by Kilian Bron, another pro-rider that has ridden many times with Haku Expeditions, the Red Line couldn’t be missed.

tales from the trails Photo: Steve Shannon Photography

This huge scree field is the epitome of freeriding. The descent begins at 4861m. (15,950 ft.) after a long 4-5 hour hike a bike in sandy conditions. At the top you will find not only unbeatable views, but also areas that are striped like the Rainbow mountains of Peru. Seeing as you cannot walk or ride on the Rainbow Mountain (which is visited by thousands), we took advantage of this small section to get some amazing shots!

Rainbow MountainPhoto: Steve Shannon Photography

From there, the crew began the long descent down to the bottom. Once this mission was complete, they headed out to the small mountain village of Pacchanta, where they stayed with a local family before embarking on a fully supported mountain bike expedition. The next three      days were spent hiking, biking, and camping—all while searching out epic freeride lines in the Andean backcountry.

Pachamanca fire Photo: Gabo Diaz

Haku made sure to purchase an alpaca from the local farmers, they enjoyed a long-time tradition of the Peruvian Andes called Pachamanca. This involves making a stone oven into the shape of a pyramid. It’s then heated (by fire) for about two hours, before being smashed down and adding potatoes, fava beans, platano, and freshly cut alpaca steaks that are then buried in the ground and cooked for an hour. A wonderful Andean cook, Rocky, made many meals that kept them filled with the needed calories for a trip of this kind.

Brett Tippie and Jordie Lunn in Peru Photo: Steve Shannon Photography

Long Live Jordie Lunn

The entire crew at Haku Expeditions and all of  the adventurers who came out to ride with Jordie Lunn remain heartbroken over his tragic passing only five months after his trip to Peru. The heartfelt memories made with him and the times spent on the trail will never be forgotten. For those who don’t know, Jordie Lunn passed away on October 9th, 2019, while riding with friends in Cabo, Mexico. A legend in the mountain biking scene, Jordie Lunn will remain sorely missed by all who knew him.

Where Will You Find Brett Tippie Today? Present Day (2021)

Where will you find Brett nowadays? Yes, you can still find him looking for steep, gnarly lines. At the age of 52, he is still shedding big vertical lines and looking for adventure. His fun personality and confidence on the microphone and in front of a camera have earned him countless jobs announcing for races, MTB events, and for PinkBike. Recently, he started the Brett Tippie Podcast (which you can find on Youtube or Spotify), where he interviews MTB legends, professional mountain bikers, and up-and-coming riders in the MTB world. This podcast is a great thing to listen to when shuttling up to the trails!

When Brett is not busy snowboarding, announcing mountain bike events, or riding, he is spending time with his family—he’s often seen shredding at the Whistler Bike Park with his wife Sarah Fenton Tippie or his two daughters.

Future Plans for Brett Tippie and Haku Expeditions

At the moment, Brett and Haku are currently planning a trip to Ecuador. Ecuador, like Peru, has big, long descents that you can reach with a shuttle vehicle. The combination of high alpines, lush Andean forests, and volcanic freeride lines make Ecuador a top MTB destination worldwide. The country is quite small and allows for a cross country mountain bike vacation that hits all the best bike trails and some fun bike parks too. Ecuador also features the Galapagos Islands right off the coast. A quick plane ride from Quito or Guayaquil, this ecological reserve is a bucket list item that should not be missed!

Haku Expeditions currently hopes to ride Ecuador with Brett in November 2021. However, with the possibility of Canada closing the borders again, they may push it up to 2022. If you would like to be included in the small crew of riders that will adventure to Ecuador with Brett, get in touch now.

Written by: Nicole Koch

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1 – Getting your heart rate up isn’t really your thing, and you rarely (if ever) exercise. Your idea of a perfect vacation is total relaxation: sitting on a beach, sipping a mojito, and just generally vegging out. 

2 – You don’t necessarily work out regularly but you aren’t averse to the idea of doing something active. Although you don’t exercise that often, you don’t necessarily consider yourself out of shape.

3 – You exercise one to two times a week but do not have a normal schedule that keeps you biking or doing other activities weekly. You don’t go to the gym or train for any specific sports but you lead a relatively active lifestyle by biking, hiking, skiing, or whatever it may be. For biking: climbs and long descents give you some trouble and you tend to get tired after about 2-3 hours on the bike.

4 – You exercise 3-4 times a week and enjoy physical activities such as biking, hiking, skiing. You are active. For biking: you enjoy climbs that are are moderately long and being on a bike for 3-5 hours in one day doesn’t get you too tired or fatigued. 

5You exercise at least 4 times a week and are an avid athlete that is consistently in good shape. You’re more or less game for any kind of adventure. For biking: you’re comfortable with being on your bike for 5-7 hours a day. 

6 – You live and die for exercise, sweat, and suffering. You only want to climb higher, go farther, and prove how much of an animal you are. Steep climbs, long descents and big days are something you are looking to do more of and you can’t wait for your next adventure. 

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You’ve been riding a mountain bike for a couple of years or less and you’re most comfortable on smooth single-track and wider, forgiving doubletrack. You like rides with scenic views; you like both ascending and descending on well-maintained, safe trails. You’re looking for an active but relaxing mountain bike vacation; you’re not into jumps, drops, super steep trails, rock gardens, roots or taking big risks on your bike.

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You’ve got two plus years of experience mountain biking on single-track trails under your belt; you’ve gotten pretty confident behind the handlebars and are beginning to expand your mountain bike abilities. You like riding most types of terrain, and you’re comfortable both climbing and descending on single-track trails with smaller technical features such as rocky sections, small drops, and small steep sections. You aren’t trying to walk on most of the trail and are looking to take small risks with things like speed, jumps, rock gardens, and stair sets to improve your skills as a mountain biker.

Intermediate Tech:
You’ve got three plus years of riding on singletrack trails of all sorts with features such as rock gardens, steep sections, rolls and drops, roots, and small jumps. You are confident on the bike in most situations. You’re constantly looking to improve your riding skills and enjoy riding for extended periods of time climbing and descending in terrain of all sorts. 

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Ten plus years of experience riding single-track, freerides and biking of all sorts. You live for steeps,  jumps, rock gardens, techy trails, long descents, big ascents and discovering new terrain. Mountain biking is one of your passions and you are ready and confident to do what you love in a new and challenging place.
You can handle anything we throw at you — jumps, rock gardens, steps, technical descents, tough ascents, etc. Biking is a central part of your life. For you, the bigger the challenge, the more excited you get.

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