Weekend Warm-Up: Danny MacAskill in Home of Trails

In 2018, Danny MacAskill stands at the top of a trail in Graubuenden, Switzerland. With one foot on the ground, the other perched on his pedal, he is ready to rip straight down. Not one to stay in his comfort zone, the stuntman demonstrates his skills in this new playground. He balances over the ledge of a ravine and effortlessly pulls off front and back flips.

From mechanic to extreme athlete

You’ll remember MacAskill. He’s the trials cyclist from the Isle of Skye who broke into the mainstream in 2009 with his five-minute YouTube clip, Inspired Bicycles. He didn’t expect the video to go viral but when it did he almost immediately quit his job as a mechanic to ride full time. Red Bull signed him less than nine months later.

He’s now amassed more than 300 million views on YouTube, making him one of YouTube’s biggest stars.

MacAskill continuously pushes his limits. At first, his stunts were mostly in the UK. Now, the world is his playground. Switzerland’s Graubünden region has the largest number of bike trails for an area of its size in the world. The network of trails covers more than 2,500km.

Seven-time Swiss-National Downhill Mountain bike Champion Claudio Caluori joined MacAskill in Switzerland. He’s evidently not as confident to push his limits as MacAskill. That’s not to discredit Caluori but rather shows how otherworldly MacAskill’s abilities are.

MacAskill has since performed a back wheel-bump front flip over barbed wire. He summed up that insanity simply: “It’s amazing how much energy it generates when it’s timed properly!” He’s made headlines with a backward downhill wheelie too.

A dangerous profession

MacAskill sometimes spends between four and six days to land a trick, for just six seconds of film. He’s broken more than 20 bones, including a knee cap. One of his peers, Martyn Ashton, was paralyzed when a stunt went wrong. “As I age I’m going to have to start looking after myself a little better,” MacAskill says.

In his 2020 video Gymnasium, it took 199 failed attempts for MacAskill to jump from one slack-line to another on both wheels. “That’s why we put the mistakes in at the end of the videos, to break the illusion a little bit. There are hundreds of attempts. That’s normal for me. Not to do something the first time,” he says.

The 36-year-old has bucket loads of perseverance and determination, but his attitude to cycling is that it should be fun.

In Switzerland, fun is absolutely what comes across. MacAskill and Caluori put on a great show.


Chasing Dreams Travel

Alex Myall is a writer for ExplorersWeb. She has been writing about exploration and historical expeditions for four years. Previously she wrote about the human body in relation to exercise for publications and websites based in New Zealand. She also wrote modules for the Zealand Certificate of Exercise, Level 4. Based on Wellington’s South Coast, New Zealand, Myall is a full-time mother of two young girls, an enthusiastic trail runner, and a fanatical traveler. She also owns and operates a small travel agency.