Weekend Warm-Up: Danny MacAskill Redefines Mountain Biking

I first watched Danny MacAskill ride back in 2013 when the Banff Mountain Film Festival rolled through Austin, Texas.

While I had already been exposed to stellar rock climbing documentaries through Reel Rock, the Banff festival offered a diversity of outdoor films, taking me places I never knew I wanted to go. I loved every documentary I saw that day, but the only one I remember in vivid detail is MacAskill’s “Industrial Revolutions.”

It’s just a short, five-minute video filmed in an abandoned train yard in the Scottish countryside. There’s no dialogue. No exposition or narrator. Just a Scottish biker pulling off the most mind-bending stunts I’d ever seen.

Like anyone who watches MacAskill on a bike, I knew immediately that this was someone completely unique. The awe of watching MacAskill comes not just from the insane, death-defying stunts he pulls off (though they are extraordinary). For me, it’s his grace and sense of playfulness that continue to resonate long after.

Nearly 10 years later, MacAskill has become a world-famous athlete and one of YouTube’s biggest stars. The Scottish native returns repeatedly to his homeland’s rocky hills to make mountain biking videos that transcend labels — and the laws of gravity.

Just a year ago, he managed to prove he’s not done boggling our collective minds.

MacAskill on the Dubh Slabs

Like most of us, MacAskill spent the pandemic in lockdown. Instead of venturing far afield for a new video project, like his viral video in Gran Canaria, he found something close to home in Scotland.

Upping the ante, MacAskill bikes down a moderate climbing route in the Dubh Slabs on his home island, the Isle of Skye. Backed by the pulsing punk of Arcade Fire’s No Cars Go, MacAskill descends 500m of an exposed rock face where the slightest mistake would be fatal.

It’s terrifying to watch, and in a later interview, MacAskill called the latest project the craziest thing he’s ever done.

“I was even able to tackle the bottom slab [on the Dubh Slabs], which was probably the wildest thing I’ve ever done on my bike,” he said. “It felt pretty cool to be doing it but right on the limit of control. The tires were at 99 percent of their grip limit and the brakes were also right at their very limit. But it was an amazing feeling to get through it all.”

Still need to see more MacAskill? I don’t blame you. After watching “The Slabs” below, you can check out “The Ridge” and “Imaginate” for a complete education on one of mountain biking’s most creative and enduring stars.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.