Ramped Up

A few weeks ago I got a call from distance world record holder Ryan Capes telling me about a jump he has coming up on Sept. 26 in Reno, Nevada. What makes this jump different from the rest of his historic leaps is that he'll be attempting to break the ramp-to-ramp distance record that has stood for a decade -- not ramp-to-dirt, ramp-to-big hill or ramp-to-lake: ramp-to-ramp, like Evel Knievel used to do it. Capes claims he needs a way to distinguish himself from the distance-jumping herd, and kicking it old-school by jumping ramp-to-ramp is his solution.

We hooked up with Capes to find out more about the upcoming jump and his newfound quest for an X Games Best Trick medal.

Tell me about this jump you have coming up in Reno this weekend.

It's the second stop of my 2009 tour and I'm doing it for the Reno Street Vibrations event at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. The entire thing is being put on by Livfast.

Which tour is that? Where was the first stop?

The first stop was in West Virginia at the Mountain Fest Bike Rally, and I set a record for the longest jump on a 250 four-stroke at 208 feet.

I plan on being the first guy to jump 300 feet ramp-to-ramp. The record right now is 253 feet, set by Jason Rennie and I will beat that.

-- Ryan Capes

Nice. So what makes the upcoming Reno jump different from all the rest?

Well, about three years ago at Evel Knievel Days, I went for the ramp-to-ramp world record and I jumped 246 feet -- seven feet short of the record. I would've broken it back then, but I didn't due to the fact that the wind was whipping badly and I had to shut it down -- so I'm coming back to Reno and I'm going for the record again. I'm on a bigger takeoff ramp and a bigger landing ramp, and I plan on being the first guy to jump 300 feet ramp-to-ramp. The record right now is 253 feet, set by Jason Rennie, and I will beat that.

Tell me about your landing ramp. I heard it's going to be huge.

Yeah, it's actually a portable landing ramp that'll get broken down and it'll partially be made out of scaffolding and the rest will be made out of wood. It's one-of-a-kind and it'll be the largest landing ramp ever built. It's 155 feet long and it has 135 feet of tranny with a 25-foot safety deck.

Gnarly. How tall is it?

It's going to be 30 feet tall. It's seriously the biggest landing ramp ever built.

So why are you taking the ramp-to-ramp route?

Because it separates me from everybody else. All the modern-day distance jumpers jump ramp-to-dirt, and some jump ramp-to-big hills, and I just want to be able to distinguish my jumps from everybody else's, and a landing ramp is more hardcore than jumping to a huge pile of dirt.

So you're just trying to keep it OG like Evel Knievel?

Yeah, exactly.

I just want to be able to distinguish my jumps from everybody else's and a landing ramp is more hardcore than jumping to a huge pile of dirt.

-- Ryan Capes

Did you hear about Jason Byrd's crash? Do you know anything about it?

Yeah, I heard about Byrd's crash. You know, he just shouldn't be doing what he's doing. I don't want to sit here and clown the guy and look like a punk, but there are guys who shouldn't be in long-distance jumping. Even Maddo -- he's had so many close calls -- it's a very dangerous sport and people take it for granted -- watching me and Seth through their days of growing up. These new guys just take it for granted.

Byrd does distance jumping the wrong way. He thinks it's safe because he's got some huge natural hill, but that's not how you break records -- you break records on flat, level ground. Maddo and I have these huge ramp gaps and the reason we have these huge gaps is because it's a lot safer. The problem with Byrd is that he doesn't have a huge gap and he jumps way down a hill, which isn't a world record, and he's in the air too long. If you have a big ramp gap, you land at the top of the landing, where Byrd jumps long distances but he falls way out of the sky, down the hill past level. It's not the same. Byrd is in the air so long, and he drops so far, that he doesn't have as much control over his bike, and that's what went wrong.

Do you know exactly what happened to him?

He came off the ramp and got looped out and twisted up. I really don't know how he got into that position, but he shouldn't be jumping as far as he is. My best regards to him and I hope he has a speedy recovery. I don't wish ill on anybody.

Tell me about the bike you recently had built.

It's a Kawasaki KX500 in a 250f frame made by Service Kawasaki and Mitch Payton at Pro Circuit custom built. It has factory suspension on it -- it's a fully built distance bike. It's nicknamed "The Destroyer" because it will destroy any world record. I would say I'm ahead of the game with this bike. The thing's like a light switch -- it goes up to 120 mph and even faster if I were to re-gear it. The speed is comparable to a street bike.

What have you been doing leading up to this jump?

Jumping in the foam pit and having fun. I've been riding a little motocross here and there, but you know, jumping ramp-to-ramp and distance isn't something you practice -- you don't want to put yourself at risk. You just go out and do it -- if you're getting paid, you do it!

Yeah, you're actually really good at riding FMX. Have you ever thought about taking your career in that direction?

I actually tried to get into X Games 15 this summer. I was trying to get into Best Trick, and I plan on trying to get in next year, too. I don't want to be forgotten -- I still do freestyle in my free time. Before summer X Games I landed two true barrel rolls and I got discarded and didn't get into X Games due to it looking similar to an under flip, but they were pure barrel rolls. I'm working on another trick that'll blow any trick out of the water -- I'll call it the toilet flusher because it'll flush away Pastrana's toilet paper roll. [Laughs]