There’s far more happening on the steep, spiney mountains in Southwest Utah than most of us understand by the time the athletes at Red Bull Rampage ride down the ridgelines. After three full days of digging, moving earth from one spot to the next, and guinea-pigging the fresh lines, the athletes finally ride it for points.
Anything to make the days leading up to the competition less taxing and more convenient are appreciated. Most of us would jump at the chance to rip this Can-Am Commander, loaded with a bike rack, attachments for shovels, pickaxes, and power tool stowage on the way to ride, but for now we’ll just have to hear how freeride and Rampage veteran Tyler McCaul has been making the most of this “dig rig” at home close by the stadium of mountain biking’s super bowl.
How long have you been using these at Rampage?
So, my dig crew this year was joking that it only took 12 years, but we finally had a side by side to use for Rampage this year, and it was a game changer. Usually we all pile in my truck and beat the truck to hell. I used to camp on top of my truck during Rampage, too, when I was dead broke and didn’t want to cough up the money to get a hotel room before I lived out here.
I’d wake up at sunrise, break the tent down, get my crew, drive out, set the tent up, make dinner, just a huge process. This year, I’m also partnered with Ford and I’ve been driving one of their Broncos. We drive that from the house, which is about 15 minutes from where I currently live to the base of Rampage, throw all the tools in the dig rig and drive out. So this was our first year doing that, which was huge.
As far as my first experience with the side by side, I was able to borrow a big Maverick X3 four seater that they had a overlanding build-out on and had like just all the accessories you’d ever want.
I had that over last winter to use for some film projects I did, and just made me realize how much better it is than drive a 30 minute, completely chore-of-a-drive in a truck, or a five minute super fun rip on the way to go dig. The Maverick is a little more like performance based, so it’s got a ton of travel, you’re sitting back like you’re in the Batmobile, but it’s not the best work rig.
The Commander is the best of both worlds, because it has enough suspension to have fun and go faster than a typical passenger vehicle. But it’s like the sport utility aspect of it where you have a little mini truck bed, you’re sitting more upright like a truck, it has a roof rack, all the tools and stuff like that.
How much travel does it have?
I want to say it’s 12-13 inches. The Maverick X3, I think those are in the 20s. It’s insane. The first time I drove one of those, I was just cracking up the whole time, hitting bumps you never thought you’ve be able to hit. I didn’t even reach 20% of the potential of how that thing was meant to be driven.
Are there other athletes using side-by-sides like this?
For sure. Semenuk had a partnership with Polaris for a while, but he’s had one at Rampage every year. Then there used to be a fan vote, whatever they called it for Rampage. And he has such a huge fan base, sometimes he wouldn’t even make it to the bottom of his run. He crashed out a few years and always won that fan award and since Polaris was a sponsor of Rampage, the award for that was a brand new Razor. So he just had like these things coming in like crazy.
So I was always jealous of that. And then Carson Storch has been working with Can-Am for a while now. He had a four seater Maverick X3, now he has a two seater. And then Brett Reeder is on the other end of the spectrum; he has a Can-Am, a Defender Max, which is more utility based. But the Defender he’s got has a fully enclosed cab with heating and cooling and all the comfy stuff. And that thing’s just a workhorse. He’s had that at Rampage the last few years. Zink usually has one. Every year it’s more and more people with them, because they’re just such a good tool to have.
We’re allowed one vehicle—you can either drive in your truck or your side-by-side. But everybody who has the means is bringing them and a lot of companies are loaning them for just the event now. That’s what the Dig Rig is for me, it’s not my personal one. Some companies are realizing it’s good to have it out and about in that environment. It gets a lot of eyes on it, and some companies want to help us out because they know it’s such a good tool to have.
What were the must-have features for you on the rig?
A bike rack for sure. It’s got a trailer hitch receiver, so that’s super easy to pull off. A bed extender, just so you can get even more room out of the bed. Water; we did a bunch of water jugs on the back, and then a roof rack to put tools, and Can-Am makes the link storage system which are these little things that pop into these little eyelets. You twist them on and then the ratchet straps, you put all the tools on it which is super convenient.
So that works for like shovels, pickaxes, rakes. That’s pretty much all I need for out here. But, we were thinking if it went up to Carson or to Brett they could use it in the woods. And Can-Am has ties with Makita, so they got the whole setup of Makita chainsaws and angle grinders to sharpen shovels and basically anything you’d ever you’d ever need for any environment, if you’re in the woods or in the desert.
Personally I try not to rip out too much of that stuff because it’s a desert. The trees have been struggling for water their whole life.
What do you find yourself using the most?
I think the dump bed is super handy, because we do a lot of rock stacking out here. You usually have to hunt pretty far to find the rocks — you use all the rocks up close by and then you have to walk a hundred yards to find a good one and then carry it all the way back. I used to use a wheelbarrow, but that’s not ideal either. So now I can just drive and right off the dirt roads, throw some rocks in, and then drive right where you want and dump the bed right where you want it.
Are those for reinforcing drops or jumps?
Yeah, just for stacking, like, if there’s a lip on the edge of a cliff that the cliff rolls over, we don’t want to have to make the lip right where it gets flat and want to bring it out as far as we can, then we’ll stack it to make it level or however tall we want it and then do the perimeter too. So it takes a little bit longer sometimes, but you have to use less material in terms of dirt. And sometimes there’s not much dirt around and it’s just shale or rock, so we use the rocks and then just do a minimal rock fill.
And you’re using the rig outside of the competition?
Yeah, it’s also just super fun to rally. The Defender, the one that Brett has, that’s kind of more specific to work. But the Commander has enough travel to have fun and it has enough power. I haven’t yet, but I want to take the wife out to Sand Hollow Sand Dunes and it has enough power to get around there.
And I live in town called Tocquerville. There’s this place called Tocquervilel Falls and my second time driving there in my truck I said, “I’ll never drive my truck there again.” It was over an hour of just smashing over lava rock. But in a side-by-side you can get there in about 20 minutes. So it’s not just a workhorse it’s fun to cruise around in.
And if I want to go fix up a set of jumps — those damn Sur-Rons are a huge problem out here, the electric motorcycle things. They just destroy all our jumps that we spend a long time manicuring and watering and packing and riding in. So yeah, the Sur-Ron repair crew. You can drive right out to everything.
Have you used the rock sliders on it much?
I’ve been high centered a couple of times just trying to get up a little bit higher. So yeah, those things come in handy for sure.
Anything you wanted to add?
I just remembered it has a light bar on it too. We had some late night drives out of there because we’re allowed to dig from sunrise till right before sunset, and then they call everyone off the mountain if you’re still out there. A couple of nights we were at the very top and still had our all our tools out there. So we walked out late, and stock headlights will get you by but the light bar is super sick. It has a little Bluetooth sound system, which is awesome. More just like conveniences more than necessities. But having all that stuff was pretty sweet.
I just pinch myself when I look in the driveway and see it out there.
Annnd, they cost as much as a truck.
You’re not wrong.