Learn the physics behind biker Kelly McGarry’s 72-foot backflip

Kelly McGarry Red Bull Rampage
There’s a lot more science between a 72-foot backflip than you might imagine.

In 2013, professional freeride mountain biker Kelly McGarry set the action sports world on its ear by landing a massive backflip over a 72-foot canyon gap during Red Bull Rampage.

You might just write off the feat as a thrill-obsessed mountain biker doing some fearless stunt. But a new video released today by Red Bull sheds light on just how much precision went into McGarry’s 2013 backflip:

The video, titled “Body of Work: Kelly McGarry’s Huge Canyon Backflip,” goes into the physics of what it takes to land a backflip over a 72-foot canyon gap.

RELATED: Red Bull Rampage riders go off a 76-foot cliff

As explained in the video, McGarry had to hit an optimum speed of 40 mph before taking off over the canyon gap. If he was 1 mph too slow, McGarry would have landed four feet short on the canyon wall, a daunting prospect given the fact that the canyon floor was some 50 feet below him.

And if he tried to overcompensate by going faster? As shown by his attempt at clearing that same gap in 2014, landing long can be just as dangerous as landing short:

All of this is to say that Kelly McGarry is very good at his job.

Watch McGarry and other riders tear it up at this year’s competition broadcast live on Oct. 17.

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