Danny MacAskill is a professional street trials mountain bike rider from Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye. His incredible biking skills have amassed hundreds of millions of views on YouTube.
While learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for most children, for Danny it was just the beginning of a love-affair with cycling. Riding to school on the Isle of Skye, and practicing the odd trick, he then discovered street trials (non-competitive freestyle bike tricks) as a teenager.
In April 2009 his Inspired Bicycles video showed him practicing, and ‘improving’ at bike stunts in Edinburgh. The video quickly notched up thousands, and then millions of views, and has resulted in Danny becoming recognised as a top sportsman in his field. That video alone has now been viewed over 38 million times.
More videos followed, and they continued to astound not only bike enthusiasts, but an increasingly wider audience too. Danny was quickly recognised with accolades including winning the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Award, and carrying the Olympic Torch through Glasgow in 2012. Naturally, he started to take up sponsored endorsements to get bigger and more adventurous videos made, and keep doing what he loved.
"I feel very lucky to have grown up on the island. I always had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted as a child. This mainly involved either riding my bike, going off into the middle of nowhere to build tree houses or having bonfires. It really was an amazing place to grow up".
In 2014 Danny launched the Drop and Roll Tour, where he, and other accomplished bikers, perform thrilling tricks live in international locations, as well as closer to home, such as in Glasgow, Aberfoyle, the Cairngorms National Park, and at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival by Beauly near Inverness.
Danny’s first longer-form mountain biking video The Ridge, which was filmed up the notorious Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, was aired on TV in 2014 and became an overnight success, having now reached more than 49 million viewers.
The Ridge took Danny’s fans to the Isle of Skye where he grew up. He wanted to introduce them to the island, which he still considers home, and see how far he could push his skills in a seriously exposed landscape.
The Cuillin Ridge is a rocky mountain range with 11 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 ft) and 30 summits. It’s tough-going enough on two feet, so Danny got help from Matt Barratt from Skye Adventure to help him scout out the location. It quickly became clear that even before he mounted the bike, this was going to be a hard-going shoot, with a strenuous hike each day to just get in a position to film.
Highlights of the film include Danny spanning a gap between two giant boulders, navigating the treacherous Collies Ledge and holding his bike aloft in a now iconic pose at the top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle.
"I go mountain biking with Stu from Cut Media over at his trails in Aberfoyle and Callander quite regularly, they’re loads of fun. For trials I love just riding around Glasgow where I live".
Danny MacAskill’s bike skills have taken him around the world, including to Taiwan, Gran Canaria and Argentina, but Scotland is still one of his top places to cycle. His creativity thrives on finding new locations to explore and experimenting with playful ways of moving.
With Red Bull, Danny cycled from Edinburgh to Dunvegan in Way Back Home, in which he really enjoyed riding through the village where he grew up. Other locations featured in the video included the Forth Bridge, North Berwick, Stirling and the Cruachan Dam.
Another Red Bull project, Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out sees impressive stunts take place in the Scottish countryside, with the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Jacobite Steam Train playing a starring role. This playful piece, set to The National Express by The Divine Comedy, sees him scale a six-foot puddle, riding on top of a hay bale and cleanly jumping from the platform to the rail track – something not to be tried at home!
He’s also got a soft spot for Aviemore, where he filmed Aviemore in Spring. The piece returned to his love of creating a playground from man-made streets. Once home to Danny, Aviemore is still one of his favourite places to ride.
Other stunts that Danny has undertaken in Scotland include Industrial Revolutions in Ayrshire, joining Sir Chris Hoy at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, and scaling the Finnieston Crane in Glasgow, and he shows no sign of stopping.