Pro mountain biker Stevie Smith looked out over the steep edge, and his stomach dropped. He was perched on the edge of Mount Oyama, an active volcano on Miyake Island in Japan. There was nowhere to go but down.
Smith, a downhill racer who hails from Vancouver Island, had never been to Japan before. Red Bull Japan invited him and a small film crew to 4,108-foot-tall Mount Oyama.
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Jagged dead trees and lava rocks line the narrow trail to the volcano's rim. The last eruption in 2000 forced the entire island to be evacuated for five years. A sulfur smell lingered long after residents were allowed back. "Every morning, the local government announces the level of sulfur dioxide gas through loudspeakers spread around the island," the New York Times reported in 2011.
After 25-year-old Smith was given permission to explore the mountainous area by bike, he and his crew spent several days on the island, which is dominated by the volcano. Usually only government workers go up there, he says in a blog post. They hauled bike gear and digging equipment up, but initially encountered fog.
Then, after the sun came out on their last day, they concluded the first successful, locally approved filming of the peak since the 2000 eruption, according to Red Bull. And the first ride down by mountain bike. Watch it here: