Garett Buehler is deeply introspective. In the dark hours of the night, when worries creep unbidden to the front of the brain, he wonders: what am I doing? Why am I risking my blood and bones for a job with no pension, no safety net? Should I be in school? Am I missing out on other, richer, life experiences? It’s a delicate question to answer, and one that provokes a ‘’stop whining, you have the best job in the world!’’- type gut level response from weekend warriors. But riding this close to The Edge comes with severe consequences; one needs to be calculated in order to stay healthy and keep riding at this level. If you’re hitting big moves with no regard for your own safety, you won’t be a professional rider for long. Doubt is necessary for self-preservation. Riders like Buehler are confident, not madmen.
Garett Buehler going huge in Nelson. Photo: Margus Riga
Back in the spring I spent a week down in Bellingham with the legendary Lars n’ Bars aka Lars Sternberg. It was productive, we managed to hammer out two videos: the Fox 36 ‘moto’ edit, and this one. Lars is without a doubt one of my alltime favourite riders to watch. He’s somehow loose and precise, the bicycle riding equivalent of a chainsaw with scalpel blades. This was one of the most visually stunning (and fun to ride) trails I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to make another trip down there.
Recently, Trek asked me to edit two videos from the C3 Team’s trip to race the Down Taxco Urban Downhill event in Mexico. The course looked rowdy, the riders had fun, and the tacos looked delicious, hopefully this video gives you a glimpse into the chaos that is urban racing.
Just received the December issue of New Zealand’s finest mountain bike journal, Spoke Magazine. Great to see my shot of Mike Kinrade running as a double page spread. We shot this back in August at the legendary Retallack Lodge. Amazing trails, and incredible people there.
Lars Sternberg is one of my favourite riders to watch, his style is so fast and aggressive it looks like he has a motor. Maybe that’s why FOX thought he’d be the perfect athlete to showcase their new fork, the 2014 FOX 36. The goal for this video was to highlight the new fork and FOX’s motocross heritage in a unique way: FOX asked me to add in audio from a two-stroke dirt bike. It’s the sound some riders imagine when they’re hitting a sweet corner, and hopefully it reminds viewers of their childhood (and sticking hockey cards in their spokes).
Ryan Berrecloth has a legacy on The Shore built from cedar and dirt. His iconic line ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ was first seen in Kranked 7 and it’s still visually stunning to shoot and technically challenging to ride; he thought it was worth revisiting to put his new IXS signature gloves to the test.
Aaron Chase was paralyzed from the waist down. A stupid error, really, his back wheel slipped from a ladder bridge and he landed on his tailbone. He heard his spine compress, but there was no pain, there was no feeling at all. It happened in 2007 while riding at the Nissan Qashqai Challenge in Newcastle, England. This was Chase at the height of his powers, only two years removed from winning the Red Bull District Ride; he was a podium threat anywhere he rode. The fall compressed his spine and fractured his L1 vertebrae. The L, for lumbar, vertebrae form the base of the spine and are used structurally, for protection, and for movement. The spinal cord, which runs through the vertebrae, is as thin and delicate as al dente spaghetti. It is responsible for carrying the electrical impulses that allow someone to walk, run, or ride a bike.
Chase was strapped to a spine board and rushed to the hospital. Sometime during the ambulance ride, feeling returned to his legs, he could wiggle his toes again. After testing, surgeons implanted a medieval-looking collection of rods and screws to stabilize his spine. It looked as if a metallic spider clung tightly to his spinal column, locking bone into place and preventing further damage. The hardware from England would remain in Chase’s back for seven years; it was there during our shoot for Builder, a constant source of pain until specialists at DISC Sports and Spine Centre removed the metal in October 2014.
James Doerfling is 27 years old, he lives with his girlfriend Julie and their dogs Sarge and Chewy (short for Chewbacca), in a house he bought not far from downtown Williams Lake and the Tolko Industries lumber yard. His neighbourhood is quiet, except for the roar of lifted diesel trucks, seemingly a prerequisite for any red blooded male living here. You’d never guess that a big mountain superstar lives in the house on the left. His porch holds water bowls for his dogs and a collection of muddy shoes stacked neatly in a rack. His living room and kitchen are bereft of mountain bike imagery, he’s modest to the point of anonymity, but there’s a bear pelt mounted on the wall for decoration.
It’s not until you enter his garage that you get a sense of the man. The garage is grimy with dust, grease, and oil; there are beers in the mini fridge, and a couple empty tins of Copenhagen Smokeless Tobacco in the trash. You can see his Red Bull Rampage number plates in a place of honour above his workbench, beside a row of battle-scarred helmets. The other walls feature a scantily clad pin up girl and a shot of Doerfling airing into the sunset on the Gobi Desert while filming for Where the Trail Ends. There’s enough room here for a car, but instead the garage houses a dirt bike, a quad, and a quiver of Knolly bikes. The garage has the understated elegance of functionality – everything from the tools on the workbench, to the two-wheeled toys, is designed for the pursuit of fun in the mountains. James Doerfling is an outdoorsman and an adrenaline junkie; this is all he needs.
A few weeks back, Hadfield Marketing approached me about doing a video for the brand new Morpheus Loki, a 650B trail bike. Morpheus has a fantastic roster of riders (including: Mitch Chubey, Anthony Messere, Brayden Barrett-Hay, Casey Groves, and Liam Wallace) but they’re known more their slopestyle results than for their trail riding. Thankfully Chubey grew up riding the gnarled slippery roots and rock faces of Vancouver’s North Shore. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about riding fast on technical trails. Chubey was a pleasure to work with and didn’t mind going the extra mile for ”just a couple more” shots at the end of a long shooting day. I hope you enjoy the video.
Film is anachronistic. Except for Hollywood feature films and ultra high-end commercial/fashion photography, there’s really no reason to use it. Digital imaging is basically on par in most situations and it’s better than film in others. That being said, part of the magic of film is that you don’t get a second chance with it. You can’t review what you’ve done until you get it back from the lab. Either you nail the shot, or you don’t, you can’t review it on your LCD screen. Maybe that’s why I think it’s so interesting. Like Forrest Gump says, ”you never know what you’re gonna get.”
I plan on shooting 120 film on all of my major video shoots this season. It might be a little bit of a hassle in term of time and money, and I may miss a few shots that might have turned out better digitally, but I think it’s worth the challenge. Here’s my favourite photo from my first roll.