I recently had the opportunity to help with promoting The Moment - a documentary about the history of freeride. Most of the people I reached out to were thrilled with the idea of the film and with having a showing in their town, but a few of the responses I received back surprised me.Read More
This past June I had the opportunity to travel to the Yukon to write an article for Freehub Magazine with Claire Buchar, Dylan Sherrard, and Jaime Hill. Videographer, Chris Grunberg, joined us and capture the magical adventure that we had.
Keep an eye out for the full story in the latest issue of Freehub.Read More
This was my fourth year covering the behind the scenes of Red Bull Rampage for Pinkbike.com. Going into the event there is always a mix of excited about seeing history made as the boundaries of what's possible in mountain biking are broken, but also apprehension about safety and fair treatment of our friends. This year Red Bull came the closest ever to closing the gap when they worked with feedback from the athletes and participated in our industry rather than exploiting the talents in it. From that perspective it was an incredible year - despite injury and our absent McGazza.
Below are the images from my disposable cameras behind the scenes.
A report released earlier this year stated that Vancouver residents alone had reported over 10,000 bike thefts in just 4.5 years. The Internet is full of statistics on bike theft – worldwide, a bike is stolen every 90 seconds and only 2.4% are returned to their owners. The question now is not so much if your bike will be stolen, but when.
According to the Vancouver Police Department’s website, in the summer months an average of nine bikes are stolen every day – an average of 2000 every year. ‘On the flipside, the VPD recovers roughly 2000 bicycles in a year. Unfortunately, the majority of them will never be returned to their owners, as their serial numbers have not been reported to police, making them untraceable. These bikes will end up at auction, but we'd rather return them to their rightful owners.’
Belonging to a community like the one we have through mountain biking, we benefit greatly from the inspiration, influence, and individuality of others. But we also suffer enormous losses and feel these losses very deeply. For all the positives we gain, we also surrender to great sorrows throughout our lives simply due to the enormity of our collective.
It’s no secret that the beginning of this year has been complete shit when it comes to the untimely deaths of great people. Both Kelly McGarry and Stevie Smith passed away far too soon, but each touched our lives by showing us what was possible. In bearing witness to their accomplishments and setbacks, we took from them the inspiration to push our own boundaries. We love them as much for who they were, as we do for how they made us feel about ourselves. And whether we knew them personally or followed their strong media presences, we lived vicariously through their passion and traveled the world through their eyes. We are all affected by their loss and the loss of all heroes like them, but we are also united as a community in sorrow.
The first time I wrote an article for the Internet I was called a slut and a whore in the comments section. The topic of the article? Mountain Bike culture. It didn’t bother me, as baseless bullying directed at me on the Internet does not bother me to this day. (To clarify, in grade school I had braces, wore gumboots to school, and had a pet duck that lived in my bathtub. I was intrinsically raised to not give a f*ck about what other people think.) But that’s me, it is not everyone – and it shouldn’t have to be everyone.
It was not the last time that negative comments designed to elicit humiliation and shame would be attached to my articles, but I remain a fan of a format that allows readers to comment. It is a place where people can share ideas and information, post entertaining, witty banter, and connect in a supportive and positive way within our international community. One of the unfortunate side effects, however, in having a worldwide audience in today’s culture, is that it also gives a platform for those suffering from feelings of entitlement and inferiority to vent their hateful rhetoric.
To define trolling is a challenge. While cyber-bullying has become a plague, there is a vast grey area somewhere between the right to express opposing opinions and exercise free speech, and the unrelenting abuse that has on occasion driven people to suicide. Somewhere amidst this are the random and callous personal attacks, the derailing of conversations, contradicting purely for conflict, and offensive and nonsensical provocations all meant expressly to insult and provoke a host of negative feelings and reactions in others. These are trolls that live below the threshold and their comments are never helpful, witty, or intelligent. They are abhorrently cavalier in the delivery of their insults, displaying a cowardice made possible through the protection of the Internet and the seclusion of one’s own home.
Four years ago I spent five minutes not remembering who I was – and then I spent six months worrying that I would never be the same again. When I came to after my crash my helmet was broken and my brain was bleeding internally. Breaking your brain, in an instant or cumulatively over many small bumps, can forever change who you are and how you deal with your reality, and progressively we are learning about the dangers involved with concussions. To date, this has mostly been through research funded by other professional sports, but when parallels were drawn between Dave Mirra and the NFL players who have suffered with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), it brought the reality of brain injuries squarely to our two wheels with an urgency that would be foolish to ignore.
The problem with the human brain is that it is extremely complicated. If you compound fracture your leg you can look down and using your healthy uninjured brain think ‘well, shit, that’s bad.’ When you bump your head however you may look completely fine – but be completely f*cked. It is also important to note that the brain doesn’t have the pain receptors our limbs have, injuries to it may not be immediately felt as they would with a broken bone. Everything from how many concussions you’ve had previously, to the shape of your skull, damage from drug or alcohol abuse, and the force of the impact itself can all play a role in the level of resulting damage. Even how well you have weathered life’s traumas in the past can dictate how much your brain can withstand.
After spending over twenty-five hours driving this weekend, a solid four hours shooting in the pouring rain, and another twelve lovingly drying out my camera, I expected to be glad this weekend was wrapped up and in the books, but I'm not. The Legendary Summer BC Cup at Fernie Alpine Resort this past weekend marked the last of the Dunbar Summer Series races for the season - this is officially your signal that it's time to grab a six pack, a bag of Doritos, and plan your Netflix viewing until spring.
I have never really considered that being a girl has anything to do with writing. I think that growing up without running water and electricity, being chased by whales, and that one time I hit my head really, really hard, has had more of an impact on what I have to say, than the fact that I sometimes get free drinks in bars.
In the past year there has been a shift, and a bigger focus is being placed on women in mountain biking. Awesome, right? The problem was that a bunch of people, really-great-not-sexist-at-all people, had a vague notion that women needed to be represented better or more or just. . . something in our media. They identified a void, but the solution wasn’t quite there yet. Being that I have the prerequisite ‘soft tissue’ the request was put to me a few times to provide ‘women specific content’.
When I first set foot in the Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar the idea of travelling to Mongolia had only been a reality for roughly fourteen days. I had agreed to photograph the
at the encouragement of my travel partner and Videographer, Darcy Turenne, after exchanging only a handful of Facebook messages with the Race Director, Willy Mulonia. I had no idea what to expect, but knowing that I didn't need any vaccinations to enter the country somehow made me feel surprisingly confident about the trip. I had also received advice from those who had gone before us; photographers and videographers who have all documented the race previously were sure to tell us about everything they experienced from the flash floods to the lack of toilet paper, and especially to beware of the fermented horse milk – it is for sipping, not chugging. The most valuable piece of advice, however, came from Aaron Larocque who said, "if you want the experience of a lifetime, you should go."
Take six people, some of whom have never met, and put them on the road for a week of big 'Kootenay' rides, close living quarters, and beer sampling at every stop, what happens? They form a travelling family that is full of laughs even when the going gets tough, the sun gets hot, and the tires go flat (over and over). Our trip took us, along with the Mountain Biking BC contest winner, Jason Wright, to Rossland, Kimberly, Fernie, Nelson and Retallack. We played with foxes in the woods, drove through thunder storms, drank margaritas, and stayed off the grid. We braved the rapids of the Slocan Valley and got some of the earliest tracks on the Peak to Creek trail, not to mention that we almost won at 80's music trivia in Nelson. There is a good chance we also bought too much homemade candy in Kimberly, but that was really an unavoidable inevitability.
The photos below capture just some of the highlights from an area that is rich in history, mountain bike culture, and community. As a group we feel lucky to have experienced the balance of the warm welcoming people and rugged, natural trails. And of course we can't wait to go back!
I know Jeff just well enough to know that he is brilliant and, like most geniuses, probably a little crazy. When he told me “I feel like I am a messenger,” I braced for what I was expecting to be the convincing dogma of a, not yet recognized, new religion. And, because he is charming, I would join. In actual fact what Jeff had to say was much more practical and sane, “if you can’t be the one jumping off the cliff then you can still be the one helping design the thing to jump off it with.” As the machinist and the creative mind behind the Red Bull Rampage trophies, he wants the next generation to understand that they can find ways to pursue their own skills and still have a hand in the bike industry, like he does. If you drink his Kool-Aid, you will see that these are the people who will progress and evolve our sport, perhaps more than the athletes who are pushing the limits currently.
The Godfather of Freeride, Wade Simmons, tells us about what Rampage was like back in the day, offers some advice for the next generation at their new site, and explains why he isn’t old enough to go back to Utah yet.
In contrast to the heavily marketed, cyber-accessible, airspace-navigating event it has now become, the first Rampage was ‘grassroots’ and existed in a time without social media, texting, or live-streaming. “Things were different then,” says Wade “there was no official invite, we were a small community. The organizers just got all the guys together to ride who they thought would make it out alive, and put on a good show.” As with the current roster, in addition to the expected freeride names, there were also racers at the event. Wade explains that there has always been a little competition between racers and freeriders, “racers hate freeriding until they are forced to retire, and if they still love riding their only option is to become a free rider.”
In 2007, Kelli Sherbinin created the EB Chickas Downhill Race Team and spent a season travelling to local races around BC with eight other women. This is twice the amount of ladies who raced in the BC Provincials Race in Golden this year. With a continual decline in attendance on the local downhill front for the ‘fairer sex’, it has left us all wondering, where have all the ladies gone?
A quick look at overall attendance in BC Cups between 2010 and 2013 shows a slow and steady 20% decline in downhill racing; however, the 2014 registrations reported a small but promising 4% resurgence of participation in the sport. Looking at women’s attendance, specifically at the Dunbar Summer Series - some of the few DH races offering equal cash prizing for pro men and women - the participation in women’s categories has decreased 40% since 2011 without any sign of making a comeback.
“I had seen photos of the place and I had lost my mind, just completely lost my mind.” Rookies on the Norco team in 2001, Mike Kinrade and Darren Butler had their sights set on this new big mountain contest; Red Bull Rampage. With a simple phone call from a friend to one of the organizers, they were both granted entry. Since then, Mike has been in attendance at every Rampage, taking in the changes and challenges over the years as both he and the competition have matured and evolved.
If you have not yet seen Paris Gore's second place winning Deep Summer slideshow from Crankworx this year, do yourself a favour and
In delving into the behind the scenes of his project it is clear that Deep Summer is much more than shooting photos. In fact the contest is more about communication, planning, ethics, team work, and simply surviving without sleep the longest, than it is about pointing a camera. Paris' crew, that included Kenny Smith, Kevin Landry, Jackson Goldstone, Graham Aggasiz, Kate Holden, James Doerfling, and a host of other support people, spent three days intensively shooting, riding, and waking up before the break of dawn. Read on to find out exactly how unglamorous but completely worthwhile the experience was, why Jackson does not always need his own bike to make the shot, and exactly what it takes to get a killer super moon image.
When, as a mom and a wife, Marilee decided that she needed something just for herself, she found mountain biking. It provided her with an identity outside of the home. As Marilee fell in love with riding, she introduced her then four year-old son Jake to it. The pair rode a loop of hills, roots, rocks, and berms year round – even in the snow. It helped them form a close and unique mother-son bond, a strong relationship that would help them survive the break up of their family and would continue to span many years and many bikes. Three years ago, after a failed shoulder surgery, Marilee discovered that she would never ride again and is now assessing what a life without bikes means to her.
Last Thursday night Crankworx hosted the Ultimate Pumptrack Challenge and crowned a new Queen and King; Caroline Buchanan and Barry Nobles. Adam Billinghurst and Kenny Smith make up half of the team that has built the track for the last five years. Possibly suffering a little with hangovers and definitely having spent too much time together over the years, Kenny makes a good Statler to Adam’s Waldorf.
Within an hour I had learned everything I needed to know about kangaroo hunting, Kenny had been fired twice, and I had stopped the interview when I started to learn a little too much about the twosome.
How many years have you two been working together on this?
Too many. And by the way you’re fired.
We’ve done it every year together. It has been me, Kenny, and Gunner, Chester has been there for four years now.
After a few dry, but chilly, days of practice the sun finally came out and scorched us on Sunday at the Western Open/Provincials this past weekend. While flesh obsessed black flies that swarmed like repellant was a pheromone, the Dunbar Cycles crew taped the course on Thursday morning. By Friday racers were slowly arriving for practice laps and the camping areas filled up while the lift lines began to stretch as far as five people deep. Tippie's voice rang out across the land, or at least over the mic for Saturday, and it really started to feel like a race weekend!
The week between the Silver Star BC Cup and The Western Open (Provincials) has become a bit of a road trip tradition full of bad ideas, riding, and general shenanigans. No one has ever died, but this year we narrowly escaped serious injury from flying go-kart tires, excessive amounts of sushi, falling trees and lightning strikes. We competed in the Summer Championships which are totally made-up, have nothing to do with bikes, are very official (completely unofficial) and extremely competitive. Only one could win but many would eat giant balls of wasabi for randomly assigned points. The winner had to show prowess at go-kart racing, mini golf, and bowling. Bonus points were allocated for consumption small green balls of death at all you can eat sushi and the reward came in the form of a much sought after and forever cherished plastic gold medal and the sweet satisfaction of earned bragging rights.