Photo by Darktide Media
I was present for the shoot when this photo was taken. It started out with a “hey, let me see you on this jump.” It progressed into “this is a sweet spot. Let me see your race face. Make it serious, like you are racing and competing.” The result: this pretty sweet picture.
This photo creates a multitude of arguments about Downhill Mountain Biking. The first argument: racing is serious. It takes serious mental capacity to think a million miles a second while you are whirling down a mountain, taking dangerous turns, jumping large distances, hoping you miss those trees, or peddling as fast as you can to make sure that you get the top spot on the podium. While the racing portion is serious work, I have never met a less serious group of people. They joke, play games on each other, and are always looking to push each other to their limits. I guess you have to have a good sense of humor when you are putting yourself in some extremely dangerous situations.
The second argument is that you have to get the biggest air to be the baddest on the mountain. There is always a competition for finding the biggest, baddest jump and launch themselves off of it. The key in this photo was to find the best angle to make this jump appear larger than it really was. This was a large consideration of the entire photo shoot as they tried to get the best photo. This consideration demonstrates not only the ideology of the Strongman, but also the ideology of the Balanced Bodies, survival of the fittest, and the expansion of the Victorian Era.
The Strongman is those who are strong enough to take on all of these jumps and mountains and still keep the fastest time, marking their territory by taking “King of Mountain” titles when they use the mobile application Strava to determine the mountain paths and find out who holds that particular mountains title and their time. The ideology of Balanced Bodies is being able to control the bike, be light enough to make the bike go as fast as it can, be strong enough to maneuver around trees and rocks and people at a moment’s notice, and be able to have the cardio to make a full run down the mountain. The survival of the fittest ideology comes from those who can make it down the mountain and those who can’t. Recently a friend of mine put himself in a coma, lost a spleen, one kidney, and almost died after crashing on the mountain. Two months later, he went back to that same spot and cleared it just fine. The expansion of the Victorian Era is being able to see just how far the bicycle has come. The construction is now made from the lightest and toughest material that can be used. There is some intense geometry used to get the best aerodynamics while going down the mountain. The peddles are made to have your feet grip with everything down to the handles being personalized. The evolution of the bicycle has come a long way from the Victorian Era.
The third argument that is being created by this photo is that Downhill Mountain Bikers don’t care about their safety. This is not only argued by the fact that the rider is wearing a helmet, gloves, and pants, but it is argued in the backstory of the photo. To even have taken that photo, the process of making the jump, making the jump so as to ride smooth and therefore safe, taking care of the jump and course, practicing the jump, getting comfortable with jumping, wearing protective gear, and so much more went into making sure that this was not only a successful picture, but it was a safe one. A lot of riders will back down from a jump or trick if they know they are not ready. Racers also go through clinics and figuring out the proper technique to be able to ride properly.
The fourth argument is that downhill mountain bikers are isolated. There are many misconceptions that riders should hide their trails, must like surfers hide the best surf spots. There has been a recent scramble to start including others in the best ride spots so as to share in the enjoyment. There has also been a lot of backlash with the government and environmental agencies shutting down a lot of mountains to ride. They site that riding the mountains will ruin the environment and the ecosystem that resides there. However, these riders take the time to keep the natural environment surrounding them. They use it as obstacles, places to ride or rest. The big problem comes from why are environmental agencies going after the little guys who ride around a few times a week and keep much of the habitat preserved when there are the big guys who destroy the entire forest for a condominium?
This image demonstrates many arguments about the downhill mountain biking community. It shows that one must be strong, agile, environmentally friendly, social, safe, fast, and all around mellow.