Gunnar Oliphant was up at Retallack with the Voreis', taking a break from film school, and shooting some stuff with Kirt. Check out what they put together.
Now first of all you need a little bit of background for my story. Kirt and I are always working on projects it seems, we toss around ideas, and eventually we make them happen and tick them off on the great list. One of the shots Kirt and I have discussed for a while is a huge tree ride. We had talked about finding the perfect tree, one that was big enough, and shaped like a perfect quarter, and then doing a wallride on it. Basically a Reuben, all the way up to 180 so you land pointing straight down. This fall while he was riding up at Retallack, Kirt finally found what he thought was a really great tree.
After Interbike I pinned it up to Retallack to meet Kirt. It's about an 8 hour drive from my place, but Kirt assured me it would be worth it once I got there. And the note on the door when I arrived confirmed everything I've ever thought about Retallack, it's pretty much an awesome place. Eight hour drive solo, get into Retallack at around 11PM, everyone's asleep. But no worries...
Just what you want to see at the end of a long drive! The next morning we were up reasonably early to make ourselves breakfast, and go take a look at what Kirt had built. We cruised up the hill ways, and took a good look at it. While Kirt worked on detailing the run in, I worked at scoping angles. I found what I wanted fairly quickly, and then came the task of cleaning it up. There were a good number of branches that needed clearing from my shot, and even in the shots above there are still some branches that need to go. Kirt was planning on going pretty high up into the tree, and I wanted to see all of it through a little window in the trees. The whole process took a few hours, and involved at least one trip back down to the lodge for things that we'd forgotten. Finally it was mostly ready, and as I was setting up lights Kirt decided to do a few run-ins. Then a practice run to see how the tree felt. The first run was a little awkward, not nearly high enough, which made it harder to get around. The second run was going to have to be a lot more committed. Second time around was higher, but still awkward, and as Kirt came down his front tire didn't hit the log, sending him straight to his face. It was one of those falls that could be really bad, or that you could just shake off and walk away from, and Kirt ended up somewhere in the middle of that range. Not noticeably injured, but he was seeing double and worked his neck pretty hard. We waited a bit, hoping he could shake it off, but it just wasn't going to happen. So feeling a little dejected we headed back down to the lodge for dinner, and a long soak in the hot tub to try to soothe Kirt's stiff neck.
| The moment before Kirt hit the ground. The shot we were ultimately trying to get would have had him at least a bike length further up in the tree, facing down, both wheels touch.|
Come bed time Kirt looked like he had a bad case of whip lash. He was walking around with his head held stiffly, trying not to move it. We discussed a few options, but decided that even if Kirt was feeling a bit better in the morning, he'd probably still not be up to hitting it again. It was a hard decision to make, winter was coming, and Retallack was in the process of shutting down mountain bike operations before the winter season set in. If we didn't get it now, we wouldn't have another chance til next summer some time and we'd both come a long ways to get here. Leaving empty handed wasn't really part of the plan. To try to leave with something, Kirt's wife Lindsey and I discussed shooting some Alpine trail stuff in the early morning. The days were already getting longer, so we wouldn't have to be up insanely early, but it was still going to be a cold early morning. Loading up the quad with my camera bag and Lindsey's bike took several cups of coffee, and by the time we got up into the higher valley my hands were numb in spite of the DH gloves I was wearing. It only took a few extra twists and turns though, and a bit of route finding (no, not really) before Lindsey and I were at the foot of Recco peak, just a short while after sunrise. Here is a selection of what we got.
Sometimes you put a lot of work and time into something, and it just doesn't work out. Whether it's an injury, or the weather, or something that just physically isn't going to work, there are many reasons. The important thing is to not stress about it too much, it's just part of the business. The worst thing you can do is try to hang onto something or force it to work when it doesn't. Kirt and I have plans to go back and get this next season, but we'll have to see how our schedules go. Not that it's ever a hard decision to go to Retallack