When my camera was stolen last night it gave me the chance to remember who I am- a rider.
Last night all of my camera equipment and clothes were stolen from my van in Bordeaux, France. It was my own fault, I was lulled into a false sense of security by the beautiful Atlantic town and made the critical error of leaving valuables in an unsafe place. I didn’t just loose material items, I lost the definition of who I am.
I got into mountain biking the summer after graduating from pharmacy school and it has defined all of my post-collegiate life. I started with a hardtail, a Specialized Stumpjumper, and next thing I knew I was on a Schwinn Straight 8 pinning down Boomerang at Bromont. When I moved to New York, I decide that I wanted to give back to the sport that I loved so much, so I started writing for websites and eventually magazines. At a certain point I began to envision complete stories and to fulfill that mission I bought a digital SLR and some lenses. Next thing I knew I was buying flashes, battery packs and pocket wizards. I was hooked. The rush of taking a great photo was intoxicating.
I left my pharmacy job in Park City, Utah in April this year to go shoot with some riders in California. Even though I didn’t love my pharmacy work, I was extremely hesitant to leave a good paying job for the unknown. After spending a week shooting with Greg Watts, the Lacondeguy’s and the British Crew (Chopper, Lance and Chris Smith), I knew that this is what truly makes me happy.
I came to Europe at the beginning of May, bought a camper van and followed the Qashqai Urban Challenge Tour. I was the only photographer to shoot every Qashqai and I hit as many other comps as I could fit in. The summer was going great, my photography was getting better and I was feeling more and more confidant in my ability to cover major events on my own.
Two nights after the Qashqai series ended, my life changed. When I came back to my van and I saw the door ajar my stomach dropped out. I knew that things were going to change significantly in my life. They stole my camera gear, my clothes, my friend’s clothes and our satellite navigation system. We drove around in the rain for 2 hours in the middle of the night trying to get out of Bordeaux. It was like hell, but again it was my own fault.
My initial reaction when I realized my stuff was gone was to get on the next flight home and bury my head in the sand. I got online to check flights and I saw that I had an unread message from my parents. They had sent my 2 freeride bikes over and they would be there before the end of the week. I stopped dead in my tracks. This is who I am now, this is who I’ve been all along but somehow got caught up in the glamor of the sport. I’m here until September and will ride everyday. Sure I’ll still produce content with the photos I took earlier in the season, but now I’m refocused on the love that brought me into this sport- the love of riding.