We were somewhere deep in the Garbanzo Zone, high in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, when the stoke began to take hold. Leigh Donovan pushes her Hail Advanced 0 through the bushes. Leonie Picton follows with the Hail 1, ducking under a branch.
“Oh my God,” Leonie starts with her Aussie twang, “I totally forgot these brakes haven’t been broken in! I couldn’t scrub my speed at all going into that drop... I can’t believe I pulled that off. This bike is so stable! I feel like I’ve been riding it for months.” “Me too! It was awesome! Leigh’s voice was already beginning to fade from the yelling and excitement on day one of the Hail video shoot.
A blanket of clouds comes crawling over the snow streaked hills in the distance. It doesn’t feel like the beginning of July, but the Canadian Coast Mountain Range does not surrender to the monthly temperature averages.
Leigh and Leonie’s attire does not match the weather, but they don’t complain. Instead, the two girls session the hell out of a rock slab. Their movements become more precise, and the bikes roll faster over the backside of the rock. Guffaws of pure joy ricochet back up.
“Rolling,” comes from the camera crew, somewhere deep within the trees below. “Dropping!” Leigh jumps on her bike and goes from zero to blazing in a moment of seconds. Leonie is half a beat behind, playfully taking the line that Leigh passes by. Through the fading dust and thicket of trees the production crew watches Leigh and Leonie scream through a tight turn before disappearing down the trail.
Their job is not easy. It may be tempting to glamorise the task of nailing yoked trails in Whistler on a sick new bike to make a video, but after ten-hour days on the mountain, these girls are exhausted, hungry and cold. Yet, their enthusiasm never wavers. They crawl back through the woods for another round.
The crew at the top, layered in jackets and scarves, rush in from the sidelines and open their packs to a galaxy of snacks: trail mix, water—sparkling and flat, apples, mango slices, crackers and almonds, you name it.
The late summer sun is setting, and the team congregates. “And, that’s a wrap. Moving on!”
Bags are dropped to the ground and the heavy cameras are carefully laid on their cradles. Slapping sounds from high fives mix with the labored breathing from the scramble of the day. Moments pass, then Leigh and Leonie jump back on the bikes to rip their way to the bottom, while the crew grabs their gear and hikes back up to the chairlift for a final ride down.
Leigh turned to the group and winced at the sun setting behind Whistler Mountain. “So, only two more days of shooting and I have to give this bike back and go home?” Someone in the Liv crowd apologetically shrugs, but offers a promise of a special delivery in the fall for the Ms. Leigh D. “Thank God!” Leigh shouts as she wheelies off toward the hotel with a big, loud belly laugh.
|So, only two more days of shooting and I have to give this bike back and go home? - Leigh Donovan|
The Hail has been a long time coming. After being in the bike industry for around thirty years, Leigh is familiar with research and development. Yet, Hail was different—this bike was huge, and she wanted it to be perfect. She had ridden prototypes, looked at countless mock ups, yet now it was here. Now she was riding it for the first time. Up until this moment, Hail had been a dream. What if riding it snapped the dream into a bitter harsh reality? Yet, when Leigh had jumped off the bike from the first run down the mountain the day before, her relief was palpable and her open-mouth grin simply could not be wiped from her face.
Learn more about the New 2017 Liv Hail: HERE
Learn more about Leigh Donovan: HERE