Opinion: Gratitude

Dec 28, 2021
by Matt Wragg  
Header for Matt s Op Ed pieces.


Words: Matt Wragg

As we reach the end of this foul year of our Lord 2021, it seems like a good moment to reflect. It is a time for gratitude. As we head into a new year we should appreciate that we made it this far, remember those that didn’t, and to celebrate the good things that happened.

I’d like to share with you a little bit of why I am glad to be sitting here this morning, scrawling about bicycles and the people who ride them.

The moment I am grateful for is shooting with Loic Bruni this past summer as part of Genepi Film’s French Lines project. Of everything I have done this year, the day with Loic stands out.


Loic Bruni in Valberg for French Lines. Valberg France Photo by Matt Wragg


It is hard to explain what Loic did that impressed me so much, as the short answer is: everything. Over the years I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible athletes, but there is a difference between a great athlete and someone at the absolute pinnacle of their powers.

This day taught me that. Loic’s title-winning weekend in Snowshoe is that kind of feat that we may not see again. To have the self-belief to put his intentions out into the universe like that and then deliver is hard to even get your head around. It is the kind of pure, high white note that very few athletes in any sport ever deliver.

While a video segment is not the same thing as a race run, it is still a chance for a rider to put down a marker, to show the world how good they are. And a rider coming into that kind of form is a rare moment, the kind of peak that may never be repeated even by the very best. In my years shooting I have never worked with a rider who was so precise and confident, every single thing he rode was perfect.

Loic seemed aware of that, he wouldn’t repeat a section more than a couple of times. I read the situation as once he had done it perfectly twice, if I couldn’t get my shit together in time, that is not his problem.

Only by being up close and personal with someone’s riding can you learn what makes it so special, it is not something you can pick up from the TV or even spectating. Only me and Mat, the filmmaker, were there to see it all. To experience maybe the best rider in the world trying to lay down a marker for posterity is something I'll never forget.

And I was not just there to see it, I was paid to be there.


Loic Bruni in Valberg for French Lines. Valberg France Photo by Matt Wragg


In a world where people seem people seem more cynical about what they see and read, I wonder if we should take more time to share these moments with our readers. To explain to people why we do this for a profession.

I am certain that I am not alone in having moments like the one I am describing here. All of the writers, editors, photographers, filmmakers, or whatever they may call themselves, I have met, I am sure they all have their own moments. Those fleeting, stolen instants where you realise what you are doing and grin to yourself that you get to do this.

We are adults who spend our lives playing with bicycles. That is a ridiculous thing for a grown up to do, and something that is worth being grateful for.


37 Comments

  • 59 0
 “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
attributed to H.G. Wells
  • 25 0
 "When I see an adult on a bicycle, they may only be a pedal stroke away from a Friday fail"
attributed to Pinkbike
  • 11 0
 When I see an adult on a bicycle, I usually get jealous.
  • 6 1
 @kcy4130: Especially if I’m in the car
  • 1 0
 & Anthill's Legendary banger..
  • 1 0
 @McArdle: Whoa, fuel prices, Bam-ba-lam
  • 25 0
 If you've never gone to see a professional race/event then it's worth doing at least once in your life. Watching on TV is impressive but seeing it in person is genuinely mind blowing, it really shows just how good professional riders are.
  • 8 0
 I second this, big time. Seeing WCDH trackside is insane. The speed and sound is next level.
  • 11 0
 I wanna add to your statement and say, try racing on the same track as professionals. Watching it is one thing, but comparing their abilities to your very own is truly incredible. I had the opportunity to race at the Canadian Nationals this year, and watched Finn Iles shave a full minute off my run. One full minute!!! That's an eternity in the race world. It truly gives you a new level of respect for not only the physical abilities, but the mental fortitude of these athletes.
  • 7 2
 This is true!

But also you get to see in person how "some" ride fans for some reason do there best to distract riders in some of the most difficult sections....???

I get cheering, I even get the cowbells though I personally think they are annoying. But the way people stick there heads out, arms out into the track, sometimes whole top half of there bodies stuck out in blind corners, etc. Let along chainsaws... All of that just blows my mind.
  • 6 1
 @stiingya: I hate this aspect of racing/spectating. At the China Peak Enduro this year (and every year) there was a very tech rock section. The crowd was literally so close that I couldn't get on the line I wanted going in and I wound up dabbing, then going through half the section with one foot unclipped. Lucky I didn't crash. I don't care how loud people are, I can hardly hear it when actually racing, but stay out of the track.

Spectators are great, until they interrupt the racing.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: couldn’t agree more. At a bike park I ride, Aaron Gwin attended a race. His time on on the run that was used for the race was 4:30. My best run is 6:30. I’m old and slow, so take that for what it is worth, but watching a World Cup level pro is eye opening. And all the guys that think they could be the top women pros are dreaming. They hammer it!
  • 1 0
 @endoguru: 100% these guys are constantly on the verge of disaster.
  • 14 0
 Top stuff Matt as always. Sufficiently poetic prose with the kind of poise that is always a pleasure to read.
Thanks for sharing.

FWIW I’m grateful for chance to get out in the steeps with my wife yesterday. We both took some spills but the shared joy of clearing the whole trail from summit to the creek-bed at the bottom made up for the year we’ve had.

Here’s to the simple pleasures and the rare clarity to savour them.
  • 16 0
 That stuff matters. I went out on a short XC-ride last sunday. I was suddenly accompanied by a black woodpecker, rarebirds over here, flying in front of me for several seconds. I even got to admire it for a while when it settled down on a tree just a couple of minutes away. I knew then and there that no matter what happened during the rest of the ride, it would be a beautiful one. I am grateful for these moments and realize that in a time of lockdowns and social distances, I am one of the fortunate ones that can escape into the woods whenever I feel like it.
  • 15 0
 “Those fleeting, stolen instants where you realise what you are doing and grin to yourself that you get to do this.”

Goals
  • 6 1
 Amen my brother. Thanks for sharing that. I try to remember to be grateful everyday for my life on two wheels. I get to meet and coach interesting and inspiring people from all over the world and unlike my father who was in the corporate world, I get thanked for my work regularly. Life is good.
  • 10 1
 Amen, Thank you.
  • 3 0
 Thanks for your candid take, Matt.

Evert year is an opportunity for growth and progress. To my thinking, even the least productive can’t be labeled as foul. ‘21 was a banner for us.

For many craft-based workers, the novelty of rubbing shoulders with giants wears thin when financial challenges arise. The love cut isn’t worth moments of borrowed glory or seeing my name in pixels or ink. I get profound satisfaction from efforts for which employment or money are not motivators. And I have more and bigger efforts when I stay away from recreation-based work. Maybe I’m doing it wrong; YMMV. Cheers!
  • 3 1
 I think looking back at the covid lockdown we should all realize how much worse things could be for us individually and collectively. Not only how fortunate we are, but also how we behaved. I've never seen such widespread and persistent hate over things that should never have been politicized to begin with. End child slavery, epstein didn't kill himself, burn the vermin.
  • 1 0
 Kinda needed this perspective reset this morning, thank you for this nugget of wisdom!
  • 1 0
 So now everyone can move on and do something noble as an adult? Is PB finally shutting down?
  • 1 0
 @mattwragg Nuff respect brah.
  • 2 5
 @mattwragg : "In a world where people seem more cynical about what they see and read, I wonder if we should take more time to share these moments with our readers. To explain to people why we do this for a profession."

Let me give you my own personnal answer : NO. I'm on pinkbike for bike and gears reviews, for cool videos, for nice pictures (like yours), for race results, for tutorials, for comments, to have fun about bikes in a nutshell. I'm not really interested in this kind of article, makes me feel like I'm reading some meditation gibberish and there are tons of websites for this all around the internet, where you can put your intentions out into the universe if that's your thing. And I don't want to be reminded that you're doing a dream job, I already know that, good for you. Your pictures are why I'm here.

This is only my opinion as a reader, no offense intended !
  • 1 0
 He really is SUPER BRUNI. Hes riding for the Avengers next year.
  • 5 6
 The year of which Lord?
  • 10 1
 Lord Vader.
  • 6 1
 Of The Flies
  • 5 1
 @ZiggyM @iammarkstewart:
Both Correct answers.
Give me a moment while the producers tell me who controls the board.
  • 2 0
 @yinyang @ZiggyM : To take the board I will call "Vader" and raise with "Helmet".
  • 3 8
flag friendlyfoe (Dec 28, 2021 at 23:41) (Below Threshold)
 The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the only true god. After all, he boiled for our sins.

Seriously though why is this religious bullshit sneaking its way into the content? f*ck off Matt
  • 1 0
 Tracy Lord
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