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.
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.
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.