Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mountainbiking With A MotoGP World Champion

I had a rather interesting phone call a few months back.
A mate had broken his elbow and so was unable to ride. He asked me if I wouldn't mind showing one of the SRAM and Rockshox sponsored ambassadors around the trails here in Cornubia for him while [R]evolution mountain bike magazine did a photo shoot? Sure! Why not? I am always happy to show new people around our little forest and to get to gatecrash a mag photo shoot would be pretty cool too.

Anyway, the morning rolled around and I was told to be ready to rock at 9am (pro hours!). I met up with my mate and he introduced me to the Rockshox techs and the [R]evolution guys. We talked some shit before the ambassador and his manager arrived. His manager? Who the fuck brings a manager to a mountain bike ride? Shit, I have never even met someone who has a manager. This was getting interesting!

Anyway, they finally roll around the corner into my mate's backyard and it is none other than Casey Stoner!! Turns out he is living here in South East Queensland these days and loving his mountain biking so SRAM and Rockshox, as well as Specialized bikes have gotten behind his habit and he is now spruiking for them.

So, Casey and I headed out the back gate and started up the hill where the others would meet us for the shoot. I pedalled my backside off and Casey was right on my back wheel the whole way. At the first intersection I asked if he would like to lead, which he did, so I got to follow. It was a 2 kilometre climb and I am happy to say that I kept on his wheel the whole way to the top - even if I couldn't have blown out a candle by the time we reached the top - with Casey barely breaking a sweat!

Dave sneaky shot. 

We reached the lads who were setting up and then just goofed around for an hour or so. I tried not to be a fan-boy and didn't mention that I was a rabid 500GP/MotoGP fan back in the day when he was coming through the ranks and had followed his career closely until about 2005 when I lost interest in the scene. I chatted to his manager for quite some time while photos were taken and discovered that they are still super busy with Casey being a test rider for Ducati (still fastest at the season opening tests!) as well as a brand ambassador for many companies which sees him still travelling extensively.

With a magazine photo shoot happening I was extremely aware of their sensitivity to anyone else taking photos (thanks to Gaz dragging me on plenty of shoots over the years) so was VERY circumspect in how I sneakily took some photos. There was no way I was going to post anything until well after [R]evolution Magazine hit the news stands.

After the guys worked on his bike and many photos were taken it was time to hit some more trail to find that "rad" shot. I was on again!!

Dave sneaky shot.

We headed down Resurrection trail then onto Stupidly happy trail with the photographer (Tim Bardsley-Smith) madly running after us. If we (Casey) thought a place looked good we waited until Tim caught up to us, caught his breath, then shot some action.

Dave sneaky shot of Tim and Casey.

This was interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, the composure of the shots. As an amateur photog it was great to get the scoop on lighting and angles. Secondly, it was amazing to watch Casey slide it into a corner time and time again, feet up drifting and basically meeting Tim's requests first go. He has clearly done photo shoots before!! Also it was evident how deeply he understood his suspension setup and knew what affected what. Me? I know it is the squishy thing on the front and back of the bike that makes the ride nicer........

When asked to run back up the hill and "do it again" he joked how much he enjoyed this shit. We asked why, as it must be much easier on a motorcycle to which he replied no, those things just hurt you. It hurts you every time you get on a MotoGP bike
Wow! Thinking about it though, those bikes are beasts and I guess you can't just coast around on them. The racers are there to ride them hard. Period.

Dave sneaky photo of Tim and Casey

Tim's angle on the above photo [R]evolution Magazine

Following down the hill he had a small spill. Drifting into a tight right, tightening corner, feet up, the front just gave out and he fell off while almost stationary. I'm not sure if he noticed it from the ground but he jumped up saying this would be a great spot to stop for some more shots with the following awesome shot the result. Casey had a great eye for what would make a good shot.

Tim Bardsely-Smith/[R]evolution Magazine

Dave sneaky shot of Casey finishing the slide above (with Tim's feet in the bottom corner)

Then it was time for the guys to head to Nerang for some more photos. Nerang is Casey's home turf and will be the site of the Commonwealth Games mountain bike racing in April 2018. Quite a few of the riding photos in the Revolution article are from Nerang. The wider, more open trails making for better lighting I am guessing.

Anyway, that was my morning. It took a some self control not to carry on like a giddy schoolgirl and I think I might have played it a bit too cool but Casey turned out to be a really nice, down to earth guy. Just another guy, a new Dad with another on the way, that loves his riding. I got the impression this is what he liked about mountain biking so much - the fact that he could get out and have fun, stay fit and all in a chilled, relaxing environment.

He capped my impression off when, as they were leaving, he learned that I wasn't going to Nerang with them and leapt out of his car, running around the house to where I was chatting to the guys and thanking me for the ride! Now that is the mark of a true gentleman!

Tim Bardsley-Smith/[R]evolution Magazine

If you want to read the full article I think you can download it from [R]evolution Magazine here. It is an extremely in depth interview that will be of interest to mountainbikers AND motorcycle aficionados. If you have any problem finding it please leave a comment for me below and I will scan the article in and post it up for you.

And no, I didn't ask for a selfie with him! He has however, inspired me to get more out of my bike and myself. His life goal to constantly be better was very infectious.

Tim Bardsley-Smith/[R]evolution mag

Cheers and thanks for reading.

Photo credits are either mine(Dave) or Tim Bardsley-Smith and [R]evolution Magazine whom I hope don't sue my arse for putting them up here.......