Friday, December 20, 2013


This is a photo compilation that was posted on back in May of this year. We figured that since the year was coming to an end we'd bring it back. Enjoy!

This photo-essay shares a few highlights from Big Mountain Advenures (BMA), the Whistler-based mountain bike tour company that turns 10 this year. This is a brief history for Big Mountain, but really its roots started growing back in the early-70's...

Circa 1977, BMA founder Chris Winter getting a taste of cycling tours from the back of his dad's custom tandem on a month-long camping trip with 30 high school kids. Winter's pioneering parents started running road bike trips in 1972 to Europe and Canada's maritime provinces. The company, called Cycleventures still exists today, 41 years later.

The wheels were set in motion for the idea of developing an international mountain bike travel company during the winter of 2001 while eating fondue and drinking wine in a little chalet perched above the town of Haute Nendaz, in the Swiss Alps. Winter met local Francois Panchard earlier that year on the internet as he researched riding options in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The two hit it off like old friends and realized that they both shared a passion for mountain biking and exploring new terrain. In this 2002 photo, Paddy Kaye, Ryan Bowland & Winter ride the Col de Mines, Verbier, Switzerland.

 On this first exploratory trip Panchard eagerly dragged Kaye, Bowland and Winter all over his local mountains, linking up rides with buses, trains, lifts and a shuttle truck. Panchard’s bike that year was a 25 pound fully rigid with v-brakes that he climbed like the wind. The bikes of choice in Whistler at the time were heavy overbuilt freeride bikes with double-crown forks and 3” tires built for jumping off roofs and big stunts. And jeans and flannel shirts as riding apparel. Needless to say, the Whistler crew got worked pretty hard on that first trip, but they still returned blown away by the riding. This photo is Winter taking trip notes after a long stretch of back to back big epics in the Alps. Tired, but very happy.

 In Switzerland every ride requires a map and serious logistical planning to link the details together. Besides the amazing rides, what stood out for the Canadians was the lack of riders they saw on any given day and the unreal transportation network. And unlike riding in Whistler, every ride in Switzerland is a high alpine epic accessed by a lift or paved road usually with a cafe at the top. Each day became a top 10 of all time. In this photo, Panchard & Blaise Mettan scope new lines in their backyard.

 Winter was so excited about his Swiss experiences that he and Panchard hatched up a grander adventure for the next year, 2003. Panchard dubbed it the Crazy Canuck Freeride Challenge (CCFC) based on the ambitious itinerary and the all-star crew of fired-up BC riders and local Swiss riders invited. This photo shows the modest view from their digs in Zermatt and JJ Desormeaux heading out for a day of big mountain riding on his Chromag on singletrack that could not have been closer to the front door.

 Panchard laid out an ambitious riding itinerary that encompassed rides that overlooked Lake Geneva to rides on the doorstep of Mont Blanc and a long list of loops on both flanks of the Rhone valley through Martigny, Sion, Sierre and onto Brig and Zermatt. Many of the rides had barely seen bikes. This 2003 pic is Squamish-based Chad "The Champ" Onyschuk hanging it out on the Dent de Morcles. A hike-a-bike to end all hike-a-bikes that led to an extra large descent.

Nights on the CCFC were spent packed into his small chalet pouring over maps, listening to techno music, drinking too much beer and wine, or spent in a mountain hut, drinking too much beer and wine. In this photograph night had fallen, the group had ridden a massive day and had caught the very last lift, just in the nick of Swiss time, to an alpine hut for the night. Panchard (second from left with beer in hand) set the bar very high on the CCFC, and it was met with great enthusiasm as the smiling Sean Dinwoodie attests.

Guides Joe Schwartz & Chris Winter descend the final stretch to the Hotel La Vallee in Lourtier, Switzerland, Big Mountain Adventures' European headquarters in the heart of the Alps. The hotel is run by the skiing and mountain biking Pellissier family who are the warmest mountain hosts after a big day of riding.
This photo is Big Mountain Adventures' backyard, exploring deep into BC's South Chilcotins region with good friends and a flight from Tyax Air. BMA has spent a decade exploring some of the far reaches of the earth in search of great singletrack and great trips. Each time the crew returns home though, the riding and culture out its front door become just a little sweeter. The company also run some impressive itineraries out of Vancouver that encompass Squamish, Pemberton, Whistler, the South Chilcotins and the North Shore.

Fall '04 was their first trip to Morocco led by Montreal-based Dave MacDougall who’d been guiding and living in Marrakech on and off for a decade. After an amazing eight days of remote desert riding, on a whim, MacDougall had this first group climb North Africa's highest peak, Mount Toubkal. A side-trip that goes down in the books. BMA knew that this would be the first of many visits to Morocco. Here, Andrew Shandro is seen flying high in remote mountains on the edge of the Sahara while Vanderham carves a giant red wall while filming for The Collective.

Early in ‘05 a big crew left the snow and rain of Coastal BC and headed south to the palm trees Costa Rica to ride with legendary San Jose-based guide Paulo Valle. The trip ended with a few deserved days of surf and sun on the worldclass beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Since then Valle has hosted hundreds of BMA riders and created lifelong memories. In this photo Valle admires a killer view in his beautiful country.

 Along with leading trips for clients, BMA also produces corporate and media events. Here, locals Fabio Bernardi & Paolo Tossi drop down to their beautiful hometown, Cortina D'Ampezzo while researching routes for a Trek Bicycles event in 2012.

 Peru remains one of Big Mountain's most popular destinations. It's for good reason, it's one of the best places to mountain bike on the planet. The Andes are extra grande, the second biggest mountain range the world. Add the fact that their mountains are arid, that the Incas happened to be master trail builders and you've got a recipe for a whole lot of good times on a mountain bike. Rider: Justin Mark.

 For a number of years Big Mountain ran a mountain bike safari trip in South Africa and Botswana where you'd ride from luxury camp to luxury camp in a 70,000 acre game reserve. Kinda like being inside the cages of a zoo, except without the fences. The trip is no longer, at least for the time being. This photo is a group racing the sun back to camp. When the sun sets in Botswana the predators come out to hunt. Lions, leopards; a different kind of technical. It's a good thing guides carry big-ass guns just in case.

 Mr. Wade Simmons with Chile's Villarrica volcano looming in the background. Not all destinations have made the cut for a BMA trip. Chile is one of them, at least not yet. It has all the features of a world-class adventure mountain bike destination but its unique geography makes logistics difficult and expensive.

 This is mountain bike-crazy Rotorua, New Zealand. A truly great place to ride if you get the chance. Every town planner should go to Rotorua and take some notes in their Whakarewarewa Forest trail network. Task #1 is to figure out how to pronounce the name. They've created an extensive network of great trails within a concentrated area minutes from town. Easy climbs to trail heads, trails for all levels of riders and a killer shuttle service. The dirt there is pretty much perfect for trail building. Lucky them. Rotorua. Rocks.

Dropping down to dreamy Lahaina, Maui with Lanai island in the distance. There are pockets of good riding on Maui but not enough to warrant bringing your mountain bike instead of your surf board, yet. This is local mountain bike advocate 'Moose' leading the charge on a killer evening ride.
Wherever they travel, Big Mountain's mission is to support the local economy by partnering with the very best local guides and tour operators at its destinations. It also has had the pleasure of working with a number of celebrated guides like Joe Schwartz, Wade Simmons, Lorraine Blancher, Paulo Valle, Wayo Stein, Andreas Hestler, Seb Kemp, Louise Paulin and Stephen Matthews, to name just a few. Here, Kemp is right at home on the planet's biggest mountains, on BMA's Nepal 'Himalaya Heights' trip.

What's in store for the next decade at Big Mountain Adventures? Continue to fine-tune and improve their current roster of destinations, develop new itineraries and keep inspiring people to ride their bikes and love our sport. The search continues...

A huge buffed-singletrack-filled thanks to all the riders who've joined BMA on trips over the past decade. And more thanks to the amazing professional photographers that have shot our trips: Sterling Lorence, Blake Jorgenson, Harookz, Chris Christie, Scott Markewitz, Dan Barham, Ian Hylands, Bonny Makarewicz, Ilja Herb, Mattias Fredriksson, Christophe Margot & Adrian Marcoux. And BMA's amazing sponsors: Trek Bicycles, Sombrio, SRAM, Chromag & Smith Optics.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trail X. Riding Costa Rica.

Trail X.
Riding Costa Rica with guide Paulo Valle.

Photos: Anthony Smith,
Words: Chris Winter
Seen on 

One thing that makes our sport unique is the different natural landscapes that we traverse on our bikes. Some of us ride the ancient Appalachians and its mixed forests, others spend weekends pedaling the sub-alpine of the Rocky Mountains while flowy Arizona singletrack starts on the end of some of our streets. In certain regions the land changes dramatically from one town to the next and a single ride can offer staggering diversity.
Paulo Valle (trail builder and riding guide) is just like the rest of us, he loves to ride trails and hunt for new zones. His backyard is different than anything that we have in North America. Valle, you see, lives in San Jose, Costa Rica.

For most of us, Costa Rica conjures up images of lounging half naked in the sun on a sandy beach sipping on a cold cerveza after a surf session. Up from the hot coastlines of the Pacific and Caribbean are vast and rugged rainforest-clad mountains and active volcanoes make up one of the most biodiverse places in the world. It’s not uncommon to hear a noisy Mantled howler monkey in the forest canopy, or see a red-eyed tree frog on a giant leaf, or a colorful Scarlet Macaw parrot in the sky above. What people don’t know, along with the amazing biodiversity lies an amazing web of nearly unknown hand-built trails.

As it is for most mountain bikers, land use is a challenge, and it’s no exception in this Central American country where every inch of the land is privately owned or protected and people’s idea of mountain biking consists of dirt roads. To ride good singletrack Valle has had to build his own, and to do this he’s had to network with landowners to earn their trust. Sculpting singletrack in the remote, steep and dense rainforest is no easy task. Maintaining these trails is a whole other matter in a place where tremendous buckets of water fall during the rainy season, and plants grow like they’re on steroids. After the rains stop, Valle and his team of machete-wielding locals disappear into the forest to clear the new growth and shape the newly eroded sections so that bikes can flow down the mountains. Considering the great effort that has gone into building and the lack of bikes that the trails see, one feels privileged to ride good singletrack in Costa Rica.

In his proud and understated manner, Valle has designed and diligently built an impressive web of fun and technical trails over the years. His creations reflect the way that he rides; strong like an ox on the climbs and equally so on the descents. Don’t expect to find a map or to drop into a San Jose to lead you to the goods, Valle’s had to keep his bounty under the radar to satisfy the landowners and keep the masses from schralping it. There is an exception however; you can explore the unique landscape of Costa Rica on Valle’s trails with the man himself by contacting Whistler-based guiding company Big Mountain Adventures who offer downhill and all-mountain trips exclusively with Valle.
From your backyard trail to Valle’s, we are all inherent explorers and we long to ride our bikes in new terrain.

A bit from the guide, Paulo Valle:
I’m a bit perennial rider, I been biking since I was a kid. I started riding BMX and then mountain bikes in the early 90’s. Having gears on my bike really opened a whole new world to me.
Thanks to mountain biking, I have met some great friends and travelled to many unreal places. As a former racer, what I’m most proud of is to be able to ride as much as I want without having a number plate on my bike or aiming for a finish line.
Geographically Costa Rica is a small but very intense country, you can drive coast to coast in four hours and in between there is nothing but mountains, some as high as 3,800 meters (12,400 feet). Most people come to Costa Rica for the beaches, but there are many unexplored gems higher up.
There a lot land access issues in Costa Rica. Basically, public land doesn’t exist. I wish that we had as much public land as other bigger countries, but somehow I also think that our shortage of public land makes trail riding here more special.

A great trail should be a mix of vertical drop, flow and challenge. Put it in a jungle rainforest in the middle of nowhere and it makes it even better. That’s what we ride here.
Ride in Costa Rica and you feel like the trail was built exclusively for you, on areas that even the Lonely Planet doesn’t know exists. You’ll feel the country’s real vibe from the land and the locals that helped give Costa Rica the title of the “happiest place on earth.” Pura Vida!
It’s always warm here. If you are from the northern hemisphere, it doesn’t sound too bad to take a break from freezing temperatures during the winter and go biking where the sun is shining.
Cross-country riding is actually quite popular in Costa Rica. To most of the local riders, cross country means dirt roads. Road riding is also a very big scene here.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Summer guide profile: Pete Gaston & Mathias Marschner

Pete Gaston, 26, lives in Aspen, USA. When not riding in the high mountains of Colorado Pete is right at home in the Alps. His favorite place to ride? Zermatt, Switzerland. When not guiding for Big Mountain Adventures in Europe Pete can be found climbing and skiing throughout the winter as a Salomon Freeskiing athlete. Pete and his brother John also founded Strafe Outerwear, a technical snow sports outerwear company. Pete will be co-guiding our CrossAlps trip, August 17-25 and our Swiss Cloudraker trip, September 2-10. 

Pete Gaston, right at home in the Alps.

46 year old, Munich-based Marschner did his first north to south trans-alp mountain bike crossing in 1999. Since then he’s ridden across the Alps annually on a variety of different routes. The route on this CrossAlps trip is the result of a culmination of these years of exploration. His philosophy of guiding and riding are summed up in three words: bike, nature and soul. Mathias is at the helm of this year's CrossAlps trip, August 17-25.

Mathias cleaning up before the big descent.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Every Ride Has a Story: Chris Winter scopes the Dolomites

Thursday, April 11, 2013

5 reasons why our new CrossAlps trip rocks.

We've developed a new all-mountain / enduro trip called CrossAlps that we think you'll find interesting. It goes like this: we pick you up in Munich, Germany and transfer to the Austrian ski town of St. Anton where we'll ride the next seven days through Austria, Switzerland and  Italy. Local guides, four countries and a whole lot of good times. The date is August 17-25, 2013. Want to come?

Crossing the Alps one pedal stroke at a time.

5 reasons why our new CrossAlps trip rocks:

#1. The route does not conquer the Alps from North to South as direct as possible like many Trans Alp routes. Instead we devised a route that passes over the most beautiful passes and includes the best rides that we could find, even if it means a few deviations.

#2. We don’t end the trip in Lake Garda like most routes, but instead we cross some of the most impressive regions of the Swiss and Italian Alps, ending on the beach of very bella Lake Como. 
Another day in paradise.

#3. Our goal isn’t to aim for greatest/longest/fastest but rather the mostest funest. Oh, we mean the most fun. That means very little asphalt, some very fun double track and singletrack jewels such as the descents from Idalp to Heidelberger Hütte, the Fimba Pass, the Corviglia FlowTrail  and Lake Como’s Traccionlino as our final ‘digestive.’

#4. Yes, we use the odd lift. With some trans Alpers it’s practically the law that every single meter needs to be ridden. Not us. If a shuttle is available and brings us to great riding, we’ll take it. This means using the Swiss Red Train, some lifts or the van once in a while to increase percentage of good times. 

Zee Red Train.

#5. CrossAlps is not a ‘challenge’ ride where only the strongest survive and riding consists of a being in a psychological tunnel. Instead, we’ll enjoy the awesome scenery, the riding, each other’s company and the culture of each region. Be it soaking up Austria’s welcoming Tyrolean “Gemütlichkeit” vibe, enjoying Swiss perfection on the train, sipping a few Italian cappuccinos, feasting Swiss Engiadin cuisine and doing our best to learn the host of languages along the way.

With great effort comes great reward.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NEW Swiss DH video!

Big Mountain Adventures mountain biking in the Swiss Alps. from Big Mountain Adventures on Vimeo.

We're quite excited about this amazing video on our Alpenrock DH mountain bike trip produced by our friends at Anthill Films featuring riders Matt Hunter, Ludo May and the Godfather Wade Simmons. Sick back and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New BC mountain biking video!

This awesome video is thanks to Glen Patchet who joined us on our 8-day Sea to Sky trip out of Vancouver, Canada. This is an amazing guided mountain bike trip that features an amazing variety of riding from super-mountain-bike-friendly Whistler to the cult riding town Squamish to dusty cowboy hamlet Pemberton and the infamous North Shore mountain bike trails. This video shows the creme de la creme of the trip...the South Chilcotins. Thanks Glen! Enjoy folks...

Mountain Biking BC with Big Mountain Bike Adventures - Chilcotin Mountain Range and Windy Pass from Glen Patchet on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gravity riding on the Italian Riviera.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Sheppard, his goats and a road gap. Filming in Morocco with The Collective.

It started faintly, almost in a whisper; a deep and monotonous humming sound.  The noises became slightly melodic and blended into words that I did not understand; then grew louder until he was fully wailing on the microphone, blasting a successesion of words. He kept going for what seemed like forever, chanting the hypnotic prayer that was cast at high volume from the mosques’ towers throughout the walled city. Who on earth came up with this brilliant idea? I thought in a half-asleep state. Whoever he is, i’m sure that he isn’t too popular right about now. I rolled over and fought to regain sleep and cruelly smiled as I remembered how close Darcy and Darren’s rooftop room was to one of the loud speakers. It was pitch black outside and the city was coming alive around us; my watch read 4:30am. Welcome to Marrakech.
Our Marrakech abode was called a riad. Traditionally, it was a building where several families lived with rooms and balconies looking over a common courtyard. Lately, Europeans were buying old riads and transforming them into beautiful boutique hotels complete with fountains, orange trees, palatial rooms and over-the-top rooftop patios and of course lots of pillows and rugs.
Andrew Shandro putting his Trek Session to the test Morocco style.

Leaving our riad promised instant adventure as you’d step out and realize that the door, which you’d just closed, was identical to the neighbors’ doors and none had any signs or numbers. To make matters more interesting it was situated in a medieval labyrinth of twisty narrow lanes with no structure. Numerous times I’d had to pay a local kid to help me find the way back to our door. Minutes from our riad was the famous Jemaa el-Fna Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s greatest spectacles.  Since Marrakech was developed in the 11th century, the square has been a cultural crossroad where frenetic commercial activity and entertainment attract crowds well into the night. There is a huge range of performances and acts: story tellers, musicians, dancers, snake charmers, glass-eaters and performing animals. A wide variety of services are also offered, like dental care, traditional medicine, fortune telling, preaching, astrology and henna tattooing and much, much more.
Four hours after morning prayer we were chilling on our rooftop patio in the warm sun sipping freshly squeezed orange juice, eating dates and discussing our proposed plan. Our group of 11 consisted of three pro mountain bikers, Andrew Shandro, Matt Hunter and Thomas Vanderham, four cinematographers, one photographer and four guides: nine Canadians and two Moroccans. We were lured halfway around the globe for Morocco’s world-class dirt, culture and landscape. The purpose of our trip was to film a segment for the Vancouver and Whistler-based mountain bike filmmakers, The Collective. In 2005, their self-titled debut blew the doors off of action sports films and won best cinematography at the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival alongside the Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah. They also captured movie of the year and best cinematography at Bike Magazine’s Video Awards. Needless to say, we had an all-star crew and cast on this trip. Our rooftop oasis featured 360-degree views of the city below and the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains on the horizon, which inevitably drew our imaginations to what lay beyond teaming Marrakech.
The crew getting ready to leave Marrakech.

Most in our group hadn’t been to Morocco and didn’t know what they were getting into. Those of us who had knew that patience and flexibility was paramount as things often happen on their own schedule. Safety was also a key issue. Hucking your carcass in Morocco was a dicey idea as proper medical facilities were basic to nil. If a rider was seriously injured it would mean a satellite phone call to a rickety helicopter and a flight to a run-down hospital with cats cruising the hallways. The nearest modern medical facilities, by Western standards, were in Spain or France. It was agreed, the riders needed to stick every stunt and ride with confidence. We wrapped up our meeting with many questions unanswered, stepped out of our door into the dizzying otherworldliness, packed the Land Rovers and drove off across the plains of Marrakech.
We drove south out of the city and climbed the Tizi-n-Tichka, North Africa’s highest pass at 2260 meters, and down the other side to the city of Ouarzazate. A sense of déjà vu is present in Ouarzazate as it’s the site of movies like as Laurence of Arabia, Gladiator and The Last Temptation of Christ. It’s also a gateway to the Sahara desert, the world’s largest. Looking out over the Sahara one can only imagine what lies between you and the other side, inexpressible solitude, endless sand dunes and one hell of an adventure to those who attempt to cross it. The other side is also deeper into Africa and other foreign worlds.
For the first few days we scoped terrain about an hour from the city in the foothills of the Atlas. The landscape was arid, large and lonely with endless ridges and big mountain lines. For a day and a half we drove, scoped, shot a few short lines, scoped some more but didn’t get our teeth into anything spectacular. In the evenings the North African light would pop, bringing features to life like a painter with his brush. Every so often a man dressed in a jalaba would saunter past us on a mule and wave, in the middle of nowhere.
Then we found a big road gap in a spectacular canyon setting. After a closer look the riders agreed that the jump was doable, but technical. The approach was a downhill roll-in, off an angled lip that would send them 25-feet above the road and 20-plus feet to the landing. It was the landing that was tricky: a steep 50-foot long off-camber shelf with a loose ball-bearing surface. They’d have to make a slight direction change in the air, then lock up the brakes upon impact, throw it sideways and hang on tight. “Look’s good. The air’s actually pretty minor,” Shandro said casually and matter-of-factly, ”it’s the technical and unpredictable run out that’s sketchy. We’ll be hauling ass coming down this landing ramp and throw in the fact that were in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Morocco and the difficulty level goes up considerably.”
We returned early the next day and worked on the landing while the cinematographers found camera angles. As the riders rolled into the lip over and over and discussed the variables a Sheppard, his dog and fifty or so goats sauntered up the valley. What an amazing sight; a head-on collision of contrast. The Sheppard layed his walking stick down and grabbed a seat on a rock while the goats spread out to nibble on the sparse growth. The cameras were in position, the wind subsided and silence fell in the small valley. Then the call came over the radio. ”OK, im dropping in 10.” Vanderham rolled in and launched the air with total coolness, tweaked his bars in the air just as he’d planned and swooped in for touch-down. He overshot the landing by a good eight feet but stuck it. His bike let out a big ‘whomp’ when it hit the earth followed by a rush of air as he accelerated down the steep shelf. The crew erupted as whoops and howls that echoed off the canyon walls. Shandro went next and made it look easy. Hunter, who had had a close friend get seriously hurt earlier in the summer on a similar feature, dug deep within himself and stomped it. None of the riders did the air twice. 
A sheppard and his flock. Photo: Dave McDougall.

The Sheppard seemed neither here nor there about the whole spectacle. He seemed without reaction. Did he even care? Or was the sight of a bicycle flying off a cliff so otherworldly that it was beyond him? Thinking back, im not even sure if he was facing the jump or not. He might have actually chosen that spot to rest. Either way, he grabbed his stick and walked off with his goats trailing. Meanwhile, one of our drivers, Achmed, was in the distance and on his knees, facing Mecca and praying to Allah as he did five times a day.
That afternoon we feasted on tagine that our drivers had been brewing on fires. The tagine is a slow-cooked stew of meat, prune and vegetable that’s a staple in Morocco. Our driver’s genuine warmth and kind-heartedness was present all the time as they worked tirelessly for us and always with a smile. They were also fluent in Arabic, Berber and French, which made communication with all Moroccans possible. After lunch we relaxed and laughed knowing that we had some key footage in the can.
The next day we rolled up to a new location after a full day of driving and the group pilled out of the Land Rovers, eager to scope new features. Without hesitation they fanned out and descended the hillside like skiers on a powder day. This time we were in the Ouirgane Valley, a greener area in the heart of the High Atlas with staggering views of Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak at 4167 meters, It was late afternoon and the sun was filtered through a light mist creating a dreamy pastel light. With pine trees and red and eroded hills in the foreground, peaks in the distance with a hilltop town perched on its flanks, the view was reminiscent of a Tuscan oil painting except for the Muslim minaret poking out of the town like a statue.
“This place is unreal,” photographer Sterling Lorence said as he ran up a small hill to see what was on the other side. “It’s a dream landscape with the most beautiful backdrop ever. You could blast off that bush, hit this LZ, snake around that rock and pin it into the hip,” he said excitedly to Vanderham while spinning his hands as if he was holding a toy bike. Vanderham barely had time to answer and Lorence would already be on the top of another mound of dirt ten feet away inspecting the line from another angle. Lorence is a key player in the process of finding a line or feature, and shooting it. His background as a mountain biker combined with his vast experience shooting the best riders makes him a Shinobe of line dissection. 
Very comfortable digs on the edge of the Sahara.

Watching a rider fly through the air in a film is the end result of a lengthy process of many elements that come together. Initially, a line or feature is found by a rider or suggested by the photographer or cinematographer. Upon closer inspection the cameramen make sure that it receives good light at some point during the day - the best light being early morning or late afternoon. Then the crew digs and shapes the run-in, jump, and landing to ensure that the line is safe and doable. The next step is finding the best angles to shoot from, which speed to shoot the film and which lenses to use. Meanwhile the riders continue hammering out the intricacies of the feature and the variables to make sure that they nail it: speed, pop, braking, pedaling and external factors like wind and tricky surfaces to negotiate are taken into consideration. And, each line that is shot needs to be unique and fit into the rider’s segment and complement what has already been captured. Lastly, each line’s overall safety needed to be assessed, especially when working in a remote region. 
The next day we gabbed our sad and decrepit Moroccan tools and started working on the first shot: a large step-down hip jump into a step-up hip jump. The soil was firm yet workable, the perfect consistency for shaping. The in-run was fast and straightforward with a transition long enough to land a Cessna while the second jump’s landing was trickier and off camber. The whole line made for a beautiful shot: long, flowy and dynamic with endless camera angles. Hunter hit the line in his Kamloopsesque no-frills-balls-to-the-wall style. He’d chosen an alternate route off the step up where he’d land and dive down a steep technical chute. Vanderham has an uncanny way to use his body like a spring. He’d pop like a gazelle and be sailing considerably higher and further than the other riders. With his arms extended and ultra smooth style he’d table his Rocky Mountain RM7 slow and big and land it like he was hopping off a curb. Vanderham is unreal to watch. Shandro was hitting the linked airs like a knight on his white Trek Session 10, assertive and stylee.
In the distance prayer began playing from a minaret in a hillside town. The eerie barely audible droning echoed from the mountains that afternoon as our 16-millimeter cameras whirled, shutters clicked and big bikes sailed through the air.

By Chris Winter, Big Mountain Adventures.