Friday, March 11, 2011
Mountain Bike Imagery
I've been thinking lately about the effect mountain bike imagery has on the public image of the sport. Someone recently sparked this thought in reference to the movie "Life Cycles" and how much they enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty entertaining, but somehow the original overview I had heard before seeing it made it sound more like an ambiguous celebration of the bicycle. Instead, with some interesting time-lapsed cinematography aside, it was the standard full-face helmet, goggled, high-speed dash down trails. I think it was the title that sounded so enchanting; similar to "Seasons".
Now before anyone rushes to defend "gravity", "downhill" or "freeride" just know I fundamentally have no problem with this side of mountain biking. I myself own a Santa Cruz Bullit, albeit ancient. My point is the overload of this sort of imagery as "mountain biking" to the rest of the world and its potential effect on public perception. It sells soda, SUVs, energy drinks and countless other "extreme"-slanted products, but does it injure our sport as a whole? I lost count years ago how many times the anti-mountain bike factions (Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, etc etc) have referenced "40-lb bikes screaming past them at 30mph", blah blah blah...
This got me thinking - is the problem the LACK of imagery for the other disciplines within mountain biking? Why can't we make the quintessential mountain bike movie about our harmony with the backcountry and wilderness? Is there a way to show the bicycle as the perfect mode of transportation for exploring our great expanses of nature? I'm no Spielberg, but is it possible to make a mountain bike film in the spirit of books like "Desert Solitaire" or "Walden"...or movies like "Jeremiah Johnson", "Seven Years in Tibet" or "Touching the Void"? Does the documentary "Tour Divide" start down this road a little despite being about a race?
Would love to hear your thoughts....
Posted by Matt McFee at 12:17 PM