I had the the exact shot pictured in my head before we even started building the corner. One of the huge plusses to building your own trail from a photographers point of view is the ability to creatively sculpt the landscape exactly how you want to see it through your viewfinder. With the mossy hillside as my muse, we roughly shaped the radius of the up hill corner, graduallysweeping down hill, passing between a group of three old growth douglas firs. The rest of the work would be completed by bike tires and we moved further up the mountain.
My vision would take shape after the sun goes down as the forest devours the last faintness of light, transforming from familiar shapes to an unknown black wilderness stretching to infinity. I pictured a scene of almost total blackness unbroken and undefined if not for two riders illuminating their path with powerful headlamps. The second rider, almost completely eaten by the night, would be silhouetting the first rider and the select few trees near the trail as they rounded the newly built corner.
As I have never shot a photo like this before, I decided to try some test shots on my own. At sunset, I pushed my bike up the familiar trail that I had been working on for the past few months. Intimately acquainted with the smallest details of the trail, and could probably navigate safely home with my eyes closed. Forty minutes later, I had arrived at my desired corner and began setting up my equipment. Darkness descended quickly and it took a lot longer to dial in exposures, lights, and proper focus than I had anticipated as I worked by headlamp.
I started hiking my line and getting a few shots, adjusting and tweaking as I went, but without a second rider, the process was tedious and I really wasn’t getting what I had envisioned. On my next attempt, as I set up for the corner, everything went black. Instinctually, I squeezed the brakes as hard as I could and held on for dear life as I crashed into a moss covered log. There was no sound and not a drop of light, only pure quiet black. My (not so charged) bike light had run out of battery and I was left to fumble around in the darkness in the direction I hoped my camera bag and spare light were.
Eventually, I found my kit and a spare headlamp and hurriedly shone the beam around me expecting to illuminate the eyes of an opportunistic cougar who was surely waiting to maul me. No eyes were seen, and I began packing my gear while I still had a viable light source. Riding back to the valley, I struggled to memorize every subtle twist and turn of the trail incase I was cast once again into sudden blackness.
- October 2015