The Collective's Seasons DVD
The Collective is an amazing group of cinematographers that has carved a niche for themselves with their first two releases: The Collective and Roam. By placing a premium on quality -- camera work, editing, and unique locations -- their artistic take has set them apart. In each video the Collective has pioneered new techniques to capture the perfect shot. They risk nearly as much as the riders themselves, who put it all on the line. As the credits roll in each film, we're provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse into just what it takes to get those killer video angles -- cameramen perched atop 20ft ladders while riders launch through the air, inches away from their heads; or, suspended from a zip-line high above the forest floor, only to be whisked backwards at mach speeds as riders whiz by below -- it's just another day on the job for the members of the Collective.
Seasons is the third offering from The Collective. Their self-titled first film set a benchmark by which all mountain bike videos would be judged. Roam, their sophomore effort, took it up a notch. Now the Seasons DVD, one of our most highly anticipated new videos, has finally arrived. As the title suggests, this video follows some up-and-comers in the world of mountain biking, as well as some legends of the sport throughout an entire year's worth of filming. As the film transitions through each of the four seasons, we witness their respective training regimens as each prepares for the world cup downhill circuit and slope style events. The riders endured the elements to keep themselves on their bikes, in even the harshest conditions.
The Seasons DVD starts off during winter or the "off season". The story begins with Steve Peat, World Champion downhill racer, and key member of the Santa Cruz Syndicate factory powerhouse. As his commentary begins, we reaffirmed the notion that Peaty is not to be taken lightly on the race circuit. The intro footage of him spinning his ass off on a home trainer suggests he takes his winter training very seriously. His segment is littered with footage in cold, muddy, and wet trail conditions, par for the course during the winter months in the UK -- conditions we'd bet makes his mechanic curse his name. It occurred to us that while most U.S. pros are training in sunny California during winter -- with their warm, dry conditions -- they might be missing out on a critical skill needed to dominate the World Cup Downhill circuit. During most World Cup Downhill Races we've watched, it was raining or the course was at least saturated during the race. Challenged by abundant mud, wet rocks, and slimy roots, the U.S. riders struggle to finish in a respectable position. The Seasons DVD presented a convincing argument that Europeans can handle a bike when the going gets rough, and slick.
Seasons wasn't just about Peaty's DH exploits -- it offers a little something for everyone. If you've thumbed through recent magazines you've probably seen photos of Slope Style events or riders competing in those types of contests. There is no denying that Slope Style riding is one of the fastest growing segments in mountain biking today, it is an awesome spectator sport as you can view the entire course from one spot. It consists of riding jumps, drops, and obstacles down a sloped hill and riders are judged on the tricks they execute, the lines they pick, and their style. Seasons showcases two of the biggest names in Slope Style. Cam McCaul, a rider from Aptos, CA, and Darren Berrecloth from British Columbia, Canada. While watching videos in the past we've often asked ourselves, "how in the world did he learn to do that?" We wondered how many times he had to crash before landing that trick. Cam McCaul is the cream of the crop when it comes to style -- he does his tricks so smooth, they look effortless, a true mark of a great rider. One of our initial questions was quickly answered with his opening segment. He learned most of his tricks by launching into his backyard swimming pool off of a two-story roll-in to massive six-foot tall kicker ramp. Cam and some of his buddies also constructed a step-down, step-up jump near their home to get in some "dirt practice". The jump they constructed was built to further their training. The landing is in soft, near pillow-like dirt, that they can either land in and ride away, or crash in, and simply dust themselves off. The imagination of these riders is amazing. They throw tricks that wouldn’t even seem possible through physics, but somehow -- surely through pure repetition -- they do so with ease.
It's been said that if you want to be the best, you've got to ride with the best. Darren Berrecloth was so impressed by McCaul’s poolside set up that he constructed his own water jump. Keep in mind that McCaul lives in California and Berrecloth lives in Canada. As McCaul was launching into his pool shirtless, Berrecloth had to adorn a full wetsuit. Berrecloth sought out an abandoned water hole and constructed an equally big ramp to launch himself into some frigid Canadian Water. We were impressed by Berrecloth ’s commitment to staying on top of his game during the off season as he was warming up by a campfire in between his practice jumps. Berrecloth looks back on his success and recalls how it took him four years to learn tailwhips. Remember it wasn’t long ago that The Red Bull Rampage introduced the mainstream media to Freeriding. During the Red Bull Rampage the style was more about putting it all on the line and trying to nail the biggest drop, or the toughest line down the mountain, rather than pulling tailwhips, backflips, or 360’s. The riding has increased in risk as the years have gone by. Due to expectations set by spectators and the course designers, the riders have to deal with bigger jumps and bigger drops, and be able to throw the newest tricks.
Perhaps the best metaphor for the DVD title, Seasons, is the Andrew Shandro segment. Shandro is one of the founding fathers of the freeride movement. He was a National Champion DH racer in 1995. Seasons features some old interview footage and clips from a '95 national race that Shandro won. These days Shandro is an instructor at Whistler's gravity camps, as well as a product tester and developer for his bike sponsor, Trek. On top of all of this, he still finds time to be a father. His young son enjoys mountain biking as much as his dad, and he has skills to represent the Shandro last name. We watched them both ripping some sweet North Shore singletrack, sort of a follow-the-leader, with the younger Shandro leading out his dad. We related to this segment, and felt that most everyone could -- whether you're a father, mother, or you cherish those precious moments you've spent with one of your parents. Throughout his busy schedule, Shandro has managed to keep doing what he loves and introduce his son to something they can share and form good memories.
The Seasons DVD is sure to please any biking enthusiast -- whether you get your thrills ripping singletrack, scrambling down a rock-and-root infested hill at blistering speeds, or launching yourself into the air. If you are looking for a video that is a welcome break from the normal hard-slamming soundtrack with mediocre filming of spectacular riders, look no further. Seasons is a video you can view repeatedly, and the behind the scenes footage is just as entertaining. Grab some snacks and get ready to be amazed, and educated. Seasons delivers.