Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fear and loathing in the UP: Andrew Shandro rips Copper Harbor 2012

Aaron LaRocque surveys the carnage 

So there I was.  Wearing my 3 dollar blue polyester pants, bought at the Houghton Goodwill because I needed some bug protection, a tuque on my head because it was blowing so hard off of Lake Superior that I was cold and of course I was also sweaty and covered in mud.  No big deal if you know me, I spend a lot of summer days in just this disheveled condition.

However this time I was standing in front of a large crowd and speaking at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the IMBA Copper Harbor Ride Center.  Funny how situations progress.  I know why I was dressed like that.  Because I had been shooting Andrew Shandro and Aaron Rogers mountain biking all morning and of course ended up in the wrong spot at the wrong time and could not make it home in time to change....

It was an insane week.  Insane!  I think I maybe slept a couple of hours all week and I certainly did my share of talking and drinking good beer as well.

Houghton Airport pick up
On Thursday Aaron Rogers and I picked up three really cool people at the airport.  Tammy Donahugh, Aaron Larocque and Andrew Shandro.  Tammy is a co-worker of Aaron Rogers and mine at IMBA and it was really good to see her again and to show her some Midwest riding. On arrival, Larocque and Shandro were strangers to us, but I can safely say that now I would consider them friends.

Our overall mission was to kick off the Copper Harbor Ride Center with a major media bang and to also participate in the Ride the Keweenaw event.  To further that goal we were also joined by pro photographer Aaron Peterson (yes we had three Aarons on the trip....).  The Ride Center Grand opening went amazing.  A ton of folks showed up, we all had TV interviews and we cut the ribbon.  Or should I say, Aaron chain sawed it!

IMBA Copper Harbor Ride Center: World class trails, approval given by a world class rider: Shandro
We had three pretty solid days of riding and shooting.  Aaron Larocque-AKA "The Rock" is an extremely accomplished film maker and Andrew Shandro is a pro mountiain biking legend from the North Shore of Vancouver in BC.  Together the five of us made a pretty solid team.  A-Rog and Sandro riding, myself, The Rock and Aaron Peterson shooting.  It was the first time I was involved in a three way like that.  The Rock was given first right of refusal on the shots then Aaron and I alternated taking turns picking up the scraps that Larocque left behind and I have to say it was really challenging.  In addition the shots were fast affairs, really forcing both Aaron Peterson and I to set up and shoot fast as well.  Not my forte, but even then I scored some really good images.  Peterson and The Rock however I think did even better and I cant wait to see their results.

Shandro in his element
In addition to shooting Tammy, Aaron and Shandro we also were really lucky to get some shooting with the young hot shot riders in the Keweenaw.  These kids can kill it and are real proof that world class access to trails, produces phenom off road cyclists.  All of these kids can go huge in the bike park and most of them can also rip your legs off riding XC.  All arounders.

Pete Karinen showing how its done on Flying Squirrel 
The future of mountain biking.  Keweenaw MTB talent
Smiling Paul Mayes, the biggest hitter on the Peninsula
Landing in Isle Royale...

As a group we started off awkwardly working together but by the end of the week there was a definite connection between all involved.  At least I felt it.  I had heard about and respected Aaron Peterson's work for years and it was fun to shoot with him and get to know him.  Between Aaron and The Rock, I was endlessly laughing as we all had a very similar sense of humor, which was good since while we set up shots we also battled an epic black fly outbreak.  Head nets and bug shirts became the fashion and although Shandro and Larocque were a little hesitant to take them, once they hit the woods, they realized the protection they provided.

UP Fashion
Shandro heading "Downtown"

A-Rog on Stairway to Heaven
As we collected images the town of Copper Harbor quickly filled with people for the big event.  Eventually with all the folks in town, shooting became problematic and luckily we had amassed enough media for our ultimate goals.  Then it was time to play in the woods.  Of course in our region that means, shotguns, beer, bug nets and clay pigeons.

Shandro shooting Shandro
It was really, really interesting to meet and interact with Shandro and Larocque.  They have a perspective that is totally different than ours as to mountain biking and the mountain bike community.  They come from a incredibly populated and vibrant scene in BC and especially Whistler in Shandro's case.   However it was obviously refreshing for them to encounter Copper Harbor and the intimate scene that has developed on the Keweenaw Pennisula.  Perhaps it reminds them of an earlier riding era?  In any case it is certain that that they had fun and I can say that we had fun having them.  It was an honor working with them both and I whole heartedly thank them and Tammy for coming and to Trek and IMBA for sending them.

The big puddle
The Flow Trail
Heading for the Mariner
Tbone dropping in on TFS
Dont ask

Dont ask again!


Aaron Peterson said...

Fantastic! Images look great as usual. Thanks for the props.

JakeCarsten said...

Great writeup and photos Hansi! Sounds like a killer time.

Unknown said...

High Life and shot guns? You sure you weren't in Central PA and forgot to call?

pmac said...

Awesome! I miss the turf and I miss reading the blog. Looking forward to coming up for Trails Fest!

Natasha said...

Thanks for sharing Hansi! Sounds like you all had a great weekend up there. See you next time you come to MQT.