A PHOTOGRAPHIC DIARY
Best of 2020 - Deniz's List
A month by month photo story (Best Viewed on Big Screen)
2020 started off quite alright. Oblivious to what lay ahead, I was excited for a creative, fulfilling, and productive year. As my usual winter practices unfolded, I was residing in Western Spain through December '19 and January '20. I don't need to brag about the 25-degree Celsius New Years Day and the abundance of sunshine in contrast to what my friends on the 49th parallel were experiencing.
I eventually returned to Canada and moved into a new home with my partner as the Covid lockdown poked its ugly head though the door. We had a lot to do still and bikes were the only outlet we had to make it through the spring.
Unno Factory visit and a taste of the Catalan, Barcelona.
Part way into January, the sunny warm weather in Mediterranean Spain quickly turned into a cold snowy mess for a week. It took everyone by surprise. My anticipated quick 3-hour drive from Valencia to Barcelona to visit UNNO became a real challenge. I managed to get myself to the amazing UNNO headquarters the following week and I was fortunate enough to chat with the Cesar Rojo and all the people that make UNNO frames so unique.
I published my first Behind the Brand article later on and was hooked on the process immediately.
Still riding on the high of my visit to UNNO in Barcelona, I managed to organize a visit to the mystical Basque Country and the Orbea Bikes Factory in Mallabia, Spain. This visit was quite special as I not only got a highly exclusive tour of the facilities but also sampled some of the most beautiful singletrack there is in that part of the world. Early February also happened to be the right time to crack open the 8ton Oak barrels of Apple Cider in Sagardotegias. The overall experience of food, bikes and culture will stay with me to the grave.
The Forbidden Druid arrives.
It was time to come back home to Canada. Many boxes awaited me with great anticipation. One of them was from Forbidden Bikes. With the help of brands like Marzocch, Shimano, WeAreOne Composites and Enve Composites, my long term review bike was born.
The Druid is a 130mm high-pivot trail bike that defied all convention and proved to me but also anyone in the business of riding bikes, that with the correct geometry and suspension kinematics, a 130mm bike could ride at speeds and places that none of us thought was possible. Wit its idler pulley isolating pedalling forces from the suspension movement and the high-pivot location creating a rearward axle path, the shortish travel Druid ascended and descended like no other bike could. I only expect to replace the 130mm Druid with a longer travel version once it is available.
I recently replaced the very capable Fox DPX2 Shock that is stock on the Druid with an L/L tune Rockshox Super Deluxe Coil - the 350-lb. spring is perfect and the increased rear wheel traction is very noticeable. The grippy Maxxis Assegais front and back with Tannus tubeless tire inserts are also a perfect match for the aggressive nature of the bike.
Lockdown and no cars on the roads.
Most people stuck inside with gyms and roads closed, mountain bikers took it to the trails for venting. The busy driving roads up to local trails were now in the use of bikers and walkers. You could social distance easily across a three lane ski hill access road. There were no fears of getting plowed down by a shuttle vehicle. We all got fitter in return as well.
Pete Roggeman took delivery of his Transition Bikes Sentinel V2 and I was excited to photograph it in front of a Covid shut-down golf course.
I got to ride and shoot with very fast Tim Coleman this year, too. He called me up to go for a few photoshoots. His willingness to push back up for another take was strange for me. My usual photojournalistic style of shooting was morphing into something a little more curated. I quickly started experimenting with different vantage points and compositions.
It was also amazing to nerd out with him on suspension and tire technologies. His vast knowledge of settings was a great learning tool to improve my bike setup.
It was a crazy time for bikes in June. Bike shops all around the world were working at 150% capacity to meet the demand. The trails were packed, and for me, riding and shooting was mostly on hold. However, I got to go on a couple of really good rides and got some meaningful photographs.
July was mostly a repeat of June in the activity sense. I did find some time to get away for a few days close to home and visit some hidden gems.
When things calmed down a little, we met up with friends and local trail-builders to explore their Covid builds. It really was a special moment how the abundance of time gave us some of the best trails we have ever ridden.
I've had this idea for a photograph. Finding a sweet singletrack in the smack middle of the metropolitan city of Vancouver and shooting it from a bird's eye view.
The vantage point was a little tricky in the full summer bloom. Trees full of leaves and dark shadows of the summer would not have worked well. The autumn foliage and thinned out trees lined up perfectly for a low contrast sunny October day. To pull this off, I arranged a day with the legendary Elladee Brown to shoot and explore the trails of Stanley Park. It was a great success. Legs and the mind were nice and tired by the end of it. Who would have thought we could get a shot like this in the middle of the city?
Riding is good.. like.. really good.
As we dig deeper into dark and gloomy months, the uncertainty of even the nearest future is unnerving. But there is a glowing sky above and a challenging, winding trail to push ahead.