[Press release] As soon as I stepped off the plane on Australian soil at the end of March, I encountered a certain disturbing calm in the people around me. I had just arrived from the World Cup in Portugal which had just been canceled, where a slight but undeniable tension mixed with panic was in the air; this however seemed to vanish once he landed in Sydney.
I felt like I was the only one who knew something, like I was living two weeks into the future and had already seen what would happen before anyone else.
It was as if I had been on the Titanic watching it approach the iceberg and all I could do was just wait for the impact.
It had already been a special year for me. I had months of training behind me, and I had just decided to revolutionize my life and move towards achieving the goal of a lifetime. I left home and scattered all my belongings among the family members who would take care of them – a huge undertaking, but it was worth it to have the best chance to train and be close to other riders like Jack Moir.
Suddenly and abruptly, everything blew up and this made me feel a huge mental burden and prompted me to ask myself many questions, and in particular: “and now what?”
I felt like I was being put into forced retirement and with no prospect of getting out anytime soon, along with a sense of lost identity.
No matter how hard I tried to find myself and pull myself up to the mood I was in when I was about to go to Portugal, I couldn’t.
As a result, once back in Australia, I decided to leave my new training ground in Newcastle and return home to the state of Victoria to be close to my family and try to make sense of it all.
Upon my return home I still could not find my inner balance, I had questions that were constantly spinning in my head. “What will happen now? Where will I go to live? How long will it last?”
I was in a constant state of fear that ultimately crippled my happiness and my life.
I knew that something had to radically change in my mindset and my view of the situation, so I did what anyone should do in a situation like this: I decided to focus on the things I had under control that made me happy, while blocking the things that were having a negative impact on me.
So one day after I returned from Europe I filled my van with provisions for a week, deleted all my social media apps and headed to a location that has a special place in my heart, Mount Buffalo. .
When I got to the foot of the mountain my mood began to shift almost instantly, as if all the noise around me had begun to transform from a desperate cry of panic to a sweet whisper of hope.
It was almost as if I had suddenly turned the volume down on all the negative external forces that were being projected on me, giving me the time and clarity to stop, breathe and look at the big picture along with the new opportunities that had just presented themselves.
It wasn’t something that I thought would change that quickly in my mind, but I’m so thankful that it happened, to not feel like I’ve lost something, but rather like I’ve gained a lot more. Focusing on all the positives and throwing away all the negative emotions can change everything in the mind.
After a week of complete isolation and deep thoughts a new opportunity suddenly presented itself in the form of a place to live and a new roommate: that place was Falls Creek and that friend was Joe McDonald.
Although Joe and I were close enough, we had never been so close as in two and a half months of forced isolation.
What happened during those two and a half months can only be described as a life change for all the right reasons. We have transformed a moment of uncertainty and fear into the absolute time of our life.
From exploring pristine places to meeting new and similar people, it felt like we had created the perfect storm for what was to come.
During this time I was lucky enough to meet an old friend of mine, Jarryd Sinclair. Over the years we had shared many mutual friends but we had never been very close; I knew he was involved in the media world and he knew that I had found a good seat with my bike, so he decided to approach me with an idea to collaborate on a media project.
I was familiar with some of Jarryd’s previous projects and the level he was working at, so I jumped at the opportunity and the planning began.
Along with Jarryd I was also introduced through mutual friends Riley Mathews, a Falls Creek skier who normally chases winters like I chase summers.
Since at this moment it was no longer possible to do so, he decided to take the path of photography thus becoming the last missing piece of our puzzle.
Once we had the team together and the idea of filming three different SCOTT bikes in three completely different locations within 100km of each other, it was time to go, but where to start?
It was easy: where the start of this series of strange events had led me, Mount Buffalo.
When we arrived I couldn’t help but think back to when I was here at the start of the pandemic and how things have drastically changed since then, from not knowing what to expect and feeling lost to throwing myself headlong into my biggest media project ever. together with two incredible characters: what a surreal feeling!
The first of the three bikes we shot was the SCOTT Addict RC, one of the most beautiful racing bikes I’ve ever seen, and I’ve ever had the opportunity to ride.
At the beginning of the shoot we played with different methods and new ideas on how to get the best shots, in the end we pulled the ace up our sleeve, tied Jarryd in the back of my van attached to the surf harness armed with a stabilizer, and with Riley behind the wheel we were able to get some of the smoothest shots I’ve ever seen on the side of the bike.
After reviewing the footage, it didn’t feel real, it looked like part of a video game or something filmed by a millionaire production, not bad for a couple of guys in a van!
After doing all the shots, that night we decided to camp at Corno, (the highest point of Monte Bufalo) because we were still in a state of semi lockdown and there was no other soul up there but us, peace. pure and tranquility hung in the light, fresh mountain air as we watched the sun set on a successful first day.
Almost as fast as we had watched the setting sun we felt like we were seeing it rise again, a 4am start along with a short walk took us to the top of the mountain to capture that elusive golden light that any respectable filmmaker would barter. with his grandmother.
After filming and once Jarryd and Riley were grinning through their teeth, it was time to resume the descent.
A short drive saw us leave the beautiful Jurassic Park-style Mount Buffalo and arrive at our new location, Mount Mystic overlooking the small resort town of Bright. While unloading my new SCOTT Gambler from the van I couldn’t help but smile: it was the first time in months that I had been downhill and at the same time I was riding a completely new bike; this gave me a sense of enthusiasm mixed with tension.
I find that competing and filming are two very similar things, although with filming you have to be fast for 10 seconds at a time compared to 3 minutes. Having said that, in those 10 seconds you have to be perfect and due to the shorter time span perfection is more expected and the pressure is equally high.
As I gave it all for the first take my mind was full of doubts and emotions at the same time, excited to do what I was doing, but with a bit of doubt as I hadn’t pedaled in so long and had never done before of that moment that bike. I pushed 50m beyond where the boys were stationed, took a deep breath and waited for the call. Jarryd yelled that he was ready and I went down a steep rocky stretch and passed the boys.
When I stopped, all my nerves relaxed and the doubt disappeared: I felt incredibly well and the doubt was quickly replaced by self-confidence; this was further reinforced by the two guys who had never seen me get off until then, their arousal reaction and shock prompted me to push even harder, and so I did.
As the day went by and the hours passed as if they were minutes, the feeling of hunger seemed to escape our bodies, even though we hadn’t eaten in hours and everyone was giving their all the whole time.
We had found that infamous state of fluidity as a collective group, and in that moment we were so busy achieving a set goal that nothing else seemed to carry as much weight as it normally would.
In those moments I think it is important to stop and reflect on that precise moment, to realize that what you are in at that moment is something that once could have been perceived as an impossible dream that has now become a daily reality.
In those moments it is important to remain humble.
Another incredible day of filming was done and pulverized, which left us now with our last bike to capture and a whole new location to go to.
After another sleep that was reduced to zero, we returned to the vans to run in the sun as we approached the top of Falls Creek.
We finally reached the top and managed to beat the sun, although sadly our price was a cold, freezing wind that cut like a Japanese knife through the paper.
We all huddled in my van for shelter as we worked out our options and plan of attack to deal with the strong winds and lack of visibility. We decided to start further down the trail, using the surrounding hills as a light cover from the violent winds. Once out of the wind and the fog, everything seemed to take on a new identity: from cold enemy that hindered to creative useful friend, the wind and the fog had completely transformed within a few hundred meters and the boys could never have enough.
We used the fog along with the surrounding barren landscape to capture some of the most cinematic footage that could ever be required. Once the fog began to clear and the morning slowly rolled into noon, we decided we had earned a quick nap; that quick nap turned into a three hour sleep on the grass in the hot sun, so it was fair to say we were all pretty tired at this point.
As we woke up in a vague lighthead, we slowly recovered and got everything ready for the finishing touches.
We headed towards Mount Mackay, as we reached the top that could be seen for miles above the Kiewa Valley and along with each of the locations we had previously toured. Mt. Buffalo, Mystic and Falls Creek were all perfectly still on the horizon as we filmed the last few scenes and completed this truly amazing project.
This time, the idea of what would happen next was gladly welcomed into my mind with great enthusiasm and anticipation, I was given time to reflect on what was really important to me and I found the motivation to engage in it. sense.
Now, starting 2021, I feel like I’m riding a wave of momentum created in the last 10 years: all the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, the accidents, the wins, the people, the places and the culture. that I met on this journey led me to this point.
So what happens next?
Doing whatever is humanly possible to make the dream come true and become the best in the world by racing my bike and inspiring others to do the same.