Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Making of 'Mighty Chicken: A Tribute'

Almost 3 years ago Scott P., George L., myself and the Tilton School MTB team embarked on the beginnings of a trail project.  A natural ravine at Franklin Falls was begging for more than just the trail shooting down the middle.  Chicken Ravine needed an upgrade...

Our crew spent the morning roughing in what would become Mighty Chicken.  It doesn't quite exist in the same form today as it did that day but its close.  We have probably gone through a few minor tweaks and two more major revisions.  Additional bench cutting, increasing the radius of a few of the turns for better flow and adding a new section on the end for a bit extra tech/excitement.  I am pretty proud of what it has become.  Franklin Falls has been attracting a lot of riders from all over New England lately and usually when bumping into riders in the parking lot they'll be asking how to get to Mighty Chicken.

The word is getting out and I felt it needed some proper documentation and some time in the Internet 'spotlight'.  Plus I've wanted to try making a more planned out edit with the goPro for awhile but have just never had the time.  I got a weird morning time window before an afternoon b-day party yesterday that wasn't long enough for any projects around the house but just about long enough to get an edit filmed.  Or at least I hoped...luckily I was right.

I had a song in mind, and some ideas for shots I wanted in my head but no real concrete plan of attack.  When I got on the scene I started walking the ravine trying to get everything straight in my head about how I wanted to go about this.  Turns out keeping all this stuff straight is actually kind of hard.  No wonder movies need like 500 people on set to spread the work around.  I thought far enough ahead to bring a little notebook so I started drawing rough layouts with notes on where I wanted to get certain shots and then recording which video was which shot so editing would go quicker.

Each turn was numbered and I set up and got shots linearly as I went from top to bottom.  It actually ended up being a pretty good workout because certain shots if I didn't really like the way I rode a section I would stop, dismount and run back up and ride it again trying to go as fast as possible to try and save on parsing and editing time later.

 CUT! ok lets do that again. PLACES EVERYONE! PLACES!

Some of the shots I wanted required some MacGyver'ing.  That's right up my alley so it was no issue.  One bungee cord just about handled any tricky shots I needed.  I used the goPro tripod mount exclusively and was only getting third person shots, nothing on the bike.  Camera was either on the ground on in the trees.


Hey Dad does that tri-pod look familiar?  I believe you rocked that in the 70's with your Nikon.  I think its return on investment is doing fairly well.  Trying to get things lined up was tricky at times.  It is interesting trying to shoot a 'creative edit' without being able to look at anything you are getting until you get home.  I goofed twice getting my finger in my first shot of the trail sign (didn't make the final vid, obviously) and getting the bungee cord in another shot.  That one did make the vid because it was kind of crucial to connect the big sweeping turn 7 into the bottom half of the trail.  Oh well.  Considering I couldn't see any of the shots I was getting and I was rushing some of the setups due to our awesome second surge of mosquitoes thanks to Irene I thought it came out really well.

I got some weird condensation/hazyness in a few of the shots, not really sure why.  The temps were swinging pretty strong.  It was probably 40 when I got started and almost 60 by the time I was done.  Not sure if that was it or not.  Kinda bummed because a few of the shots are lower quality because of it but it does add a weird kind of surreal effect that sort of works I guess.

I'm going to call this a success though.  Decided I was gonna try it Friday morning and I'm posting a finished product Sunday morning that I'm pretty proud of.  Not half bad.  Enjoy.  I'll embed it here but I think its better to watch it at Vimeo with more resolution...just sayin'.

Mighty Chicken: A Tribute from Kevin Orlowski on Vimeo.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bear Brook Hero Ride

Nowadays between primarily leading weekly NEMBA rides and getting together to ride with friends I don't often find myself suiting up for friendly hammerfests.  This year has changed that a bit.  My involvement with NEMBA Racing has gotten me connected with plenty of folks that love to suffer and are hellbent on getting faster.  Not a bad thing but man does it hurt.

Shawn Smith (AKA the Ride Bully) is exceptionally adept at attracting fast riders to his rides and he loves planning BIG days and seeing how the cards (or riders) fall.  I was on the fence about this one because I had some stuff to get done around the house but Saturday I was very efficient and was able to free myself up to tag along.  Unfortunately for me I started scanning the email thread and the roll call was looking like a bunch of fast guys and some even faster guys for good measure (like guys who race Pro/Elite and two Expert Vet I podium finishers at the NH100, 1st and 3rd, fast).  It's been awhile since I've been one of the slow guys in a group ride of 8-10.

But this is good, I feel like I've plateaued a bit lately.  I've been getting stronger every year but I'm at that point where if I want to get any faster I have to find some local heroes and get on their wheels, or try to get on their wheels anyway.  Today was tough, the heat was actually pretty brutal for Sept and the pace was constant, not blistering but always fast.

I got off to a really ridiculous start, ride was almost over before I even made it a mile.  We were cruising along in the equivalent of a neutral rollout (15mph on flatish singletrack) and I was chatting with Steve about how wide his seatstays were on his new SS and then I was on the ground looking back at Carl asking him what the hell just happened.  Turns out I struck my pedal on a stump and my bike stopped dead and I went flying.  Quite hilarious really.  It happened so fast I had no clue, just a loud noise and me airborne.  For reference imagine securing a braided steel cable; one end to your bike and the other end to a 4 ton cement block in the parking lot.  The cable is about 4 tenths of a mile ride away from the parking lot at a brisk pace.  Unfortunately because we hadn't even gotten a mile away from the parking lot my goPro was not on...woe is me.

Banged up my left knee a bit on impact but it was decent for the rest of the ride (stiffening up nice now though).  I think the heat was affecting some of my trail awareness and reaction time because I was having a real issue with pedal strike all day which is usually never an issue.  And my pedals are now totally whupped, they were old as it was but now one of the bearings sounds like a duck quacking when you spin it.

Unfortunately I hit the stop button on my Garmin with one of my appendages while I continued forward and my bike did not so my data got a bit messed up because it took me awhile to notice.  My legs felt pretty good.  Most everything else didn't though thanks to the heat but I've got some good post NH100 fitness going.  Hopefully I can stay strong through the last few races of the year.  I am really looking forward to some 60 degree riding temps after today.  Can't wait for Fall riding.

Made a quick edit with the footage I got.  Tried a new angle but didn't want to mess with it much because I was too busy trying to keep up with those damn speed demons.  I'm not sure how I feel about the new angle.  I like the perspective but it does a hell of a job flattening everything out.  Even the steep techy descents look basically pancake flat.  Kind of a bummer, I was hoping some of the footage was going to look much better, but I like how it came out.  Time to drive some traffic to NEMBA Racing...for the vid go here.