In the first of a series of CRC Mavic rider-focussed edits, we’re excited to bring you ‘Sam Hill: My Way’ – where Sam shows us around his childhood riding spots then sessions his current trails in Perth, Australia.
Check out our competition plus an interview with videographer Alex Rankin, below.
We spoke to videographer Alex Rankin, the man responsible for making some of mountain biking’s most iconic films including the Sprung series and Earthed.
Matt Cole: What was it like spending time in Perth and filming with Sam?
Alex Rankin: I first travelled with Sam and his team way back in 2003, sleeping on floors and filming the Norbas, World Cup races and sessions for Earthed when we had down time.
We got to know each other pretty well and I considered those guys my extended family, with Sam being the youngest but also the most level headed and mature out of all of us.
I remember one time we were all arguing in the van on a long drive across a desert in North America – something about music and radio, and Sam just stepped in and calmed us all down and laid down the law. His calm nature must contribute to his ability to process information on the bike.
Anyway it wasn’t really any surprise when I heard Sam was going to be a dad four or five years ago and now he has three amazing kids, that’s obviously a huge part of his life now. So we hung out with the kids a bit and being a parent myself I wanted the film to show a little about dad life but also take the chance to see a little about where Sam grew up and how that ties in to growing up with bikes and the fond memories they bring.
I also love the idea that you can make it at world level and come from anywhere, and Perth has no big mountains, lifts or bike parks. What I did find out is the Western Australia red gravel is like marbles to ride on and Sam said that’s what he reckons made him so good in the mud. He said you have to float across the gravel and move like you’re in the mud. I also realised he likes to build his own trails riding with a folding saw he spends a lot of time creating new tracks that he can ride to from his home. Unfortunately a big bush fire swept through just before my trip and wiped out some of the best trails that Sam had built but we managed to salvage some of them and still find plenty of good stuff to film.
Matt: How long were you filming for?
Alex: I was in Perth for a week and shot over four days. Jet lag is a pain and Sam knows better than anyone what that’s like so we started slow to give me a chance then the last few days we pretty crammed.
Matt: Is Sam as smooth and fast as he looks in the video?
Alex: I’ve never filmed Sam on a trail or enduro bike but we laughed about how this bike is probably so much better than the downhill bike from 2003. As always it was a pleasure to shoot the same Sam Hill we all know, still shredding 100% but making it look so easy and achievable for any rider. I’ve always been hugely inspired by Sam’s riding and we can all pick up some tips from studying his style.
Matt: How do you think Sam’s year at the EWS is going to go
Alex: He won a round last year on flat pedals and at only his second or third EWS attempt, that’s legend status already right? Maybe he still has a lot of learning to do but I’m sure things are going to go well. There’s a lot of luck in any racing – and enduro more than most – but Sam is one of those riders that knows you make your own luck.
Matt: Tell us about that soundtrack – what a choice! How did that come about?
Alex: I wanted something really special for this film and had a few tracks that I’ve been saving for something like this, but in the edit nothing was working how I thought.
Sam’s riding even though he’s destroying everything is totally smooth and actually suits a mellower style and not just hard and fast metal, plus I always like tunes that make riding look fun and not just trying to be hardcore. I tried ’Just Like Heaven’ by The Cure not really thinking I would use it but it just stuck, the lyrics and pace are perfect and nothing else was better, not by a long shot.
It’s probably one of the best pop songs ever written and quite impossibly I know Simon Gallup the bassist from the Cure. I knew he was a huge downhill mountain bike fan and I knew he would be into the Sam Hill thing, so I dropped him a line and he was really positive, saying about Sam: “I always thought he was the bridge between old school DH and new” – something I had never considered but it’s so true.
To have that blessing from the key band member is so amazing and for me and makes this little film even more special.