Written by Kami York-Feirn / Photos by Emily Sierra
It’s late afternoon on day two of our photoshoot. Dressed in tank tops and knee-length shorts, our group scouts a technical drop on the Lunch Loops to choose the best line. Most of us pick a line to the left, down a rock garden with a sharp right turn at the end while the daredevils of the group choose a stair-step drop with a rocky landing. Our photographer lines us up, snaps a few pics and kindly asks us to do it again. As goosebumps start to form and a cold wind blows through our helmet-hair, I find myself dreaming of warmer days in the desert where shorts and a tank top means I’m sweating, not freezing.
We session the drop, bundle up in our puffy jackets, slide our hands into our pockets filled with hand warmers and head down the trail. You’d never know by looking at these photos that it was 38 degrees with a chance of snow flurries!
It’s not often that brands take you behind the scenes of a photoshoot. As customers, you get to ogle at the beautiful photos posted to Instagram while often never hearing the stories behind each shot. Sometimes it’s a corny joke, a trailside karaoke session, and lots of encouragement. Other times, it’s deep conversations about industry issues, trailside mechanicals and endos that result in scrapes and bruises. Today, we want to take you behind the lens of our Spring 2021 photoshoot in Fruita!
The Hype Squad
“Oh yea, I think this goes. Can you hand me my bike?” Alex had been scouting the trail for fun drops and features to ride all weekend and she had found the ultimate drop; a steep sandstone tower that required us both to scramble up some rocky ledges while passing her bike up. It looked super sketchy to me and way outside of my comfort zone but Alex was calm and stoked. When she reached the top, a cheering squad had gathered, phones out, ready to watch some magic happen. Alex pointed her Mach 6 down the tower and rode the super steep feature like a pro.
The lesson I took away from that moment is that a hype squad can help you get over your fear of a new feature, whether it’s a rolling rock garden or a gnarly 4 foot cliff drop. The more we cheer each other on in life and on the trail, the more we can accomplish together.
Mother Nature Has Her Own Plans
When we arrived at the trailhead on the afternoon of day two, it was cloudy and 35 degrees with patches of snow covering the trail. We all set off in base layers, puffy jackets and hand warmers, though quickly traded them for tank tops to get “the shot.”. The day before had been sunny and mid-40’s; a classic spring day in the desert.
When we got to a feature we could session, we’d toss our jackets down to Cassie (our fearless leader), hop on our bikes to get the shot, then bundle up and continue riding. All while laughing, smiling and having the time of our lives, even with frozen hands and toes.
Looking at these photos on Instagram, you’d never know. It can be easy to make up your own narrative when all you see is the finished product, but there’s often so much more that goes on behind the scenes. Frozen hands and all, we made late winter look like early spring.
Mixed in with the goofy anecdotes and permanent smiles, our group sat down at the kitchen table one night to talk about some of the more serious issues facing our industry. To many of us, biking is a huge part of who we are, but it also poses challenges. For some, it’s a sense of belonging in a very male-dominated sport while for others, it’s a question of whether the gear will fit properly and be comfortable. Women come in all shapes, sizes, personalities...you name it, we’re all unique!
By creating a safe space to be vulnerable, we were able to connect on a deeper level. I strongly believe it’s equally important to be able to laugh and be silly while being serious and open.
While externally the Wild Rye motto is #PlayWild, our internal motto is Safe, Seen, Valid!
As an introvert, I often struggle with coming out of my shell when I meet new people. This can be a problem on photoshoots when the best photos are candid and show you being relaxed and comfortable, as if the camera isn’t even there. It took me until the morning of day 2 to get there but as soon as Cassie started blasting “Yeah by Usher” on her cellphone, it was game on. We started dancing, I forgot about the camera, and even pulled my shorts down for a chamois pic!
Later that morning, Alex started singing “Wiggle by Jason Derulo” as we shimmied down our shorts for some silly photos. But the real party started back at the parking lot as we shot some tailgating photos while bumping a Spotify playlist titled “Grinding in a Sweaty HS Cafeteria.” It’s exactly what you imagine. A selection of songs we used to bump and grind to in high school that we swear we still know all the words to years later.
As I look back on this photoshoot, I am filled with so much joy. I met a few strangers that now feel like family, fell in love with a bike that made me feel like a mountain goat, developed a permanent smile and maybe looked good for a few photos. Next time you see a picture on Instagram that sparks inspiration, I challenge you to reach out to the photographer to ask him/her the story behind it. It might just make you laugh.
To go behind the scenes even further, be sure to follow:
Peep the full spring collection here.
Loved this inside look and deeper thinking about it! Thanks!