the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

October 11, 2009

Blood, sweat and tears and the Orgasmatron Trail

Filed under: bike — danmilner @ 3:05 pm

Last year while shooting a feature for MBUK in Tahoe while using friend Mike Basich’s remote hippy cabin as a base, we paced his 40-acre plot of mountain land and decided that its bedrock outcrops and loosely spaced trees would lend themselves admirably to the construction of a bike trail. Well, I’m happy to say that the trail is built, as my blistered, torn, thorn-riddled, rock-battered hands will testify.

Trail building is a new art-form for me living in the Alps where there are (still at least) countless established natural trails to ride, but as you can probably appreciate, the first step on the ladder of getting the mortgage paid is getting a story pitch commissioned by a magazine, and usually that means coming up with a new slant or angle on something that’s probably been done before. My ideas for such adventures somewhat disturbingly usually involve some sort of perverse self-flagellation.

So enter the Orgasmatron: Tahoe’s newest trail, built by two cabin-dwelling, hot tub sharing, bearded fellows (that’s me and Mike) over two long days of dusty, shovel-wielding hard labour. The idea for the feature? Take one plot of mountain land and see how its topography and features lends themselves to having 500 metres of singletrack laid out across it; a real hands on learning experience incorporating the kind of challenge that might have seen Anika hang up her jumpsuit in defeat.

Of course it helps to know someone with a plot of mountain land to start with, enter Mike and his snowboard Area-241 testing ground. With only three days to both build and shoot the feature (and ride the nearby 19 mile super-trail called Hole in the Ground) it was clear that to make it work we’d have to make effective use of all and any natural features, to follow the line of least resistance if you like. Focussing on several granite slickrock sections meant less time  at the blunt end of a shovel was needed while adding a pump-track style grin factor to the test ride afterwards. Effectvely all we had to do was decide which slickrock to include, what line to take across them and then work what route to take through the trees and open scrub to connect the sections.

Oh and actually dig out the trail in between.

Moving rocks and building up ramps to scale three fallen trees and a couple of touch step ups proved finger-nail crunching and hoeing and raking a foot deep layer of old pine needles and fir cones to create the slaloming section through the forest gave birth to blisters the size of Hampshire. Finally with the sun setting we polished the final section of the Orgasmatron, a small wall ride that leads into a fast rollercoaster set of slabs and mini jumps back to the cabin.

And now, forty eight hours later I sit on a plane, squeezed into a fire-retardant foam seat and stare down at my cracked and beaten palms, knowing that  the pain was worth it, knowing that I’ve added a little creative something to the world of mountain biking and learned a hell of a lot in the process. If nothing else how to dress blisters.


Nothing beats a session with the Orgasmatron



1 Comment »

  1. Ah Anika.

    Comment by Le Velo — October 13, 2009 @ 8:47 am

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