Friday, June 1, 2012

St#ff Got Real: The Copper Harbor Crew 2012

Tammy Donahugh, killing it on Flying Squirrel, Copper Harbor, Michigan.

So it's a long weekend up in Copper Harbor and I've been asked to come in to lend a photographic hand to the Ride the Keweenaw and the unveiling of Copper Harbor Trails Club's new International Mountain Bike Association designation as a Ride Center. IMBA brought in pro rider Tammy Donahugh of Colorado. Tammy rocked. Fun to hang out with. Fun to ride with. Great on camera. And not bad in an abandoned copper mine with a case of High Life and several hundred rounds of shotgun shells either.

Game face, Tammy Donahugh, Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Dead sexy, Tammy Donahugh down at the mine

Trek bikes is a big supporter of the Copper Harbor Trails. Trek asked its longtime pro rider Andrew Shandro of British Columbia to visit the Harbor for the weekend and he did. He said they don't ask him to do that sort of thing much, so to me that really says something about the company's commitment to the region. Shandro got a tour of the trail system (dug it) and then we all got down to work shooting a film and stills. We went hard for three solid days and then cut loose a bit with some local culture.

Andrew Shandro borrowed my pen, *sigh*


Shandro with the Copper Harbor can opener.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

Much to a still photographer's chagrin, nothing happens in this world without video these days. Trek brought in freelance filmmaker Aaron LaRocque, aka larock, aka THE ROCK of Pink Bike fame to produce a little flick about Shandro and the Harbor. LaRocque, quite simply, rocked. Fast, efficient and gorgeous cinema work. Too fast actually, as I had a hard time lining up the shots I wanted before he was set up and rolling. 

Film takes precedence over stills because my strobes would have shown up on the video so it was tricky shooting trying to stay out of the film shots and shooting fast without the aid of additional lighting on shots that really could have used it. Came out okay, but still was a bit nerve wracking during. Also, I have to admit that he was so casual with filming that I secretly questioned how good he was (I had no idea who larock was or what PB was before he grudgingly told me on the last day of shooting, darn those humble Canadians!) I can't wait to see his final edit, and although we started out a little crusty, now consider this guy a close friend. We're facebook official even.

Aaron LaRocque, the helmet would not save him at Ziks that fateful night.
LaRocque, like a boss.

And then there's Hansi Johnson, IMBA Midwest Regional director and purveyor of one of the finest outdoor blogs ever. Hansi has been involved in the outdoor trade his whole career and everyone I know seems to know him and have a great story. But I had yet to meet him and was stoked that he was coming up. He's a great photographer (though he claims amateur status, I call BS), a paddler, a skier, we have sons about the same age and let me tell you, he swings a mean shotty. "I broke 50 in a row once," he says nonchalantly, totally devoid of ego, as he hands a smoking 20 gauge over to me. In my book, you're not a true athlete unless you can make things go boom. 

Oh yea, and by the way, he's helping put little places like Copper Harbor, Cuyuna and hopefully my hometown of Marquette on the map through the unstoppable machine that is IMBA. Aloha Mr. Hansi.

Hansi Johnson, the professional.

Hansi Johnson, IMBA lead negotiator.

Me. Totally out of my element with pro athletes and late nights. I was glad guns were brought into the equation to level the playing field with the biking Canadians. At least with guns I can hold my own. Almost. But really, it was a blast to be a small part of making a voice for the Upper Peninsula. I've made a job out of writing about and photographing the great people and places of the U.P. but it's more than a job and a lifestyle. It's my passion. There is so much to share way up here on the shores of Superior and a sustainable way to do it without losing the unique things that make us a weird little corner of the world with all the woods and water. The success of Copper Harbor can be replicated. Needs to be replicated.
Yours truly, worse for the wear.

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