I have worked with France's premiere cycle company Lapierre Cycles for a while now, riding and photographing team members, documenting next season's bikes and capturing behind-the-scenes images for the company.
Each year Lapierre invite journalists from around the world to partake in a multi day bike party. Great bikes, stunning Alpine trails, brilliant food and company are what these days are about. During this event, which this year was held in my home town of Morzine, these reporters get to ride and learn about Lapierre's bikes of next year. Bikes that have not been seen yet by the public. After an information-packed seminar, the reporters are sent out with different bikes to test and review them. My job at this stage is to accompany them on these trail rides and get them images they can then use in their various publications to go with their reviews.
Riding 8 hour days with a 20kg camera backpack can be arduous at best. Morzine has been experiencing one of the hottest summers in recent history with temperatures escalating to 38°C (we even saw a temperature gauge reading 48°C, but that was dismissed as potentially inaccurate!) and riding bikes in this heat was strenuous work indeed.
To my absolute delight, Lapierre asked me if I'd like to ride their new Overvolt eBike. The 'e' in the name denoting 'electric'. Now this is no throttle-twisting motorbike. This is a pedal-assisted mountain bike that still needs you to pedal. However, with the aforementioned 20kg backpack firmly in place on my back, the trails were returned to the fun experience they should be. Lapierre have been at the forefront of this electric bike game and are one of the first companies in the world to bring us an eBike that is capable of tackling extreme terrain. The combination of technology, equipment and geometry makes this bike feel like your own trail bike would. In other words, this job suddenly became immensely enjoyable again! The heat was still a big issue, but with numerous natural spring water troughs dotted around the mountains (think Evian water on tap), hydration at least was not an issue.
These writers had a blast tearing up the mountainside on high end bikes, both electric and conventional. Lapierre put on an impressive event as always and everyone was grinning by the end of it.
The day after the journalists left, a small group of us decided to head out on a trail ride of our own. Finally getting to put a decent pace on with the Lapierre crew was great. Getting some air rushing through the helmet was a welcome feeling and we rode one of the region's best trails high above the Alpine villages. Of course we still managed to stop every now and then to shoot off some more rolls of film (metaphorically), but we had a great time doing so.
So there we have it. Another great Lapierre press event in the bag and some fantastic memories as souvenirs. It's jobs like this that make me realise my equipment's limits and restrictions (who knew Pocket Wizards don't play nicely with Canon 580EXii flashes?) and what I can and can't get away with using the kit I have. My gear wish list grows yet again and I am getting closer to my perfect gear bag.