|ESPN.com: Action Sports||[Print without images]|
On Tuesday, snowboarder Travis Rice, freeride mountain bike rider Darren Berrecloth, BASE-jumper Miles Daisher and climber-turned-TV star Bear Grylls were sitting around a table in a mountain-town bar located on an otherwise deserted street in California's Palm Desert. They talked about fear and tackling demons, about riding impossible lines and doing things no other athletes had done before. "I rarely get the opportunity to hang out with other athletes who do this stuff, so it's nice to chat with them and share the way we approach life and its struggles," Grylls says. "Even though we all have different disciplines, we have so many common threads."
Sounds a bit like a dream sequence from a Hollywood action sports film. Well ... the scene did take place on a movie set.
Earlier in the day, the four men met at The Four Aces, a fulltime movie set designed to look like an old-timey truck stop, to film the final video in a five-video series called Masters of Movement, an ad campaign launching a new line of stick deodorant by Degree Men. The company targeted Rice, Berrecloth and Daisher -- men known for pushing the boundaries of their respective sports -- to join longtime spokesman Grylls and then offered them the opportunity to use the company's resources to fulfill one lifetime goal.
|Travis Rice rides through Craig Kelly's Hole in the Wall in the B.C. backcountry.|
Inspired by a photo of trailblazing snowboarder Craig Kelly riding through a feature he discovered in the BC backcountry dubbed Hole in the Wall, Rice chose to return to the location and ride it in honor of Kelly, who died in an avalanche near Revelstoke, BC, in January 2003. "I didn't want to do this unless it was worth everybody's time," Rice said. "But I had always wanted to ride the Hole in the Wall and the pieces came together perfectly." Rice said he chose to ride Hole in the Wall for this project as opposed to shooting it for one of his own films because his movies are about progressive snowboarding. "This was about aesthetics. It was tribute," he says of the Feb. 7 shoot. "It was something I wanted to do for myself."
After collecting as much intel as possible and enlisting the help of Canadian guide John Buffery, Rice says it still took the crew several hours to find the location. "John was the first person I called and when I asked if he wanted to be my guide, he said, 'You know I was with Craig on that trip?'" Rice says. "I had no idea. I said, 'You wanna go back?'" After the shoot, Rice told only a few friends about what he had done. "We did it pretty stealth," he says. "But my friends who knew were pretty hyped. It was such an iconic photo." After the videos launched online Monday, April 23, his secret was tough to keep.
Daisher was inspired by a jump performed by his close friend and mentor Shane McConkey, who died in a ski-BASE jump in northern Italy in March 2009. "Shane went out with a bunch of guys to jump at Little Colorado Canyon and I missed that adventure," Daisher says. "He was so mad at me for not making it on that trip, and I was mad at myself." Today, permits are much tougher to come by in the area, which resides on a Navajo reserve, so Daisher looked at this opportunity as his last chance to finally make a jump from the 1,600-foot cliff at Hell Hole Bend. "The guys from Degree went through the permitting process, pulled some strings and made it happen," he says. "The whole team was amazing. The Freeride guys who shot it had a RED cam, a Phantom, a Cineflex on a helicopter. The video looks amazing. It was something special. I could feel Shane out there with me. I talked to him a lot."
Berrecloth had driven by the red cliffs in the Painted Desert near Cameron, Ariz., for years, staring up at the steep walls he knew had never been ridden on a mountain bike. "I knew it was all native Navajo land and with all the land rights issues, I didn't think it would be possible to get the permits to ride there," he says. So when Degree asked what goal Berrecloth would like to check off his list, being the first mountain biker to ride those cliffs was top of mind. "It was so tough and so, so much work, but they helped me get all the proper permits," he says. "Now the groundwork has been laid, so when someone else goes back and wants to film there, it will be easier."
On the day of the shoot, the locals embraced the first athlete to ride their local hills. "The natives came out and watched and were stoked," Berrecloth says. "But get this. One of the older chiefs told me that back in 1975, he and some friends skidded down some of the smaller 30- to 40-foot hills on their Stingrays. So I wasn't the first biker to ride there. He was. I was maybe meeting one of the first freeriders ever. I gave him a high five."