Split Decision
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Split Decision

15 February 2023

Split Decision is a gritty deep dive into the relationship that is forged, and at times tested, between rider and photographer, and a reveal of the challenges, decision making and compromises that have to be accommodated in the shared quest to find creativity.


“Can you do it again… please?” Trails regularly echo this shout whenever a rider and photographer take up residence on a rock slab, berm or drop-off. Usually there’s a sharp intake of breath. The rider dutifully pushes back up. The photographer fidgets a metre to the left or right, re-assessing earlier angles and decisions before swapping a lens or a battery. And so the enactment of mountain bike photography continues: a loop playing on repeat until relief, exhaustion or darkness finally let’s them move on.

Today we have become so accustomed to seeing amazing mountain bike images —dreamy photos of amazing action immersed in incredible scenery and bathed in heavenly light — that it’s easy to forget what it takes to capture any one of those images. But behind every shot there’s a hidden interplay: one that is enacted between two individual creatives who are used to expressing themselves through very different media —the bike and the lens.

Where they meet is on the trail

Each mountain bike photo we lap up is typically the result of many hours spent planning, and many calories burnt riding or pushing bikes. Each is the result of a discussion of ideas that, if all goes to plan, will lead to an expression of creativity from both involved. Words are swapped, decisions are made, cranks are turned, shutters are clicked. Maybe there’ll even be a fist-bump. Maybe.

Of course mountain bike photography would be easy if every trailhead could be reached effortlessly in just a few minutes, and sunsets glowed for six hours every day. But real mountain biking is about challenges and rewards, and if you’re anything like Pro Bike Gear community riders Scotty Laughland and Dan Milner, then chasing those rewards means embracing those challenges, especially if you’re searching for spectacular ride and photo locations.

Which is how the team came to roll out of Cogne in the Italian Alps and into a testing three-day adventure. In their sights was a 3200 metre high alpinists’ tin bivouac shelter —a spectacular overnight location that would make for both dramatic mountain bike photos topped off with a killer descent. All that stood in the way of either was a 2100 metre climb following tough alpine trails and plenty of hike-a-bike.

Drawing inspiration from their spectacular surroundings to help battle fatigue, cold and hunger —and the lure of a warm bed— the team embraced their quest to find creativity on the harsh, rocky trails surrounding their temporary tiny home; Here, in an unforgiving landscape where the balance teeters between aspiration and luck, and creativity and compromise, the pair offer a glimpse into the narrative and decision-making that goes into ‘getting the shot’. Can a tiny hut perched on an inhospitable, rocky ridge at over 3000 metres altitude really become the perfect place for two creative’s —one on the bike and one behind the lens— to collaborate?

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