19 Feb 2018

CONTRIBUTORS: STEVE STOREY

WORDS & PHOTOS x Steve Storey

In a continuation of our series showcasing the people who make Eskapee what it is, this week we’re showcasing Canadian rider, trail-builder, photographer, and stor(e)y teller Steve Storey with 15 questions and 10 of Steve’s favorite photos (each with their own story).

Who’s is Steve Storey?
I am a mountain biker, trail builder, traveler, writer, aspiring photographer and videographer.

What makes you happy?
As corny as it sounds, chasing dreams. Nothing gives me more satisfaction and happiness than chasing a dream or goal and achieving it. It’s what keeps me motivated to learn. It’s what keeps riding interesting. There’s always another level to be achieved or plateau to break through.

What is your greatest fear?
Life altering injury. I’m terrible at being injured. Luckily the longest period I’ve ever been unable to ride has only been about 4-5 months. It’s tough to stay positive during those times but I also realize any injuries I’ve had have been pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. A major injury doesn’t frighten me on a daily basis or even cross my mind ever, but when having to think about what I do fear in life, that’s the closest thing I have as a fear.

Now that I think about it, regret is probably a bigger fear, which is probably why I end up with less regrets and more injuries (haha).

Whistler, BC - A-Line POV: The humble GoPro. Admittedly, I wasn't a big fan of them until a few years ago. GoPro have really stepped up their capabilities and with the affordability of quality gimbals, I did a complete 180 and fell in love with them. It's such a small, powerful camera to have at your fingertips and they have provided me with a lot of rewards and opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise. For that reason alone, I wanted to include one POV photo in here. It's crazy to think how far they've come. It's exciting to think what lies ahead for the world of compact action cams.
Whistler, BC - Sunrise Yoga From The Air: Another photograph resulting from injury life. The opportunity to shoot yoga at sunrise came up. I thought I would get some decent video from it but I ended up with some of my favourite drone photos to date. I generally try to avoid the classic drone from above shot but the lines and patterns were to good to pass up in this situation. I'm a big believer in trying to find the positive in everything. I missed out on a lot this summer but I've also learned a lot of new skills and shot some things that I've wanted to for a long time.

Tell us something about yourself that no one knows (yet).
I wished I had done gymnastics as a kid. Where I grew up, generally girls went to gymnastics and boys played soccer or hockey. I believe gymnasts to be some of the most skilled athletes around. That skill set is transferable to every aspect in sport and life. I mean who wouldn’t want a more solid base of strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility for their chosen passion?

How do you escape?
I don’t try to escape per se but I do find that going for a ride, getting outdoors, or some sort of exercise stops me from overthinking the little things and stresses in life which I can’t change. I consider getting outdoors or exercise to be a daily necessity just as food or sleep. If I don’t get up to something everyday, I feel off physically and mentally.

What must you carry with you at all times?
Any type of camera. Phone, GoPro, compact mirrorless. I always have one of those with me. The trusty multitool is a very close second.

Whistler, BC - Chainless A-Line: The majority of this bike season I've been sidelined with an injury. It's allowed me to learn different skills and try new things. I don't ever spend time behind the lens in the bike park as I'm usually too busy riding the park myself. Instead of letting the injury get the best of me I went and photographed one of the local DH races. Not being able to get around well and shooting in sub par conditions were great teachers of creativity. It made me realize that getting off the bike and behind the camera in the park isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Oahu, Hawaii - North Shore Sunrise: Just a simple sunrise from an oceanside campground. What made this more than just a regular sunrise is that it was part of a trip with no aim, no goals. Nothing other than do whatever the moment brings you. And this moment, I felt like watching the sun rise instead of racing out to catch some waves. A nice reminder that I should watch more sunrises in life.

How did you get to this point in your life and what/who influenced those choices?
Mostly through having the right people at the right time in my life. My parents, obviously, for teaching me hard work and pushing me into competitive mountain biking after I showed interest. More importantly my parents saw that obsession and toured our family all over southern BC so I could race and ride my summers away.

I have absolutely no idea where I would be if my girlfriend/best friend/mentor/adventure buddy, Justa Jeskova, was not in my life. Without meeting her I don’t think I would have made the effort I did in mountain biking. She made me realize that by staying driven I could achieve my goals. Some of those goals that I achieved I had even written off as fantasy since I didn’t think they were possible. From multiple Deep Summer and Dirt Diaries appearances at Crankworx, feature articles and magazine covers, to online media projects and winning the GoPro Line Of The World competition last year. It’s been a heck of a time! If you told me 5 years ago all of that, plus traveling all around the world to film, shoot photos, and write would be a reality, I would’ve laughed it off.

What would you tell the 10yr old version of yourself?
To not quit riding bikes between the ages of 16 and 21. Also to eat healthier and to not be so damn shy.

How do you describe your work?
Jack of all trades, master of none. I’ve learned a little about a lot and it drives me to learn much more about it all. Whether it’s photography, filming, writing, mountain biking, or trail building, the more I learn, the more I realize there is to know.

Machu Picchu, Peru - Ancient Mountain City: Visited by millions and photographed even more. I was in Peru on a bike trip and we thought it would be rude to go all the way to Peru and not see this wonder. We ditched the bikes and hiked our way along some rail road tracks when we saw our first glimpse of it. There was a massive town wide strike in the area meaning all the tourist infrastructure was closed. Regardless, we managed to make our way up to Machu Picchu and had all of it to ourselves, save for a few dozen other lucky travelers. Seeing this place in person makes you realize why it's so popular. But seeing it this empty - that felt like we had won the lottery.
Whistler, BC - Trail Building: Danny Martins and myself spent about 2 1/2 years building this trail. I feel at home in this forest after spending so much time in it. We've been out in these woods in every type of weather imaginable. This day in particular was one of the coldest and most miserable that we ever had building. It was hovering around 0 celcius and sleeting horribly all day. I think the only reason we stayed out was because we knew it would be the last chance to finish the trail before winter shut us down for the year. We came within 10 meters of finishing the whole trail that day. So close.

What does your crystal ball show you about the future of MTB media?
I see, or at least hope, that online media becomes more original and less about sharing what’s already out there. Just as Eskapee have been doing [ah, shucks Steve]. Story telling and unique themes have really picked up traction in the last few years. So much of media now is just rehashing the same ideas that a few creators have done in the past. Also, more story telling in videos. It’s already starting to happen but we are still awash in a sea of shredits. I enjoy seeing a short action based edit but I think they’ll become more at home in social media feeds as opposed to taking up front page space for truly unique projects and ideas. For filmmakers to stand out now, a story or theme, some solid cinematography and sound are needed, and that’s a good thing. I’m excited to see where we end up down the road media wise.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Whistler: Why? The sheer amount and variety of riding within the one valley is mind boggling. The clincher? The riding community and friends that inhabit the same valley. The people here alone make this the best place to live. Endless events, gatherings, parties, group rides, etc. Everyday throughout the summer it feels like I’m on permanent vacation. Bonus points for being sandwiched between Pemberton and Squamish, two equally incredible communities for biking!

What do you do to make flying and travel more comfortable?
Stretching and a cheeky pint = happy travel and easy sleep.

Martin, Slovakia - Martinske Hole: I do most of my travel with Justa Jeskova which means I'm generally riding in front of her lens. Every once in a while, I get the chance to capture a pic of my own. I loved this one mostly because of her reaction. I asked her to go back down the hill she had just pushed up (heavy camera bag and all) so she could pedal up for a photo. I think her exact words were: "What?! I'm only doing this once, you better get the shot!" She wasn't too happy about the situation until she saw the picture. In her defence, her camera bag was extra heavy that day and we just finished climbing and descending those 3 peaks in the background.
Martin, Slovakia - Graffiti Tunnel: This was just one of those moments where a picture falls right into your lap. It was the end of one of my favourite road trips ever through Poland, Czech, and Slovakia. On our way to the train, we passed this tunnel with graffiti that exuded that classic post communist feel of eastern Europe. I'm fascinated by the history in this part of the world. It was nothing like I imagined it to be as I pictured more grey, crumbling, urban decay. In reality, it was bright, beautiful, and full of lush, green mountains. This was one of the few spots that actually fit the hollywood-eque idea of eastern Europe.

What’s the most expensive mistake you’ve made?
I guess it isn’t obscenely expensive now, but crashing a rental snowmobile into a tree when I was in junior high school seemed like life altering debt at the time. My parents had to cover the $1400 damage up front and I spent a good amount of time working it off. It was in 1996 and I believe minimum wage was around $6 or $7 CDN an hour. Working off a debt for a snowmobile you didn’t own over summer wasn’t much fun, although it did reinforce in me to not crash things that aren’t yours.

What is your greatest memory from working in the world of mountain biking?
I wouldn’t say there is a single greatest memory because I’ve been lucky to be involved in so many so it’s hard to choose one. Each year seems to bring about another project that tops everything else. A recent trip to Peru is still sitting with me as one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. We embarked on an 8 day bike packing trip around Ausangate mountain which included an out-and-back to the recently discovered Rainbow Mountains. Rainbow itself was cool but it was the other peaks and mountain passes that blew my mind daily. We’d be standing with our bikes atop a peak 5250 meters above sea level, looking down a massive descent with no one around but our group and I’d just be in disbelief that we were there. The surreal scenery, the llama created trails seemingly designed for mountain biking, the ‘we are seriously out there!’ feeling, all of it combined for something I’ll remember vividly for life.

Why is telling stories and/or taking photos important to you?
I honestly have no idea exactly why they are so important to me but they truly are. I just know that I enjoy my experiences in mountain biking and traveling so much that I feel an urge to share and capture those moments. It also gives me a chance to relive the highs and lows that accompany everything that makes mountain biking and travel so great and fulfilling.

Shimla, India - Monkey Sunset: If you've ever been to Shimla, you know these guys are a-holes. The Family Guy evil monkey incarnate. They will hiss, bite, chase, and steal. And that's exactly why I was so pumped to nab a calm moment of the little bastard.
San Salvador, El Salvador - El Boqueron: On one of the last days of a trip to Central America, our group had been taken to this massive extinct volcano crater. A trail ran up and down along the edge with massive exposure on the inside rim. It was a whole lot of fun to ride but I think what stuck with me most was the locals using this for their commute to get to and from work. Back home this probably wouldn't even be open without handrails and harnesses.

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