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Words and Photos by Johan Hjord

​After following the DH World Cup circuit from the remote confines of my secret underground lair for many years, for 2015 I was briefly un-tethered from my keyboard and sent off to attend a couple of races in person. Armed with my camera and a fresh UCI photo bib, I was about to get a whole lot closer to the action than any live feed could ever have prepared me for. What follows are some random observations on this crazy circus and the wild men and women that make their living hurtling down mountains on two wheels.

1. It's Kind Of A Big Deal

The big teams aren't here to mess around. It's not Formula 1, but the big team trucks are impressive as is the speed at which the whole pit area comes together.

Trade Team Parking. Find One Error.

2. It's Not Really That Big Of A Deal

It's just people riding bikes.

Not everybody wins in The Great Marshall Point Lottery.

3. There's Method To The Madness

After being challenged by a journalist a famous golfer once said "it's funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get". The top riders will take their time in practice to really figure out the tricky lines. Nobody takes this part of the job more seriously than Gwin...

Check the line...

...then send it!

4. Most Of Us Would Wish We Could Ride Like A Girl

There may be a bunch of seconds separating the fastest men from the fastest women, but don't let that fool you into thinking these ladies don't shred. It will take a big jump to make any of the top girls back down, and they'll happily send the gnarliest, rockiest, rootiest chutes too. Pinners!

Road Gap #2 in Lourdes was the real deal, a big high-speed sender to a gnarly, bottom-out inducing landing. None of the top girls batted an eyelid.

5. You Can't Always Get What You Want

Taking the perfect shot means nailing the compo, exposure, timing... and preferably, if you want your shot to feature in the slideshow, you need all that with a single-digit number plate. The Stones said it best...

Manuel Gruber gets framed by his teammate.

6. These Guys Are Professionals

Greg Minnaar rode Lourdes with a broken hand and had to strap himself to the handlebar to be able to hold on. He still found the focus to tap his rear brake in the air on the road gap, moto style.

The obligatory pan shot. #ohpleasemakeitsharp

7. It's All About That Light

You don't really get all that many chances at figuring out the good spots to shoot, but the juniors are always good for photographer target practice. Wide tape, dark woods and a bright sky turned this angle into a bit of a lottery.

Some you win, some you lose.

8. Murphy Lives

So you work a spot for the good angles, figure out the light, figure out the shapes the riders will throw...then you wait for 53 riders you DON'T need a shot of to come by, until you decide to give up and start walking to the next spot. EXACTLY at that time, Loic Bruni blasts by and you're left standing there with a red face and one sorry excuse for a photograph...

Damn you, Murphy.

Give it another few seconds, Gwin will come by too... #TOTALPHOTOCHUMPSTATUS

9. Scrubs Are Sick

The 2015 must-have move for anybody wanting to have their action shot taken.

Dale long looked like he would walk away with scrub of the day...

...but Isak Leivsson shut it down for good.

10. The Winner Takes It All

Make sure you get a good picture of the winner during the winning run. You only get one shot at this... burst mode FTW.

Rachel Atherton through the tricky new wood section in Leogang, on her way to a solid, 3-second win.

11. There are 69 Ways To Ride Your Bike

Yeah, we all know what perfect body language is supposed to look like. But if you want to go really fast, you might also need to do this:

Hang it all out son.

12. You Never Know When Bart Simpson May Show Up

Even when your shot turns out a bit weird, maybe you'll get a shadow that looks like Bart Simpson to save the day?


13. The Bike Park That Wasn't

Yeah, so, in Leogang, there's just one line and it's all about the pedalling... #YEAHRIGHT

Dean Lucas and The Roots of all Evil.

14. When It Rains It Pours

It's a well-known fact that bringing a World Cup to town will make it rain. Leogang put on a pretty epic thunder, lightning, hail, and rain show which left everybody scrambling to keep their pits from flooding.

Thankfully, we ended up with a dry race. Who would want to ride The Roots of all Evil in this?

15. Somebody Always Has A Bigger Camera Than You

It's not the size that matters, it's how you use it...

16. Whips Are Wild

Yeah, there's some racing to attend to, but let's not forget about why we all ride... #FUN!

If it's whips you want, Wyn Masters is always happy to oblige.

17. The Future is Bright.

First light, first lift, first jump, and Finn Iles killed the spot. We can't wait to see what's next for Finn, and what's next for racing. Yay bikes!

He's only 15 and was in Leogang as a course opener/sweeper, but he literally shut every spot down. Keep your eyes on this one!

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