Air DH on A-Line. Crankworx, Whistler, BC. Canada
Air DH on A-Line. Crankworx, Whistler, BC. Canada

3 Minute Gaps is Clay Porters latest telescope with which we can see into the lives of the racers whose entire lives revolve around being the fastest man down the mountain...

From Dirt Issue 110 - April 2011

Word by Seb Kemp. Photos by Sven Martin.

Bikes change colours and styles, go from no suspension to full suspension and everything in between; from single crown to triple clamp, from 1" of travel to 10", from single speed to 28 speed. What doesn’t change is the racer who gets on the bike and gives it 100 every single time whilst constantly dealing with the weight of hopes, dreams and pressures of winning. Ultimately, racing is about people, not bicycles. Bicycles can be any colour and have any name on the down tube, but what matters is the man or woman cranking the pedals. It has always been this way, and it will always be.

3 Minute Gaps is Clay Porters latest telescope with which we can see into the lives of the racers whose entire lives revolve around being the fastest man down the mountain.

This is the first time Porter has collaborated with someone else on one of his films. Clay felt he had reached the capacity of what one person can achieve on their own, and if he wanted his films to grow, then he needed help. John Lawlor was an obvious choice because he shares the same passion and dedication for film making, and he knows the World Cup scene both as a filmer (more recently for the Santa Cruz Syndicate and Specialized) and as a former World Cup racer himself. Lawlor is essentially Clay’s right hand man, he is at all the shoots and the races, and is very involved in the process. From drafting concepts, to helping plan shoots, to filming and editing, Lawlor is there every step of the way. Although Clay Porter is the director, 3 Minute Gaps is a film by Clay Porter and John Lawlor, and will be labelled as such. >>

Click through to keep reading...

[part title="The Story Behind 3 Minute Gaps - Page 2..."]

Air DH on A-Line. Crankworx, Whistler, BC. Canada
Air DH on A-Line. Crankworx, Whistler, BC. Canada

Sven Martin is the stills photographer on the project. Over the past few years he has established himself as the best mountain bike photographer in the world. No other photographer works as hard, travels as much and takes better, more unique photos. Sven also brings an insightful aspect to the production of the movie which is gathered from his years as a World Cup racer himself.

Craig Grant is the art director on the project. As a one man design army, Craig has established himself as the best art director in the mountain bike industry. His role is to create the whole look and brand image of the project, from packaging to web design.

Let’s get back to the process for a moment. Please do not misunderstand me when I make my grand metaphoric claim at the start of this piece; I am not saying Clay, John and John rented a motel with a heart shaped bed for two years, scoffing fruit and quaffing bubbles and magically this movie was born. For two years they have been documenting the intimate details of the world’s fastest descenders from within those hallowed halls. They have been deeply imbedded in the World Cup organism, capturing the story and fury of cutting time. Like war reporters and biographers they have chronicled every step of the way to the top step of the podium, or not. Rather than just filming dates with the riders, these filmers became attached to the rider’s lives. Following them all over the world as they travelled, trained, prepared, raced, rode, ate, slept, celebrated, commiserated, attempted to balanced their home lives with their lives as super heroes of the biking world, perhaps struggling to come to terms with the pressure of racing at the highest level, or endeavoured to make that hardest largest lunge to the very top step of the podium. There is no truer, more accurate and intimate documentation of the hallowed worlds of the world’s very best than 3 Minute Gaps.

Athertons California Training
Athertons California Training

It’s been commonly believed that mountain bike movies fall into one of two distinct categories. Either they are exercises in high art, or high–octane fuel for ADD minds. But this movie sits neatly between lofty ruminative philosophical manifestos and impulsive hyperactive crayon scribbles. This is the kind of movie that is supposed to shove it’s hand down the front of your trousers in the movie theatre but could still exchange a well argued dialogue with your friends at a dinner party; whilst playing footsie with your gentleman sausage under the table.

On one hand it is a synopsis of the last two World Cup race seasons following the lead characters, and at the same time there is an additional film that could stand alone all by itself just with all the actual rider segments. These rider sections present a legitimate portrait of them when away from the ticking stopwatch, but still when they are punching the clock. These sections offer as much insight into the person behind the bars as it does to titillate the viewer with expressions of their character through their riding. Part documentary, part music video, 3 Minute Gaps unites both concepts to produce a movie that informs and delights in equal measures. [part title="The Story Behind Three Minute Gaps - Page 3..."]

during the champery world cup 2010
during the champery world cup 2010

This is a movie about racers, make no mistake. Not only are the racers featured in the movie the swiftest in the world, they are some of the most exquisitely gifted bike riders as well. The riders not only propel themselves and their bikes down hills faster than anyone, but they really know how to ride bikes in a wide variety of settings. The cast of characters of this movie include Gee Atherton, Sam Hill, Aaron Gwin, Brendan Fairclough, Greg Minnaar, Andrew Neethling, Danny Hart, Matti Lehikoinen, Sam Blenkinsop, Ben Reid, and Josh Bryceland. All young and extremely talented athletes, calculated stuntmen, and brilliant riders with a flair for the sublime. In this troupe of players there are World Champions and undoubtedly future World Champions. These are the fastest to date, and the fastest for years to come.

They are also the influencers of our sport. It is these figures that are forging the future and shaping the current climate of mountain biking. They are trendsetters and highly esteemed role models. They are helping to make racing popular again and they are changing how we ride, what we ride and where we do it. We closely observe their preparation, training and set–up so we can gather any advantage for ourselves in our own riding. We scrutinize their style and imitate it. Take Fairclough for instance, his poppy playful style on a bike has closed the boundary between racer and rider, so much so that even us weekend warriors wish to emulate his style. Another example, Blenkinsop, has singlehandedly been responsible for a thread of gloveless youths tearing up courses. Josh Bryceland and Danny Hart melt and flex the terrain into a form we cannot recognize but wish to actualize in our own riding…if only we could. These are the heroes of the sport of mountain biking and we want to be like them.

Filmed in Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Finland, Spain, Andorra, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Canada, England, Scotland, Wales and USA, the crew of 3 Minute Gaps have travelled every inch of the World Cup circuit and the spaces between. Even in the first few months of 2011 they have travelled to Australia, South Africa, Spain, and New Zealand (twice) in order to make sure every last shot is in the can. There are not many film makers as uncompromising as Clay, and it seems he would do absolutely anything to make sure his vision is brought to life.

Two years in the making, this movie puts the viewer one step closer to the world’s best. Intergalactic galaxies that are alien to us mere mortals. 3 Minute Gaps is a space probe that will take the viewer deeper into the darkest regions and lightest flights of fancy of the mutated human life forms we call downhill mountain bike racers.

No one can go as deep inside the sparsely inhabited and hostile environments as Clay Porter and his crew. Two years breaking bread with these mutant extraterrestrials, sharing in the bi–polar environments of the fiery heat of success and the sub zero icy abyss of disappointment.

The latest in Clay Porters ongoing quest to document downhill mountain bike racing shows a development in the style and means available to Clay and it certainly promises to be a worthy addition to any bike buff’s film collection.