It’s four minutes into Not2Bad and so far I’ve seen Gee Atherton slide tackled by a child, Casey Brown crashing a moped, Ryan Howard’s boxers around his ankles but not a sniff of a mountain bike – and I’m loving it.
The long awaited sequel to Anthill’s NotBad is out and this time the Trek C3 project is half the world away in sunny Spain. The Kiwi sheep of the original have been traded for a grumpy bull and this time there’s some guests along for the ride.
One thing that remains the same is camaraderie and atmosphere. Cam McCaul especially brings the laughs to a film that is a world away from the serious monologues and black and white interviews of other bike films.
That’s not to say the riding takes a back seat though. There are some awesome sections in this, in particular the one that integrates an abandoned house into a slopestyle line and, surprisingly, the enduro section. Riders like Semenuk and Rheeder may not be your first choice to rip it up on trail bikes but as the camera swoops between pairs of riders flashing through Spanish scrubland you can’t help but grin – there’s not many on this planet that can make a trail ride look as stylish as that.
Casey Brown and Rachel Atherton definitely deserve a mention. It would be easy to point the “political correctness" finger but these girls aren’t here as tokens to make up numbers. Riding with a playfulness and style you don’t get to see when they’re on race duties, they easily hold their own.
The film feels very front loaded though. In NotBad, Queenstown offered a variety of landscapes from bike parks, to mountain meadows to the inimitable Gorge Road trails. Spain has red dirt – lots of it – which started to feel a bit samey towards the end. It should also be said if dirt jumping isn’t your thing this may not be the one for you, the final half of the film is entirely BMX and slopestyle and there are better downhill flicks to spend your money on.
But then, it’s hard to feel too ripped off when you consider the quality of rider on offer. Semenuk and Rheeder are the two best freeriders on the planet and they are ably supported by McCaul and Ryan Howard. So while this may not be a progressive, boundary pushing epic, it’s a whole lot of stylish fun and, if you watch the seven minutes’ worth of out takes, you can see that was the aim all along.