CHRIS AKRIGG’S FAVOURITE PHOTO
MAT HOFFMAN’S MONSTER AIR
Words by Chris Akrigg
Photo by John Howard
Chris Akrigg is a modern-day wizard when it comes to riding. He can turn his hand to pretty much any kind of bike, on any kind of terrain. Originally coming from the world of MTB trials he now blows minds on a regular basis by just doing ‘his thing’. He is a very special bike rider, and here’s the story behind his favourite photo.
There’s that age old saying that you should never meet your heroes, but I’ve never really bought into that, and I’ve meet most of mine… now including Mat Hoffman. On a recent trip to Japan I was lucky enough to meet and spend a bit of time with the mighty Condor and he was everything I imagined… super cool, mega enthusiastic about his sport. He had that aura that only a select few super-rad people have surrounding them. Now I don’t have many signatures but when I saw Mat signing cards that had one of my favourite images on how could I not go in to fan mode?!
In today’s modern age of digital cameras, smart phones and the inter web there’s a perpetual stream of video, photo and progression, the bar is being constantly reset and raised in steady increments. In terms of progression if somebody raised the bar like Hoffman did in this shot it would probably shut the www. down. We’re not talking about a extra foot of air here and another spin there, or even a super extended doo dar. Mat was maxing out a normal 12 foot vert ramp at about 14’ of air. He wanted to go higher, but he didn’t build a one foot higher ramp or even a five-foot higher ramp, he built one nearly double the size! This wasn’t progression like we know it, it was a light–year jump, the ramp he built was 20’ high and he was airing another 23’ out of it, almost doubling anything that had gone before. I can’t think of anyone in any sport making jumps in progression like that, it just doesn’t happen now.
At the time when this image came out (I think they used it for a Hoffman Bikes catalogue) some people actually wondered if it was even real. There is a really good documentary film called ‘The Birth of Big Air’, if you haven’t seen it I strongly recommend that you hunt down a copy. It really helps to show how mental it all was, showing Mat getting towed in by a motocross bike and blasting up and out of the ramp to the moon. There’s a guy on there who sort of sums it all up for me about the image, he says, “that can’t be real, but then again, it’s Mat Hoffman…”