Widely regarded as one of the top mountain bike photographers on the planet, Sterling Lorence is the go–to man for many of the leading bike companies in the world. Every so often we’ll be picking someone from the biking world to choose their ‘favourite’ photo. It could be one they have shot themselves, one they have on the wall, a photo that someone has taken of them…anything.

Words by Sterling Lorence
Photo by Sterling Lorence

Choosing a favourite is especially challenging for me because photography has been this never–ending pursuit of documenting the journey of where mountain bikes can take us and all the incredible landscapes, light and riding styles that come along with that… there is such variability in all this, which simply makes it a tough single choice. But, when I really break it all down, this image is still the most important one for me. I have to credit all the successes I have had in my career to this point, as growing out of the success that this image brought me at that point in my photo career when I was still wondering if i was going to be able to properly convey all my passion for mountain biking into the incredible expression of photography. This is the image that helped launch my career and is the one I still have the most stoke for.

It truly reminds me of those early days on Vancouver’s North Shore when mountain biking was exploding in popularity and we here in Vancouver were pushing new boundaries as to how mountain bikes could be ridden.
This was a time when my closest friends and I were at the peak of our riding times where we enjoyed the freedom of youth and free time and were completely entrenched in riding the Shore and the gnarliest trails. The passion and energy were at a peak and I was feeling so in–tune with this sport and I was seeing that energy through my eyes and was trying so hard to be able to document it properly in the art form of photography.

I spent countless hours trying to master film types and printing and slowly was feeling the right vibe for the Shore riding experience in my photos. After much failure with shots, film stocks, lens perspectives, exposures and the printing process, I started to gain confidence of what worked photographing riding on the shore and started to be able to express properly the mood, energy and action that was inspiring me. This photo was that first that combined all the elements in an image that I was looking for at the time. For me and my friends this type of day was intensely incredible, where we were up on Cypress Mountain, riding Dangerous Dan’s masterpiece trail called the Reaper, and the mountain was smothered in dank foggy clouds and it was drizzling wet. When most would choose not to ride, we were up there welcoming the added challenge of wet conditions and loving these elements. Adding to it all, we were baiting each other to try and ride these ridiculously gnarly stunts.

The particular log ride is the welcoming entrance to the trail and one of the hardest log rides that ever existed on the Shore, and is especially haunting for it leads from the brightness of the trailhead into the black darkness of the forest below. It was long, steep, narrow, and 5–6 feet off the ground with boulders lining either side if you were to fall…it haunted and scared the shit out of us all the time. If you rode it, in its entirety, you were left high as a kite in stoke. For me, all that energy, mood and gnarliness is wrapped up in this one photo from that day and remains my most favourite banger nug.

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