In this perilous sport, one of solitary space and calculated risk we have become slightly used to the injured returning. On this occasion we will not.
Photos: Steve Jones and Laurence Crossman-Emms
He had the engine and a cutting edge to shred the field, but in life, and in person, Stevie Smith was rarely like the noisy, smelly two stroke of which he’d been associated.
Quietly confident, ferociously competitive, but with an unforgettable style and poise as he engaged in the world’s most complex root systems. He was graceful in and around the contact of rock and root even if his build was ’dozer-like, it was his way down the hill, often liberated on line choice, and, as it was to prove, frighteningly accurate. Along the way Smith had found a way to drop the leash, that seldom found untethered looseness, that illusive uncoupling between rider and ground, but still intimately connected with the terrain using his Devinci as a hinge. Stevie, it seemed, had high risk in a bear-like grip. Everything revolved around the bike but there was no doubt who was in command here. Stevie on full tilt was unmistakeable.
From behind the lens photographers would get edgy, from behind the tapes he’d send his avid band of followers into a frenzy. Nicknamed the “Canadian Chainsaw Massacre” he would draw Stihls and Huskies out of the darkest corners of Canada and indeed worldwide. Here was a man that could melt piston rings.