It takes a vision.
Life does, and any creative project needs one, I reckon.
Upon launching myself and my friend Tibo into this fat-bike adventure on the volcanos of Nicaragua, my vision was that of a fat-bike and its rider flying in front of a crater. But after nearly 4 weeks of riding and travelling and climbing and exploring the country, this very vision still eluded me. As a film maker, I am always obsessed with my visions.
Yes, we had climbed to the top of Cerro Negro, a short dark volcano with slopes perfect for riding down like mad. And riding like mad, we did quite a few times, especially my friend Tibo, who probably broke his own speed record for a life-time, his fat-bike literally bulleting down the volcano at a breezing 60 kilometers an hour with no possibility to slow down, let alone stop, on the fine black ashes that cover the mountain.
I also did climb a few other summits of those volcanic ranges, once carrying my cycling machine on my shoulders for more than 10 hours.
But still, my vision eluded me. So picture this….It’s day 35 and we’ve stopped and parked our gears at a small rural “auberge” called Zopilote. It’s located on the island Ometepe, on the lake Nicaragua, right on the first slopes of a volcano called Madeiras, which we climbed the day before, running, through a dense jungle and under a heavy sun. The locals call these farm stays “finca”. They’re hidden in the thick jungle. And I’m wandering around in search of my vision. Because I don’t let go easily of things I have dreamt.
The summit of the Island is looming quite near on the horizon. It’s another volcano named Concepcion. Its shape is absolutely perfect, quite threatening and yet beautifully appealing. I’m thinking to myself, admiring it through the fat trees of the jungle, that it looks like a dangerous woman: you know you shouldn’t let yourself be attracted, but, uh! you’d like to, very much so. And still, I’m haunted by my vision. So I hunt for the right angle, but always the jungle stops the vision from building itself. Until I step into an open field with two big heaps of gravel. It’s totally unexpected to find this high up in the mountain, but there it lies, my vision.
For one and a half days, Tibo and I dig into the jungle, from the nearby hill down to the gravel heaps, to make room for a trail where to gather speed and jump from one heap to another; the kick itself we build with wooden sticks buried into the gravel to stabilize it. The angle is perfect and if I set my camera properly, my freerider friend is going to fly through the air right in front of Concepcion. Another day goes by as Tibo rides the track down again and again to the kick, to master the exact right speed and rehearse. The sun beats us down to sweat puddles but on we go. Tibo rides and I roam around shooting pictures.Until he finally yells that he’s ready.
Once again, his Nicolai Argon Fat hits the trail we built together, rockets out of the jungle into the open field at full speed, wheels across it in front of my bemused face. And Tibo takes off. He bounces on the kick without the blink of an eye. Time slows down for a brief heart beat when, at the top of it’s jumping curve, 3 meters above ground, Tibo let go of the handle bars to perform a perfect suicide-no-hand right in front of the Concepcion volcano.
And I’m thinking, indeed, fat-bikes can fly. This was my vision. Let me share it with you.
Editor’s Note – Damien is currently collecting funds to edit his film, “Tuani!”, and release it by Fall this year; all contributors will at least get free access to the full feature film, and more rewards still. Check it out there: https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/la-graine-et-le-cratere–2