Scott Markewitz Photography | Blog

Capturing a double backflip on a Mountain Bike

Recently I was on a shoot in southern Utah with a Red Bull crew, there to capture Paul Basagoitia’s attempt at the first-ever double back flip on a mountain bike in natural terrain. I’ve worked with Paul many times and was excited to be there to photograph his attempt. If anyone could pull it off, it was Paul.

Double backflips have been done on man-made wooden ramps, dirt jump tracks and foam pits, but never in a natural environment. The jump was out in the desert, on a ridge exposed to the wind, with a bumpy, off-camber in-run to a quick, tricky takeoff and a steep, slippery landing. It wasn’t an ideal situation and the consequences were high. He could easily get injured in the attempt.

Every one knew this was a one shot deal, and if he pulled it off there would be no second attempt. We couldn’t miss the shot. There were two angles I really liked, so to get them both, I put a second camera (Nikon D3) with a fisheye lens on a tripod close to the jump with a PocketWizard Plus III attached to it and set myself in the other location 200-plus yards away with another Plus III unit on my main camera, a Nikon D3S. I set them both on transceive (TxRx mode), Channel 1 and fired away as Paul hit the jump, getting shots from both angles at the same time.

I put the second camera behind a wooden Teva sign under the jump to keep it inconspicuous for the video crew. To be sure there was no interference from the sign or anything else around the camera, I put the Plus III on the ground with the antenna pointed on a line of sight to my shooting position, connected to the camera with a standard Nikon/PocketWizard cord about 18 inches long.

There were some tense moments and a few crashes, including one hard impact the first day which gave Paul a minor concussion. We thought it was over at that point, but Paul came back the next day with renewed energy. After a few practice jumps and one minor crash, he nailed a massive double back flip, landing perfectly and riding away on a partially broken frame. It was an incredible shoot, and an inspiring moment to witness another big step forward in the never-ending progression in the sport of mountain biking.

— Scott

Thanks to PocketWizard for contributing to this post.


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