Riding and Words: Dylan Korba // Photography: Matt Bruhns // Film & Edit: Radek Drozdowicz
Sometimes when you’re out tilling the field, you sow seeds without even knowing they made it into the ground. In some respects the story here is pretty simple. I went to school, I met a girl, I grew a beard, I got a job, and we moved to the mountains. My heart is very much in each of those things (except maybe the beard), and with every simple story there is another chapter before it.
Rewind to the mid 2000’s and cycling was my life. It was the whole story, and the only thing that really mattered was being on two wheels, I would fit all the pieces of my life around my bike. It was that wonderful time of year, CrankWorx, and I had the opportunity to cut some laps with none other than Cookie and a friend of his from out east. I would ride with as many people as I could back then. Whether it was catching a lap with someone off the chair, or riding with some locals from one of the shops, the opportunity to meet people and have positive experiences seemed endless.
Fast forward to “I got a job, and we moved to the mountains” and I find myself strangely positioned as an Architect living in Pemberton and working in Whistler. Still riding my aging stable of bikes until they were little more than scrap metal, from Pemberton to the transfer station. Squishy new carbon bikes are cool but, to be honest, I didn’t really want one but I did really want a Chromag “steel is real” hardtail, all the cool kids shred them.
If I recall, their website described the Chromag Stylus as a bike that “didn't care what you threw at it” and it “wasn’t built to go uphill fast”, but also that you wouldn’t care because it would let you be the “purveyor of your own destiny”, or something like that. Yeah, I was hooked. Still on a tight budget, I noticed on the Pink Bike Buy and Sell, that Chromag was selling some old stock of the Stylus and I was like BINGO! Of course the DM to buy the frame ended up in Cookie’s inbox, what a serendipitous coincidence.
My first Stylus was a 26” wheel frame. I didn’t care, I still had some 26” wheels and after cobbling together a mixed kit of old parts through donation and bartering with a few cases of beer, my new dream bike emerged. I ripped it in the bike park, local trails of course, and the Mackenzie Downhill race and the Stylus kind of re-ignited something that had been a bit dormant while pursuing other agendas.
As 2019 tapered down, Cookie asked if I would ever be interested in putting together a little edit on the Stylus. Finally with some spare time after finishing professional exams, Cookie introduced me to film maker Radek Drozdowicz and photographer Matt Bruhns. We met at the Pemberton Bike Co. and chatted about the idea. After that, Chromag got some 27.5’s under me in the fresh Stylus platform, and after a couple hundred hours of digging, plenty of crashing, forest fire smoke, rain, a failed backflip attempt, a pack rat cabin, driving around with big-ass kicker, snow storms, many coffees, and a global pandemic, we had an edit. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did getting back in the saddle.
Thoughts on Filming:
In a lot of ways this project was like a bike of a daydream. I hadn’t ridden my bike in front of a camera in a decade, but there was always something calling me back. I would look at the world around me and just want to ride it. I still had the desire to create lines and ride them but it had been hard to find the time. The edit gave me a cycling goal again and something to work towards. I really wanted to put the best I could into and was curious what the result would be…
Hurdle one before the filming even started was adjusting to 27.5” wheels. I know this sounds silly but the new standard wheel size was a little bit hard for me to get my head around. The balance points were all slightly different, and I was really unstable for a while doing trials type moves. As I adjusted my riding I realized that the larger wheel was awesome for blending trials and trails, so off we went. The bike rolled smoother, slacker angles reinforced stability and you can roll out of just about anything.
The technical rock hopping is something all trials guys do and I had imagined a few lines on my regular mountain bike rides. The first line Radek and I filmed was relentless, It took us 3 days for maybe 15 seconds of footage. Even though the film had cuts on this line, I was determined to ride the whole line complete just to prove it to myself. Radek was so patient and I am sure at times he thought that I wouldn’t make it, but after 3 days and 60-70 attempts I finally made it and that gave me the confidence to know I could realize this project.
I had been keeping a catalogue of zones around Pemberton that I thought would be cool to ride and that inspired me in general. I had no interest in just riding along existing trails, I wanted to shoot in zones that inspired me and I hope in the end, those zones inspired Radek and Matt too. The zones ranged from the beautiful alpine to just cool features off the side of the road I had noticed on the way to work. One of the best things about Pemberton is all the amazing trails, but they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for endless amazing terrain, so you can always find something new to ride.
Our Alpine shooting was hard and we didn’t have a helicopter that’s for sure. The alpine zone is a good way into the backcountry without a ton of access, you can’t exactly drive up there with a truck. To get these shots really showed Radek and Matt’s dedication. I carried the camera gear on a moto-trials bike and Radek actually pedaled and pushed my bike up about 18 km and 1700m. Matt did the same thing a day later on his bike to meet up. We wanted an early start so we went the night before and stayed in this little hunter’s cabin at the treeline. We had been warned that the cabin was full of pack rats, but thankfully someone had eradicated them and left many notes to remind others to keep the doors and windows shut. Bright and early we had a final push into the alpine and a great day of shooting ahead of us.
One of the key lines was in the North Rutherford Creek area and really was collectively imagined and created. I had seen a big boulder that I had wanted to use as an obstacle and when I was showing the zone to the guys, they gave me some input on how it might be cool to do a line down the ridge leading to the rock. That line ended up taking me most summer to build and I think was a bit of an emotional one for the whole team. I think we each had our struggles on that line. I had a really big crash that thankfully only ended up with some bruising for a few weeks. Cinematically, we had issues with lighting and weather changing all the time and it just not being possible to finish filming that segment in a single session. We had smoke, rain, sun and snow all in about a 4 week window and I only had weekends to film. So that line was a major push, and I didn’t quite get what I wanted, but the big rock isn't going anywhere.
In the end the project was a really important self-exploration for me, and I was really happy to prove to myself that I could still ride uniquely enough to be part of something special, and super thankful that Cookie and Chromag were on board to set that opportunity in motion!