Photos by Sterling Lorence

For the many parts of the world that experience colder climates, autumn is a special time for mountain bikers. The encroaching winter creates a sense of urgency; prompting riders to hit trails as much as they can before dirt is blanketed with layers of snow and ice. Autumn in these regions also puts one of Nature’s finite moments on full display: Fall Colours. It’s easy to take this natural phenomenon for granted, but the timing is actually quite hard to predict. Leaves change at different places and times depending on the elevation, aspect and local weather conditions. In the end, it just comes down to spending as much time on the trails as you can and when the timing’s right, you can experience the surreal feeling of riding through one of Nature’s fleeting moments.

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One of the most colourful spots in North America during the autumn months is in the low, rolling mountain ranges surrounding Bromont, Quebec. For Return to Earth’s Fall Colours segment, the Anthill team (along with athletes Thomas Vanderham and Ryan Howard) chose this location for its trails as well as its vibrancy. We caught up with Thomas to chat about the experience of filming in Bromont, the opportunities he’s had as a professional mountain biker and how he chooses to spend his most precious resource - his time.

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On filming Fall Colours...

TV: “We had a ‘microscope’ on the leaves trying to time it perfectly. It was really interesting to see the fall transformation. When we arrived the leaves were firing in colour but there was still a good mix of green on the trees as well. Throughout the two weeks, it changed a lot and we were really sensitive to it. I’ve certainly never watched leaves that closely, I’ve always sort of appreciated them as a passerby. It was cool to be that in tune with what was going in the environment around us.”

On appreciation of outdoor opportunity…

TV: “I think that’s something I’ve gained with experience.  I feel like I took certain things for granted when I was younger.These opportunities presented themselves and I found myself in crazy countries with other riders that have become amazing friends since then. It’s taken time for that to sink in. Now, it’s in the forefront of my mind when I get opportunities like that. Experience had led me to appreciate things more in the moment.

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“I think mountain biking is there as a form of escape for many people, most people have the opportunity to use mountain biking (or another form of outdoor recreation) as a conduit to escape into a more engaged moment. In my youth there were plenty of distractions around that I could have taken part in. A lot of my friends were really into video games and I never saw the appeal of that. I chose instead to spend my time on my bike. The same distraction is there now, maybe more so with phones and the internets, but it’s still a choice that you make: go ride your bike or don’t.”

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On passing it onto the next generation…

TV: “I’m a strong believer in spending time outside and getting to know the nature around you, both in the places you live and the places that you don’t live. As a kid, I didn’t have to think about it. I spent every free moment on my bike, I didn’t even consider anything else. Now that I’m a father, I want to introduce my kids to all the things that I love, a lot of that has to do where we live here in British Columbia. All I can really do is show them why I do what I do and give them the option to love the things that I love. If they choose to follow the same path, then great. But if they choose a different path, that’s fine too. All I can do is introduce it and see where they want to take it from there.”

On inspiring others to ride...

TV: “I’ve had an opportunity to work with Anthill on every one of their films and I’ve seen the lasting impressions that these films leave. In a lot of my travels I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘this film got me into mountain biking.’ That’s really powerful. I think that’s the main goal of athletes and filmmakers; to inspire people to get on their bikes and ride. That’s what I’m excited about; introducing some new people to the sport and get those people already into the sport a little more into it.”

Sterling Lorence photo

In the Blink is a six-part web series that dives behind the scenes of our upcoming feature film Return to Earth. Stay tuned for Episode 2: Growth, featuring Brett Rheeder.

Return to Earth. Summer 2019.

Presented by: Shimano, Trek
In association with Evoc, Sony, Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Pink Bike, Freehub Magazine, Bike Park Lenzerheide, Spawn Cycles, Clif Bar, Rocky Mountain Cycles.

Riders: Brett Rheeder, Ryan Howard, Casey Brown, Brandon Semenuk, Thomas Vanderham, Matt Hunter Jackson Goldstone, Jakob Jewett, Dane Jewett, Tahnee Seagrave, Kaos Seagrave, Kade Edwards, Joey Schusler, Thomas Genon, Emil Johansson, Reed Boggs, Carson Storch.

A new film by Anthill Films with art direction and creative by Good Fortune Collective.