Ride to Mammoth – A Study in Social Content

This past spring I spent 3 days traveling with my friend Amanda Nauman as she and a few friends rode the 400 miles from Laguna Beach to Mammoth Mtn. It was supposed to be a training ride for her in preparation for the Dirty Kanza 200, but it was also just to see if she could do it.

For me it was an experiment as well, a test to see how much content I could push out in 3 days on the road. I started by setting up a Dropbox folder, a way to share photos and videos with all of her sponsors, from anywhere that I had service. I created a folder for each of the 3 days, and then shared the master folder with all of her contacts. The main focus of the trip was video, and I filmed constantly, using the support vehicle as transportation and also as a shooting platform, filming out the sliding door and the window. I also tried to capture as many key moments with stills as well, but it was always a struggle trying to decided which to shoot when I found a good location. With only one camera I had to make a quick decision at each location and set up for either stills or video. The nice thing about stills was that I could transfer them from my Sony A7Rii directly to my phone, edit them in Adobe Lightroom Mobile, and then upload them directly to Dropbox whenever I had service. At the end of each day I interviewed Amanda about the days ride, and then put together a quick one minute video that was suitable for Instagram or Facebook, and uploaded it along with a page of notes detailing the days highlights, hashtags for the trip, and any other pertinent information. After the trip was finished I took all the footage and created one longer video about the whole event with slightly more time put into it.

Day One – Laguna Beach to Palmdale

Day one was long but good. Sitting down after a long day of shooting to download photos and video and start editing didn’t come easily though. I’m quite used to downloading images and editing them on a strict timeline, years of working for Red Bull and Pinkbike have taught me how to be efficient, but the combination of the 42 Megapixel files from my A7Rii and the 3 year old MacBook Pro I was using didn’t make it easy. And then there was the issue of video. I managed to get everything done, exported, and uploaded to dropbox with emails sent out to all of the marketing contacts by shortly after midnight. Having uploaded a selection of images during the day it was good to see them popping up in the Instagram feeds of companies such as Niner Bikes, SDG Components, Easton, Crank Brothers and Oakley. Huge thanks to the amazing people that took this story and helped to make it a success.

Day Two – Palmdale to Lone Pine

Day two was long and hot, probably the hardest day of the trip for the riders. Most of it was spent on Hwy 395, a long hot stretch of Asphalt that runs up the eastern side of the Sierras. Filming on the highway was difficult as well, but we made it work. We also managed to get a few Instagram stories recorded for the Oakley Instagram, a new experience for me. It wasn’t technically difficult, but we did a lot of takes to get stuff that Amanda was happy with. The Best Western in Lone Pine was an incredibly welcome site as we rolled in late in the afternoon. Huge props to Monster Muscle for arranging the hotels for the trip!

Day Three – Lone Pine to Mammoth

Day three was definitely the most beautiful day of the trip, waking up to sunrise on Mt Whitney (14,505′, the highest peak in the contiguous US states) was amazing! Mt Whitney and the Sierra Nevada’s also provided a breathtaking backdrop for the mornings ride up Hwy 395 towards Bishop and the turn off to Mammoth Lakes. After two long days of riding, day three was the most physically challenging with a lot of climbing and higher elevations. From a content perspective I feel like everything was finally getting easier, although I definitely ended up shooting more video than photos. It did provide what is my favorite photo from the whole trip however, and quality almost always trumps quantity.

Looking back on the trip I definitely learned a lot, and if I was going to do it again I would do things slightly differently. One of the major changes I would make is to bring a second camera, something like a Sony A9 to shoot stills with (24 Megapixels as opposed to the 42 Megapixels of the A7rii). The smaller files would make the whole photo part of the process much quicker and easier, and would allow me to leave one camera set up for video. Switching back and forth with the Sony is fairly painless if you take the time to set up the custom menu settings, I used one for still and one for video, although you do have to manually change a few settings such as crop (which I switch fairly often anyway just shooting stills) and Picture Profile. I used a slightly customized PP4 for video, and PP off for stills. The second change I would make would be to bring the fastest computer I could, a 3 year old MBP just doesn’t cut it anymore. *Note – This trip killed the Nvidia Graphics chipset in the MBP, and I spent the last part of the trip having to restart the computer every 45 minutes or so, if not more often. Light and thin may be trendy, but it leads to overheating which kills computers.

From a social media standpoint the trip was a definite success. I haven’t actually added up the views on all channels, but many of the photos and the videos averaged well over 2000 views on individual Instagram accounts alone, and with Facebook those video numbers were even higher. SDG Components, Niner Bikes, Easton, Oakley, Crank Brothers and Orange Seal all shared content on their social channels during the ride, and with the #ridetomammoth hashtag tying it all together there was a fair bit of buzz by the end of the trip.

You can find the finished final video here

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