One of our favourite people chooses his favourite photo

Danny MacAskill, the world’s most famous trials rider, star of a host of multi-million view YouTube vids has pulled off some insane stunts… like this one.

>>> Danny MacAskill versus Kilimanjaro

Where: Lindores Farm in Fife
Who: Danny MacAskill
When: 2006
Photo: Fred Murray/Red Bull Content Pool

“This is most definitely one of my favourite photos from the shoot of Wee Day Out. I just love the way the motion blur was captured by Fred Murray. But as easy as it may look on this photo and in the film, it was a big deal to get the job done, my friends certainly had their work cut out.

“The Hay Bale Trick was one of the most out-there tricks planned. I try to have relatable elements in my films and for me one of the first images that popped into my head when thinking about the countryside was a bale. So, my friend Nash and I set out to do a small test first, which didn’t go all too well. I ended up going over the bars a few times and we left quite disheartened and bruised. But we weren’t prepared to give up just yet.

“The biggest problem was that the bale itself wasn’t able to carry enough momentum as it was a little too light and the net covering the hay wasn’t strong enough to withstand the friction of the tyres and the pedals would dig in. So we discussed what it was going to take for it to work. We spoke to the local farmer and he was kind enough to roll three hay bales into one, creating one 450-kilogram beast of a bale.

“When we got there for the first day of filming we wrapped it in duct tape to protect the netting and this also provided me with a tougher surface. What I have learned in the past years is that tricks like these can take hundreds of attempts, so we needed to make sure the bale was going to last long enough for us to get the dream shot we wanted. Other than the bale I also prepped the bike by removing the rear pawls from my hub so the wheel could spin backwards freely.

“We found a gradient steep enough to give the bale enough momentum for me to hop on it and now the really tricky part began. Stu Thomson, the director, had a dream of me jumping on the bale, entering frame and exiting it. That meant I would have to stay on it for about 25 metres, which was not far off from impossible. The people that had the hardest job were my friends. The poor guys had to catch the 450kg beast after every go. It reminded me of the rolling stone ball in one of the Indiana Jones films, but instead of running away they had to stop it; occasionally with me on top of it as well. We spent 4 days over two months trying to get the trick right, which I would reckon took over 400 attempts.

“We would position the bale on a certain line with two friends manning it, I would be 25 metres further uphill stood next to my bike. When I got the ok from the camera crew (easiest job of the day), I would start running at full speed as my bike had no drive and jump on it with roughly 15 meters to go. Shortly after, Nash and Davie would give the beast a good shove down the hill. I would hopefully catch up with it just before the bale entered the frame, try to jump on which was pretty difficult rolling downhill on a full suspension, especially when the object you try to jump onto is rolling away from you. But that was the least of my worries.

“The most difficult part by far was trying to deal with the way the bike reacted while on top. Because the bale rolled away from me the wheels were spinning backward. Everything you do, like turning the handlebars had the opposite effect. I would pull the brakes and get catapulted forward. So, the idea was to try to hang off the back of the bale, with a slight amount of pressure on the brake. Occasionally I would find myself teetering in perfect balance on the bale, which I have to tell you was absolutely terrifying. It was like being on a bronco during a rodeo.

“In the end after the 4th day, we had spent as much time as we could justify. We walked away with a shot that wasn’t quite perfect but it worked for the film, which we were and still are pretty happy with.” – Danny MacAskill.