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August 16, 2011 7:02 AM   Subscribe

A year after spending some time in Edinburgh, and subsequently finding his way home across Scotland, Danny MacAskill unexpectedly finds himself in an abandoned ironworks. A zen-like state of bicycling ensues. [via kottke]
posted by schmod (59 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Absolutely lovely video. It's nice to see one of these stunt reels films with excellent camerawork, edited cleanly, and with a calm soundtrack. Lovely riding too.
posted by Nelson at 7:06 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder what the world must look like when you can look at pretty much everything around you up to a couple of stories tall and know with more or less total certainty, "Yeah, I could ride my bike over that."

It seems like it would have to look pretty different.
posted by pts at 7:09 AM on August 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


So, what's zen-like about it?

(not hamburger)
posted by oddman at 7:24 AM on August 16, 2011


He's pretty much a wizard.
posted by entropone at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


pts: you might be able to come close to replicating the effect by spending a few hours playing Tony Hawk games with all the cheat codes.
posted by box at 7:27 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to post this about an hour ago, but then I got sidetracked. And your post is better anyway.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:29 AM on August 16, 2011


Thanks for the pointer to Concrete Circus!
The other films look great as well.
posted by vacapinta at 7:30 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought I was pretty cool after my ride to work this morning, but now I'm just staring at my screen and mouthing "humans can do that??"
posted by theodolite at 7:31 AM on August 16, 2011


Wow, that was fantastic. The music was great, and the overall attitude of the video was perfect.

So, what's zen-like about it?

It has that post-apocalyptic feel, and instead of something like The Quiet Earth, he's doing bike stunts. Almost celebrating what was, but also just playfully riding over it. The whole thing (the factory) was built up and you know people worked, lived and died in that place. And he looks at it with his bike, and kind of ascribes the millennial gaze to it. And that is to say, here's that thing that you put meaning into, and made a big thing. And I look at that and not disrespectfully just kind of do my own thing over it. He's sampling the past and creating anew. So what's so unique - perhaps 15 or 20 years ago sampling and recontextualization would be used by the artist to create some new, presumably important meaning. But to me the millennial gaze means that he's sampling the past without a grand or even minor intent to make some meaningful statement. The music makes that clear. For me, one of those videos you watch that just changes the way you're feeling.
posted by cashman at 7:32 AM on August 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Aye we closed the countrys heavy industry down but its ok because we filmed some middle class twat doin a wheelie on the ruins.

My goodness, i've just watched this edinburgh thing and every location is deeply tweedy, you'd think wester hailes didnt have railings.

Aspirational nonsense for dentists and the like.

Yes i'm bitter.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:36 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's pretty much a wizard.

I dunno -- he sure doesn't look like he used DEX as a dump stat.
posted by thudthwacker at 7:42 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back in about 500 BC Hephestolix did this in the Parthenon on a chariot. Just sayin'

Seriously, though. A few thoughts came to me, watching this. First, this is incredible. What a talent he has, he can feel his machine as if it were part of him - and he has great strength and energy to be able to work so gently. Secondly, why the hell isn't he covered in cuts, bruises, scabs, and scars? Last, I don't know what to feel - at some point you see some things that are so impressive, so incredible, that you just wind up with a sense of emptiness. What gift do I have, and why am I wasting it?
posted by Xoebe at 7:43 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Amazing bicycling video evokes existential dread.
posted by schmod at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow. Nice to see one shot (2.59) where he had to bail. That proves it's not as easy as he makes it look.
posted by three blind mice at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like his bike is a more natural appendage than his feet. He couldn't walk across the cable but he could ride his bike across it??!! It's always fun watching someone who's great at what they do.
Thanks.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


That felt like it was about 30 seconds long, not 5 minutes. Great stuff.
posted by the painkiller at 7:54 AM on August 16, 2011


The room at 1:50 almost looks like it comes out of a video game, with the way the concrete seems to be stepped. I was thinking "oh yeah, Ezio could free run that."
posted by kmz at 7:55 AM on August 16, 2011


Wow. Nice to see one shot (2.59) where he had to bail. That proves it's not as easy as he makes it look.

I also thought it was cool that they show a couple of shots of him off his bike either setting things up or testing existing elements for whether they'd hold his weight. These demo reels tend to be edited to make everything look seamless and effortless, as if the performer was just out for a stroll and happened upon the opportunity to do awesome shit.

It's a good and useful reminder that doing these things well involves a certain amount of thinking ahead and planning for safety -- and they manage to do it without making the vid seem less cool or flowy.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aye we closed the countrys heavy industry down but its ok because we filmed some middle class twat doin a wheelie on the ruins.

sort of like if he were doing this on the monuments in a graveyard.... which i can easily imagine, hopping from stone to stone: but would that be edgy?
posted by ennui.bz at 7:57 AM on August 16, 2011


I've loved all his videos, but I couldn't drown out the parent voice in my head screaming "TETANUS SHOT!" to this one... so many sharp rusty surfaces...
posted by togdon at 8:06 AM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would like to see David Cameron do this.
posted by storybored at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


...things I never would have thought possible on a bike.

What I found humorous is that he couldn't keep his balance when walking on a cable (2:30) but had no trouble riding his bike across an even longer one (right afterwards). The man and bike are one.
posted by eye of newt at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2011


Howwww do people do this without completely crushing their, uh, junk?

(This is really neat!)
posted by dismas at 8:19 AM on August 16, 2011


I enjoyed that all kinds of ways. Really brought back my six-year-old self, the one that could look at anything as a playground. Thank you for clearing my Tuesday blues.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:21 AM on August 16, 2011


Dear bike wizard: please stop abusing those beautiful old bricks and steel arches, and encouraging others to do the same. They only look like they'll last forever. Sigh.
posted by Scram at 8:23 AM on August 16, 2011


Since those bricks and arches won't last forever, why not use them while they're here?
posted by echo target at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Danny is working class as they come actually.
posted by unSane at 8:38 AM on August 16, 2011


Amazing. It really demonstrates how much us riders limit ourselves... you can do a lot if you're willing to take a chance and put in the time to learn. Killer camerawork too.

...of course if I tried any of this I'd be picking my teeth out of my spine.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:48 AM on August 16, 2011


Aspirational nonsense for dentists and the like.
Yes i'm bitter.
posted by sgt.serenity


So the username's ironic, then? ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be more impressed if he halved the number of wheels. I saw some people practicing for the European unicycle trail riding competition last week (although I missed the competition itself), and the jumps, balances and transitions that they were successfully landing were incredible.

Snark aside, it's a beautifully cut video of some amazing skills. Thanks!
posted by metaBugs at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2011


Secondly, why the hell isn't he covered in cuts, bruises, scabs, and scars?

I was half-watching this on Channel 4 last night & I'm sure his film maker said he's had a run of bad injuries and had to take much of last year off.

Can't watch the film that's linked here as I'm behind the corporate firewall, but there was an amazing sequence on the Concrete Circus programme with three bikes, two parkour runners and a skateboard at the Barbican Theatre - worth finding. First time I've seen skateboard & bmx spinning like ice skaters.
posted by khites at 9:09 AM on August 16, 2011


That was lovely, but I'm a bit shocked the ironworks hasn't be scrapped, looks like it would be worth it for the metal. And some yuppie would love those gates for his drive.
posted by maxwelton at 9:13 AM on August 16, 2011


So, what's zen-like about it?

Before enlightenment, pop wheelies, break collarbones.
After enlightenment, pop wheelies, break collarbones.
posted by zamboni at 9:14 AM on August 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


some middle class twat

I'm pretty sure Danny is working class as they come actually.

The SNP might get all the votes, but the tendrils of the British class system run deep, it seems. Next you'll be telling me I can't listen to Burial because he went to a nice school.
posted by kersplunk at 9:19 AM on August 16, 2011


Xoebe: Last, I don't know what to feel - at some point you see some things that are so impressive, so incredible, that you just wind up with a sense of emptiness. What gift do I have, and why am I wasting it?

Ah, a very common misconception. His gift isn't something you lack. It's the same gift given to all humans: with hard work and passion, we can achieve wonders.
posted by gilrain at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I assure you, I lack that gift.
posted by fullerine at 9:38 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always been impressed by Danny's balance. The part where he's riding a slack cable or where he was riding down the train track rails and hops a 180 to the other rail is insane.

I'm pretty good at, say, balancing on a curb for a block at a time but that's just ridiculous.

There's the bit at the beginning of this video where he's riding on top of the ends of fence posts. (First link in this post to the By The Grace of God's post.)
posted by loquacious at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2011


> Secondly, why the hell isn't he covered in cuts, bruises, scabs, and scars?

If he's anything like the street BMX, trials and MTB riders I've met he probably is. People who do this kind of stuff on bikes tend to have some gnarly shin, elbow and even face scars. I don't know Danny's injury record but to get to that level he's probably had multiple fractures and concussions. I'd bet he has metal pins or screws in his body somewhere, holding bones together.

As others have pointed out it's less about talent, and more about dedication and a lot of hard work. But there's another major factor that sort of falls under dedication and that's healing time. Most of the people I know who get good at this kind of stuff heal quickly and have ridiculously high pain tolerances.

The talent part is maybe just 1-5% of the formula. Sure, it helps to be able to think about gravity and movement and plan creative runs, but that's a skill that you automatically tend to learn by engaging in the sport in the first place.

Often it seems like 90% of the effort is spent on just getting back on the bike (or skateboard, etc) after a major crash and getting injured. And then getting back up on it again, and again, and again.

It's psychologically daunting to try some of these stunts once. It's often even more daunting to try it again when you've already discovered what happens when you fuck up.

I've experienced that in both biking and skateboarding, but no where near this level. I've had a few hits skateboarding where trying to overcome the psychological block or jitters after crashing hurts way worse than the actual injury. Gravity can be fucking terrifying.

But why get up again and again after crashing? If you do it enough, you can fly and tell gravity to go fuck itself. And people call you a wizard.
posted by loquacious at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dismas, look at the way he lands jumps. He uses his knees and legs beautifully to absorb the energy from landings so that more sensitive bits don't end up doing that. It's the same way you bend your knees when you land from a jump to keep from hyper-extending them. He's just able to do it so seamlessly that it looks more like a ballet dancer landing than a regular person.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:08 AM on August 16, 2011


I thank you for posting this because the video is awe-inspiring, and I curse you for posting it because I snorted hot coffee out my nose when I read the top comment.
posted by madmethods at 10:08 AM on August 16, 2011


All you've done is dilute the term talent until it becomes totally meangless.
If pain tolerance, creativity, dedicate, practice, balance, and commitment don't all add up to create talent, then I have no idea idea what talent is.

Did I mention that he's not riding with any suspension, at all? None? Most people I know wouldn't even try to hop off a curb without suspension. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:11 AM on August 16, 2011


The difference between Danny and most other trials riders (with the honourable exception of Ryan Leech) is that he doesn't spend an age hopping about getting into position before making his move. He's just totally solid. The acrobatics aside, that's the most impressive thing about his riding, because it's incredibly hard to do even when you're doing something simple.
posted by unSane at 10:56 AM on August 16, 2011


Aye we closed the countrys heavy industry down but its ok because we filmed some middle class twat doin a wheelie on the ruins.

You can tell that just by watching him ride? The class equivalent of gaydar, a rare talent in itself.
posted by reynir at 11:04 AM on August 16, 2011


What a legend! He seems to have a cat-like sense of balance. I've no idea how he can ride on a steel cable.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2011


Fun fact, it's called "trials riding" because of its origin as a form of conflict resolution in various intentional communities in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1980s. Much like the medieval trials by ordeal from which it takes its inspiration, a successful trials ride resulted in a favorable decision, while failure was sure to result in death or disfigurement.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:12 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Indeed. During the dark ages, suspected witches would be made to ride a bicycle across a rickety rooftop, and perform a series of backflips and 180s. If they succeeded, it was clearly due to sorcery. Failure was a sign of innocence, but usually ended in death or serious injury.

Apparently the no-handed McTwists at the Salem Witch Trials were quite something.
posted by unSane at 11:18 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


And hence The Fall album, Live at the Bike Trials
posted by Len at 11:20 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would like to see David Cameron do this.
posted by storybored at 4:09 PM on August 16


I would like to see David Cameron do this on a bike with hexagonal wheels and a rusty spike in place of a saddle.
posted by Decani at 11:35 AM on August 16, 2011


dismas it has as much to do with his landing technique as it does the fact that his bike doesn't have a traditional "seat" on it.
posted by radiosilents at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2011


Decani: "I would like to see David Cameron do this on a bike with hexagonal wheels and a rusty spike in place of a saddle."

AND I WILL BE OUTRAGED UNTIL HE DOES SO.
posted by schmod at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2011


Whenever I think I have lost my sense of wonder I just tune in to Metafilter for a spell to see what new, awesome ways people come up with to hate on stuff. STILL CAPABLE OF SURPRISE WHOOO!
posted by everichon at 11:55 AM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


That was really beautiful, thanks.
posted by fake at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2011


I really love the music, too. It doesn't seem to be available yet, at least not in Canadia, but hopefully it will be when the full album is released.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2011


As yet another awesome video Danny has done (which I haven't seen posted to Metafilter), I give you Danny MacAskill Plays Capetown, which he did as part of a Leica sponsorship. (And he does ads for VW, but that vid isn't quite as good as most of his.)
posted by skynxnex at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear bike wizard: please stop abusing those beautiful old bricks and steel arches, and encouraging others to do the same. They only look like they'll last forever. Sigh.

Pretty sure the number of people who can see this and repeat it are very few and very far between.
posted by pjaust at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2011


I'm too busy being awed by his ride on one railroad track & doing a 180 & landing on the other one across from it to even *get* to the cable part.
posted by yoga at 1:58 PM on August 16, 2011


> Fun fact, it's called "trials riding" because of its origin as a form of conflict resolution in various intentional communities in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1980s.

Nice story, sadly BS. Quoth Britannica: "Motorcycle trials, which date back to pre-World War I days, are relatively slow, on-and-off highway events of long duration in which speed is not a determining factor ..."
posted by scruss at 4:20 PM on August 16, 2011


For those that didn't watch the video in the first posted link, you should -- it has more of the same goodness in it, including a number of shots of him trying and failing to land a particular trick. At one point, he has to use a piece of scrap wood to bend his fork back...

It's also got a great reaction shot where he hops over a railing, apparently from a walkway. A few seconds after he makes the jump, 3 or 4 people run up to the railing to see what just happened -- it's fantastic.
posted by genehack at 5:07 PM on August 16, 2011


The Tricky Technique Behind Danny MacAskill's "Industrial Revolutions".
posted by fings at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2011


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