Pedals and Pixels: My Journey Capturing Mountain Bike Races

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After six years of capturing mountain bike races around the world, I've returned as the social media creator for Vitus First Tracks. This article dives deep into my preparation and strategies for presenting the essence of a race on social media. While MTB races are my speciality, the principles here can be adapted for content

From Vitus First Tracks Enduro & Beyond

In a Nutshell

After six years of capturing mountain bike races around the world, I’ve returned as the social media creator for Vitus First Tracks. This article dives deep into my preparation and strategies for presenting the essence of a race on social media. While MTB races are my speciality, the principles here can be adapted for content creation at any live event. My approach is mobile-first and emphasises the use of trending audio, what not to capture, and the importance of getting that evergreen content. 

A race day sees me capturing initial excitement, behind-the-scenes moments, and engaging the audience at home with interactive polls. But at the core, it’s about passion for the sport and authenticity in portrayal.

Always remember to have fun, prepare for any weather, and organise your content!


For over half a decade, I was that woman with a phone, snapping shots and streaming live at some of the gnarliest MTB races worldwide. Talk about an adrenaline rush! A few years back, I took a pitstop from the bike scene, but let’s be real – the buzz of those race days never truly faded. So, when Glyn O’Brien from Vitus First Tracks pinged me online, wanting me front and center on race days— as their social media creator, I couldn’t resist diving right back into the thick of it.

The race season for 2023 has just concluded and here are my takeaways.

Kit List

A mobile-first approach is how I handle these occasions. A phone is easy to store on my bike’s Quad Lock bar mount. It means I have rapid access to it, should the moment call for it. As the season progressed, I noticed my kit bag got lighter and lighter. Race 1 saw me bring my Manfrotto mobile phone tripod, only for me to replace it with the Quad Lock selfie stick/ tripod which folds down to be about the size of my iPhone. 

One thing that is non-negotiable is a power source. Maintaining a charge in your phone at events is a must. In fact, i’ll admit, I forgot my power bank at the last race of this season and was more than nervous at getting to the end of the prize giving with only 4% juice left!!

Planning and preparation prevents poor performance.

This saying is one I used to get told a lot as a kid and it has stuck with me. In terms of preparing for a live event, it’s a mix of knowing that you need to be agile enough to roll with the unexpected and having a few solid ideas up your sleeve to get the job done. 

These solid ideas come in the form of trending audio I want to use, a list of race sponsors I need to mention, a checklist of kit I need to bring and a shot-list of content that’ll be useful to have both on the day and evergreen stuff for the future. For me, evergreen content is roping friends into taking pictures of me, holding my phone, and taking pictures of mountain bikers that I can use to promote my skills and thus, generate more work! Always get that behind-the-scenes content. It’s something I didn’t take seriously enough until I started working for myself.

When it comes to picking audios for your Reels or TikToks, it is best to do this prior to the event. Save them in a dedicated folder for easy access. Use your notes app to list down the @handles of your sponsors or riders that you’ll be mentioning.  

On The Day Breakdown

I don’t mean I have a literal breakdown emotionally (although it can be tempting when there is zero signal!). I simply mean this is how the running order presents itself on race day. Arrive just as race organiser Cato is briefing the volunteer marshalls. I capture some footage of that to use in my overview Reel. I’ll make it known to Glyn I have arrived, we usually look at the map and decide where are the best spots to get riding shots and bike checks. Coffee. Then it’s time to begin the first posting of the day. Usually, a welcome story to the location, paired with an interactive poll with options such as “are you: racing, spectating, home in bed?”. The First Reel of the day is usually the mechanics performing a pre-race bike check on every competitor. I made this same style of Reel at each race of the season. It gives the audience a chance to spot themselves, nice bike setups and promote the fact the race organisers add this level of safety into the event, ensuring bikes are trail-worthy. 

Challenges will come to you in a number of ways, be prepared to combat them. Have a cleaning cloth to dry off your phone if the weather gets nasty. Switch to image uploads only if signal is shockingly poor. You will have to take the hit and upload your videos when you get bars again. Finally, be prepared to respect the riders you encounter. They aren’t there to ‘perform’ for you. If you ask them to be in your video and they say no, respect that, move on and find someone else who is up for it. No hard feelings, their focus is on the job in hand, hurtling themselves down a mountain. There will always be other opportunities.

Top shots to get you noticed on social media

Having captured content at mountain biking events, in various sizes over the years, I have found repeatable patterns that audiences generally love to see! Faces: we want to see a range of people having fun at the event, sharing their passion for bikes and showing off their prized steed of course! Weird & wonderful: Someone trying to ride down a mountain on a penny farthing? Capture it, capture the squeaky duck horns on bars, the retro bike goodness and anything a little unusual. You never know when you’ll need it again, for the perfect post. Behind The Scenes: a lot of audiences enjoy finding out how people prepare for a race, tyre pressures, pre-race setup, nutrition etc. 

Remember to ask your audience what they want to see, by way of interactive stickers on Instagram stories. This or that polls always go down a treat. Examples include:

Terrain Choice: Rocky trails or Smooth singletrack?

Race Nutrition: Energy gels or Energy bars?

Tyre Size: 29er or 27.5?

Suspension Preference: Full-suspension or Hardtail?

Another point to remember is not to ‘over-capture’ everything. I can’t begin to explain the amount of tosh I have in my camera roll from various events where I was blithely snapping away under the guise of ‘potentially needing it in the future’. Protect your storage space with a plan.

Have fun!

Getting to be in nature, having fun chatting to people, in a community, you care deeply about is a gift. Do your prep work, prepare for adverse weather (especially working in the UK & Ireland) and organise your work into folders. The rest will take care of itself and your race-day social media will shine!

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