From the outside, people might think that mountain bike photographers—like racers—are a fairly competitive lot. While that may be true at times, the reality is that we are more family than foes. I learned this in Hafjell, Norway, in 2014 while shooting the World Championship races. I was sitting at the bottom of a massive rock garden, when Australia's Connor Fearon came charging through, clipped a rock and ejected into the boulders face-first a few feet away from me. He was bloodied, his helmet was smashed and his face was mangled. I was the only person Fearon knew on the course, so I rode down in the ambulance with him instead of shooting the morning's practice.
Like most race photographers, I was required by contract to deliver a certain number of images per day to multiple clients. During a World Cup race, you might only shoot an athlete once during practice and once during finals so every shot counts, especially if you have a winner.
Word spread quickly about Fearon and thankfully he was stable and expected to recover. But the outreach from the other photographers on course truly showed their character—I think every one of them offered their images to me to use for my clients since I had nothing to show for the morning. While I didn't end up needing the images, the gesture showed real compassion, and taught me a valuable lesson: We may all be fighting for the same work half the time, but without each other we would all be nothing.