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.