Mark has hit the 200 mile marker!

Mark rode into Rock Springs, Wy on Friday, July 29 lead by Scott Aldridge and John Lux from the Jim Bridger Power Plant.  They arrived in town around 4:00 pm and we had the opportunity to finally catch up with Mark and see how things are going.  Here’s what he had to say.

 

“I have been through the best and worst already and I’m only 1/3 of the way done.  The second day of my ride was by far the worst and I am hoping I don’t have to go through anything like it again.  I was exhausted, out of water, lost, and struggling with flat tires and the harsh conditions.  Anything that can survive in that desert gets my nod.  It was an eye opening and humbling experience.  I wanted to just come home and call the whole thing off.  My mind got the best of me and I couldn’t help but think that this whole this is just crazy.  What am I even doing out here?  Shouldn’t I be doing something else or being productive?  The next morning I couldn’t move.  I sat in the Farson Merc for 6 hours just trying to rehydrate myself and reconsider the whole trip.  Three days in and I’m already giving up?  I couldn’t let this happen but I was out of gas.  My legs were dead, my drive was diminished, and my body was sore to the point where I couldn’t just ignore it.  Then it hit me…  I’m not doing this ride for me.  I’m doing this ride for everyone who believes in me.  I thought of everyone who is following the blog and reading the articles in the paper.  I thought of everyone who has walked by the posters all over Wyoming.  I thought of the people who have stumbled across the story on the internet.  I thought of everyone who has supported me and ridden along.  The journey has grown from a small idea to something larger than just me.  I am riding for everyone who has other commitments, can’t get off work, or aren’t able to spend 12 hours in the blistering sun.  I wanted to create something to inspire people and something for them to believe in.  Who could ever believe in me if I gave up now?  It was 4 pm and I hadn’t ridden a single mile.  I collected my belongings and myself and threw my leg over the bike and started to pedal.  The air had cooled but a strong cross wind had picked up.  I could see a huge storm with lightening moving straight towards my path.  I pulled over and thought about calling for help one more time.  It was an easy decision.  I had to keep going.  That night I pedaled until the sun was too low in the sky to light the road ahead of me.  I slept on the side of the road near an ant pile as the Wyoming wind sang me to sleep.  The next day I met up with Emily Neal, Zach Phipps, and Chris Cook to ride with me to Superior, the Jim Bridger Power Plant, and then Rock Springs.  It was great having friends to ride with and hangout after the riding for the day was done.  We made it to Superior before noon and had a lot of time to kill.  After exploring some ruins around the town, we finished the day playing catch with a football we found near our campsite in the city park.  The cool shade and lawn in the park was amazing!  It was the best campsite I’ve had on this trip until this point.  The next morning we woke up early to climb the switchbacks out of Superior.  This climb was brutal!  It took everything I had to push the trailer up the road.  I found myself scrambling to hold the trailer from pulling me back down the hill.  Point of Rocks was an oasis when we arrived.  The Varley family was very generous and allowed us to set up our tents in the shade of their trees.  Once again, we were very lucky to have such a nice campsite.  I have conducted interviews with Questar and Pacificorp.  The next stop is the Flaming Gorge Dam.  Riding into Rock Springs was an interesting feeling.  I was one mile from my house where I grew up, but 400 miles from home.  I had a momentary feeling of sadness about having to get back on the road but then I thought of the journey ahead and filled myself with excitement.  Everyone has been so supportive and I can’t say thank you enough times.  I am extremely lucky to be surrounded with so many great people.  When it gets hard and all hope seems to be lost, I think about every one of you and find the strength to keep going.  I will be riding in the Red Desert Round Up Parade on Saturday in Rock Springs.  I hope to see as many supporters as I can before I set off into the infamous Red Desert.  The hardest part of the journey is still to come.  Here’s to everyone who believes in me, and especially those who don’t.”

That was straight from Mark himself.  He seems tired and weary but as determined as ever.  Keep checking back for updates as Carrie McCarthy joins Mark for the next leg of the journey into Utah.

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Mark’s second day on the road

Hello everyone, we are back with all the updates on Mark’s journey. Mark said that the first day of his journey went very smoothly except for a few difficulties like the extreme heat and mosquitos while he was camping. However, his second day on the road was anything but enchanting. He said, “There were a few times I thought about calling for help.” The route that Mark had mapped out on the computer prior to his journey turned out not to be there when he got to the actual location.  The road that he was following fizzled out and he was left at a dead end in the middle of the desert.

He said, “I had two options, I could either turn around and backtrack 12 miles or I could cut across to the highway. I chose to cut across to the highway.” His decision however, turned out to be very bad, because he ended up on a sandy two track road which made it nearly impossible to pull his trailer. He said, “As I bounced and struggled down that road for over 10 miles, I was faced with extreme heat and exhaustion.  Then a breeze picked up, but the breeze just so happened to be a headwind of about 35 miles per hour.  After battling flat tires and the weather I finally made it to the highway only to find that I had 22 miles left to go.”

Just when Mark thought everything was going better, he realized that he didn’t have enough water to be able to stop and camp for the night and finish the ride to Farson in the morning, so he was forced to go on to Farson, Wyoming to get water and other supplies. He said, “When it was all said and done I had ridden 60 miles and used up 2 days’ worth of water in the excruciating heat.  There were times today when I felt like I honestly wouldn’t make it. I was completely out of gas by the end of the day.”

 Mark has made a few changes based on things that went wrong and he is back on the road for the rest of his journey. Things on the road are only getting more exciting so show your keen support by making sure you stay tuned for more updates on Mark’s journey.

Mark’s first day on the road

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: the journey has begun. Sunday morning Mark departed from Pinedale, Wyoming for his 600 mile journey through the Wyoming backcountry in search of the best form of energy for our future. “The sendoff was amazing,” Mark said, “It was so inspiring and heartwarming to have so many friends and supporters show up to wish me well.” Dozens of Rock Springs locals showed up for the event including the County Commissioner of Sweetwater County as well as the Mayor of Pinedale. Everyone showed their support and appreciation for Mark’s brave and inspiring effort towards investigating one of the most vital issues and hot topics of the last decade. Mark would like to give special thanks to the Mitchell family for providing refreshments for the event. A tasty muffin certainly provided Mark with the energy he needed to make it through the first miles of his trip; that, and an enormous amount of adrenaline.

Mark’s sendoff was sealed after the Sheriff escorted Mark and several supporters out-of-town and into the countryside. Mark was thankful to have company for the first day’s ride. After saying some last goodbyes to his remaining companions, Mark set up his first camp of the journey near the Newfork River. “So far, so good,” he reported simply. Everything seems to be in fair conditioning including his bike, his trailer, and his legs. They only thing that seemed to be bothering Mark about the first day and night was the heat, and the mosquitoes.  It turns out that late July is not the friendliest of times to cross the Wyoming countryside.

At least Mark won’t be alone for long. On Wednesday three supporters from Rock Springs, Wyoming will be joining Mark for part of his journey. Mark would like to once again thank everyone who showed up to see him on his way. Will the rest of his journey be as smooth as its launch? Stay tuned to find out!

Interview With Mark: How does he feel about his journey approaching

Today we have dedicated a very special blog segment, but first, on the behalf of producer Mark Pedri and each and every member of the Burning Torch Productions crew, I would like to thank all of our blog viewers and all others who have shown us love and support for our upcoming film. Because of your support, we have managed to advance the production of Energy, Oh Energy from just an idea to a realty. That being said, today’s blog is going to be a one-on-one interview with Mark regarding his journey starting on July 24th.  

Are you excited to leave on this expedition?

Mark – Yes, extremely.  I have been preparing and training for nearly two months.  All of the hard work is building up to my departure.  Everyone who is a part of this film has been working extremely hard and we are all excited to see it take off like this.

Are you nervous about anything?

Mark – That’s a hard question to answer.  If I said no, I would by lying but if I said yes, I would be undermining my confidence. The only things I am nervous about are the things that I can’t prepare for.  It is going to be a very exhausting journey both physically and mentally.  I have been asking for advice from experienced bicyclists who have done this type of thing before and they think I’m crazy.  I don’t think that is a good sign.  The main concern is my trailer will be so heavy (100lbs).  Most of the people who do rides like this only take half or even 1/3 of that amount of weight.  I have been training but I haven’t had time to do a multi-day training ride like I originally planned.  There just isn’t enough time in the day.

What are you spending these next few days doing?

Mark – Phone calls, emails, emails, phone calls, and more emails.  When that’s taken care of, there’s always a few rides here and there.  I haven’t been out riding nearly as much as I would have liked though.  People keep warning me about not having any rest days but I don’t have enough time to put a rest day in.  I would love some rest but sometimes that’s not an option.

What is the first event?

Mark– The first event is the Pinedale send off.  I will be leaving from Pinedale, WY at 10:00 a.m. on July 24th.  Jim Mitchell has been gracious enough to allow us to use his house at 210 Spruce St. as our departure point.  I am hoping that many people from the community will come out and support me as I depart on this expedition.

How has the media been covering the event?

Mark– We have had 6 articles in various newspapers and even one in an online magazine from Mexico City cover the film.  It has been really nice working with the media and they have been great about helping promote and inform people about the journey.  I don’t think I could complete this journey without the support of everyone around me.  I feel very thankful for all of the help people have offered.

Who has helped?

Mark– Aside from the people on the Burning Torch Productions team that you may have read about on an earlier blog, there have been many people.  To name a few, the Mitchell family in Pinedale, Bob Johnson in Pinedale, Questar, US Department of Reclamation, Bob Arambel, Reid West, Emily Neal, Zac Reiter, my entire family, Rock Springs I.V. Center, and many more.  If you have done anything to help us in the production of this film, I can’t thank you enough.  Without you, this wouldn’t be possible.

What additional help are you asking for?

Mark – Spread the word.  Use this film as dinner table chat.  Bring it up at the grocery store, coffee breaks, and everywhere else.  I need everyone’s help to get the word out and make it as big as we can.  I can only do so much and when I’m out on the trail, it’s up to you guys.  Come to the ride along events even if you don’t have a bike.  Post this link on your Facebook.  Every little bit helps.  The biggest thing you all can do to help is to be a part of the adventure, whether it’s just reading the blog or coming out to some of the events.

What is your biggest concern?

Mark – Water and injury are my biggest concerns.  Either one of them has the potential to bring my journey to a premature end.  The area that I’m riding through is a desert and as my lawyer told me, “…it’s out there where even the lizards are carrying canteens.”  I will be carrying as much as 24 pounds of water during some stretches of the journey.  I am trying to be constantly aware of the risks so I don’t find myself making foolish mistakes that could end my expedition and compromise my safety.

Any last words before you set off?

Mark – I am setting out to make a great film.  Every film needs an audience.  I hope that each and every one of you will be my audience for this film.  It isn’t going to be easy and I might run into some trouble along the way but I am not going to give up.  When I set foot in La Bonte Park in Laramie, I’ll be done; until then, you can count on me out there riding.

It was great getting to catch up with Mark right before his departure. We all wish and hope his journey ends in triumph and his new film becomes a success. Even though Mark will not be with us for the next few weeks, I will not keep you wondering about what is going on with him on the road.  I will keep in contact with him, over the phone (whenever he gets reception) and update you with all the developments on his journey.  Keep checking back for updates as Mark journey’s into the desert in search of the best energy.

Who is Mark Pedri?

For the past weeks we have been updating you with Burning Torch Productions new summer movie, Energy, Oh Energy and the developments on producer Mark Pedri’s training process for his upcoming journey. Today we are going to explore Mark, his background, career path, and passion.

Mark’s passion for filmmaking was rooted in his passion for adventure.  Mountain biking was one of the factors that lead Mark to becoming a filmmaker.  Adventure has been a driving force in Mark’s life but that’s not all that makes this energy filled, young man tick.

Mark and Marty Pool in Dunedin, New Zealand. Photo by Alexa Warburton

The early days of Burning Torch Productions consisted predominantly of freeride mountain bike films.

 

Mark Pedri was born and raised in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Mark’s deep passion of filmmaking began when he was very young. After he graduated from high school, he was accepted to DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied film production. During his time at DePaul University he took a semester to study at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Shooting in New Zealand

Mark shooting "Expression" near Rock Springs, WY. Photo by Tony Colbert

 

Mark’s strong passion of filmmaking led him to establish his own film production company, Burning Torch Productions. Mark says, “I chose to study filmmaking because I saw something in the art that I couldn’t find anywhere else.  Film has the power to evoke every human emotion possible.  Films have changed the world and have been a place for people to go when all else is lost.  I wanted to create something that people could believe in.  I wanted to be a part of one of the most popular forms of art.  I wanted to create something great.” However, like every profession, filmmaking has its own challenges. Mark expresses the challenge of his career like this:

“The most challenging part of this career is the competitive nature.  If you aren’t making great films then you aren’t going to be able to sustain yourself.  Yes, there are small things like wedding movies and corporate training videos but that’s not why I became a filmmaker.  Those projects are a last resort.  I am interested in the top tier of filmmaking and this makes the job much more competitive and stressful.  I work about 12 hours on any given day.  When a film is in production it isn’t unusual to work 2 or 3 weeks of 12 hour days every day.  It’s a job that is tightly woven with passion. Without the passion, you won’t survive for one day.  Sometimes you will work a month straight, with long hours and 0 days off only to find out that your investors have pulled out and you won’t be getting paid for that project.  This has happened to me and all you can do is pick up the pieces and try again.  I’ve had to abandon projects because of money.  It’s not unusual.  The film industry is a unique art because it is so intertwined with business.  In order to be a film producer, you must be 50% creative filmmaker, 25% business man, and 25% lawyer.  People only see the end product when they go to the theater.  If they had any idea of what went into that product, they wouldn’t even fully comprehend it.  Is $8.00 expensive to see a movie?  You may say yes.  Well, what do you think it costs to insure Nicole Kidman’s knee on her latest film?  Millions.  People don’t see that, nor should they.  They are there to escape the real world and witness something genuine and beautiful on the screen.  During those 100 minutes when the lights dim in the theater, anything is possible.  That’s why people go to the movies and I am here to make sure they can do this.”

Regardless of the numerous challenges of the filmmaking industry, Mark never aims to quit. Filmmaking is not just a career for Mark, but also a huge part of his life and identity. Mark says, “I see myself making movies for my entire life.  If you can do something for 12 hours a day and still love it, hold on to that because it is rare to find.  I love what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Filmmaking has giving me the opportunity to travel all over the world, meet some wonderful people, and also be a part of many people’s lives through the films I have made.  I have made a lot of sacrifices to become a filmmaker and I will have to make plenty more.”

With Mark’s keen passion for filmmaking, along with his strong motivation and educational background, it would not be hard to forecast how great his new film, Energy, Oh Energy will be.  Keep checking back for the final blog before Mark departs on his journey.  Stay connected to find out about different events coming up and how he will be keeping us all updated from the trail.

Climbing closer to departure and the Middle Teton

This week we are going to catch up with Mark and his training. The epic journey we have all been waiting for will commence in less than a week.  Mark has been persistently training for the past two months and now, his training has taken a whole new level both tougher and more exciting. Mark says, “This weekend I decided to change things up with my training.  I have been on the bike every day for the past few weeks and honestly, I needed a break.  There will be plenty of time in the saddle starting July 24th.”

Mark drove to Jackson Hole, WY with his girlfriend Carrie to meet his parents, Gary and Libby.  At 6:00 a.m., they set off to summit the Middle Teton.  After about 4 hours of hiking Mark said they found themselves trudging through the snow up the side of the mountain.  As they pushed forward, they were met by many fellow hikers that expressed their concern for them and recommended that they turn back, not because they were not fit but because they didn’t have the proper gear. With all of the snow in the mountains this year, ice axes and crampons were a must.  Here is a statement from Mark about his experience hiking in the Tetons.

 

 “We had hiked to what is known as the lower saddle.  This location on the Teton’s is an area where very few casual hikers ever see.  It was absolutely stunning.  The magnitude of these mountains is one of the more incredible things I have ever seen.  That is saying something considering I have hiked all over the world including the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the Swiss Alps, volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, mountains in France, Italy, Spain, and many other places here in the United States.  I would never pick a favorite but the Grand Tetons are right up there with some of the most majestic places I’ve seen.  We made it to the lower saddle with minimal equipment but as I looked up from the saddle to the top of the mountain, I was struck with summit fever.  I had to keep going.  After a MacGyver moment, I came up with the idea to make two ice axes out of two sticks, a Leatherman, and a knife.  It wasn’t pretty but it worked for a while.

Mark shows off his homemade ice axes

Carrie, Gary and I made it to the upper saddle where we were met with an ascent that far exceeded my homemade equipment. The trail steepened to nearly vertical and was completely covered in snow.   I had never seen a route quite like this that didn’t require ropes to climb.  There were two things running through my head at this point.  One was, the route looked terrifying but I knew I had to reach the top.  The other thing haunting my mind was the fact that my gear was completely insufficient to make it to the summit.  I needed an axe and crampons to complete the hike.  I was crushed.  I wanted it so bad and it was so close.  After meeting a few people resting at the upper saddle, I discovered that one person wasn’t going to finish the climb.  A light bulb went off in my head.  I asked her if I could borrow her ice axe and crampons and she generously said yes.  I was back on the trail (if you could call it that).

The last 1500ft was by far the hardest

  It took about 3 hours to climb the last 1500 ft. but it was worth every step and second that it took.  The summit was 12804ft with a complete 360 view as far as the eye could see.  The only obstruction was the magnificent Grand Teton Peak which seemed like only a stone’s throw away.  I was speechless as I ate an orange at the summit of my 7500 ft. gain hike.  I had pushed my limits, taken a few risks, and got lucky by borrowing the equipment.  Everything had worked out.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves but even they can’t do justice to what it felt like to be on top of that mountain.

Mark sits at the summit of the Middle Teton

A helicopter can get you about anywhere these days but that’s not how I got to the Middle Teton and that’s not how I’m getting to Laramie from Pinedale.  I think distances should be measured in two ways.  The first way is exactly like we do now, using some kind of standard unit.  The second way should be by how you get there whether you drive, fly, walk, or ride a bike.

The summit marker. 12804ft

I hiked back down to the upper saddle to meet the rest of my party and we hiked out.  The hike ended up taking 13 hours when it was all said and done.  It was a long day but one I will never forget.  This brings me to the week in which I will depart on my journey.  It will be just over 600 miles but how I am getting there is what puts it into perspective.  I will be riding my mountain bike with 100lbs of gear.  I am riding my bike on this journey to bring a different perspective to the film.  Like I mentioned before, how you get somewhere can have more meaning than the actual destination.  I can’t imagine the feeling I will have when I return home but I am guessing it will be similar to the one I had at the summit of the Middle Teton.”

 

In our previous blog we promised to reveal details about the bike Mark will be riding throughout the 600 miles. The bike is a 2003 Yeti Kokopelli, full suspension mountain bike with Avid BB7 Mechanical disc brakes, a Fox shox rear shock, a Manitou fork, and Mavic Wheels. In order to carry 50 pounds of camera gear and 50 more pounds of other supplies, he will be pulling a Burley Flatbed trailer, which has a 100lbs weight limit.

 

We have a lot of fascinating things to share with you as Mark’s journey is approaching, so stay tuned and keep following the blog.   Find out about the events Mark will be attending on his journey in the blog on Wednesday!

Mark’s camera equipment

Mark will be travelling without a camera crew; however, this doesn’t mean that this journey won’t be completely documented.  He is taking on the responsibility of filming the entire trek himself. He will share his challenging and inspiring experience on the road with the world in the upcoming film, Energy, Oh Energy. In order to carry over 50 pounds camera gear, Mark will be pulling a trailer with his bike throughout the 600 miles. In our blog today, we will describe the model and type of camera, lens and other equipment Mark will be taking with him in his journey.

The first and main camera Mark will be shooting on is a Canon 7d Digital SLR Camera – DSLR cameras have come so far in the last 5 years, it’s incredible.  It is more than a fad.  The quality achieved from these cameras is like something from a camera 5 times the price, which is why Mark has chosen this camera.  It is relativity compact, it has amazing quality, the manual mode allows shooting in any light condition, and Mark has shot his last 4 films on this camera.  It is a lot harder to operate than a traditional video camera but once you get the hang of it, nothing even comes close.  The selection of lenses is another huge plus.

Along with the Canon 7d Digital SLR Camera, Mark will carry two lenses, one is a16-35mm f.2.8 lens –This will be Mark’s main lens for shooting interviews and everything he encounters on his journey.  The L series is second to none and produces an unbelievable image.  Marks says, “Heavy? Yes.”  “Well worth it?  Definitely.”

The second lens is a 70-200mm f.2.8 lens – This lens will be used to shoot anything from a distance.  Once again, it’s heavy but Mark says he wouldn’t exchange it for any other lens out there.

 

 

 

 

 

The sound equipment Mark will carry is a H4n zoom with a wireless lavalier microphone system. – This is a device used to professionally record high quality sound separate from the camera.  You will find one of these or something similar or on any big shoot in Hollywood or anywhere else in the world. Mark says, “I would have to say the number one thing that makes a film seem amateur is poor sound quality.  Even though I’m going to be out in the middle of nowhere, I am still producing a professional film.  It’s not going to be easy lugging all of this extra equipment but it’s going to make all the difference in the world when people are sitting in the theater 6 months from now.  As my dad always told me, ‘hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it’.  It’s not going to be easy, that’s why I’m doing it.”

Mark will be carrying a Manfrotto Tripod– A tripod is one of the keys to getting great shots.  This is why Mark is bringing a heavier, professional tripod. Mark said, “I am concerned about weight but I still don’t want to compromise the quality of this film.”

The second camera Mark will be carrying with him is a GoPro Hero HD video camera – This camera is indestructible, small, can be mounted anywhere, and has a great picture.  Mark says, “What a perfect camera for my expedition?!  I will be wearing this camera most of the time on my helmet and when I’m not wearing it, it will be mounted to my bike.  This camera is going to be my eyes.  Whatever I see, it will record.”

                                                                                                                                                                    

There are few odds in ins that Mark will be carrying as well.  He has figured out his battery power situation but it’s not pretty.  He has 7 batteries for this Canon 7D, 3 batteries for his GoPro, and 24 AA’s for all of the sound equipment.  He is also bringing a Rode XLR shotgun microphone to capture to sound of the journey.  This is the same microphone that is used on professional set all over the world.

Well, there is some of the camera equipment Mark will use to bring back the challenges and excitements he will face on his 600 mile bike ride through the deserts and mountains to share with the world.

Keep following our blog, because the next one will be details on the type of bike Mark will be riding on. We are sure many of you are wondering what type of bike will manage to bear 600 miles through deserts and mountains, dragging over 50 pounds camera gear and 50 pounds of living essentials.

That’s for us to tell you, and for you to follow.