The energy of this project is directly drawn from these forces: the altitude difference, the power of the mountains, the cold and the surrounding beauty which are the active ingredients for the creation. It is important to see the man behind the sportsman. The sportsman is born when he encounters his tool, here a bike. We will call “lightning object” the joining of man and his machine in order to see them as one. Without putting man in the center as the correct way of seeing things, the “lightning object” would only exist as light when confronted with speed. The pre-existing environment will be illuminated, however, not only lit, but highlighted.
The sportsman proposes a new vision and invites us to partake in the experience, whereas, the mountains tolerate and enable it.
This year for a world first, Eric Barone wishes to descend at night, a full moon night. This almost total blindness will allow the sportsman to enhance his senses, experience new sensations and night is seen as a rebirth.
It’s up to us, the artists, to develop this wish and to bring a certain sensitivity to the performance. The blackness allows a lighting of the dominant elements. This will be a play of shadows, a dark/light painting which will provide dazzling seconds. The promise of a breathtaking show was kept.
Bravo to the artists, the teams and Eric Barone.
8:00 pm After several briefings led by the artistic team composed of two incredible, talented, creative people, Marco and his daughter Maelys, my team and I were at the foot of the famous speed slope at Vars ready for an original project with a full moon
and starry night. All the planets were aligned to carry out this project and achieve a first world bike record, starting at the summit with no lights on the slope. This project had been dear to me for a long time and I’d made it official one year ago when I announced it to my team the same day as the record in March 2015. I thought it was the right moment.
JI wanted this interlude in my sports career for several reasons. The first was to achieve something other than a world record and to open the experience to a new dimension by giving artists free rein. I would be guided, sliding, rolling to become a domino in this artistic performance. My second reason was to go beyond the limits of my physical and mental potential to learn more about myself, in particular for the ultimate attempt in 2017. My third and last reason was to achieve a first world record, the privilege of unity, to be the first. Certainly a bit egocentric, but not really considering the commitment!
We are always ready to live what we write about in the project plan, but it’s another thing to experience it with all its unknown factors. This quality is what allows us to go over our limits, pushes us and give us so much!)
This project called “Lightning” was the most beautiful project I’ve had in all my sports career. I would like to thank all my team, but, in particular, the fantastic duo, Marco and Maelys, who knew all throughout the project how to adapt, especially to the technical aspect. Their clear goal was to achieve an artistic performance in one take. In order to do this it was necessary to design with the help of a garment company a connected suit which would react with different colors to speed, acceleration, but also to my heart beat. This was the only light except the full moon and the stars…..
Beyond the artistic performance, I didn’t know and even less my team that we were going to encounter something very subtle and intangible which we would analyze much later when looking back on the project and planning the ultimate 2017 project. “Lightning” connected us to a new energy due to the darkness where our usual visual references no longer existed in a dangerous and delicate environment that is a speed slope. Consequently, something else was born, a survival instinct, an opening of our senses to new sensations because of the absence of all visual communication.
9:45 pm At the summit, there is a lighter atmosphere, different from a world record where the pressure is there, but in a different way due to the fact that I was riding a standard prepared bike and not a F1 Bike with all the discomfort that ensues.
10:00 pm Everything is going quickly. Marc says, “Eric is in place. There’s never been so many people at the bottom of the slope.” The slope is pitch black. From the top you can just see the village Vars at the foot of the mountains. Six cameramen have requisitioned all the available rental stock of high definition cameras capable of filming at night with the quality of daytime. Also in place are the photographers so all I need to do is start. At the top, Maelys dresses me with the connected clothes and then connects all the LEDs which are programmed to the curve of the slope. Consequently, all the colors will be deployed during the acceleration, giving the spectators a scenographic vision of my descent. I’m ready to go, once more ready to start the show and go beyond myself again, something I so miss in my everyday life.
“I’m coming.” The silence is tangible, the generators and smoke making machines are silenced. I get on the bike, Marc announces to Philippe and Mathias down below in the cabin, “Eric’s ready!”
Departure 1 minute…..
Marc taps me on the shoulder, 3 deep breaths and off I go in my world. Marc on the talkie walkie so those down below can hear,
“Eric, are you ready?”
The first third of the slope I say to myself, “Shit, what a strange sensation!” When
not moving, I see everything, the white ground lit by the moon, some visual references, but with the acceleration, I see nothing, no reference point. I have the impression that I undergoing the run not living it. Damn it! What a disappointment as I so wanted to enter another state of mind or grace thanks to the hormone serotonin which we feel when all is under control and nothing bad can happen.
As the slope wasn’t prepared as in a world record, the little waves on the quickest part soon became big waves and I control nothing. I just stay on my mount. I hold on, but I think it’s one of the worst of my official runs.
At the bottom with everyone, I’m amazed and frustrated at the same time by this short lived event already finished. Sad!
Obviously, after the performance I had scripted in my imagination a sort of bar with an ice cream counter with pouffes, fake animal skins and bartenders serving little glasses of chilled rum to all those who wanted….
Extending, thus, this short lived artistic and human adventure. Unfortunately, this idea didn’t happen due a lack of personnel and will power. Several minutes later, “Lightning” was already behind us and before us was the ultimate challenge in 2017…