Romeo X-Ray Nine: Micro-Adventure in the Shropshire Hills
Romeo X-Ray Nine is a short film by Sandy Plenty, capturing Orange Bike’s RX9 in action during a weekend micro-adventure. The film features riders Tobias Pantling and Chris Duffner putting the bike and their gear through its paces across the Shropshire Hills. Watch the film here, and read our interview with Sandy below.
Chris, Toby and yourself are experienced mountain bike riders – do you see many others from the MTB community picking up gravel bikes?
Yes, I do. They are the MTB riders’ road bike. As roads become busier it makes sense for us to hit the tracks & bridleways. When riding gravel you can take in everything around you, and we live in a stunning part of the world!
As a photographer, you’ve previously worked with a lot of MTB riders. Did you have to adapt your style to work with riders on gravel bikes?
I did have to tweak a few things, particularly with regards to planning. MTB requires dynamic trails that showcase the riders’ style & technique and you can often do this in one zone. On this project, I wanted to tell a story of adventure travel, so we moved around the county and filmed the RX9 edit over 3 days. I think I prefer the stories that come with adventure.
You must have had to move fairly quickly to keep up with them. What gear did you use and how did you carry it all?
It ended up being a jam packed few days! We filmed the runway & road scenes from the back of my pickup. Darcy Davies was in the back on a gimble with Tom Roberts next to him shooting stills. That was fun for sure! We also had a drone and several cameras, so spent a lot of time in-and-out of vehicles as the guys rode across the county.
What decisions did Duffers & Toby need to take when packing their gear for the ride? Were there any items of bikepacking kit that you all felt were essential for the trip?
We had bags on both bikes, full of gear for the bothy scene. It was a ‘travel light’ kind of gig to be honest! Despite that, Toby’s essential items included his coffee paraphernalia and a fishing rod (which didn’t get used in the end)! They both had warm clothes, sleeping bags and a stove. Essentials also included waterproofs – you simply never know with the weather around here!
Having come from a background of writing and photography, what made you want to give filming a go?
I would always have ideas for films with good locations in mind, but never had the confidence to do it. I’ve directed a few short films in years gone by and one day thought, ‘hang on, I have the cameras already; so why not give it a go’? I’m under no illusions that I have a long way to go as a filmmaker, but I am super keen to gain experience and progress. I still love shooting stills, and how doing that feels.
Somehow you also find time to work as an MTB coach. Any top coaching tips from the MTB world that gravel riders can learn from?
My top tip would be to drop your heels when cornering off-road, as this lowers your centre of gravity and helps the bike turn. This is a huge benefit when you are fully loaded with packs.
Another tip is to look around at the beautiful scenery… We ain’t around forever!