Mountain Bike Helmet Cam – A Historical Overview
aka “All Work No Play Make Jack a Dull Boy – Ain’t it the Truth!”
The mountain bike helmet cam first invented by Mark Schulze in 1987 was merely one notch on a belt marking our progress towards small, lightweight wearable POV cameras leading to today’s GoPros. How do you think inventions such as this come into being? Innovation comes from passion. In a recent appearance at UCSD (the alma mater of both Mark Schulze and Nick Woodman, coincidentally), Nick told the audience that his GoPro invention had arisen from his passion for surfing and his desire to share his Point of View (POV) with others. That is exactly what drove Mark Schulze to develop his mountain bike helmet cam rig.
For Love of Mountain Biking
One of our most longstanding secrets of success is the passion we have for mountain biking. This is a sport that captured our hearts when we were young and full of energy. We’re still so energetic and full of life because of the Dorian Gray painting up in the attic. Ha! Kidding! Really, it’s that we still ride our mountain bikes on those beloved trails that we began panting up and flying down nearly 30 years ago.
It was the mountain bike which in a round-about way dictated what trail we would follow in our career. We leafed through every page in the now defunct Yellow Pages. We then decided that “Video Production” was what we wanted to do.
“The Great Mountain Biking Video”
And because we were so passionate about mountain biking, we produced the world’s first mountain-bike instructional video called “The Great Mountain Biking Video” back in 1987. In it, our DP Mark Schulze rigged up an otherworldly mountain bike helmet cam which captured the world’s first mountain biking POV (Point of View) footage.
“Great Mountain Biking Video” is now accessible at Vimeo on Demand for a good look at what the sport was like back in the mid 1980’s, and you’ll get a good laugh. Judging from the incalculable number of videos you can find at Youtube that are all called “Great Mountain Biking” and imitation being the greatest form of flattery, perhaps we should be ecstatic.
Here is a clip of DP Mark Schulze wearing the cumbersome helmet cam rig in a mountain-bike race at Carlsbad in 1988, videotaped by his wife, Patty Mooney.
And this is the earliest known clip that was shot with a mountain-bike Helmet Cam, at Mammoth Mountain in 1988. It’s a downhill run at the Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze mountain bike race. It’s raw and uncut, worn by a rider named Jeff Detweiler. Keep in mind that at the time, this helmet cam and backpack probably weighed 30 pounds. And you had to be a very good rider to maintain balance wearing the thing.
In early 2018, we ran into Jeff on a local trail and he consented to this short “interview” about his experience wearing the helmet cam contraption while descending Mammoth Mountain back in ’88.
Patty Mooney is a VP, Video Producer, Video Editor, Sound Technician, Teleprompter Operator and Voice Over at Award-Winning San Diego Video Production Company, Crystal Pyramid Productions.