A new movie out of Bellingham called, “Atmospheric River Rats” premiered at Kulshan Brewing on April 16, bringing in over 150 people together to watch a mountain bike film that has since racked up nearly 11,500 views on YouTube.
What started as a small conversation at a local bike race grew into nearly an hour-long, professional movie. The film focused on some of Bellingham’s numerous young mountain bike groups, creating roaring laughter and smiles in the brewing area at Kulshan’s Kentucky Street location.
“It was great! I laughed a lot,” said Alyssa Reetz, a premiere attendee who was with two of her friends.
“I can’t remember which part I laughed hardest at, but that was the hardest I’ve laughed in a long time,” said Andrew Cavaye, a local mountain biker featured in the film.
The creators of the movie, Eric Olsen and Logan Nelson, garnered attention through Instagram leading up to the premiere. They also used the night as an opportunity to give back to the community and fundraise for a local nonprofit, Vamos Outdoors Project.
Nelson, the main editor, said he was working on the movie down to the wire. He spent the night before and the next morning finishing subtitles and rendering, leaving only a couple of hours to spare.
“[It was] super, super stressful,” Nelson said. “It was enjoyable, but fully, very stressful. I feel like I spent as much time as I could on it, reasonably, without fully losing my mind.”
Olsen said he and Nelson work well with deadlines, as it helps them get things done.
“The place was packed, the whole time,” said Emily Mallos, the marketing manager at Kulshan.
Mallos, who has been with Kulshan for 2 years and bikes herself, said that biking culture is a big part of Kulshan in a lot of ways. She said the event was a lot of fun for her too.
“It [was] pretty cool how [Olsen and Nelson] can rally that many people to come out and support their work which was filming what they love to do and also give back while doing it,” she said.
Vamos Outdoors Project, the recipient of the fundraising, is a community-based organization that primarily works with Latinx and English language learner communities of Bellingham. Vamos works to provide access to learning support, outdoor and environmental learning activities and connections to mentors for first-generation college students.
Andy Basabe, the director of Vamos, attended the premiere to hang out, watch and accept cash donations.
He enjoyed that the movie was more focused on the relationships people had with each other when biking and the positive reactions everyone had at the event.
“It’s been really cool to see how folks in the mountain bike community have been – without being part of companies or organizations – wanting to give back to biking access in Whatcom County,” Basabe said. “A lot of [whom] aren’t wealthy or have jobs [that allow them] to fork out money.”
Basabe said between the Instagram fundraising that Olsen did and the cash donations from the event, they raised over $1,300.
“From just a bunch of college kids donating, I think that was pretty good,” Olsen said.
Two stars of the film, Margeaux Bailey and Caroline Schjelderup, have been biking for two and four years, respectively. They broke the ice in the first half of the film with Bailey’s comical relief and Schjelderup’s big air time and rock moves.
“Hearing the crowd around you respond to you being funny or falling down is really cute and fills you with joy,” Bailey said.
For both of them, this was their first professional film experience. They said Logan and Eric made the day feel very inclusive by facilitating a safe progression space where they could be comfortable with their friends.
“We were all just kinda [messing] around the whole time,” Schjelderup said.
“Which I think is why the movie was so fun to watch is because it was about people in their element no matter what their skill is or what they’re comfortable with,” Bailey said. “It's just fun to watch people having a good time.”
Bailey said she was glad that their segment will give other women riders the ability to see representation of others who ride like them and are relatable. Most often in the mountain bike scene, videos of women are usually of those at the top of the sport and are not as relatable to women just entering the sport.
Bailey expressed how well Nelson captured the essence of each individual group in the film, especially in their segment.
“That’s how we are! They captured that perfectly,” Bailey said
The film showed more than 40 riders in eight segments, and Bailey and Caroline made up two of the five women in it.
Schjelderup said being in a community where you’re underrepresented is very difficult and intimidating, and creating that representation is what will bring a lot of other minorities into it.
Mountain biking is still a white male-dominated hobby where 61% of riders were male according to a Pinkbike survey from 2021. Logan and Eric agreed they didn’t make any breakthroughs in capturing much diversity in their film.
“Terribly,” said Olsen reflecting on that, followed by Nelson immediately after, “Not good at all.”
“We had an attempt at diversity in age and skill level,” Olsen said. “My least favorite thing about the movie is that it’s still just a lot of my friends, which the goal was a lot grander than that.”
“My only consolation to myself is that by benefitting Vamos – ideally in the future – a movie like this could be more diverse,” Olsen said.
Schjelderup and Bailey both said that they were really happy to see Olsen and Nelson’s success and positive reactions from the audience.
One segment of the film focused on two friends who had lost one of their best friends, Jackson, last summer, and their process of building a trail to honor him. Drew Stuesse and Andrew Blacketer planned and camped in the woods with Jackson as they were excitedly discussing where the trail would go and what it would be like.
A few days later, Jackson died unexpectedly.
Stuesse said a lot of people will see this trail and not necessarily know what the story is about. He felt that this was an awesome way for it to be succinctly documented.
“[It] felt like a really good way to tell a story that was close to us,” Stuesse said.
Blacketer said the film accurately portrayed what they have been doing to commemorate Jackson. They said they’re proud to have this sentimental project captured on film for Jackson’s parents.
“It was definitely emotional watching it for the first time,” Stuesse said.
They eagerly expressed how much Jackson would have loved the trail.
“He’d think it’s the best trail ever,” Blacketer said.
Andrew Ford (he/him) is a reporter for The Front working on local environmental and social justice stories. He likes spending time outdoors, biking, and taking photos.
You can reach him at email@example.com.