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Behind the Barriers Director’s Cut: Rock ‘n’ Roll Guy

Rock ’n’ Roll Guy

If you go back and watch the Season 1 episode of Behind The Barriers from Louisville, Kentucky, you’ll notice that it starts in the middle of the men’s race. After we put it out, my friend John Reynolds told me that he really liked how I started the episode with the race itself and not including anything before it.

That was by no means a stylistic choice; it was only out of necessity. I had gotten to the venue during the first lap, hustling from the airport in a cab and literally jumping out and running to start filming. It wasn’t because of a flight delay, or due to the weather. It was entirely my fault. I had slept through my flight. It’s not like I was in bed and slept through my alarm. Instead, I was passed out at the gate, my body still reeling from the abuse I had put it through a couple hours earlier.

It was a 7 a.m. flight and I hadn’t gone to bed the night before. I went from work to band practice. From band practice I went to a party at one of my bandmates’ house. The party was fun, and eventually most of the people dispersed until it was just my bandmates and me wearing too few clothes, and getting carried away on a bottle of gin until 4:30 in the morning. At about that time, I realized that I had better call a cab in order to make it to the airport on time. Everything went smoothly from there. I stumbled down the street to get cash from the ATM, got back just in time for the cab to pull up, rode to the terminal at Logan, made it through security, made it to my gate. It was probably now about 5:45 a.m. and I had 45 minutes until boarding.

I sat down, and fell into a deep sleep. Long story short, I woke up well after my flight departed, did some sweet talking, and ended up on a flight that would get me to the venue right after the men’s race started.

That is how Behind The Barriers started. I had a day job at a camera rental house, I was in a hard partying rock ’n’ roll band, and Jeremy Powers asked me to come out to some bike races to film him and do my signature fly-on-the-wall thing. This story was not atypical for that first year. In fact, it was pretty much the norm, except that I would usually make my flight. It was a year of late nights and red-eye flights, self-abuse, and rock ’n’ roll. We worked really hard to make that happen, though.

By Season 3 I had quit my job, the band was no more, and Behind The Barriers was pretty much my full-time gig. Now that we’re at Season 4, we’ve started a full blown video media company that has behind-the-scenes, real race coverage, and analysis shows all about American cyclocross. Three years ago, my life was all about going with the flow, working hard, playing music, and not sweating the small stuff. It was simple. I would just show up and do what I was good at, and it was easy. I feel like in season 3 of Behind The Barriers, I had perfected what I set out to do in the first place. I was ready for a new challenge.

Now we’re at Season 4 and BTB TV is in its first week of existence. My responsibilities have grown from showing up, filming, and editing, to much more than that. Instead of over-imbibing before a race weekend, I’m keeping tabs on budgets, staffing crews, building sets, and taking delivery on equipment right up to the time my flights leave. And I’m not missing those flights.

I feel like I could call it growing up, but I think it’s way more than that. We all felt that we needed to change and evolve with the project, and Jeremy being Jeremy, he kept pushing for bigger and better. I felt a responsibility for that bigger and better to actually come to fruition in a realistic way. For me, it means a sense of accomplishment, but it also means making a sport that I’ve been a passionate fan of for years bigger and better. The reason Behind The Barriers was created in the first place still rings true. We’ve always tried whatever was in our means to make the sport more accessible, and showcase how cool it actually is, the best we could. We’re going big this year because the sport deserves it. The plan is that, five years from now, what we’re doing this year is considered the norm for American cyclocross and will be sustainable.

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to check out some of the shows we’ve been putting out and you’re looking forward to much, much more to come. Today’s show is the OG. Behind The Barriers Classic. This show I still do by myself, but all of the other shows have a core group of people involved that I would like to thank and recognize in this first journal: Dylan Law, Amanda McGrady, Chris Husta, Izzy Cohan, Sean English, Jake Sisson, Colt McElwaine, Cosmo Catalano, Jeff Bartell, and Rachel Globe. Everyone on the crew is working their buns off to make BTB TV a reality, and we truly couldn’t do this without them. As the founding crew member of this whole thing, I really couldn’t be more thankful, and appreciative.

And as a rock ’n’ roll guy who slowly feels himself becoming less and less of a rock ’n’ roll guy, I couldn’t be more comfortable with it.

Sam Smith

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