Part 2 of the epic MTBcut trip into North England took Danny Macaskill and crew to an epic location in the lake district. In what turned out to be probably the most enjoyable day of shooting film I've had in a long time, day 3 of the Fox Mojo diaries took us on a huge hike up one of the most notorious Mountain Passes in England, Nan Bield. It was All Mountain riding at its finest.
Complete story, pics and video inside!
Nan Bield is situated near Haweswater, only a matter of minutes from the M6 and just south of the England/Scotland border. In all my years riding bikes it's certainly an area that I never seem to have spent enough time at, constantly passing it by on my travels between the better known riding locations in Scotland and Wales.
Nevertheless, we headed north from our previous day's adventures in Yorkshire (see part one herel
) to head up and meet Michael Bonney from Orange bikes who had a route planned out. The idea to ride the Nan Bield pass had come about during a phone call between the two of us several weeks prior to the video, we had the previous days shooting in Lee Quarry and Hebden Bridge all planned out, but we were in need of an epic third day to finish the trip. Michael had pondered over whether Nan Bield would be rideable, which to me made it the instant choice to throw some of the best UK talent down!! So the plan was to put our riders on their short travel all mountain bikes on this super tough descent and see how their Fox 32's would cope. Macaskill got the heads up early on in the trip before building his bike and managed to get hold of some 36's in a weak bid to gain some advantage!!
View from the car park
After a night in a luxurious motorway service station we got up at sunrise and headed over to the pass. The views on the way were nothing short of mind blowing, we made several stops to get a few establishing shots for the video and to allow Danny to try and figure out his new Canon 7d. Rowan on the other hand was just itching to get riding, the weather was stunning and the frustration in all the riders showed as I pinned them down for some early morning interviews.
Unfortunately one of the members of the trip, Joe Barnes, had to head off and miss our day out due to racing commitments in Portugal. Whilst the rest of us enjoyed an incredible day on the mountain you can just imagine the frustration Joe will feel reading this as he ended up stuck all day in an airport due to an Icelandic Volcano erupting! So the crew we were left with was Danny Macaskill, Pro DHer and Back-On-Track
trail builder Rowan Sorrell, MTB coach from Great Rock
(and oh yes what a beard) Ed Oxley, and Mojo Suspension Pro Elite DH female Aimee Dix.
Macaskill dominating the stream crossing!
In all my time filming, I have never seen a bunch of riders so enthusiastic about climbing a hill. There was only about 10% of the climb actually rideable (even for a certain youtube 'phenomenon'), but bikes were thrown on to the shoulders and everyone made their way up.
A good 2 hours later we reached the summit, it was time for everyone to chill out take in the views and get some food ready to tame the beast on the way down. Ed took the opportunity to give us a history on 'Pass Storming', apparently the proper definition of the type of riding we're doing and a pastime that has been going on since the early years of bicycles! Ed doesn't just have an epic beard, but also a huge love and knowledge of mountain biking. He's the kind of dude you could just sit with in the pub for hours as he tells tales of his experiences.
Ed's Beard FTW
The first section of the descent was pretty much unrideable to everyone, except Danny that is, who giggled his way down the first 100m picking random lines and rocks to throw himself off, he had everyone is stitches laughing at his ability to show unbelievable skill mixed with humour as he laughed at himself wobbling at the occasional unexpected rock or dodgy landing that comes with having no idea where you are going!
Rowan was a bit more thoughtful, taking time to pick a line before unleashing his usual smoothness. The rest of us just watched in awe at the pair showing stunning ability in riding the hardest terrain on short travel bikes,
Ed and Aimee started getting into their rhythm, with Pro Downhiller Aimee taking the lead whilst Ed tried to hold on at the back, I think the sheer technical and steep terrain was pushing both riders, but you could see confidence building as Aimee continually threw the gauntlet down to Ed to see how he'd cope.
Aimee and Ed
Whilst there was a little competition going on between Ed and Aimee, the other two testosterone filled weapons, Danny and Rowan, were absolutely buzzing of the terrain. Picking their way down the hardest lines whilst continually crossing over and trying to get past each other. Each of them grinning from ear to ear this developed into one of the best things I've seen in mountain biking, trust me when I say the camera flattens out the terrain! Some of the rocks and lines these two picked were just ridiculous.
For all his technical wizardry Danny was having to push hard to keep up with Rowan's smooth riding. The photo above is great example, Rowan would carve round a rocky smooth wallride where as Danny would throw himself off a drop to take the shorter, but more difficult line. Rowan held the lead though.
At one point Ed disappeared over the back of a huge rock, for a second we all had that worried look thinking he'd just plummeted off a ledge, however he poked his head back up with the news of discovering a great line. Macaskill and Sorrell were over there like a shot, scoping out a few lines before riding down side by side... check out the video to see the results!
Rowan Owning the rocks
Rowan Owning the rocks
All the riders where in their element and it was a pleasure to film, each of them showing a different style and approach to riding the mountain. We ended up with a good little crowd all hiding behind the camera as we worked our way down. It's fair to say that everyone had one of the best days of riding ever and by the time we reached the bottom, I knocked out a few post ride interviews and then everyone was ready for a good old English pub meal.
This was All Mountain Riding at its finest, and it shows what you can ride on a short travel bike with just a pair of Fox 32's on! If you get the chance to ride in the Lake District, I can't recommend it enough. Rowan provided the quote of the video at the end by claiming 'this is real mountain biking to me'.
Check the video out below, hope you guys enjoy it. Big thanks to Mojo Suspension
for making it all happen!