In Memory of Farmer Jac Jones: 1947 - 2020

Dec 11, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  


Reporting: Si Paton

Jac Jones was the landowner of Moelfre downhill track. Designed by the Athertons as a World Cup training course, it quickly became one of the essential venues on the British domestic circuit and would later host the British Championships for 4X, cross country and downhill. Following the tragic news of Jac's passing that broke at the start of this week, we reached out to some of Jac's closest friends to share their memories and experiences with him.

Eulogy

THE LEGENDARY FARMER JAC JONES.

Father, Husband, Farmer, Land Owner, Land Rover Driver and Pipe Smoker.
Written by Si Paton

You have to go back to 2003 and the last national of the UK National Downhill series for Jac's first involvement with mountain biking. The series was in desperate need of a venue at the last minute but the Athertons had been working their magic on the open hillside and Jac pulled out all the stops and let us go racing. 221 racers hit the start line that day including myself and over the following 15 years, there have been 34 races and over 7,000 riders going anytime after the beeps.

We can not underestimate the significance and gratitude we must hold for Framer Jac and the use of his land, and that of fellow landowners. Firstly trusting race organisers and local riders to go and carve up their hillside and woodland, swinging axes, chainsaws, mattocks and perhaps the final straw, plant machinery (JCB/Diggers). Now add in 300 plus unruly mountain bike racers and who knows how many spectators, the destruction of the camping field on a wet weekend and I certainly do not want to mention the litter that is discarded.

For Jac, nothing was ever a problem. He would drive over during race set up in one of his old Landys that was held together by orange bailing twine and his trusty old pipe hanging from the corner of his mouth. Anything that you ever asked of him, the answer was always a big fat "yes"!

Jac really cared about the races and the riders, I personally think this came about from a great tragedy that Jac and his family suffered with the loss of his son at an early age during a driving accident. Allowing us free reign on his land, seeing us all enjoying ourselves, this was his way of giving back and gave him a lot of enjoyment and hopefully some peace.

At the end of each BDS race at Moelfre, Jac would be there at presentation time handing out the medals and prizes and giving the deserved rider his handshake and a genuine, "Well done'". He would then always offer to say a few words before we got to the Elite podiums. What I will always remember him for was when he said, "That hill's getting no smaller but you boys and girls seem to be coming down it faster and faster each year".

We have a lot to thank you for Farmer Jac, you will be missed but never forgotten. Love and Peace.




bigquotesMoelfre was just a sick mountain. I think it came about through Athy’s classic method of “go on a map, find the steepest mountain around make something happen.” Jac was instantly excited to help – from the very beginning, Jac was letting us do whatever we wanted, lending us machines and genuinely being stoked on being involved.

When we recorded the video I was a bit worried that he’d be insulted when we rocked up with all the padding but he thought it was hilarious. He would get on the bike with a pipe in his mouth and go for it

Jac was one of those people that would always pull up next to you for a chat, hanging out of the window of the Landy with his pipe in his mouth. He was just super solid, always a great guy and in good spirits, it always felt like he was a permanent feature in the lanes here, he’s going to be missed.
Gee Atherton

bigquotesIn the early 2000s, 2004 I think, one of the nationals was cancelled with only few week’s notice and Dave Morgan came to me looking for a location so Gee and I got the maps out. That first year only half of the track was on Jac’s land, everyone had to park on his side and walk over. He was so super-helpful that the next year it was a no-brainer to build the whole thing on his land. He always had such enthusiasm and passion, one of the best things about him was it was never about the money, he genuinely loved seeing people using the land and always wanted to be involved.

The Farmer Jac video was clearly not his first rodeo – they filmed the Hugh Grant film 'The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain' on his land too and he’d clearly loved being around it and learned a lot. We rocked up to film and he was just so funny and so switched on, getting on the bike and riding down some really steep stuff so we could film it – as long as he had his pipe in his pocket he was happy.
Dan Atherton

Views: 8,391    Faves: 210    Comments: 31


bigquotesJac Jones Amaethwr Gwladgarwr ac Noddwr o Blas Moelfre, Llansilin Powys.

Jac Jones Farmer Patriot and Patron of Moelfre Hall as said in his own language.

Moelfre - my earliest memories were lazing in a punt on the lake fishing for Pike in the 1970s. Later working for the Council having to deal with a fairly aggressive farmer near y Gyrn who simply did not want the public on his land. With these in mind, I was not sure what to expect on my first visit to act as British Cycling Commissaire at a downhill race. Both sugar or salt came to mind. After almost five minutes on site, I was bumped into by a jolly rounded chap complete with a pipe in a scabby Land Rover with a wonderful Borders Welsh accent who I discovered was the owner Jac Jones.

Jac was more curious to know who I was and what I was doing than I needed to know about him. As a landowner, I thought he was probably doing it for the money but how wrong was that assumption proved to be. Instead, as soon as he knew I was from nearby Ruthin and had been about the area since a child, his reaction was of meeting a long lost cousin each and every time we met after that. He quickly worked out my role as commissaire was as much to protect him as the riders and organisers and so he was keen to help me as best he was able, seek advice and act on it.

Y Gyrn (the Horn) is a very prominent hill 523m (1700Ft). A bare top with views over all of mid-Wales, not unlike middle earth’s lonely mountain. The track developed as a result of the incredible Atherton family, who for a long while lived nearby building up an amazing friendship with Jac. Over the subsequent years, he was roped into facilitating the excesses of downhill racing, with 4x and XC national championships.

In the wet weather when we left his field in a mess, the next race he would have improved the access road. The 4X tracks jumps were not big enough so got the digger out to fix it. He once destroyed a very expensive John Deere tractor but let’s not go there. I could go on for days about things he did for MTB racing, often for free. Jac knew his stewardship of the land was not exclusive and he wanted to share the joy of his mountain with people who would love it too including paraglider and film companies. Just like his compatriot farmer Martin Sands in Llangollen, many landowners often put in as much as the fees they take out. Maybe the sport bodies should cherish them a bit more when handing out the annual awards for service to the sport.
Adrian Walls - BC/UCI Commissaire

bigquotesI first knew Jac as a farmer, an inspirational farmer who was always held in the highest regard within farming circles. As a kid, I had fond memories of Jac as he and three friends used to come to our farm to shear the sheep for us. I admire sheep shearers as it’s a tough profession and Jac was one of my childhood heroes.

Several years later I met Jac again in mountain biking circles but he and I seemed to be unique as both circles intersected in an unusual blend of farming and mountain bikes. When we had our regular chats in the livestock market other farmers would look on in bewilderment as we spoke about lambing, silage, berms, stepdowns and uplifts. Jac was one of the few people in the world who I know could share my feelings of exhaustion, euphoria and sense of accomplishment at the end of a successful race.

Whatever Jac did he did with enthusiasm, professionalism and with a caring soul. Very much an understatement to say he was a legend in many fields and will be sorely missed by many people from many backgrounds.
Martin Sands, Director One Giant Leap Llangollen Ltd

bigquotesMy first recollection of Jac was when we moved to the village (Moelfre) as kids and we’d catch him driving around in his Land Rover. Despite only having only about 9 houses in the village, we always had big traffic jams – Ja being the main culprit as he used to stop and chat to everyone he passed by in his Landy.

I can’t think of a single time, rain or snow, when he didn’t stop and roll down his window for a good 10 minutes or so to catch up with us. Sometimes there’d be a queue of cars all waiting to pass by and have a catch up with him – each, in turn, having their day brightened with one of his stories. There wasn’t much that stopped him from going about his day with a smile. I think one time he got clipped in the face by a load of pellets from a shotgun whilst out shooting, but he just seemed to crack on with things (albeit with his face swollen and blue for a while).

Jac and his wife, Iona – who used to teach us at school – were spoken of fondly by so many people in the area, and they seemed to know everyone. Most of us mountain bikers probably know that already from seeing his willingness to help us out and let us hold all these races in his back garden.

When we grew up a bit and started riding bikes, we’d try and nip down the road and get on one of the uplifts which went on most weekends, hoping that he’d be driving as he would let us sneak on for free (sorry Si). Usually Bear would sit upfront and try to work out how many John Deere parts Jac could buy with the uplift money from the day – but in the end, it was just stashed in the red lunch box and forgotten about. There’s no doubt he did the uplifts because saw the enjoyment it brought all of us there. I think he genuinely loved seeing so many people come and have such a great time at the races and using his hill to throw ourselves down on bikes. He also quite liked to test out the different catering vans that came to each race and make sure they were up to scratch.

I remember once when he heard we were looking to build another track he suggested we go down the road and have a look at one of his woods. At the time it was perfect, and quite steep. So naturally, we called it Steep Woods. He went on to sort out uplift days once we got it up running so people had a few different places to ride. He was one of the most genuine people around, and the mountain bike community is just one of the communities which will miss him greatly.
George Belk, Local Rider

bigquotesI still have the fondest memories of being about 9 years old and having to join Jac in the cab of his John Deere doing uplifts on the Gyrn since I was too small and couldn’t be trusted on the trailer! He would always ask “How was that Bear?” every time I finished a run, followed by jokingly asking if I was going to drive up this time!

Farmer Jac was the reason we got to ride our bikes on an amazing track every day, as well as always being supportive to us as well as the whole mountain bike community. He played a huge role in how I got to grow up riding bikes and will be missed by all I am sure.
Bear Belk, Local Rider



64 Comments

  • 127 0
 I remember him from that old arheton video. Sadly a not common attitude from landowners. People like this are really important for our sport!
  • 26 0
 Some of those old Atherton hucks were off the charts for the time.
  • 4 0
 @CantClimb: Still off the charts for today! That gap at 3:45 is mental.
  • 5 0
 Such sad news, I used to help organise the uplifts with mtbuplifts. Jac would always come down to our shed, hang around for a cup of tea and some biscuits. Hanging around for atbleast 20 minutes while his tractor was full of riders waiting. But it would never phase him. He would swing into his land rover, stack the old pipe up and away he would go, nice 'n steady. Whenever we wanted to do any work to the track he was always keen. He would sort out diggers and haul things around for us. He always had time for people, he was always busy, and always had work on. Genuine great guy, we could all learn something from his approach to friends. You will be truly missed Jac. Rest easy
  • 2 0
 I saw that video years ago and genuinely thought it was the farmer doing the jumps! Rip
  • 59 0
 What a top guy with such a dry but great sense of humour, always dragging out stuck cars and doing his best to make people smile, I cherish those Moelfre uplift days RIP ya legend
  • 40 0
 That athertons vid is a classic, RIP farmer Jac.
  • 8 0
 That video made me smile (for the umpteenth time)!
  • 23 0
 The "I don't know why they sponsor you, Gee" killed me :'D
  • 3 0
 the guy shreds!
  • 13 0
 @Stokedonthis "piece of piss Gee, I don't know why they sponsor you" Big Grin

That video brings back a lot of good memories
  • 14 0
 What a venue. OK, by today's sky high standards Moelfre isn't much in terms of technicality but what it lacks in that regard it makes up for in its place in UK Mountain Bike legendary. More than that though, our sport is founded very often on the selfless actions of those who own the land on which we ride of which this man was one.
  • 15 0
 Wow... what a wonderful human being..nice tributes.. hilarious video.. nice send off PB.. I’ll be having a cold one tonight and thinking of Farmer Jac R.I.P.
  • 12 0
 Best BUCS Student Champs ever at Moelfre before the splitting up of the XC and DH. Good memories and would have never been possible to have 700 pissed up students on there if it weren't for that man.
  • 1 0
 Good memories! RIP farmer Jac
  • 10 0
 "When we recorded the video I was a bit worried that he’d be insulted when we rocked up with all the padding "

What? why would he need padding? Clearly had the skills to pay the bills.
  • 11 0
 Sad news for sure. Great to see Pinkbike posting such a tribute on their front page though. Hopefully it'll get passed on to family and friends of his.
  • 26 0
 I spoke to his wife yesterday who was with thier daughter and told them both exactly what we were doing and they were both happy we were publishing this.
  • 6 0
 @si-paton: fantastic Si
  • 4 0
 @si-paton: This one and Dave's got me in the feels. Great work as always Si.
  • 10 0
 Who can not forget the Legendary 2011 BUCS races vimeo.com/21034147
  • 1 0
 Never to be repeated
  • 1 0
 What a race. Remember it like it was yesterday. Horrible uphill but some lovely slidy fun on the way back down
  • 6 0
 Very sad news. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Jac. For years he has shuttled trailer loads of our schoolboys to the top of his hill. We always had a blast. Such a nice guy. RIP Jac.
  • 5 0
 I had to sign up to comment when i read this sad news. I only met Jac on a few occasions. I never rode the downhill track (I'm not good enough!), but flew my paraglider there many times. Jac was held in really high regard by the paragliding community too. Allowing us to fly from the Gyrn was generous enough, but if he was running an uplift day, he'd always stop to give us a lift to the top, saving us the pain of carrying 25 kilos of kit on our backs up almost 1000ft of steep hillside. RIP Jac, you'll be sadly missed. Thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.
  • 5 0
 Did quite a few races at moelfre back in the day, a classic venue and always well run. It seems to have fallen out of favour recently, but the track was flat out and open from top to bottom and I loved it. RIP Jac
  • 5 0
 what a legend and so sad to hear. I really thought he'd hit that huge jump in one of those earls atherton vids, but even though I've found out it probably wasn't him, I still remember farmer Jac. What a guy.
  • 7 0
 Awesome story of a guy who let em loose on his private property. MTB needs more of this!
  • 8 0
 This world needs more Farmer Jacs. RIP sir.
  • 4 0
 Ah what a shame. Great bloke, top character. He let us Army lads ride there a few times for training camps, uplifting on a massive open trailer on the back of his tractor. RIP Jac.
  • 3 0
 RIP Farmer Jac. Moelfre was one of the first places I rode dh and then went on to race there many times, it was one of my favourite places to ride. From the first time I was there Jac always took an interest and wanted to know how your run was. He will be missed.
  • 3 0
 Thank you Si, Dan, Gee, Rach, Belks and all of you for such kind words about Dad. Mam, Nia and myself would like to thank you all for comforting us during this difficult time. Dad simply loved his land and seeing you all grow a part of it ❤️ His funeral will be held at Llansilin Church at 11am on Monday 21st December. Due to current restrictions this has to be a private family funeral but mourners are free to stand outside as he takes his last journey past Moelfre Hall, Pantglas and to his resting place at Llangadwaladr church following this short service. We hope to hold a celebration of his life post Covid. Diolch yn fawr, Iona, Nia & Lowri x
  • 3 0
 Great memories working and riding at Moelfre. Jac was a legendary host. I am glad he enjoyed having us around. The top of Moelfre on a sunny day is one of the finest places you can be.
  • 2 0
 I spent some time living in North Wales about 10 years ago, and the attitude of a few landowners up there, including Farmer Jac was so refreshing compared to where i'm from in England. Moelfre Steep tracks were flippin mega too. RIP Jac, thanks for everything.
  • 4 0
 RIP, didn't know him until now, but he looks like a very funny and nice guy who passed away.
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike always honorable to its community! He sent that huge gap like it was nothing ! Check the video
  • 4 0
 RIP Jac, great bloke, such a grandfather figure, genuinely interested in everyone's experiences getting down Moelfre!
  • 3 0
 Want a top guy. Every time we got to the end of a days riding he would always ask how we got on and if we'd had a good day. RIP
  • 3 0
 Pretty much started DH at Moelfre, loved the place. Fair play to Jack he loved it all. RIP buddy.
  • 3 0
 RIP Farmer Jac, changed the game in the active UK race scene, you will be dearly missed.
  • 2 0
 Wish you well Farmer Jac, talked to you several times at the races on your land and you always had time for people and was a true gent, hope you have gone to a better place
  • 1 0
 Very sad to hear. If everyone in the world was more like him it would solve a lot of problems. I loved that edit back in the day and now I think it's a fitting tribute to the chap.
  • 3 0
 RIP Jac, who will move the worms out of the track now?
  • 1 0
 That video is an absolute classic! Can't believe it's been that long. Sounds like he was a huge asset to the local area and to mountain biking. Rest in Peace Farmer Jac
  • 3 0
 "Piece of piss, I dont know why they sponsor you Gee" ????
  • 3 0
 This is going in the bad month section for sure. What a generous person.
  • 4 1
 May that track live on in his memory.
  • 2 0
 I remember when they had the national DH, XC and four cross at the same weekend was epic many thanks Farmer Jac.
  • 2 0
 RIP Jac. Thanks for letting us camp, set fires, get pissed and do a bit of riding on your land
  • 3 0
 Another oldie but goodie I wish I could have met... Rest In Peace.
  • 3 0
 biggest legend in mtb history
  • 1 0
 Wow. I don't think you could make a character like Farmer Jac up in fiction. And there he was, in real life. Loved the video. RIP, Farmer Jac!
  • 3 0
 RIP man
  • 3 0
 RIP Farmer Jac
  • 3 0
 Thank you pinkbike
  • 1 0
 Legend. Rest in Piece. Loads of good memories riding Moelfre over the years
  • 2 0
 This guy looks like a legend!
  • 1 0
 so that was actually that ol bloke riding? Im highly impressed. RIP Farmer Jack, what a guy
  • 1 0
 Well done PB and @si-paton! I've known about Farmer Jac forever and he will be sorely missed by all. RIP Jac.
  • 1 0
 RIP jac , pure class at the end when he landed on the van hahaha , he hit some fair big stuff
  • 1 0
 Heart in the right place.
  • 1 0
 RIP sir. If more landowners supported our sports we would all be happier
  • 1 0
 Aww no way! Such sad news....RIP
  • 1 0
 Descansi en pau!!

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