I was just sitting in an armchair having a brew like any average day when a mate offered to show me a home movie. Now, knowing the person in question, I thought that I would firmly yet politely decline, but he assured me that only bikes were ridden in this particular ‘production’. He took the mini tape out of his retro camcorder, put it into larger VHS tape adaptor and threw it in the player. Without warning, I witnessed what I can only describe as heaven on screen in front of my very eyes. A series of hand sculpted golden dirt jumps that seemed to go on and on in every direction. It wasn’t even a conscious decision, before I knew it I was up on my feet telling my friend that we were going there...right now.
It was a bit of a drive, well over a 100mile round trip, but I’ve gone on to do the journey every week ever since and that first visit was nearly 8 years ago. Yep, I know, I need to move closer.
I always had a ‘no dig, no ride
’ approach to riding and was eager to help build at the trails, but I soon learnt my skills were not up to scratch. The main guys here could sculpt dirt with the methodical precision of a Swiss wristwatch. The place was adorned with smooth, square edged kickers and perfect transitions. Years of perseverance saw improvement in my shovel skills, but more importantly working with these guys formed the basis of friendships I hope will last a lifetime.
Building takes forever. Was what designed and agreed in 10 minutes then goes on to take months to dig by hand. Wheel barrow loads look like just a spade full of dirt when you dump them at the base of what will become an 8ft high landing. Every estimate in the ‘guess the number of barrows we’ll need’
contest always comes woefully short. It’s hard work, but when you’ve got a good group of mates with a shared goal, a stove and a kettle then it never feels that way.
Every year we work hard to keep the trails in good shape, but this year we were hit by the worst winter on record. After a month long battering from a succession of violent storms, every line at the trails was blocked by fallen pine that had previously stood for decades. It created a lot of extra work but every cloud has a silver lining... we now had the material to build a shelter. The wetter yet warmer weather also meant we had no snow or frozen ground to stop us. We just kept digging.
For the last few years I have filmed the work as I still remember that feeling when I first watched my mate’s camcorder footage all those years ago. I believe the main guys here to be true artists and I’ve really appreciated them letting me document what they do. I’ve strived to make a video that reflects the group and the masterpiece they have created. I hope you enjoy it and we all hope it inspires people to get their spades out of the shed and get creative.If you are lucky enough to know where these trails are, please keep it to yourself.