In the spirit of 2020, UK CLLCTV rider Freddy Pulman learns that best-laid plans don’t always work out.
It’s almost 12 months ago to the day, and lock-down has hit the UK. Limitations on exercise and a mindfulness that hospitals are already straining under the load of a global pandemic meant MTBers looked to reign in the boundaries of their riding. Keeping things local and low risk was the ‘go-to’ approach adopted by many. And for UK Dirt Jump scene regular, Freddy Pulman, things were no different.
Freddy is lucky enough to have had his own jump spot in the South West of England for a while now. Perhaps a little more than just ‘a spot’, Freddy’s woods have hosted several rounds of Dirt Wars over the years- as part of the FMB Bronze Series calendar.
After a wet winter, some serious work was needed to get the lines running sweet- and with no certainty on the status of competitions for the rest of the year- Freddy set his sights on digging his way through lockdown- and making a few improvements to the lines along the way.
Staying motivated through hours of swinging off a shovel normally requires a bit of an incentive. Aside from the reward of having some epic jumps to ride when lock-down eased up, Freddy was already scheming with a friend of his- Dave Inglis- who also happens to be a videographer by trade. Plans were in place to shoot an all-time riding edit once summer finally hit and the situation with the pandemic improved. Buffed landings, warm weather on the way, and the Covid cases falling day by day- things were coming together to get the cameras rolling so Freddy could start ticking off some tricks he’d been dreaming up all winter.
Grand plans of going huge on his Canyon Stitched
, and also perfecting some new learns aboard his Torque
were all on the cards.
Or factory fresh. Which do you prefer?
When you’ve been playing it safe for months, it’s always a challenge to go from zero to hero on the jumps. So before trying some of his bigger moves to dirt, Freddy headed to his friend Tom’s place for a session on the airbag.
Airbags are an amazing bit of gear. Soft enough to allow riders to get away with some heavy slams, but with enough support to allow you to roll out of your tricks when everything goes to plan. However an often overlooked danger is just how grippy airbags can be- and on a warm, sunny day in late May- the grip levels were at an all-time high.
Having a lot of grip on a landing is a blessing and a curse. Stomp a landing- and some decent grip stops you washing out. But if you bail- and stick a leg out- high grip means your foot is going to stay put while the rest of you tumbles.
Unfortunately this is exactly what Freddy fell foul of. It’s a pretty sudden drop in vibe when you go from having an all-time session ahead of a summer of riding and filming to snapping a Fibula and going into surgery followed by 8 weeks on crutches.
And, he's back in the game
Like breaking your arm at the start of the summer holidays, spending time away from the bike through some of the best summertime weather the UK has seen in years certainly stung a bit.
Fast forward 2 months- Freddy was back on his feet, and back to work- still pushing to get something shot in 2020. The tail end of summer was spent building. Building the landings up on the jumps, and also building up time back on the bike.
But as you’d expect by now, another obstacle was lurking. Autumn through to Winter in the UK can be an unpredictable mistress when you’re trying to find some days to shoot. The occasional week of mild, dry weather is interspersed with rain and falling temperatures. And the ground? Well that’s pretty much permanently saturated by this point of the year.
On the first attempt at shooting, the jumps wouldn’t run at all, due to the conditions. Never one to waste an opportunity- the local enduro trails made for some quintessentially British style slip n’ slide action. But after all the shovel work and setbacks through the year Freddy couldn’t leave it there.
Not a bad alternative to jumps. Not bad at all.
With winter drawing in, and the situation with Covid deteriorating- it looked like this edit was going to have to hibernate through another lockdown while the sculpted trails took a beating from the wet conditions.
Then finally, some luck- a day of dry weather and blue sky. What might have been some of the only hours of decent light among weeks of greyness could have you thinking this was all part of the plan when watching the edit. But the broken Fibula and 4 month delay tell another story.
We’re stoked Freddy got this one done- and hope you enjoy.
Want more? There’s still a few moves Freddy didn’t manage to tick off- so watch this space for 2021!
Video and Photography by Gadget Line Films
With support from Canyon Bicycles
Featuring Freddy Pulman