It's here, 6 months in the making and we're both super stoked to be putting out this 9 minute beast. Have a watch to hear Rob's story, a classic skate park rider who turned to riding downhill bikes in a bid to stave off a long term knee injury. Needless to say, he didn't hold back. It's been a lot of work and as you saw pretty punishing on Rob's knees, see his full write up below that delves into more detail about the injury and what went into making his trail.
Words by Rob:
Medically put – I have chondromalacia patella in both my knees… which simply put means they hurt... Essentially the cartilage on the underside of my kneecaps has worn away - anything that involves jumping or putting weight through the joint hurts. It started in my left knee in August 2014, the right knee followed a month or two later – a pointless operation came next, and the realisation that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it soon became apparent, at least for now – I’m banking on them printing me some new knee caps in 10 years or something.
The transition to the big bike was pretty natural; riding skate park teaches you an awful lot of bike control which really helps when it comes to learning the ropes on a heavier, longer, less nimble bike. The weirdest thing to get used to is the 200mm of suspension, and length of the bike.. But once you learn to use the suspension to generate pop, and adapt the way you carve takeoffs to compliment the length of the bike, the tricks start to feel a lot more natural. With 4 years under my belt on the DH bike, I feel just as comfortable on it as I ever have on my hard tail.
The “slope line” was a project which I spent all of my free time building; whenever I wasn’t studying at university I was up the woods digging. It was a crazy juggling act, but earlier this year I came away from the University of Lincoln as the best student at the business school, and the “slopeline” worked out perfectly right from the get go - all those variables, be it speed, trajectory, gradient, all lined up perfectly. If I do something, I do it 100%, and that line is just the product of that mentality – all in I would put it at around 400 hours of work… all by hand, with a few helping hands here and there.
My favourite feature on the line is probably the first step up. It’s a 10-foot lip with a slow transition which makes is super fun on the DH bike; it boots you to the moon! I love the quarter pipe too. Airing a DH bike is super awkward but I always have a smile on my face afterward. It kinda feels like you did something that isn’t supposed to work?
Jamie Brown is a good friend of mine who is super talented on a bike! Our riding/ digging styles are hugely contrasting and it really makes for an awesome combination. So when I set out to make this new project I knew straight away that I had to get Jamie in on it too. His line is super tight, keeping you on your toes at all times - if you lose concentration it will catch you out… as we, unfortunately, know all too well. A local trail squirrel couldn’t handle the stoke that Jamie and his trail bring, and unfortunately passed away amidst the shralped berms and subsequent splatters of Peaty’s sealant – It only seemed right to pay homage to the fallen soldier by granting him immortal glory… Jamie named the trail “dead squirrel”.
After a few years away from the skate parks/ dirt jumps, I got a BMX to mess around on. I’d never had one before and I didn’t feel obliged to take it too seriously. Mentally I was content just having the odd session here and there whilst catching up with mates. But then the frustration came; I just couldn’t ride the damn thing like I wanted to! I was struggling to do things which were easy to me on the hardtail, and it got to the point where I realised that I was just kidding myself with the BMX – Now 25 years old, I had matured to the point where I felt like I could get back on the hardtail with nothing to prove. Yeah, my knee’s hurt, but I just ride it in amounts that I can manage… And I’m content with that.
I can’t think of a time that I have enjoyed my riding more than I do right now, my injuries just mean that I make the most of the time I can ride. My entire life has revolved around riding since I can remember, and the injuries are just a part of the journey… To quote the film "I guess at this point, I’m all in."
Thanks for taking the time to read Rob's story, we hope it has left you with the desire to get out on your bike and build/ride whatever you love. A big thank you from Nico & Rob and a special thanks to our sponsors, we'll see you for the next one.Sponsors:
Chromag Bikes | Creation Cycles | Peaty's Products | Simply InsureVideo by:
Rob Welch | Nico Turner Video | Live To Ride | Jamie Brown