Live to Ride - Ep. 4 - Racing, Freeriding and some History

Feb 17, 2011 at 12:54
by Russ Clark  
This month we have Ben Lord talking us through the troubled history of his local trails, Ben Skinner-Watts showing off his new creation, some freeriding at Steetley and back to the Forest of Dean for the 661 Mini Downhill.Missed out on the previous episodes?
Episode One
Episode Two
Episode Three



History

Everyone seems to struggle with their local trails. It seems that as soon as you get them riding just the way you want them, someone decides they don't like it and tears them down. The jumps featured at the start of the edit are nothing more than a story for me as I never even got a chance to ride them. The locals that built them were forced by the police to destroy them while they watched. Surely this is a call for us all to stop building without permission and contact land owners to come to an agreement. Mountain biking is a growing sport and there are people out there willing to put endless hours of hard labour into something that might get demolished at any time. In my experience, it is rarely the trails themselves that cause the problem with the land owners. It's usually the litter, fires, motorbikes and other social disruptions. So we need to do what we can to reduce these problems and save our trails!

Ben Lord is a Derby lad and a regular at the Racers Guild where I usually see him shredding up the top ten fastest times of the day. In his segment we see him riding his local spot and then to Steetley to ride their awesome quarry and downhill trails. Steetley is a great spot to ride if you like big hucks and fast, flowy trails. Thanks to all the local lads for their hard work and hospitality while we were there. They made me a nice cup of tea to calm me down after I had a little tumble!

I asked Ben for some personal info...

How old are you? 17
Riding how long? I've been riding since I was 10 years old
Where do you live? Ilkeston (sunny ilson)
Any sponsors? Sponsored by Urbanair
Going fast or going big? Going fast for sure. DH All the way!
Lager or Ale? ALE!

photo
Ben Lord getting sideways at Racers Guild. Photo by hagbardceline.pinkbike.com/

I'd like to talk to you about Ben Skinner-Watts. To anyone outside our group of riders, that name won't mean much to you, but to a handful of us in Nottingham he has become very well known indeed. I first met Ben just over a year ago when I was leaving my flat for work. I was about to ride out of my gate when I saw a Trek Session 88 FR lying on the floor with the seat up and a red commuter light flashing on the back. Then I saw its owner, Ben. For three months I'd been living next door to someone who shared my exact same passion for riding yet we had no knowledge of each other's existence. To put this into perspective I must point out how small the mountain bike scene is in Nottingham. Even smaller is the downhill and freeride scene so you can imagine how excited I was to find out I lived next door to one of these lesser spotted creatures! Since he's started riding and building with us he has transformed the way we view our trails. Ben is not afraid to use wood and as a consequence has master minded The Acid Drop.

photo
A year in the making, Ben has put some serious graft into this construction.
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A side on view of the drop, bathed in sunlight, with Ben's slope bike in there for scale. We haven't got the tape measure on it yet. Any guesses?
photo
Ben was the first to hit his own drop - a rite of passage for any trail builder. Photo by James Allured

Ben gave me some personal info...

How old are you? 27
Riding how long? Riding since about 5 years old.
Where do you live? Nottingham
Any sponsors? Not sponsored as yet
Going fast or going big? Going BIG involves going FAST. Prefer freeride.
Lager or Ale? Ale



Racing

Sunday 23rd of January saw the first 661 Mini Downhill race of 2011. These races are a fantastic introduction to the scene due to their relaxed atmosphere and relatively easy race track. Anyone can have a go as there are no difficult obstacles and the track is nice and short. This makes practicing a doddle and means that all levels of fitness can manage it without being reduced to a wobbling wrecking at the finish line. I went down with Nico and Ben Skinner-Watts to check out this great new race format.

photo
Photo by Tim Joyce of www.rootsandrain.co.uk/photos/tim-joyce

It was my first race of 2011 and my first time competing in the 'masters' category. I have always wondered whether it would be easier or harder than 'seniors' and I guess this year I'll find out. As far as my first experience goes, I came 5th in my category, but my fastest time would have got me up to 4th in senior. It seems these over thirty chaps can pin it just as much as the 21 year olds!



Freeride

There's this old quarry where I've always wanted to build some senders and lines for a video. The area has loads of potential, but there's nothing that's ready to ride. With that in mind, we drove there armed with a shovel and some camera equipment in search of some natural freeride footage.

photo
It was a foggy day which meant we couldn't really capture the scenery, but it added to the atmosphere. I built a little kicker onto a natural landing, but due to it being so wet and having a flat run up, only Chris Hoy would have had the leg power to generate enough speed for some decent air time so we moved on.
photo
The next idea was to film me riding this ridge line. There was a small gap half way down that I'd have to clear so I built another lip and had a bash at it. The landing was awkward and required me to hip slightly to the left to avoid some prickly bushes at the bottom of the hill. On my fourth attempt I over shot the landing slightly and missed my clear run down the hill. Instead I went straight down a near vertical and rocky section to the aforementioned prickly bush which unfortunately got the better of me. I got away with a bruised shoulder, but that was the end of the session for me. My advice; never dive head first into a prickly bush.
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I'm not saying what I did was anywhere close to the level of skill required to ride the Redbull Rampage, but I now have a new found respect and appreciation for what those riders go through. We arrived at the spot with no clear idea of what we were going to film and if it was even achievable. I crashed riding something that The Claw would cruise down in his sleep. However, it was a great day and a totally new experience riding natural lines on steep terrain. There is something extremely rewarding that taps into your soul as a mountain biker when you conquer a piece of land that has never been ridden.

Views: 33,528    Faves: 462    Comments: 80


I hope you've enjoyed our bumper edition of Live to Ride. It's been a crazy couple of months and, as ever, it's been really hard work. Thankfully the days are getting longer and the milder weather is coming back so it's only a few weeks before the after work sessions can begin. I can't wait.

Next month it's the turn of Matt Jones to show us what he's capable of on a bicycle. Let's just say he's capable of quite a lot.

Video by Nico Turner

Author Info:
russclark avatar

Member since Sep 20, 2009
14 articles

38 Comments
  • 16 0
 Man, it just kills me to see these great local trails get torn down. All for what? The environment? Some old folks dont like it because teenagers are doing something fun? Massive respect to the guys who built those, they look prime. A couple of friends and I were actually filming as a local trail got shut down. Sad stuff. Good to see you guys are still out building everything back up! Keep at it and keep it steezy!
  • 3 0
 big up the forest of dean! all the wicked old trails where i first started riding!
  • 3 0
 Yeah dude I hear you have some crazy riding over there and a super gnarly scene, all we have over here in nor-cal is a couple of dedicated guys and a whooooole bunch of hippies who are just as dedicated to making sure that we dont "hurt the little fuzzy-wuzzy animals" lol. Well, if i ever come over to the UK ill hit you guys up and help build hahaha
  • 1 0
 i love having steetley as my local riding spot tup rad film nico
  • 2 0
 that was simply awesome, it encapsulates the non full on racing scene in the UK so damn well!

superb filming, great light, great honesty, good skills and humble to boot...

I've not been to steetley since that complex shore was ripped down.. i presume those sweet doubles are in that bit off to the left from where you park at the top? I'm psyched to get there!
  • 1 0
 Thats a VOD right there! Can't wait to drag the bike out tomorrow now!

Is the first section (up to about 2:50) all at DH?!?! I used to ride there up until about 6 months ago when all that was left was the main line. Will have to make my way up if this is the new setup, looks wicked.
  • 1 0
 Hey dude, only about the first 30 seconds of riding is at that spot, after that its at steetley quarry, but the mainlines still running up at the other spot and a few other lines
  • 1 0
 Yeah i shoulda paid more attention, completely missed when 'Steetley Quarry' flashed up, too busy watching the riding! Love to know where that drop is though, assuming its not at Steetley, PM me if you don't mind letting on!
  • 1 0
 its a new drop bud its right next to the viaduct jumps landing. just to the left of it
  • 1 0
 Good stuff. The fight for the right to ride makes me to think of that new documentary pedal driven. I can't wait til it comes out. I don't understand the resistance to biking. Seems fairly environment friendly. It's not more dangerous than horseback riding. Good luck building the scene up. Someday it will be the rule instead of the exception. Keep it up.
  • 2 0
 Nico, Russ, Ben & Ben my hat's off to you guys it's a sick episode tup
  • 2 0
 Cheers For Using My Photo Smile
  • 2 0
 these guys dont really enjoy having decent landings on jumps do they :L
  • 2 1
 Landings are overrated Smile
  • 2 0
 not really, landings keep speed and flow in a trail and stop you breaking yourself or your bike and in most cases of larger jumps, needed. what if they just took all the landings away from crankworx? yeah, exactly, stfu.
  • 2 0
 Sorry, my previous comment was laced with irony but perhaps I should have been more obvious.

I'm not sure I understand your critism. We use landings on all our jumps and the only segment of this video that doesn't have a proper (built) landing is the end where I built a kicker onto a slope that's about 45 degrees. It was fairly smooth and unless you're on a hardtail, there was no need to build a landing for any reason other than aesthetics.

The wooden drop featured in the middle segment has a nice big landing that we purposefully built up from the ground and spent a day digging out the gradient of the hillside to make it steeper.

If you have been to our trails then I apologise as you will have been able to pass judgement after seeing them in person and riding them but if you haven't, maybe save your judgement and consider that what you see on video isn't always representative of real life.

I hope this clarifies things for you.
  • 2 0
 Nice edit guys! @takamine206 envy is a terrible thing......
  • 2 0
 Another fantastic write up mate. Looks like it's all starting pay off...
  • 1 0
 Very cool jumps and North Shore wood work! Good tricks also! Great video!
  • 1 0
 wow, really well written and very linear. Relative to our community and just a great overall story. Thank you for posting.
  • 1 0
 Best episode by far, I'd love to ride those trails with you, they look sweet as fuck
  • 1 0
 looks mint i was at steetly the day u were vidioing
  • 2 0
 Great Episode Russ!
  • 1 0
 Cheers mate. Looks like we're going to Corbageddon on Sunday night. Bri, Ant and everyone are coming along, should be a right laugh!
  • 1 0
 I'm on it!
  • 1 0
 sick video mate big props to the camera man and all the riders.
  • 1 0
 Cant tell you how happy i would be if i found a single person that rides.
  • 1 0
 Well enjoyed! That was a fun vid! Cheers!
  • 1 0
 lol thats steetley quarry
  • 1 0
 yeah big up steetley quarry!
  • 1 0
 Super dig it
  • 1 0
 So many VODs in 1 VOD.
  • 1 0
 im gonna ride there!
  • 1 0
 love the video though
  • 1 0
 sweet
  • 1 0
 Nice edit..!
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