The Sewer -Rat Rant

Feb 5, 2015 at 0:44
by tim abbiss  
SR’s Rant!– Straight To The Point

Man there has been something bubbling in me for a while, not the past few weeks or months but the past few years! I have to call it and ask, what has happened to the downhill trails? I remember downhill when I started and it used to be trails that were worn into the natural landscape paired with the odd feature – Moelfre, Nantmawr Quarry and Hopton (all local to me at the time) were great examples of this, beds of roots and rock where you made it through by the skin of your teeth!! Make no mistake, trail builders had spent time there but the lines etc had been built naturally over time using the landscape with the odd man made feature chucked in for good measure, and you know what? We all rode them and rode them good on little hard tails (my trustworthy DMR Sidekick) and 150mm max travel dh bikes (like my early Norco in 2002) and enjoyed them tremendously. I remember following my portly brother down Moelfre on his little Foes with 100mm travel at the rear – he was like a scalded cat, no one could keep with him just through his sheer balls and have a go at most things attitude. Few places have managed to keep this mentality but the places that have and realise this I think will grow in popularity, speaking to Si at FlyupDownhill at Forest Of Dean recently cemented this with me- he wholeheartedly agreed and actually (with the help of Dean Trail Volunteers) created a new line called Bottle Opener which gets back to this natural ethos and feel of riding non manicured trails (not like a canal towpath through the woods), another great place that springs to mind like this is Revolution Bike Park in Wales, these guys have also stuck to their roots of making demanding technical dh trails that may alienate the new breed of DH rider. I think the new breed should have a go at these kind of trails because in reality mountain biking should be (to me) just that, biking over natural terrain as fast as you can with the biggest grin you can get and a sense of achievement at the end, not wimping out when we see a rock garden or a 20 meter section of roots (but hey its ok because I can clear the double / gap that others can’t)!

This is what I’m talking about – yes yes yes!!


No No No

Then we hit 2010 – now, where approx 25% riders turned up at Llangollen in 2014 and went home because the track was too gnar!! I mean seriously WTF!! I realise the track is demanding but seriously, this is what’s needed in the sport. Now there is no doubt that trail bikes have evolved over recent years getting lower, slacker, longer (and bigger wheels) and they are capable for the majority of UK DH, however when riders are turning up to UK DH venues with the latest £5k 200mm travel carbon wonder bike and won’t ride it down a UK DH TRACK, you have to question it! These guys have to try riding natural features – IT WILL HELP THEM and in turn help the sport. You can even now see some World Cup rounds becoming more tame with the like of Pietermaritzburg as a great example, if the bikes are getting better then make the tracks more demanding so they warrant a dh bike, in short (IMO) you should not be able to ride a trail bike at a Worlds DH race, forget the rules – THE TRACK SHOULD NOT ALLOW IT! Another great example of natural trails with big features has to be Dan Atherton’s Hard Line – it really mad me smile and wander about how many pros would turn down the chance of riding it.

Anyway – as usual post if you agree or disagree, this is what this site is for…….YOU!! WW.LIFEONBARS.CO.UK


  • + 3
 Llangollen's is as extreme as a track gets anywhere in the world,certainly the top woods section is. Saying "UK tracks" like they're something inferior is selling a lot of places short IMO. FoD is as tame an example of dh as you can get,on the other hand. There are still plenty of tracks to be had that are gnarly as hell,Rehola,llangollen,Bala,as you said Revo etc etc,and if you willing to push then there's a whole world of locals built trails that will seriously test you,but aren't uplift fed. Trails getting easier is a problem mainly found in trail centres,not on the dedicated dh tracks,and that is mostly down to insurance/accident potential problems due to the huge numbers of people riding without much ability and therefore a large number of accidents and the potential for legal claims. Basically trails getting easier at trail centres is MTB being a victim of its own success. Don't like easy? Then don't ride trail centres. Personally I like a mix,sometimes rifding a trail that isn't gonna kill you if you blink makes a welcome change,look at the freeride track at Revo,wide,swooping,smooth,berms and jumps galore,a welcome respite after the intensity of their other tracks on a full days riding. Variety is the spice of life they say,and also means you have to travel more to get it,not a bad thing I rekon.
  • + 2
 Your spot on and very fair with what you say there Minty! Agreed on all aspects!
  • + 1
 Agree with allot of what has been written above. Trail centres have evolved to match what the market want. I think this is a good thing. I spend most of my MTB time in the FOD and i have lost count the amount of times i see an ambulance there on the weekend. Which is crazy given the 'Tame' nature of the FOD manicured and over used trails. That said if you go off piste you can still find some pretty good natural lines to pip your wits against. To me part of the problem with trail centres nowadays seem to be a discrepancy with grading. What is blue at one is black at another. Which leads people to either get out of their depth vry quickly or more importantly in this case, not challenge themselves enough. There could do with being a standardised grading system for trails. Another part of the problem for me is that people now buy super long travel down hill bikes full body armour and neck braces and ride smooth trails super quick which means that they often have over inflated opinons on their ability. Frankly people should cut their teeth on shorter travel bikes to learn how to ride the trail properly, speed comes with technique, which is learnt.
  • + 1
 Spot on fella- on uplift 2 guys said the FOD Reds were more difficult then their local blacks!!
  • + 1
 I dont get it, if you like natural gnar trails ride natural gnar trails, lots of stuff all over, and any trail is a good trail IMO Smile
  • + 1
 I agree in certain aspects of that buddy, but what I was trying to say is that trails / trail centers / uplifts are getting more smooth and flowy with less aspect placed on natural trails- times are changing
  • + 1
 I hear ya! whats a trail center BTW? Wink

Post a Comment

You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2019. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.046691
Mobile Version of Website