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contents

summer

contents / issue 21 6 - fresh out the box

38 - x-games munich - matt jones

Cover

Fresh products to land at WideopenmagHQ.

Saracen Bikes Matt Jones takes us through his

Matt Jones, the wonder boy out of

experience at X-Games Munich.

Woburn. This year he landed on

46 - the view from the top

and is showing absolutely no sign

8 - Gimme five Quick fire high fives with Brendan Fairclough.

Mechanic Chaz Curry takes us to the mysterious

11 - barcelona with the welsh

world behind the behind the start line.

La Poma bike park is not in Barcelona...

14 - bloody boxes

48 - phil potts The man behind the Tidworth Bike Park.

The Ric McLaughlin guide to traveling with a bike.

22 - wyn masters Kiwi downhill hero Wyn Masters tells us about

25 - small tales, epic trails.

Jacob Gibbins digs deep into one of Bristol’s newest trail scenes.

56 - exit strategy Aaron Hay just parted ways with Fox. What better a time to ask him some questions?

A Somerset born lad’s tale of his adventures in New Zealand.

28 - warming up ‘is’ for cool kids Rich Thomas cuts through the hype that surrounds warm ups

32 - homegrown talent: richard acott We talk to DMR’s homegrown talent, Richard Acott.

36 - mr. popular Why does everyone (all of a sudden) hate Aaron Gwin?!

58 - the champion. laurie greenland. Talking to Wideopenmag’s young gun team rider.

64 - dr. frankentoe Bike Park Wales’ chief trail builder tells us about his perfectly timed broken toe.

66 - sweetness and lines The Kat Sweet interview.

69 - Product reviews No bullshit reviews of some of our favourite products that we’ve been hammering on the trails.

Wideopenmag is a free quarterly UK mountain bike magazine that’s available in print and online. We’re dedicated to showing off the wealth of talent that the UK mountain bike scene boasts. We are free. Visit our website at: www.wideopenmag.co.uk

this magazine is free

of slowing down. The cover shot shows just how good summer can be. The summer means sun, beautifully shaped dirt and all the time in the world to get tricks locked-down. Viva la summer! Szymon Nieborak

50 - resurrection, bristol’s belmont woods

the time he forgot his bike … and had to travel more than 1000kms to go get it back.

the dirt jump scene with a BOOM!

“I had my mind made up after my first run. I was impressed.” Sam Hill

Pro £3999.99 | Comp £2999.99

www.nukeproof.com

For all dealer enquiries contact

www.hotlines-uk.com

I

Email: sales@hotlines-uk.com

I

Tel: 0131 319 1444

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Welcome

welcome And we’re back! Yep, we survived our first print issue with our minds, bodies and bank balances in tact! Not only that but we’ve managed to stay off our bikes and off the dry, dusty, sun-baked summer trails just about long enough to produce another one. Sure, we’re a bit late as always but what can you do? It’s been sunny as hell here in the UK! It’s obvious to say it but as this is our ‘Summer’ issue there’s been a huge amount of amazing things happening since we last got a magazine out. Between the team and our wider family of contributors we’ve been all

Summer

wideopen uk bike magazine

editor

web editor

race team

Jamie Edwards

jim smith

Rich thomas

@jamie_wideopen

@rideroots

@richthomas24

designer

photo monkey

@jaywilliamson_

james webber

jacob gibbins

Laurie

@jamesmwebber

@jacobgibbins

Greenland

copy editor

VIDEO CHIMPS

dave thomason

fiona davidson

TIM LAKE

@wideopen_dave

@fionacdavidson

@tim_lake_

jay williamson

@lauriegreenland

producer

paul roberts

spanners

@proberts487

chaz curry

james hilton

@rocketsnrascals

@james_wideopen

oscar john

over the UK and the Europe, enjoying as many two wheeled adventures

newton-mason

as we can pack into 80ish pages. It’s tough squeezing it all in so we’ve

@tftuned

looked closely at a couple of really exciting new scenes that are exploding

contributors

here in the UK in Bristol and at Tidworth and then gone further afield to

szymon nieborak, jacob gibbins, brendan fairclough,

the XGames with Matt Jones, Barecelona with the Valley boyos and even

jonny ashelford, ric mclaughlin, great hundred,

over to New Zealand with new-guy Geoff Cross. We’ve also got our usual

reuben krabbe, wyn masters, gary perkin, geoff

cocktail of wild opinions, stupid stories and ignore-at-your-peril training

cross, rich thomas, richard acott, matt wragg, phil

gems. Get stuck in, there’s something in there for everyone!

potts, matt jones, chaz curry, keith valentine, sam fowler, duncan ferris, aaron hay, paul mears, laurie

Last but not least. The eagle eyed of you might have noticed that we’ve

grrenland, rowan sorrell, fiona davidson, kat sweet,

got a bit of a different logo on the front cover this issue. See it? Well that

oscar newton-mason, james webber, alan milway, mark

blue and red stripy logo is a very special tribute to our team rider Laurie

evans, laurie greenland, ben greenland

Greenland that joined us this year. His lightning fast riding won him (and the team of course!) our first ever National Championship title. We’re so

inspiration

stoked for him that we wanted to say ‘well done’ and ‘thanks’ with a special

Vice Magazine’s Skate World: England, Die Antwoord,

tweak to this issue. Just as we finished off the mag Laurie went and won

Mathematics, Spring Breakers, Stig of the Dump, Coven

the overall British Downhill Series title alongside – he’s unstoppable! Well

magazine, Broken Bells, Totalwomenscycling.com,

done matey.

Imagine Dragons, Equality for TdF (@LeTourEntier), Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, Juxtapox Magazine, Avril Lavigne,

As always thanks to you for looking us up online or picking up a copy of the mag in your local shop or at a race. We couldn’t do it without you guys. Thanks to everyone else that has sent in stories, photos, words of support or got behind us to help bring Wideopenmag to life every issue. As always, we owe you all a beer!

Anchorman, Bowling for Soup, Cornwall, Life Cycles distribution Wideopenmag is available in print at quality bike shops and events throughout the UK. Wideopenmag is available online at www.wideopenmag.co.uk

See you on the trails!

Find us on

Jamie and the Wideopenmag team.

Web: www.wideopenmag.co.uk Facebook: www.facebook.com/wideopenmag Twitter: www.twitter.com/wideopenmag Instagram: www.instagram.com/wideopenmag

All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher.The publisher or editor accepts no responsibility for the consequence of any action taken based on any information, opinions or advice contained herein. The opinions and view expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers or the editors. The publishers and editor cannot accept responsibility for errors in articles or advertisements or for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, or illustrations.

6

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Welcome

spring

fresh out the box

The freshest products to land at WideopenmagHQ.

look out for our verdict in the next issue

Gusset Oxide XL pedal £89.99

Looks like the normal Oxide pedal from Gusset – only bigger! Designed for

people with clown feet the Oxide has a bigger platform, without too much

extra weight. Sealed bearings, concave

platform and 10 pins that are flanged to

Scott Tyrant Goggle £74.99

stop them being torn out of the pedal

Sick of goggles that don’t fit perfectly?

body.Could be ideal for your big footed

The Tyrant boasts a unique adjustment

buddies.

system that lets you get them fitting

Ion Static tee £37.95

Looks like a normal teeshirt but is cut for biking, has subtle vented arm pits and a sneaky glasses wipe. Very soft and comfortable and – best of all –

doesn’t look too techno for wearing

down the pub after a ride. So far, so good. We like it.

just right. Throw in some cool colours, tear-off mounts and an anti-fog lense

and you might just have a bloody good goggle.

Teva Pivot £110.00

Teva’s new clipless shoe is packed with innovative features and was designed

with the help of Crank Brothers and Jeff Lenosky. Light, low-key enough for the

pub and features a smart design where

Atlas Original £249.99

We’re over the moon to finally get our

the bolt heads sit inside the shoe rather than on the sole.

Platypus Siouxon £TBC

A brand new women’s specific hydro pack aimed at all mountain riders.10

hands on the Atlas to test. It’s a fresh,

litre storage with a 2L reservoir and

original and very innovative approach

loads of adjustment to fit loads of

to neck protection and offers loads of

sizes of ladies. Available Jan 2014. Our

flexibility and adjustability and can be

preview sample looks awesome

removed easily if you’re injured. We’ve hooked up our youngest racer with

the Atlas to test at the World Cup in Norway. Not a bad test we reckon?

RSP For The Win pedal £69.99

The price is the most remarkable thing

Charge Scoop Saddle £39.99 (chromo rails) / £59.99 (ti rails)

Charge say they set out to improve the

Spoon, the Scoop is lighter, cleaner, and better looking. We agree! Will it last the test of time? We’ll let you know.

8

about the FTW pedal – they’re pretty

well priced compared to what else is

Identiti Mogul £1199.99

out there. They’re also nice and light at

Very affordable frame that could well be

294g and offer a big, grippy platform

the best value budget downhiller on the

with 8 removable pins per side. Not

market. Check out our site for our first

the most original pedal out there – but

look at the bike

who cares?

wo

gimme five! brendan fairclough

summer

e m m gi five!

n a d n e r b h g u o l fairc ibb / @ ja co bg b g ibb ins ph o to : ja co

ins

5 words that describe Brendan Fairclough?

The best fun you’ve had in the last 5 years was definitely?

Describing myself might be a bit awkward but I’ll try! Chilled,

The last 5 years!

determined, excited, stubborn, crazy, handsome! Excuse me if that comes across as vain!

The 5 songs that you can’t live without at the moment? It’s house music all the way at the moment.

5 words to describe your style on a bike? Smooth, ragged, WTF, sideways, slap.

Your 5 favourite places to ride right now are? My house, The Johnpound, Whistler, the moto track.

5 things that are awesome at the moment are? I’m loving my downhill bike at the moment. I’m loving life, my friends are

5 people you wouldn’t want to go riding without are …?

awesome, motorcycles are awesome and it’s awesome that Andorra has

The S4P Crew.

a track from the top of the mountain And what advice would you give to your 5 year old self if you could 5 things that suck at the moment are?

go back in time?

The World Cup schedule for 2014, the fact that World Champs is in

Don't roll that car, don’t get expelled from school or have sex with the

South Africa, the fact that I haven't podiumed at a World Cup for 2 years,

teacher. Oh and slow down a little at Schladming and you might have

I wish I could pedal fast so I could fly at all the gay downhill tracks, that I

won a World Cup and got the ball rolling.

don't have an Audi R8. Thanks to Brendan for the high five! Follow him on Twitter at 5 things that you love doing when you’re not riding your bike? Partying, riding moto, drinking coffee, dreaming, partying.

10

@brendog_1

2013

wideopenmag.co.uk

issue 21

11

125mm VPP™ travel Carbon or Aluminum 27.5" wheels

issue 21

2013

W ORD y nn

Jo

S /

S:

PHOTO rd o

AND e l f h as

@ jo n as h el fo rd

a n o l Barce e h t h wit welsh rcelona...

ot in Ba n is k r a p e ik oma b

La P

wideopenmag.co.uk

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gimme five! brendan fairclough

Summer

La Poma bike park is not in Barcelona and getting three non-Spanish

trials area. While we were there work was starting on a new line for the

speaking people on the right train and at the right price is also a tricky

Happy Ride comp held at the end of September.

situation, made worse by 35°c heat, huge queues and dirty glares as our

With Andreu Lacondeguy living just around the corner, it comes as no

camera bags and bikes got in everyone’s way.

surprise to find that the jumps in the Pro Line are huge. Adam started

This trip was arranged back in the Spring and was meant to feature

wandering down the line of wooden kickers that wouldn't look out of

several of the regulars from the Spank Dirt Wars series and Welsh

place in a Gold FMB event, and we could see him figuring out tricks and

double act Danny Pace and Adam Williams. As we neared the departure

variations in his head. Sam and I grabbed our cameras as Joan dropped

date, only I had booked my flight and the accommodation and this trip

in as only a local ripper can. Invert, tuck no hander, moto whip, opposite

was turning into a lonely holiday to Spain. It was only at Bristol airport

moto whip, t-whip and flip, all clean to pedals on his first run through.

that we knew who would definitely be coming along, and as it was, Adam

Adam was pretty stoked to say the least and quickly got up to the start

Williams and Sam Davies arrived just in time for check in. So we would

ramp.

be a crew of three - one rider, a photographer and a videographer.

As the session got going we knew that this week was going to be good -

As we checked into the cheapest hostel on the web we knew the themes

the light at the park in the evening was firing and as it cooled the riding

for the week would be "It's too hot" and "It's too expensive", with our

just got bigger and better. Once Joan and Adam had the lines dialled, the

constantly changing room of 8 stinky backpackers and a broken air-con

progression went through the roof. The foam pit at the top of the park

unit made worse by the addition of two Rose Bikes Bruce's.

would start each evening off, with the riders getting warmed up with

Our first full day in Barcelona was made easier when we hooked up with

front flip suicides, flip double whips and other video game trick attempts,

Rose sponsored local, Joan Rueda. He came to meet us at the main train

until the wind died down, then it was to the competition line.

station and showed us the "local" way to get around; one ticket to the

Joan and Adam had very different styles, with the Spaniard flowing

first station for 2euros and then get as many people and bikes through

through in a trail style and Adam banging out the tricks on every jump.

the gates as you can before the alarm goes off. After 45 minutes of flying

The sessions would progress as Sam and I rushed around to set up video

past golden sand beaches and topless sunbather spotting we arrive at

cameras and get the shots, the riders calling out tricks and jumps on the

Premia de Mar and scramble to get off the train and onto the beach. It

push back to the start.

is 3.30pm and still too hot to ride so sunbathing and swimming are the

The local riders at La Poma ride anything they can get their hands

only serious options.

on. Mostly riding old Konas, Mondrakers or YT Industry bikes (there’s

As it started to cool, we headed up the hill to our first glimpse of La

a theme there) they will ride constantly until its too dark to see. The

Poma Bike Park.

level of riding is insane, most likely helped by the perfect year round

If you plan on going there, my advice is to print off directions and a good

conditions and the foam pit at the top of the hill. Despite the language

map before you leave the UK. This place is hidden away and non riding

barrier, the banter was flowing between the Spanish and Welsh, with

locals seemed to have never heard of it, even the usually helpful chavs

each of them pushing the other to do bigger and new tricks every run.

(yep even in Spain), who can wheelie 18 football pitches standing up,

The La Poma locals certainly have a great scene going on!

don't know about it.

You can't go to Barcelona without hitting up some street spots of course,

La Poma is made up of a small wooden shed (with a well stocked fridge

and while Adam isn't known for his street steeze, he certainly threw

in it), a decent 4x track, wooden slope style features, foam pit, starter

down at the spots we found. The most famous wall ride in Barcelona is

table line, small double line, two pump tracks, the Pro line and even a

the sea wall at the Forum. After riding along the coast for 20 minutes we

14

issue 21

2013

were greeted by the huge, perfectly transitioned red and white wall. While Adam was flying about trying to work out which sections had been in which videos and working out what he could do with the wall, Sam and I sat on the grind rails (umm, benches) and waited for him to calm down. In the end we decided on a few shots but it was just too hot to ride, so once the shots were nailed we chilled out in the man made sea water pool in front of the walls. Our top tip for riding at the Forum would be to go with someone local to show you where it is and even more importantly, how to get back. We got lost in Barcelona's less favourable areas, riding around on several grands worth of bikes and camera gear for about two hours trying to find the metro or train to get back to La Poma. We were happy to rinse some Euro 3G on the maps to find our way out the ghetto. And that’s how it was for 5 days. Wake up, shoddy hostel breakfast of white bread, cold meat of unknown origin and cheese, edit the previous days footage/photos and then head to the train/beach/bikepark! By the end of the trip we saw Adam throw down an oldschool to bars and flip-superwhip, as well as some crazy stuff into the foam (coming to a dirt jump near you soon), while Joan got his dump3's dialled along with fronties and an equally video game super extended frontie-old school in to the foam. I don't think it'll be long before we see Joan on the European scene and if Adam can stay injury free at the start of next season you should expect big things from him too.

wideopenmag.co.uk

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bloody boxes

bloody boxes The Ric McLaughlin guide to travelling with a bike words: Ric McLaughlin / @RicMcLaughlin photo: great hundred

16

Summer

issue 21

2013 Go on to pretty much any bike website or flick open any bike mag and

“You’re going to have to see a First Aider, sir...”

chances are you’ll be greeted by the sight of a journo bedecked head-

I didn’t wait for further confusion or dalliance.

to-toe in branded, multi-coloured kit blasting their way down some

“Can you get that bike on the plane ok?!”

far-flung dusty foreign trail without a care in the world. Testing product

He nodded and off I bolted. Information desk - “I need a First Aider...”

- there are worse jobs to have. Of course, sometimes things don’t go

The wee woman behind the desk took her time as only wee women

that smoothly...

who work behind desks can and glanced at my increasingly blood-

The very first bike I was ever given to test was the (then) brand new,

soaked hand.

Cannondale Perp. Yep, the one that came with the sticker kit that you

“Cut yourself, have you?”

could apply yourself complete with various crap tattoo style snakes,

Late, sweaty, bleeding, I grabbed for the first roll of lint bandage I could

strippers and snakes coiled around strippers.

see as she opened the box. Wrapping it crudely around my thumb I

My deadline was early January and with a fortnight of slowly saucing

sprinted up the stairs and somehow blagged my way through security

my liver in Guinness, and turkey gravy back in Belfast planned over

whilst displaying the traditionally frowned upon airport security traits of

Christmas, I thought it best to take the Perp with me. Having never

haemorrhaging fluids, panic and swearing.

flown with a bike before I was being extra cautious - rotors removed

An hour or so later I entered Belfast International’s Arrivals gate,

and packed in tea-towels, handlebars wrapped in foam, mech removed

hand held aloft in a faux-black power salute with the blood soaked

- you name it. Everything was set into a sturdy cardboard bike box,

bandage hanging from my hand. My hand and sleeve were now thickly

bubble-wrap and cardboard bolstering out the remaining empty space.

encrusted in browning old blood and my dad looked understandably

Long story short, once the day of the flight arrived I was running late.

perplexed. I explained to him the whole sorry tale before asking if we

The taxi driver stopped mid-fare to top up the tank, I had to batter my

could just get the bike and go.

way past the entire easyJet queue with the bike box before eventually

We could have if the bike was there. But it wasn’t.

being directed over to outsized baggage. This is where shit hit the fan.

They reckoned it hadn’t left Bristol yet. Over the following nine pints

Monumentally.

I consoled myself that they wouldn’t have had time to get it from the

With time running out, sweat was glistening on my brow and the surly

desk to the plane and that I definitely wouldn’t have to ring Cannondale

security jobsworth (anyone who’s ever flown from Bristol Airport will

and explain to them that a load of Bristol wide boys were currently

appreciate the level of humanity to which I refer) decided to get twitchy

sitting in a flat somewhere in St. George’s carefully spray-painting the

about my box.

stickers of snakes, strippers and snakes coiled around strippers.

“Is there a bike in here, mate?!”

Suitably hung-over and yet even more paranoid, I returned the next day

I nodded as I heard my flight being announced over the PA. I’d still have

with my dad. Nope, no sign of it and there’d been two flights in from

the security gate to clear, then I’d need to get to the departure gate and

Bristol since. I was devastated; it felt like a punch in the gut. The Perp

across the tarmac within what I reckoned to be around six minutes...

was gone.

“Are there any liquids in there?”

I needed a piss badly and took it as an ideal bit of breathing space to try

“No.”

and establish the next course of panic stricken action. As I headed for

“Any compressed air cartridges, anything like that?”

the toilets I passed a couple of offices and there in one, with the tell tale globs of blood all over it sat my box!

“No.” “Have you taken the air out of the tyres?”

“F--k it!”

“N...”

Emboldened by a combination of what can only be described as self-

I hesitated for a millisecond too long. F--k.

mutilatingly bad luck, the suspicion that more may only be seconds

“You’re going to have to open this box up and let the air

away and a bladder the size of a football, I grabbed it. With a panto-

out, sir...”

style check that the coast was clear, I threw it onto a nearby trolley and

An entire roll of parcel tape was going to need bypassing

took off with it.

and then somehow closing up again in what was now

Was I stealing it? Was I defying an airport security system put in place

just under five minutes. Double f--k.

to keep the good and innocent safe from rogue, blood-splattered

I grabbed the scissors off the guard and went to

cardboard boxes?! Or was I just taking back what was rightfully mine/

slice a line the entire length of the box’s flap. Going

Cannondale’s?

for speed over accuracy, I got about two inches

I still don’t know. What I do still have though is a scar right across my

down before the trailing leg of the scissors caught

thumb (it opened up every time I rode the same bike, helpfully) and an

on the box, closed and lopped a massive gash

unbridled adoration for the simplicity of traveling with a decent bike

into my thumb. An inch-long flap of skin curled

bag.

ominously upwards. There was the usual half second pause, just long

Ric McLaughlin is a freelance journalist currently working for Red Bull

enough for you to think ‘No, maybe I’m ok’ before

and various other magazines and websites. When he’s not riding his

the blood started pumping. Thick, oxygenated, scarlet

bike he tends to spend far too much time in airports, pubs or staring

globules now started patting onto the ground at my feet. I

blankly at a computer screen.

looked at him, he looked at me... wideopenmag.co.uk

17

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18

emulsion / reuben krabbe

summer

e m u l

issue 21

2013

photo: reuben krabbe / @reubenkrabbe riders: Garret Roberton / Scott Milton 'Dreamland'. The name was its curse from the first day. A ticking clock attached like a noose to its neck, every dream dies at some point. This year, Dreamland died. It’s a story as ancient as mountain biking itself: land rights, liability, naive exploration of what bikes can mean to a group of guys, playing in the dirt. Dreamland was the place for riders in Kelowna BC, the after-school hangout, the coffee shop for mountain bikers where you could always turn up and see old friends. Heck, even before the area had been called 'Dreamland' it was known as 'The Spot'. Enough said. "Just about every trick I can do I learned there, and have had some of the best moments on my bike hanging out with friends at Dreamland." - Garrett Robertson Dreamland had about twenty different jumps in a crisscrossing arrangement of styles and sizes. Almost all of them built shovelful by shovelful. A labour of love raised the jumps like monuments from the sandy plot of land. This year the clock ran out on the dream, Kelowna's municipality contacted the landowner with their concerns over accessibility and liability. Dreamland was only a two minute walk through a field, and backed onto the suburban edge of Kelowna. The landowner had known about the jumps and graciously turned a blind eye, hoping the dream state could continue as he looked the other way. "While everyone was sad to see it go I think it was time for a change to a new zone with fresh dirt and fresh ideas" - Garrett Robertson The death of a riding spot is simply the evolution of riding culture. Strife brings about new style and new culture and means that progression is possible and necessary.

s i o n wideopenmag.co.uk

19

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issue 21

2013

cool stuff 2.

1.

3.

4.

6.

5. 8.

9.

7. 1. orangebikes.co.uk/ride4mb / 2. fiveten.com / 3. ethicwatches.com / 4. drinktearidebikes.co.uk / 5. oneindustrieseurope.com / 6. foxeurope.com / 7. jaybirdgear.com/ 8. foxeurope.com / 9. Shredly.com wideopenmag.co.uk

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emulsion / JACOB GIBBINS

summer

photo: Jacob gibbins / @jacobgibbins rider: Perry Gardner / @perrypipe Shropshire’s Perry Gardner. He’s pinned and he’s under the radar. Here he is filming with Aspect Media.

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issue 21

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wyn masters

Summer

Wyn Masters Kiwi downhill hero Wyn Masters tells us about the time he forgot his bike … and had to travel more than 1000kms to go get it back. words: WYN MASTERS / @WYnMASTERS

photo: gary perkin / @garyperkin

It’s been five years since my first World Cup event and things

was tied to my back pack, he must have seen it and thought I

have come a long way since then. Back then it was ghetto. I was

was good for the bike! He thought he was Valentino Rossi on a

racing on a self-funded shoestring with no plan and rode a worn

racetrack and for some reason we took all the back roads with a

out and cracked bike all season long. It’s no surprise that there

million corners and while he loved it, I was hanging off the back

were plenty of good stories from that year!

with a 40kg pack strapped on to me. I was actually kind of glad

I had just finished my first ever World Cup at Maribor in Slovenia

when he eventually pulled over at Mont Blanc tunnel!

which was such a rad track at the time. Despite feeling good in

Having said good bye to Rossi I walked up the Mont Blanc tunnel

practice I had crashed out in qualifying and there was no other

road and quickly realized it wasn’t the easiest place to hitch a lift.

option but to make the most of the cheap beers and watch the

After two hours waiting I was finally on board with a crazy Italian

race. Racing used to be on the same day as qualification back

and trying to speak in sign language whilst he cranked out rock

then so the beers flowed and I enjoyed watching Sam Hill kill it.

music at full volume. He took me a fair distance but sadly not on

By the time he came down I was well leathered and it rolled into

the motorway so it was slow going. It started getting dark by the

being a big night out. I remember at one point playing frisbee

time he dropped me off and I ended up walking until I couldn’t

with an unhappy policeman’s hat. It was all a good laugh until

go any further and camped up for the night on the side of the

the next morning when I woke up with the hangover from hell

road in my sleeping bag. Not ideal for a good sleep but my legs

and had to quickly pack up for a long 1200km home. I was living

were done from carrying all my stuff across two countries!

in Morzine in those days and the trip home would take us across

The next morning I was relieved to get a lift quickly and with a

the width of Slovenia and Italy and then a short leg through the

lady who could actually speak English. It certainly made things

south of France.

much better and it was comforting to finally be able to speak to

In my hung-over state I packed up and jumped into the van but

someone. She was headed in a similar direction to me so I got

forgot to remind Pagey (Chain Reaction Cycles team manager,

a long lift with her before having to spend another night on the

Nigel Page) that I needed him to take my bike back in their

side of the road ahead of my final day thumbing it. I managed

van. It wasn’t till we arrived in Morzine after the longest day of

to get to Maribor pretty early on my final day of the trip but

driving that I discovered my bike was still in the hotel basement.

was dropped off in the town which is a fair way from the track.

In Maribor. 1200kms and 3 countries away. If ever there was

I was well and truly fucked by the time I got to the hotel and the

one, this was one of those “Oh fuck!” moments!

owner seemed pretty shocked to see me back again. I got my

I spent the next morning scanning the internet trying to find

bike back to find he had put the seat right down and his son had

a cheap option to get from Morzine to Maribor. The cheapest

been riding it! I ended my big journey with an afternoon riding

I found was about €200 which was well above my budget at

the bike park and luckily I met some guy who let me stay at his

the time. Eventually it became clear that my only option was to

place for the night before I hopped on a train to Austria, where I

swing my thumb out and hitchhike back. The next morning, my

did another race and came fourth – winning some much-needed

mate Marshy dropped me off in a town near Morzine and the

prize money! All in all, it certainly was one of the more character

journey began. After a half hour or so I was off on board with

building trips I have done!

some smoky Frenchman who was shocked when I showed him where I was headed on the map. He dropped me off in the next

Wyn Masters is …well, he’s Wyn Masters. A one of a kind kiwi

town and from there I jumped on board with some crazy guy

adventurer, story teller, TV presenter and downhill racing

with a purple mohawk who pulled up on a 1980’s farm hack

legend. Gary Perkins is a Cape Town based mountain bike

motorbike. I had all my gear with me and my full face helmet

photography legend. Also known as Flipper.

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issue 21

2013

“ So I was off on board with some smoky Frenchman…”

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Summer Summer

2013

issue 21

small tales, epic trails. A Somerset born lad’s tale of his adventures in New Zealand. words and photos: geoff cross

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small tales, epic trails

My tale begins a little over a year ago. The flatness of Manchester, both elevation and scene, was wearing a little thin. I’m a West Country lad and my girlfriend is Scottish. Neither of us have any ties to the North West other than that’s where we met. The weekly commute to North Wales to ride was beginning to drain me. Upon returning from holiday in America, where my girlfriend’s sister resides, we decided on a change. Were we going to stay in the UK or move abroad? Then it happened - I landed an interview for my dream job: trail builder/designer with Rowen Sorrell’s ‘Back-on-Track’ company. After all, this has been my occupation in my private time for years. This was the change we needed. The catch was the need to have GIS/ CAD computer skills as well. Luckily for me this had been my background for the last 6 years. What could possible go wrong? Nothing I guess, just a better man won. I remember Rowan questioning me in the interview about my commitment to moving to Wales. I said “I’ll either take this job or I’m off to New Zealand”, those were the lengths we would go to. So here I am at my laptop in Nelson, NZ. A lot has happened since the interview last summer; moving to Scotland, starting my own little (very low budget) video series, a serious back injury on the first weekend of 2013 which stopped me riding for 3 months and moving to the other side of the world. After spending 28 hours plane hopping our way through Asia and Australia, we were welcomed in Wellington by friends, one of whom just happened to be a local trail builder. I tried to relay to Dave the seriousness of my injury, and that my second ride of the year was a very slow casual ride back home on the local trails in Bristol to say good bye to old friends. Less than 3 hours off the plane Dave says “no worries” and we were shredding the lovely cut bench and 30 min descent with fantastic views around Wellington. I’m glad to say it was all for the best. I will attempt to put into writing just how good the riding is down under. It’s not even the quality of the trails, (that’s just a bonus) it’s the quantity. Nelson is to Queenstown what Kamloops, Kelowna or the North Shore is to Whistler. From my door step, it’s a 15 minute ride to where a lot of local riding starts. The popular Codgers Bike Park has anything from 5 to 20 minute single-track descents, 4 steep gnarly DH runs including a National DH and a killer 42km XC run that climbs to 900m and back down to sea level in one go. And that’s just the trails close by. The real fun began when I was lucky enough to work for NZ Trail Solutions. The work was based on private land owned by “the Client”.

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The purpose - to build 75 km of the best single-track in the

What do you do when you lose your dream job digging? You go back

world. I can honestly say the boys surpassed themselves.

to doing it for free. After sitting in the sun one afternoon sharing a few

My mornings began at 5am with Weetabix under the

bourbons, me and a fellow trail elf, Blake, decided to take some tools up

morning stars, before a short drive to a pub car park where

the Richmond Hills behind his house. Originally we wanted to tidy up an

we were picked up by a Landy to taxi us the rest of the 45

existing DH trail known as “Hang 10” then ride a trail called 629 closer

minutes on jeep track. Our bikes were loaded onto trailers

to my side of Nelson in the Maitai Valley. Blake then showed me an area

to up-lift just as the sun broke through the mountains

of virgin land in some mature pines. We took a stroll, thought about a

revealing the NZ vistas that the world media has come to

few lines, and just got stuck in. It’s very addictive and it’s turning into a

know so well. The single-track we produced was of the highest hand

beast of a trail. Three metres wide, off camber, into steep 20m turns into

built quality. No diggers or armoured dull paved trail that you could ride

huge catch berms. In just 3 weeks we’ve managed to smash out 500m

with your eyes closed. Just raw, unashamed mountain biking. Smashing

and it just gets more unruly as you descend. That has occupied quite a

trails, riding trails, and getting paid? This really was the dream. Imagine

bit of time, to the point of mentioning “Blake, we still have to ride 629…”

50 riders, including Wyn Masters and Sam Dale, swinging a pick full time,

Another trail on the door step now ticked off. I simply can’t get over the

everyday for 3 years and imagine what they would create. I had the

amount of riding and how passionate Kiwis are for building and riding.

pleasure to ride those trails everyday. I found myself trying to keep up,

It’s pretty much an obsession for many around here, myself included.

bumbling down some serious technical trails on my little Curtis SX with

The race scene is very healthy, as are family rides, social rides, solo rides,

most people running big rigs. The pace was relentless. It certainly made

hacking about the woods getting lost and finding your way back to the

you think about self preservation, I haven’t had so many stacks in such

pub. Everything about New Zealand is very familiar, just better. The trails

a small space of time. Returning to my girlfriend at the end of the day

are better, the fish and chips are better; the people have a far more

with a new set of scrapes. But as with all good things, they must come

positive outlook on life here. Just one thing though, where can I find

to an end.

proper real ale???

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Warming up ‘is’ for cool kids

Summer

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2013

Warming up ‘is’ for cool kids photos: JACOB GIBBINS / @JACOBGIBBINS Let me suggest a little scenario for you budding young athletes and downhill shredders out there. You and your competitor are at the same level, exactly the same skill set and fitness, absolute nothing to separate you as riders. You’re at a national race and both competing for the win. One of you warms up before the final and other not? Who wins? I’m not saying that the guy who warms up always wins, because I warm up at every race and rarely win! This is because our sport has so many variables and anything can happen… But, I know which rider I would bet my money on. My point is that if these two riders are competing and one warms up he could potentially be at a huge advantage, just for the sake of 20 minutes work. So I ask, why would you not do it? I think the majority of riders think that it’s not ‘cool’, and perhaps they don’t know how or why to warm up. So, here’s my take. So what is a warm up? A warm-up is an activity that has two major purposes; to enhance performance and prevent injury. A warm-up needs to be both physical (your body) and mental (your mind), a concept that’s not commonly grasped. Warm up your body. Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this article produces a relatively low blood flow to your skeletal muscles, maybe 15 to 20% of its capacity. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. Generally after 10 to 15 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70% to 75% and the capillaries open. Along with more blood flow comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the haemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance. An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently. So to those racers who sit on their ass at the start, have I made you think yet? Warm up your mind. Part of a warm-up process includes getting your head ready for the upcoming activity, a huge one in mountain biking as you rely more on your brain than you might think. Downhill is a hugely demanding process on the brain. Mentally preparing for the upcoming workout, or event, is thought to improve technique, skill and coordination, ask any pro and they’ll tell you that these things are pretty crucial. wideopenmag.co.uk

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Warming up ‘is’ for cool kids

Summer

break it down e 1 Find out what works for you, practic leading up to your next race.

2 Plan your warm up into your race day. Be at the start line way in advance.

3 Don’t forget to have a little warm down as well, perhaps spin the legs for 5 – 10 minutes post-race, this will help with recovery and injury prevention.

This mental warm-up also prepares athletes for the discomfort of

increasing intensity in the 30- to 60-second range, I personally don’t

tough intervals or a race. If the mind is ready to endure discomfort,

bother with this though. I just sit at a good pace for the remaining 15

the body can produce higher speeds. If the mind is unwilling to endure

minutes. When you reach your planned total time try some dynamic

discomfort, physical performance will certainly be limited. Are you head

exercises, I like to do some press-ups, star jumps, jump squats or

strong or a pussy? Warm up and - trust me - it will help you grow a set.

whatever tickles your fancy. Learn from experience. This really gets you feeling sharp and gets the blood flowing quickly between the limbs.

How Much Should You Warm Up?

So you’re thinking I’m missing something, the psychological part. This

The big one. I did my time in education so all of the above is pretty

is easy, the adrenaline buzz bit. The very nature of the physical warm

simple. However, racing at a semi-professional level for the last 6 years

up can be used to associate to racing, ‘growing a set’, being ready to

or so has taught me how to warm up for downhill racing. Now, don’t

smash it, it is down to you how you use this. Maybe try listening to your

get me wrong here, I’ve outlined the facts of the warm up to you, I’m

favourite songs, or close your eyes and do a few runs of the track, it

going to give you some ideas and how I warm up, but everybody is

will switch you on, get you ready. And when all is done, I like to have 5

different and through trial and error you need to work out what works

minutes chilled before to breath and hone in all my senses before I get

best for you. There is no hard evidence as to how much warm-up is

on with it.

needed before a downhill race, as I said, everybody is different, it is

That’s it – I hope you can take something from this. See you at the races!

all down to ‘feel’.I personally like to go for around 20 mins. Most ‘text

Rich T

book’ recommendations are in the 10- to 20-minute range, though some athletes have found they need more warm-up time. I’ve heard 30

Rich Thomas races elite downhill for the Wideopenmag team. He placed

minutes plus in the past..!

50th overall in the World Cup in 2012 and 10th overall in the 2013 British Downhill Series. Alongside the racing, Rich is a British Cycling qualified

So What Should You do?

coach and offers skills and fitness sessions to aspiring racers. He wrote

A general recommendation for warming up is to begin with low-

this from Malaga, Spain as part of his winter training.

intensity. Try just walking or ideally using a turbo trainer, basically just

Twitter:@richthomas24

a spin. Gradually increase intensity as you progress through the warmup period. Maybe even try and include short segments of gradually

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E-mail:richthomas@wideopenmag.co.uk

issue 21

2013

SORTIE NINER 2

The Sortie Niner 2 is a perfectly balanced 29er with Diamondback’s legendary Knuckle Box suspension and the ideal geometry for any trail/XC ride. Knuckle Box Technology Low and tight. The Knuckle Box platform was designed specifically to give a lowand tight ride: • Low leverage suspension design: Lower air pressure results in longer shock life, less frame loading and better pedaling efficiency. • The tight, compact linkage system of the Knuckle Box bell crank isolates and cradles the rear shock. • Tight and large anodized aluminium hardware matched with Force-Rated Enduro Max Bearings to withstand higher loads and better handle oscillating motion.

wideopenmag.co.uk

www.diamondback.eu

/diamondback.bikes

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Homegrown Talent: Richard Acott

Summer

2013

Homegrown Talent: Richard Acott

issue 21

I've known Richard Acott and his dad Nigel on and off for a few years. We met at Foel Gasnach years ago when Rich was just starting out and have always had a quick chat and a friendly "hello" at the nationals ever since. It wasn't until the national at Llangollen however that someone drummed it into me that Rich is a bloody incredible mountain bike racer. On a gnarly, steep, scary track that many people were struggling to ride on downhill bikes, Rich was tearing it up on a (albeit slightly tired looking) 125mm travel DMR Bolt. He had come 8th at the previous race at Innerleithen and went on to place 13th at Llangollen. In 2012 he actually came second at Moelfre ... racing a bloody hardtail! If that's not pure talent and worthy of an interview I don't know what is! So what's your name and where do you come from? I'm Richard Acott. I'm from Holywell in North Wales. And who do you ride for? Dmr Bikes/x Fusion/TRP Brakes/Battery Energy Drink/Kenda/YBN Chains

interview: Jamie edwards

photos: Jamie edwards / mark evans

And how did you get into mountain biking? Uh ... One of my mates started and that was it! I borrowed his bike, did a few runs and that was it, I was hooked! And you started out racing a hardtail right?! Well I started racing in 2010 on a hardtail and got sponsored by DMR in 2011 to ride a DMR Omen prototype with geometry that was suited to downhill. In 2013 I got a DMR Bolt and I started to smash it on that. So why do you ride a short travel bike?! Why not just make life easy and get a downhill bike?! (Laughing) uh ... Because I find it a lot more fun on a shorter travel bike to be honest! The Bolt is an upgrade from the hardtail anyway isn't it? It's got 125mm travel! Do you think you'd go faster on a downhill bike? Yes and no I suppose! If it’s rough like Fort William then maybe but Llangollen, Combe Sydenham, Innerleithen and all them... then no. The short travel is just more flickable isn't it? Now you came second in senior at Moelfre on a hardtail which is just insane. How do you ride a bike like that to beat people riding full on downhill bikes?! You've just got to know your lines and make sure you land everything spot on. Apart from that, you've just got to pin it everywhere really! (Laughing) I think pumptrack riding helps to make you smooth. We've got a pumptrack next to my house and we pretty much just go there all the time. A full lap is about 50 seconds long - it's good training!

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emulsion / Matt Wragg

summer

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2013

photo: Matt wragg / @matt_wragg rider: ben cruz / @B_CruzIII A 1/8 pan of American Ben Cruz flat out through the meadows at the summit of Val D’Allos for the Enduro World Series. Next time Ben took to this section he clipped a pedal on the side of the track and had one of the ugliest high-speed crashes I’ve seen in a while. That ended his weekend but thankfully he was back on fine form for the trails at Les Deux Alpes the following week.

s i o n wideopenmag.co.uk

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mr. popular

summer

mr. popular Why does everyone (all of a sudden) hate Aaron Gwin?! words: Ric McLaughlin / @RicMcLaughlin Of course, we don’t all hate Aaron Gwin but his popularity

lead some to accuse him of simply being ‘boring’. The sad

seems to have shot downward with the same pace with

truth is that fans, as a tribe, can be a terribly fickle thing

which he once dominated the hillsides of Europe. Reading

and despite all the unseen hours in the gym, lonely road

the chat stream beside the live feed from the Vallnord

rides and endless days shuttling the Temecula hillside, the

World Cup, Gwin was harried from pillar to post. Amidst

crowd still demanded the candid notoriety and charisma of

the usual quandaries as to whether the feed was live or

a Steve Peat or a Cedric Gracia. But that wasn’t Aaron.

not there was a steady stream of abuse tumbling the

The move to Specialized was a noisy, messy one which

Californian’s way. From people saying simply that he

left Trek fuming and Specialized grinning. The off-load of

should put Specialized stickers on to his old Trek to just

Sam Hill to CRC/Nukeproof seemed like chip-wrappers

plain abuse.

compared to the arrival of the blue-eyed boy of American

“It’s because he used to dominate and came across as

DH at Morgan Hill.

arrogant,” one self-proclaimed ‘journo’ put it (obviously

But 2013’s form hasn’t matched that of the previous

not adhereing too tightly to the ‘detached observer’ roll).

season’s causing armchair pundits to quickly point to the

Others claimed that he’d gotten greedy with his big money

bike being anything but to his suiting by way of some

off-season move from Trek to the red ‘S’ which, at the time,

kind of cosmic karma. Gwin is, in their view, getting his

spawned various open letters and rumours of threatened

comeuppance for a fiscal-inspired change of employer and

legal proceedings.

for daring to be successful. Shame on him...

Let’s start with that. Firstly, when Gwin moved from Yeti

But should a back-to-back overall Champion not be entitled

Cycles to Trek back in 2010 it was roundly viewed as

to switch teams? Is it then surprising that he’s gone from

the natural order of things. Yeti, the small, passionate,

one large bike company’s payroll to anothers? Of course,

heritage-steaped Coloradans had taken the prodigious

no-one knows what is going on inside that custom-sprayed

talent as far as they could before the big boys came

Troy Lee D3 other than the man himself but surely simply

knocking. Legend has it that on winning his first World Cup

pointing to ‘the bike’ is too simplistic an excuse. In a

in Pietermaritzburg the following season, the first person

sport where tenths of a second are garnered via passing

Gwin rang was Yeti owner, Chris Conroy to thank him. That

between trees at 30mph, it might just be that the ‘problem’

season, he went on to become the first rider to win five

does indeed lie between the ears.

World Cups in a season and in the other two still remained

To return to the people pouring bile based on his past

on the podium.

successes, Gwin raised the bar. He came into the sport

His second season aboard Martin Whiteley’s Trek World

late and quickly established himself over 24 months as

Racing squad followed a similar suit with four wins in a

one of its most dominant ever figures. He alone pushed

row. The rainbow stripes of a World Champ still elude him

American DH racing back to its forefront and showed a

but it’s something he openly has little time for. To Gwin,

level of physical and mental strength which forced the long-

championships are won throughout the year, not on one

established elite to raise their respective games. Mountain

weekend.

biking is a professional sport and as a result to hate

Gwin’s domination was reminiscent of a young Sam Hill

someone for being the best defies the point of watching it.

and like a young Sam Hill, success and a quiet personality

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photo: keith valentine / @phunkt

2013

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x-games munich - Matt Jones

Summer

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2013

x-games munich Saracen’s Matt Jones takes on the mighty Xgames in Munich. words: matt jones / @matt_jones94 photos: Szymon Nieborak / @delayedpleasure

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x-games munich - Matt Jones

Summer

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2013

X-Games is the pinnacle for extreme sports contests, it puts on the biggest show, to the biggest crowds, and with the biggest stakes. So when I heard that I had the opportunity to ride in such a prestigious event, I was over the moon and instantly started planning the trip. The engineers at Saracen had been spending a lot of time working on a new prototype slope style bike, and a few weeks before the event, we all realised that it could probably get built up and ridden in time for X-Games. This was such a big deal for me because I felt that a slope bike would give me the confidence I need for my first huge event, which in this case was a diamond FMB stop and the first MTB slopestyle X-Games in history. The bike arrived into the Saracen office 3 days before flying to Munich, so I did manage to get some time on the bike and it felt so good! A few things felt different as expected, but all around it’s genuinely my dream slopestyle bike. I flew with my girlfriend to Munich last Thursday with a 5am start and arrived to be greeted by such an amazing crew. The 6 of us Redbull Phenom riders were given such amazing opportunities throughout the entire trip, with the ability to meet all the X-Games legends such as Tony Hawk, and the chance to watch any event from the VIP seating areas. The first day there featured a riders meeting, a course walk, and my first experience of a sushi restaurant with Skate legend Steve Caballero! The course was pretty interesting, with big drops at the start and finish, a massive 15m first jump, but then with some particularly technical features in the middle. I didn’t want to think too much about a run yet because I’m aware how quickly opinions can change once we all start

“the prospect

riding.

of doing the run

On Friday we started

that i’d planned

practice at 10am and were basically given

seemed much more

the entire day to work

unfeasible with

out the speeds of the

the 35mph winds...”

course, and do full runs

down to the bottom. The big features on the course felt super-smooth with the provision of a rear shock, and so I felt pretty comfortable on the course. I finished practice pretty early to save some energy for Saturday, as there was an insanely pedally straight leading up to the satellite dish that killed my legs in a full day’s training. We then had the evening to chill out and watch the BMX big air! Saturday was a wash-out, it rained for the whole day but the riders stayed close by in anticipation for the rain to stop and the covers to come off the jumps to get some practice in. But Saturday became a rest-day and the chance to watch some more events such as FMX best whip, high jump and we even found time to play about at the Olympic diving pool. X-Games was the first diamond event for me and the other 5 RedBull phenom riders, so we woke up on Sunday feeling quite anxious but excited with it being the day of finals but also an 8am start to get some last minute practice on the course. I started tricking most of the features in the morning and then felt happy that I could go into my final runs with confidence, so I chilled out and watched the pro qualifying, which was sick to see! wideopenmag.co.uk

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x-games munich - Matt Jones

Summer

My time came to head up the start-tower and it was already clear that

round, but I’d already flown past it haha. So although landing on two

the wind situation had escalated massively. The prospect of doing the

wheels, I exploded off the bike and crashed. I was super gutted to not

run that I’d planned seemed much more unfeasible with the 35mph

have landed it because the run scored a 71.00 with a crash on the most

winds, and the rest of the Redbull Phenom crew shared this view that it

important part, so I feel that landing it could surely won me the event.

was dangerous to ride in those conditions. However, ESPN and Redbull

But I guess it’s all gained experience to ensure that it goes more to plan

were streaming our runs and this made the whole situation more

next time! My first score of 78.00 placed me in third overall, so I still

appealing haha!

came away with a Bronze medal!

I was second to drop in and instantly got blown sideways off of the

The crash on the last flip got a lot of hype at the event, and I even got a

first drop and only just managed to salvage a full run. This did give

surprise invite to Bearclaw’s Invitational next month! So I’m really stoked

me a first place score of 78.00 but I was intent on making my second

to be heading to Canada for my first event over there.

run count in order to maintain this lead over the other riders. My plan

X-Games was a sick experience and I for sure hope to be there again

for the second run was to 360 the first drop but whilst sat in the start

at the next one. Thanks to all my sponsors for helping me out, my

tower it was clear the wind could easily take me and so I decided that

girlfriend for looking after me there, and to the Redbull Phenom team

i’d make up for this at the bottom of the course. This run was much

for the incredible opportunity that we were given.

smoother with a clean flip on the first big jump and then some tuck no handers on the technical section of the course. I’d decided that at the end, I’d flip the huge step-down to boost my score because I was sure that I’d be the only rider to do this. So I pedalled into the step down lip for the first time, but had no idea of speed as it was my first hit on this final lip. I popped the flip really slowly and saw the landing come

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x-games munich - Matt Jones

Summer

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“I popped the flip really slowly and saw the landing come round, but i’d already flown past it...”

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The View from the top

Summer

The View from the top

words: Chaz curry / @rocketsandrascals

illustration: gareth weston

There is a place that exists in time and space. One day it’s there, the next

They chat with each other for a bit as the Masters file through the gate,

it’s gone. It is a place where some dare to dream and others quake in

laughing and wishing each other well before quietly slipping in to

fear.

structured and solemn warm up routines.

No one is there for long and it’s a place that few see. It is constantly

Then comes the tide - the storm surge of bodies that is Junior,

shifting and evolving with an irrepressible atmosphere even though

Senior and Expert men. This lot always seem to arrive all

there are no walls, ceiling, beer or music.

at once. The biggest group of the day, they encompass

Few spectators make it to the top of a downhill race and if they do, they

the lion’s share of the downhill community, everyone

generally touch the ground, turn around and head back down to the big

from the “I just did it because it was down the

features on the course. But they are missing something and for anyone

road” riders, to the aspiring world champions.

with a predisposition for watching people, the start gate makes for a

The mood changes and becomes nervous and

pretty interesting place to hang out.

excitable. Banter flies in all directions. The

Every race is different and yet the same. The same race village and the

top Juniors struggle to maintain composure

same people and for me it just wouldn’t feel like a British race without

through the melee as anxious fathers living

the presence of Mrs B, everyone’s favourite start line marshal. She calls

vicariously through their sons pass on largely

people to the line with a gentle authority that just makes you want to be

vacuous and meaningless nuggets; ‘Don’t

in the right place at the right time. No sane human would want to make

forget to pedal’, ‘ Try not to brake’, ‘Yeah

Mrs B’s life awkward.

he was good but you were flying through

The race always starts with the youths. They mill around like ants. Ants

there’, ‘I’ve seen a lot of people come

with an infectious nervous enthusiasm that is impossible to contain.

off in that section’. Proper sponsored

All looking ridiculously little for what they’re about to undertake and

riders are few and far between with

as a parent I have to swallow hard and fight the urge to try and stop

this bunch but this is when the

them from hurling themselves down what is, in every case, a tricky

mechanics start to make their

and potentially hazardous course. Getting them sorted is like trying to

way up the hill. The Lapierre

shepherd a bag of sand fleas. They are constantly on the move with

Development boys are there

shrill bendy bodies and helmets that all look way too big for them. They

by now, usually someone from

chat about You Tube videos, Bookface and which pro’s they have been

GT for Tay and Rachel and one

stalking on the Twitters.

of the guys from Saracen for

Then it’s the turn of the Masters who start looming around, waist high in

Manon. Suitable pieces of

groms. Some warm up but most chat shit to each other with a feigned

flat ground are coveted for

nonchalance that is so well practiced you could almost fall for it. But the

turbo trainers to be set up on.

apprehension of what is to come cuts through. There are some damn

Somewhere just out of the way

good riders amongst this lot. Guys who have been right to the top of

with some shelter is prime real

the sport and would still give the big boys a run for their money if they

estate.

chose to. The topic of conversation tends to revolve around how they

The last of the Juniors filter

are too old for this and that they aren’t going to do the next round, but

through the start gate and then

they are fooling no-one. The addiction is strong with these guys and the

the cannon fodder that is the first

longer you do something the harder it is to give up; they will be there

of the seniors make their way to

next time and the time after that. The only thing that stops these old

the gallows. These first few through

rockers is the demands of family life.

are usually some of the slowest riders of

Gradually the buzz of the occasional turbo trainer becomes a chorus -

the day. This initial tranche of seniors very

the women are here. Manon, Rachel, Jess et al. First the Seniors followed

rarely make it through without someone having

by the Elites. These are the first of the big guns to arrive at the top and

a big off and delays are inevitable. Riders gaggle around

for them this is a serious place to be. The Elite women are some of

the start in shop sponsored tops, names across their shoulders and

the world’s top athletes and they radiate an aura of quiet confidence.

I wonder whether it should be compulsory to have your blood group

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on your shirt if you’re going to have your name on it as a shop sponsored rider. Don’t get me wrong, these guys are some of the ballsiest riders on the hill but skill rarely matches ambition and I genuinely worry about the first few off as most have crashed in seeding and are riding injured. The madding crowd reduces and we start to get to the sharp end of business. The atmosphere becomes thin and sharp as a blade. There is an invisible switch that gets thrown as the last of the Experts leave the gate. This is the big boy’s time. Part of being a successful Pro Elite racer is the ability to handle the pressure and stay even and controlled during the tense wait. The semi-pros ride up and down trying to get warm, breathing heavily, struggling to keep their inner demons quiet, but they think too loud and every ounce of their being screams tension. Meanwhile Peaty, Brendan, Ratboy, Gee, Mark, Matt and the boys are well into their warm ups. Familiarity has made them resistant to the nerves that almost cripple lesser riders. Resistant but not immune, as well as they hide their jitters the sharp eyed can still tell when one of the big guns has designs on a race. Despite this, leg pulling and friendly conversation is the order of the day reminding me once again that in downhill your competition is with yourself and the hill, not your fellow rider. Everyone at the start now knows how fragile their position is and how fickle their chosen mistress can be. Watching the top twenty leave the gate is truly splendid. Smooth, flowing and calculated. Every time there is an opportunity to put the power down, the roost flies as they literally rip the ground up behind them. The last of the big dawgs leave the gate and then it is our time. This is the twilight of each race. We gather round Mrs B and the timing marshal waiting for results to filter through. ‘Gee 1st, Marc 2nd, Brendan 3rd’ ‘How did Rich and Jay do?’ ‘Where did Steve finish?’ A flurry of questions are asked and answered as we all pack up and start to make our way down the hill. More often than not mechanics make their descent on hardtails with slick rear tyres. Laden down with turbo trainers, wheels and riders kit, we look like Nepali Sherpa’s on bikes. This precarious and bloody terrifying race to the bottom has its very own entertainment value and I often wonder whether spectators would hang around to watch if they knew what was going on. As the start marshal, commissaire and timing official get in the Landrover and the last mechanic teeters off the hill there is quiet. For the first time I can hear the birdsong and the wind in my ears. It is over for another day and all that remains is the hill, quiet and austere, nothing to do now but pass the time until next year.

Part of being a successful Pro Elite racer is the ability to handle the pressure and stay even and controlled during the tense wait. wideopenmag.co.uk

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Phil Potts, The Man Behind the tidworth bike park

Phil Potts

the man behind the Tidworth bike park words & photo: JACOB GIBBINS / @JACOBGIBBINS Salisbury is not really known for its hills and downhill mountain biking. What's the site you guys have secured like? As you say Salisbury Plain doesn’t have the greatest relief, I think our height drop is not much more than 85 metres. Inherently Salisbury Plain is rolling chalk downlands, which gives us a great source of building material that can be worked into the most awesome shapes. Our site lies on 1 of 2 ridges that run parallel to each other starting at the A303 and running north to Tidworth. The mixture of gradient plays a great part in the trails that we have. A 5 minute push up gives you 1 – 1.5 minutes decent and a choice of 6 different trails with varying difficulty. What was the process behind getting the land to use? Who owns/ runs/digs there? The whole project started in 2006. When we first got started it was just a group of us building a few features to practice on before giving up our weekends for the 2 hour pilgrimages we made to other downhill venues. As time moved on we got better and the features we built grew bigger, until finally in 2008 Defence Estates posted a sign on each of our features with words to the effect of 'get off the land and stop using it or set yourself up as a formal club to alleviate the public liability of the land owner'. We obviously chose the latter even thought we had little understanding of where this whole process would take us. Initially I approached British Cycling who were keen to help but their club affiliation did not really cater for the kind of club we were, however the £10million public liability cover kept people happy for a short period. In 2010 there was a restructure and Defence Estates became Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and it seemed that everything we had worked towards might be pulled from beneath us overnight. It was at this point I approached Ian Warby, having seen his name pop up in a number of areas including IMBA and CTC, and knowing of his success with Aston Hill I knew he was a man whose advice and help I could desperately do with. In September 2010, DIO, CTC, members of the

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garrison command and myself met at the foot of the hill where I was effectively dressed down by a number of senior officers on what we had been up to. 'Disorganised rabble' was a term that I remember being used. The bar was left pretty high: planning permission, environmental impact assessments, archaeological assessments, mitigation surveys, the list went on. We were then banned from the site until a lease had been signed. I'm not entirely sure what got us through the next 2 and half years (persistence, stubbornness, delusions of grandeur) but without the help of Ian Warby, Rob Fuller and Gordon Seabright of CTC the whole project would have fallen flat on its face. In October 2012 Tidworth Freeride Club toasted their first day back on the hill and the great revamp started. CTC now lease the land from DIO and Tidworth Freeride Club manages the land on behalf of the CTC. For the majority of the club, trail building is a lifestyle choice. Having dug most of the site by hand you must have some pretty dedicated locals, is there a good riding scene down in Tidworth? In the beginning there was maybe 5 of us, it's incredible to think how many people now know about and use the site. We can proudly say that we have built everything by hand and have a committed core group of around 30 people who are there week in week out, working diligently on the trails that we have created. Everyone’s starting point is different, but without any shadow of a doubt all the guys share the common goal of building and riding the ultimate playground, as well as creating the kind of riding scene that didn’t exist previously.

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What kind of stuff is there to ride down there and what’s the ideal bike for the site? The site has 6 downhill tracks, a progressive jump area and a set of dirt trails. The downhill tracks vary in difficulty offering a huge amount of progression. The progressive jump area provides rolling tables through to 20 foot doubles and the dirt trails are for the more experienced rider comfortable on a BMX or jump bike. The ideal bike would be a tough call. Pushed for an answer I would say a 140-160mm trail bike could do it all (ability dependent), though a downhill rig would certainly give more confidence on some of the bigger features. For the purists out there a hardtail would be just fine. Now the place is official and open what are the plans for the future? Like all these places the process is continually evolving, the first addition in the short term will be a start ramp and further development of the progressive jump area with hopefully a few small races and events. There has been talk of a further two downhill tracks, an enduro ascent, a freeride/slopestyle track and a larger multi-line trail. All of these are still subject to approval, but rest assured there is plenty to come and lots to get on with. Where can people find out more information on the place and how to come and ride there? Facebook – www.facebook.com/tidworthfreeride Website – www.tidworthfreeride.co.uk

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ressurection, bristol’s belmont woods

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ressurection, bristol’s belmont woods words & photos:

JACOB GIBBINS / @JACOBGIBBINS

Bristol is one of those cities with a certain pull. A gravity that draws people in and doesn’t want to let go. For me it was a mix of the music scene, the location and the local riding that made me want to call it home. Bristol has always had great spots to ride. It’s within spitting distance

and “were”. Yep, Still Woods “was” sweet. The University that owned

of the vast wealth of riding in South Wales and closer to home has

most of the land got spooked by potential lawsuits. The digging

its own local gems such as Leigh Woods, Ashton Court, the Mendips

had got a bit out of control, there was litter everywhere and after

and the once mighty Still Woods. Still Woods. Ten years of digging

10 years of good times and great riding they shut down Still Woods

and trails that people used to drive hours just to come and ride.

and built a big fence around it. This caused much heart ache for

Jumps, berms, real downhill riding as most of us know it but all

an entire city of riders. Their reasons were valid enough and a few

in a small area with an easy push back up to the top. It was a real

organised riders tried hard to negotiate a way of keeping the trails

breeding ground for local riders, perfect for an afternoon of riding

going but it was clear to the riders that the light at the end of the

and all within easy ride of the city. Things were sweet.

tunnel was fast dimming.

Those of you with a keen eye might notice that I keep saying “was”

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ressurection, bristol belmont woods

Summer

Now if you were to leave the story there it would be one of misery and

The key players here are the Forestry Commission and a few motivated

woe. Thankfully though that’s not the end of the story. Where there’s

locals. The FC is an organisation that mountain bikers traditionally suffer

a will, there’s a way. If you’ve ever had your trails ripped down (as I’m

a love/hate relationship with, given them holding the power to make

sure most of us have at some point) you’ll know that the drive to get

or break a riding scene based on their perception of how safe it seems.

something new to ride is almost unparalleled. Step in ‘Belmont’. A new

In this case, Belmont wouldn’t exist without them - it’s their land, it’s

spot. A fresh start for the trails. A place to ride that could well replace

their decision to let the trails exist and they’ve given their full support.

Still Woods. There’s been riding at Belmont for years and it has long

With their help and the energy of a few local riders, the ‘Belmont Riders

hosted a few cheeky downhill trails that reward those willing to explore

Association’ has formed and the new trails have taken off. It’s always

further than the surfaced trails in Leigh Woods and Ashton Court.

hard to credit everyone when you write about a scene and Belmont is

Whilst I'm still new to the area, the local riders here have been busy

the same – but you can’t deny that two riders that deserve the credit are

working away to get Bristol a new spot for ‘proper’ riding. A place where

Sam Fowler and Duncan Ferris. Both locals, both pinners, both pushing

they can build downhill tracks, jumps and all the things the more serious

the scene forward. We’re lucky to have them.

and skilled amongst us need to push our limits. There’s only so much

Building is strictly controlled and you can’t just go down and crack on;

fun a blue graded trail centre can provide right?

you can only put spade to dirt on organised dig days. Pair that with

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the fact that everyone here knows the reason for their previous spot being shut down and litter is also much less of an issue, (let’s keep it that way! ). Everyone is very polite and courteous to other users of the forest and are generally doing

The place is a real gem; it is amazing to see such a strong scene and

things right, as they should be done.

place spring up where only a few years ago there was nothing but doom

The woods are a mellow gradient, with tracks around the 1 minute mark.

and gloom, ploughed trails and a local scene on its knees. The hard work

The main tracks are smooth, fast, flowy, with a mix of jumps, berms, flat

and dedication of the people involved will no doubt be appreciated by

corners and the odd rock all winding their way down the hill. So far there

many over the coming years. So just please keep to the rules, think of

are 3 or so runs in, with a few extra areas featuring some bigger, more

everyone else who uses the woods, and enjoy. The trails there really are

“pro” jumps being built. Don’t try these if you don’t think you can make

worth a trip.

them! It’s like all places though - ride within your limits, wear a helmet, don’t drop litter, don’t change features etc etc. The perfect bike for the

If you want to find out where the place is exactly and go have a ride,

place would be a short travel full sus, but part of the reason the spot is

check out the facebook group and website here:

so good and so popular with locals is you can go up on anything from

https://www.facebook.com/BelmontRidersAssociation

a hardtail, to a full on DH rig and have a great time and ride everything

http://belmontriders.wix.com/belmont-riders

there.

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ressurection, bristol belmont woods

SAM FOWLEr Who are you and how long have you been riding the trails round Bristol? I’m Sam Fowler, the 27 year old guy who runs Pedal Progression, a Bristol based MTB hire, skills coaching, workshop and demo centre all rolled into one. I have been riding and digging in Bristol all my life, from Bourton Combe and Leigh Woods to Ashton Hill and the legendary Still. Still Woods were well known far and wide – what made them so good? Still had everything - dirt jumps, big gaps and berms for miles - you could mix all the lines up like a luxury buffet. The small hill had loads of natural features and builders had gone crazy over the years to make the most out of every one of them, too many lines some said! The other great thing about Still was that the small area meant it felt like a jump spot even though you could be on a DH bike. Everyone went there and the community was pretty strong at its height. Why did Still Woods shut down and how did Belmont come about? Bristol University, who owned the land, once had a good agreement with riders but this slowly fell apart as club riders moved back home and University personnel changed. Conflicts with local residents and other users of the woods, litter issues and liability worries meant that the spot was bulldozed in late 2009. Not much was happening in Bristol and after my own hidden trails had been destroyed by the Forestry Commission over the winter I wanted to try and work with the FC to make things better for the riders over at Belmont Hill. A bunch of younger guys had been battling to ride here for a few years but hadn’t had much luck so we decided to get organised. It’s the only place left to legitimately build trails this side of the city so we’re trying to do it right!

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What’s the deal at Belmont with regards to the Forestry Commission and building etc? After 4 months of talks, there is now an operating agreement with the Belmont Riders Association whereby we build and effectively police the site to make sure everything is done safely and within the agreed outlines. No wood, no sketchy stuff, a limit on lines and of course maintaining respect for other woodland users. We also have to draft plans for features which means no digging outside of our official dig days! What do you think the future of the Bristol MTB scene will be like? Umm, amazing?! With Belmont only a quick spin from Ashton Court I’d love to see more and more riders testing their skills on dirt features rather than thinking mountain biking is just a gravel based sport. The scene is already picking up and it’s great to know that more riders than ever are getting to know each other because of what we’re doing up there. We’ve just got to be careful that we don’t take over the woods and push out dog walkers and horse riders by over filling the car park and running them down. The future is in our hands! Big thanks to all that have been involved in the digging effort so far.

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duncan ferris Who are you and how long have you ridden MTB around Bristol? My name is Duncan Ferris and I've been riding Bristol for 16 years. What did Still mean to the local riding scene and what did people do when it shut? Still was THE spot, it was where the riders of Bristol went to get 'rad' and push ‘limits’ (all the rage in the late 90's and early 00's). If you rode mountain bikes and lived in Bristol then you had heard of Still Woods - it was very common to hear 'Have you hit the new jump at Still?” It was only when it shut (got demolished) that everyone realised how good it actually was. It left a giant hole in Bristol riding and pretty much destroyed the scene for a few years! How would you describe the trails at Belmont? Ideal bike etc? The trails at Belmont are very similar to those we had at Still; fast, jumpy and flowy (and the slickest place on earth when it rains!). It’s only a small hill but there’s a lot crammed into each run. The ideal bike would be a short travel full sus, but the place can be ridden on anything from hardtail to full on DH rig, which is probably why the spot is so popular. How do you see the future of the trails at Belmont? The future is definitely bright for Belmont trails, with the backing of the Forestry Commission and the dedication of the locals there are exciting times ahead!

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exit strategy

Summer

exit strategy interview: JAmie edwards / @JAmie_wideopen

photo: paul mears

Aaron and his lovely wife Amanda

Aaron Hay is the man. As Fox Marketing Manager it’s his job is to find

And at Fox - what's your job (jobs?) there?

talented riders, support them with awesome product and help them

Well, in the early days I was an inside sales assistant, answering the

to become career athletes. Scott Mears, Sam Dale, Danny Hart, Taylor

phones, processing orders, you know the stuff. I always thought I

Vernon, Scott Beaumont, the Wideopenmag race team and many

wanted to be on the road as a sales rep, and that was the ulterior motive

more super talented athletes have Aaron to thank for helping them to

when I started the job, but the bright lights and cool guys in marketing

succeed. With Fox moving its operation from UK to Spain and Aaron

looked far more interesting, so I started helping out a little on that side.

moving over the pond to the US we wanted to ask him a few questions…

Meanwhile I moved onto warranty and returns for a while, which to be honest I really enjoyed, I got a lot from helping out people you know,

Welcome Aaron. Ok – you’d better give us your life story then.

the guy that needs an obscure part for helmet from 1992 for example!

Like most of the industry I guess, riding bikes when I was younger. The

Eventually I got mountain bike marketing as my full time job, working for

first ‘proper’ bike I had was a GT Arrowhead-I loved it. Moving forward

the Marketing Director at the time, the always awesome Brode Vosloo,

a few years and a few bikes, broken bones and adventures too I started

who still works for FOX in South Africa. I looked after athlete contracts,

as a mechanic in a local bike shop and worked there for pretty much

their needs, orders, team kit, and MTB events. It doesn’t sound like a lot,

7 years I think. I joined FOX in 2008. Looking back on it all now and

but it can be very time consuming. Until I leave in July, it’s marketing for

answering this, there are so many stories, and memories that come to

all sports we are involved in and also helping with MTB athletes again in

mind. Good times.

Europe to help the company in the transition while the operation moves to Barcelona.

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2013 What have been your top highlights, proudest moments of working

the ‘core’ mountain bikers for business. So we need to be smarter when

at Fox and working with athletes?

it comes to business, more merchandisers and retail experts in the

Again, a lot come to mind, but probably the simple things, like organising

industry to educate the predominately enthusiast owned and managed

signing sessions with such a great team of athletes, and our ‘Brigade

stores, and bring more mainstream business in from your average biker.

events’ seeing the interaction between our athletes and consumers. But specifics, I’d say obviously Danny winning at worlds, and his 2nd

And who do you see as the talent in UK racing that's really caught

at Fort William, and from that the Dirt cover. Signing the French Riding

your eye? Who's the future of racing in the UK?

Addiction team to FOX, such a good bunch of people. Knowing Scott

The talent pool is so deep; there are any number of riders that could

Mears as a local lad, and being able to support him over all these years.

make the next step from Youth, and junior into Elite. Youngsters I’d

Helping the youngsters like Taylor Vernon and Tahnée Seagrave, and

obviously say Laurie Greenland and Taylor Vernon. Taylor’s attitude

seeing them progress at world level.

coming into the finish arena at Fort William with a flat tyre really impressed me, he was still just having fun on his bike. Also the guys like

Do you have any particular misadventures with your colleagues or

Greg Williamson who are stepping up to elite.

athletes that stand out? Yes, lots that can’t be printed most predictably involve alcohol! A few

You’re someone that I often turn to for advice on running a team.

that stand out could be playing pool in one of the bars in Fort William,

What advice would you give to riders that are looking to step up to

having the entire pub of strangers shouting and screaming for me to

ride for a big company like Fox?

win, and then losing to this local fella. Or last year at Les2Alpes, our EU

The young kids need to remember that we’re all enthusiasts in the

Product managers birthday, bottles of vodka and pole dancing. Then

industry. We all watch the races and all know the names that are coming

there was getting so ill from drinking wine the night before, at an Inners

up. So more often than not, when a CV lands on our desk it’s someone

winter race waking up the next morning to find that our sales rep Rob

we’re already interested in. Ride your bike, enjoy it, I know it’s expensive,

had covered the entire bathroom in red wine vomit. I was so bad that I

but if you don’t have some support behind you already, basically

spent the entire next day in the van, which incidentally was the first time

parents, then I doubt you are racing anyway - the young racers have

I met our then athlete Marc Beaumont, not a good start. Locking our

to have a strong support system at home in their early days. Talk to

entire sales team out of the hotel in Fort William, because I got the hotel

people at races, get yourself known with the people at the brands, and

manager so drunk, he fell asleep on the bar, and they ended up climbing

be heard.

in through an open window. I honestly don’t drink that much, it just

When you are due to hit Junior, that’s when things will change, all of

sounds a bit bad doesn’t it?!

the teams are interested in the next fast junior now, more so now than they ever were. For CV’s straight up facts and results are important, not

And who has been the biggest pain in your ass to date and deserves

‘next year I’ll maybe do these races’. And then Junior is such a hard step

a particular mention?!

to Elite, its one a lot of riders fall at, they discover other things, or lose

Those Wideopenmag boys obviously! Kidding! That’s a question that

interest. For me the 3 year philosophy works. For the first year, generally

can never be answered in print but I’d like to think no one has been that

youth level is basic product support to establish a relationship, second

bad because I’ve met and made some good friends through the bike

year is product and maybe bonus to see how the rider develops and

industry, I’d say you have to take the bad with the good. But it’s mostly

third year is salary and full product support. By that point the rider has

been good. Some guys are a pleasure to deal with and make it worth

made the transition to Elite, hopefully on the podium! And they have

doing, and the guys that are a pain in the ass, at the end of your day it’s

cemented their connection to the brand. It’s more credible to have a

your job, so you just have to get on with it.

youngster come up through the ranks and stay with the brand, than just straight up buy yourself a top athlete.

Moving away from the UK mountain bike scene - what's your honest vibe on it?

Last but not least - can you tell us what you've got planned for the

Tough question, There are so many aspects of the industry that are

future?

good, and few that are bad. There’s no doubt we have some of the

(laughing) Nothing planned! I’m totally winging it! I’m moving to America

best downhill athletes, and that’s because of the legacy of our past and

with my wife Amanda, she’s from Texas, so most likely it will be Dallas or

current Elite talent, we need to make sure the new breed are as inspiring

Austin. We don’t have a set plan, just get over there, find some work, and

to the next generation. The Enduro buzz is great, but at its current level

see how it goes. For definite bikes will be involved somewhere, along

is a participant sport. The slopestyle events and exhibition events really

with pickup trucks, BBQ’s, taking the boat out on the lake. Generally

are going to give us better coverage and spectator numbers and as a

having a good time hopefully.

result more outside industry sponsorship into the sport. The fact we have mountain bike at the XGames this year in Munich is a great step forward to bigger audiences. There are arguments for keeping MTB ‘ours’ but that’s up to an individual’s opinion. I’d like to see independent bike stores grow, in numbers and size. I’m a firm believer in the local bike shop, and they can no longer solely rely on wideopenmag.co.uk

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the champion. laurie greenland.

Summer

the champion. laurie greenland. interview: jamie edwards / @jamie_wideopen

photos: jacob gibbins / @jacobgibbins

“I’m small for my age, I go to a funny school and I like riding bikes” was

family at the start of 2013 and brought a massive burst of new energy,

how Laurie first introduced himself to the Wideopenmag team. It was

flat out riding and a total, undiluted, unstoppable love for riding bikes

a pretty modest intro for someone that is quite literally destroying UK

that I’ve really not seen anywhere else. They’re both totally in love with

downhill at the age of 15. At the Fort William British Downhill Series race

racing but at the same time just want to enjoy themselves, ride new

he beat nigh on 30 elites and has since been signed up by Manager-

tracks and not let stress or pressure get in the way. It works, as his

to-the-stars Martin Whiteley to help Laurie on to the next stage of his

recent National Championship win proves.

racing career. Laurie and his dad Ben became part of the Wideopenmag

I finally pinned Laurie and his dad Ben down for an interview as we drove home from a very wet but very fun day of riding and laughing in South Wales. Laurie: Oh man- I’m still so hyped up from riding today I can hardly think properly! Wideopenmag: Good! How was your day today then? What was your favourite track? Laurie: It was unreal. Jeff Parfitt is my hero! I’m probably not allowed to say too much am I?! The middle secret one was my favourite! It was just greasy berms, nice little jumps, drops … all of us were laughing all of the way down, it just feels mint doesn’t it?! WO: So there’s been a lot of stuff going on with you lately. What’s the latest? L: Well, we’ve been in contact with Martyn Whiteley and we’ve signed a management deal for 2 years. He got in contact with us and we had a meeting with him and took it from there. It sounds really good. It will hopefully mean that I’ll get onto a proper UCI team and it’ll take me to World Cups which is a dream. Hopefully that’ll happen! WO: And how does that feel to know that you’re at a stage where you can actually make a career out of racing? L: Well there’s nothing signed yet but to have hope of that is amazing. I’ve dreamt of that since I was 8 so it’s pretty mad for it all to be slowly becoming a reality. WO: And how does that feel for you Ben, to have got to a stage where he can make a career out of it? Ben: Ah it’s the best feeling ever you know? It’s just doing the stuff we’ve always loved doing and seeing him progress to a stage where people are considering that he could have a career out of biking makes me incredibly proud you know? It’s been nothing but fun the whole way and the best thing you can do with your kid is just have fun … and if that leads to a career then it’s the best thing ever.

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WO: Cool. So winning National Champs was a big thing too?

WO: Do you think you’ll feel nervous riding at that level and on

L: Oh that feels so good. It’s been my goal for the year and it’s what

track with the World’s top riders?

we’ve been training towards this year and it’s just rad really. I had a lot

L: Nah, we were at British Champs last year and all the world’s best

of fun that weekend just crashing and playing in the dust and having

riders were there anyway weren’t they! It’s just rad, I can’t wait!

a laugh. I had a bit of luck and it all fell into place. I’m proper over the moon about it.

WO: I think National Champs at Bala was really the only race I’ve seen you at where you seemed nervous. You always just seem

WO: I don’t think it was an easy race for you was it?

to say that you don’t get phased by things. Do you generally get

L: No! I crashed in practice and hurt my finger pretty badly. We had to

nervous at races?

get it all taped up and get some moto foam on my bars. It wasn’t giving

L: Nah, not really, I just think that it’s what I want to be doing and I just

me too much pain in the end though. The track suited me and I

can’t wait for race runs. It’s just what I want to do and there’s no point

was just enjoying it and feeling pretty confident.

holding myself back with nerves! I’m just having a laugh every weekend with my mates and my team and all that. It feels rad just doing that.

WO: So what have we got left for the rest of the year then?

You’ve always got to put a bit of pressure on yourself to get yourself in

L: Well – we’ve got more fun to have with you boys hopefully! There’s

the mode. You’ve got to get yourself in a good mindset at the top of the

the British Downhill Series final and then we’re heading out to the IXS in

track and feel ready to race but it’s got to be a good amount of pressure.

Chatel which is going to be rad. We’ve got a couple of week’s riding on

That’s what I do anyway.

either side. I’ve also got my GCSE results and first day at college coming up. I’m not sure I’m allowed to say what I’m doing after that!

WO: So what’s your ideal mindset for riding and doing well then? L: Well, just what I always ride in really, I’m just there to have a laugh

WO: I reckon you are …

and have fun. As long as it’s a good track and you’re having fun that’s all

L: Ok – well – I’m going to be the forerunner for the World Cup in

that matters really!

Norway. Martin Whiteley sorted that out, it’s unreal. National Champs is going to be there next year, and he mentioned it so we’re heading

WO: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you not having fun on your bike to

out. I’ll get to practice and then ride the track before the race starts. It’s

be fair.

unreal.

L: Nah, it’s just what I love doing isn’t it! You’ve got good people around

B: It’s just a way of getting some experience of riding at a World Cup

you, having fun and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be stoked!

level.

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the champion. laurie greenland.

Summer

2013

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the champion. laurie greenland.

Summer

WO: So how long have you been riding?

WO: Tell me about the penguin racing!

L: I started riding when I was 2. Dad unbolted the stabilisers of my

L: <laughing even more!> We used to put our arms inside our jumpers

red little bike and that was it. I lived over the road from St George’s

so our sleeves were flapping about and run down the race tracks after

Park skatepark in Bristol and I saw all the kids in there every day and I

my dad had done his race runs! We took some mad crashes and stuff

couldn’t wait to get on it. I started riding mountain bikes when my dad

doing that!

bought me a Kona Makena 20” bike and we used to go to the Forest of Dean and all that. We went out to the Alps on it which was pretty much

WO: <laughing> that’s gnarly mate! So when did you do your first

the gnarliest thing I’ve done in my life! I was sketching down the tracks

actual race, on a bike.

on a 20” bike with V brakes!

L: I did my first race at Forest of Dean at the Mini Downhill when I was 12. I remember being so stoked because it was the first time I’d ever got

WO: Was it hard to get him into it?

any proper race kit! I had some 26” waist Thor MX kit with my name on

B: No! He’s always wanted to be on wheels. He was pushing himself on a

the back and I was on a 24” Kona Stuff hardtail! I think I came 7th out of

skateboard before he could walk, he was liked a duck to water!

30 maybe?

WO: And how did it feel taking your kid on a 20” bike down the

WO: So obviously you stuck at it … how did it go from there?

Alps?!

L: From there on I sort of just grew into it and went racing with my dad.

B: It was pretty funny when he was coming down the wet under Le

As soon as I was old enough I just got straight into it. I couldn’t race

Plenet and he was overtaking fully grown men on big rigs! It was alright,

properly until I was 12 – but when I was old enough for Juvenile I did the

it was good fun, we had loads of fun doing that! We got some little body

Caersws Cup, Forest of Dean and the National at Ae Forest. The year

armour on him and off he went!

after that was my first proper year of racing nationals. I got sponsorship from Pscylewerx bike shop in Bristol and they hooked me up with a bike

WO: So you’ve really been riding bikes down gnarly tracks since

and stuff, they were proper rad at the time! The year after that I got

before you knew your arse from your elbow?

sponsored by One Industries and Orange which was kind of them!

B: <laughing!> yeah, Laurie’s pretty much just always come along with me and done whatever I do!

WO: But you weren’t riding a DH bike then were you?

L: To be honest I just saw my dad riding and he was an idol to me,

L: No! I was on an Orange Five with Fox 36 forks on it. I remember

he just loves it. I loved coming to watch the races and me and one of

seeing everyone laughing at me as I came down the track! It was the

my little mates would go to the races and see what he was up to. Just

smallest Five they do, the Five Deva girls bike. I chucked some flat bars

thought he was so rad doing it and couldn’t wait to do it myself!

on it to get the front end down and put some 160mm cranks on it. B: <laughing!> He used to get cross because he’d come down and hear everyone laughing at him and saying “there’s a little kid on the track!!” WO: We thought he was fucking wicked! He was absolutely pinned!! L: I used to come round a corner and think I’d done it absolutely pinned. I’d look up and there’d be a dude there laughing his head off at me on my little XC bike! Last year I moved up to a Patriot which was a bit bigger and the first run down it felt unreal, it felt like I was pootling along compared to the old bike. WO: So 2011 you got some pretty good results which made us take notice of you. Ben, was there a point at which you thought “oh yeah, he’s doing ok at this, it’s worth us putting some effort into”? B: Well, It’s always worth putting the effort into because you’re just having fun aren’t you? Um … We could tell he was pretty loose on a bike from the word go and you could tell how much he loved it!

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2013 L: I love death gripping down hills man! B: So …<laughing!> we could see that before he even started racing he’d already come to so many races and watched so many races and good riders. He learnt a lot just watching races for a couple of years and by the time he started he already had more idea of what to do than I did when I started! L: I used to watch people like Peaty and Bryceland … and my dad of course! Also Rowan Sorrell, Leon Rosser, Emyr Davies and people like that. Emyr was always rad to watch. WO: And suddenly this year you’ve gone even quicker and started really getting the results. Have you changed anything specifically that’s made that change? L: Definitely growing up a bit has helped. Also having a team and mechanics for support. There’s pits to go to, there’s constant food about and anything you really need is taken care of. That’s done it, that’s definitely helped me go faster. It feels like you don’t have to do anything really, you just do what you need to do and then you relax. Like,

WO: So where did the BMX stuff come from?

last year, I went to a few of the races with my mate Obi because my little

L: Just from Wednesday night BMX races I think. We headed to a little

sister was being born and my step mum was pregnant and my dad was

Bristol track one night and met this dude who took us to a proper track

having a knee operation. I got used to doing a lot of stuff myself like

and it was pretty rad. We both started racing Wednesday night races

changing tyres but this year everything is just done for me and it’s easy.

and it went from there. This year I’ve done the full British National BMX Series and I did most of them last year too. Last year I think I was 14th

WO: You have a mate called Obi?

overall – I came 4th in the A-final this year, I was so happy with that!

L: Yeah, his brother wanted him to be called Darth Maul but they couldn’t have that so his dad went for Obi instead! He can correct me if

WO: Right, we’re running out of time. What else should I ask you

that’s wrong!!

about? Oh yeah, school. L: Yeah, I’ve just finished school and I’m going on to do a sports diploma

WO: So what do you mean that “growing up” has helped you go a

at Filton SGS college, which is a sports based college which will give me

bit faster?

time off to race World Cups and give me a hand along the way with

L: Well every year I just get a bit taller and stronger and I go faster

training, free physio and everything like that.

without even learning any new skills. Everything just gets easier and easier and it’s so easy to improve massively over a winter. I’m going to

WO: And what’s your ambition after college then?

be pretty gutted when I don’t grow any more and I don’t get those huge

L: 100% just to make downhill what I do. I want to make a living out of

leaps and bounds!

downhill and travel the world doing what I love, hopefully get some good results out of it along the way! That’s the goal anyway. Everyone wants

WO: So what training have you done this year? I know when we

to be the best don’t they?

started working together you were starting to do gym stuff… L: In the winter we did a lot of gym stuff, body weight stuff, TRX, kettle

WO: Do you want to be the best?

bells, loads of BMX at Burnham on Sea track which is flood lit on

L: Definitely!

Tuesday and Thursday nights.

WO: Last question then. When did you get faster than your old man? L: <laughing> The year he stopped racing with his knee operation! I rode

WO: And who’s winning your pull up contest?!

loads at races and at BMX. I think when he first came back riding he

L: <laughing> I think we’re pretty much equal at the moment!

thought in his head he was as fast as me!! Tell you what, a few places he

B: I did 27!

could actually keep up!

L: We’ve also started training with Andy Wadsworth at MyLifePT who is Danny Hart’s trainer. He’s been giving us some work to do and it’s been

WO: And what advice would you give to any riders that are looking

going really well. He’s given me loads of glute work!! He’s not been doing

to get to where you’re at?

so much upper body and arm stuff more leg work and core work and

L: Definitely watch Dirt’s Fabien Barel and Josh Bryceland ‘Flow’ videos –

stabilising everything so I don’t get out of shape. He looks at the aspects

they helped me out a hell of a lot! Just have fun like those boys do, don’t

of your body that’s not so good and concentrates on that stuff.

take it too seriously and always feel excited for race runs.

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dr. frankentoe

Summer

So Rowan - what's it like to break your toe a month before you open Bike Park Wales?

Given that you seem to have been the busiest man on the planet

Pretty ideal, I just get to put my foot up now and let everyone else do the

for the last year - what's been more painful? Breaking a toe or a

rest you know. Ha, not!! Timing really couldn't have been any worse with

year's worth of getting a bike park ready to open?!

Dr. Frankentoe so much going on and it is frustrating that I can't walk some places on

Ha, ha no question, you could break all 10 toes and it would still be the

site or do certain things but it doesn't stop anything in the big scheme. I

same answer - planning and building a bikepark! None of us could have

have crutches, a quad and other tools to get around in plus everyone is

imagined how testing it would be to get to this point but with just a few

working like dogs to get it all finished in time!

weeks to go now it will all be well worth it!

How did you do it and how much did it hurt?!

Ok so - serious non-toe related question to finish. What should

I did it checking a line that was pretty freshly built one evening. I landed

people look out for at BPW in the next few weeks and months?

a jump going a fair rate and a big rock flicked up and smashed me

You should look to grab a place on the uplift as they are likely to go like

Bike Park Wales’ chief trail builder tells us about his perfectly timed broken toe. words: jamie edwards / @jamie_wideopen

photo: bikepark wales

square on the big toe probably doing about 25mph. No crash, I just So Rowan - what's it like to break your toe a month before you rolled out the landing, stopped, put the bike down and then hopped up open Bike Park Wales? and down for a minute, with a few mild expletives, as you do! Felt it snap Pretty ideal, I just get to put my foot up now and let everyone else do the straight away, so knew that was it. rest you know. Ha, not!! Timing really couldn't have been any worse with so much going on and it is frustrating that I can't walk some places on What did your partner Martin say to you when he saw you hobbling site or do certain things but it doesn't stop anything in the big scheme. I back to base with a bust foot?! have crutches, a quad and other tools to get around in plus everyone is We're not a bromance, just business partners! He was clearly upset to working like dogs to get it all finished in time! see me in pain and said if he could take the pain away from me in any way he would…No, he wasn't there and I think it was more akin to a How did you do it and how much did it hurt?! moment of concern that it may hold things up a little on site. I did it checking a line that was pretty freshly built one evening. I landed a jump going a fair rate and a big rock flicked up and smashed me So what's the damage? Is the bike park still going ahead? square on the big toe probably doing about 25mph. No crash, I just I requested an extension to catch up on Loose Women and Countdown rolled out the landing, stopped, put the bike down and then hopped up but the Bikepark Wales machine doesn't stop and it's got serious and down for a minute, with a few mild expletives, as you do! Felt it snap momentum now, so yes, it is full steam ahead. straight away, so knew that was it. There was never any question. What did your partner Martin say to you when he saw you hobbling You're opening in August right? What can we expect from the park? back to base with a bust foot?! What is the riding like? Are there uplifts? Tell us a bit about it? We're not a bromance, just business partners! He was clearly upset to I would say there is no substitute for getting here with your bikes and see me in pain and said if he could take the pain away from me in any experiencing it for yourself but I think people are going to be pretty way he would…No, he wasn't there and I think it was more akin to a into it; we have a whole range of trails from easy, flowing, smooth trails moment of concern that it may hold things up a little on site. through to hand-cut tight and technical steep runs, an xc climb, pump track, family trail and full downhill runs. We have set out to make the So what's the damage? Is the bike park still going ahead? trails varied and I hope that is what we have achieved. There are four I requested an extension to catch up on Loose Women and Countdown mini buses running on weekends and one three days a week so plenty of but the Bikepark Wales machine doesn't stop and it's got serious opportunity to get the runs in. Our visitor centre is looking rad including momentum now, so yes, it is full steam ahead. a super slick bike shop with a great range of Trek hire bikes and last but There was never any question. not least, good food and cold beer!

hotcakes. Get there at the start and come and experience it, our launch mini buses running on weekends and one three days a week so plenty of date on the 24th August will be a great day with many of our amazing opportunity to get the runs in. Our visitor centre is looking rad including sponsors present to really kickstart the bike park into its operational life. a super slick bike shop with a great range of Trek hire bikes and last but In October there will be the Welsh Champs downhill event and you can not least, good food and cold beer! keep up to date with all the latest news and goings-on via our facebook page and our website: www.bikeparkwales.com And how gnarly are the trails? Suitable for riding with a broken Hope to see you all there soon…. toe?? I did do a day of wincing, riding with the broken toe for our promo video Bike Park Wales will open on the 24th August and is located at Gethin before I had surgery to pin it back straight. I wouldn't recommend doing Bike Park in South Wales. it again! The trails really do have a pretty wide range of difficulty from Find them online at www.bikeparkwales.com beginner and kids trails through to downhills worthy of good quality racing. We're hosting the Welsh DH champs in October this year and then a round of the BDS next year. Given that you seem to have been the busiest man on the planet for the last year - what's been more painful? Breaking a toe or a year's worth of getting a bike park ready to open?! Ha, ha no question, you could break all 10 toes and it would still be the same answer - planning and building a bikepark! None of us could have imagined how testing it would be to get to this point but with just a few weeks to go now it will all be well worth it! Ok so - serious non-toe related question to finish. What should people look out for at BPW in the next few weeks and months? You should look to grab a place on the uplift as they are likely to go like hotcakes. Get there at the start and come and experience it, our launch date on the 24th August will be a great day with many of our amazing sponsors present to really kickstart the bike park into its operational life. In October there will be the Welsh Champs downhill event and you can

You're opening in August right? What can we expect from the park?

keep up to date with all the latest news and goings-on via our facebook

What is the riding like? Are there uplifts? Tell us a bit about it? And how gnarly are the trails? Suitable for riding with a broken I would say there is no substitute for getting here with your bikes and toe?? experiencing it for yourself but I think people are going to be pretty I did do a day of wincing, riding with the broken toe for our promo video into it; we have a whole range of trails from easy, flowing, smooth trails before I had surgery to pin it back straight. I wouldn't recommend doing through to hand-cut tight and technical steep runs, an xc climb, pump it again! The trails really do have a pretty wide range of difficulty from track, family trail and full downhill runs. We have set out to make the beginner and kids trails through to downhills worthy of good quality trails varied and I hope that is what we have achieved. There are four racing. We're hosting the Welsh DH champs in October this year and

page and our website: www.bikeparkwales.com

then a round of the BDS next year.

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Hope to see you all there soon…. Bike Park Wales will open on the 24th August and is located at Gethin Bike Park in South Wales. Find them online at www.bikeparkwales.com

2013

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Sweetness and lines - Kat sweet interview

sweetness and lines kat sweet interview words: fiona davidson / @fionacdavidson photos: Meg Valliant / Karen Johanson Welcome to wideopenmag Kat. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do? Coaching mountain biking is my passion. My focus is on women’s and junior programs and I specialize in freeride skills like jumps, drops, wall rides, and skinnies. What was the inspiration behind setting up Sweetlines? How has it been received? Short answer? My inspiration was to get chicks out shredding with me. It’s been received awesome! Tons of ladies are coming out to train with me. Some of them are starting to kick my butt too which means I’m doing a good job. The long answer is that after 26 years of mountain biking, I still learn something new every year. Learning new skills makes riding so much more fun so why not pass that on to other riders so they can keep growing as well. I’ve found other women also really like to learn and want to know how to improve their skills both to stay safer and to make

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Summer riding more fun. There are a lot of women who learn and push themselves more when they are surrounded by other women. If they see another woman hit something they may be more likely to hit it too than if they see a dude hit it. I’ve had a lot of students come through my programs, some are competing and some simply making the trails more fun. My goal is to be coaching full time in the next 6 months. You've been riding bikes for a long time - how have you seen things changing in terms of women participating and competing? When I first started racing downhill in the mid 90’s there were a lot of ladies in the scene but it petered off by 2000. Since 2007 when I started racing again I’ve seen the numbers rise again. What I’m also seeing is that there are a number of us who used to race DH who are now more interested in jumping. Now that we have venues to compete in the way we like to compete (supportive and fun), there are a lot more ladies focusing on air time. The first Sugar Showdown comp I held in 2012 we had 50 competitors, ages 12-57! Although numbers are increasing, what do you think could be done to encourage even more girls to participate and compete in mountain biking events, especially racing and downhill? Do you think women only events are the key? There is a definite power women get from riding and training with other women. And don’t get me wrong, I love riding with the boys too, but when you get a pack of ladies together they push each other

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US, so I don’t ski much anymore. Skier cross was my thing back in the day and I got to compete in the X-Games and Gravity Games. That sport started off really fun but then the ski racer chicks jumped in and competition got fierce. It took the fun out of it for me. I guess that’s part of the reason I want to make sure our events stay silly and fun. What's been the highlight of your career so far? Do you prefer competing or coaching? Karen O’Connell started training with me in 2009. She was an ok rider to start but what makes her different is her determination and drive to learn. Two years later she beat me in a DH race in Port Angeles. It was bitter sweet to get beat by my own student, but mostly sweet because if she wins, I win. Having my 12 year old student Katie Heinsen win the amateur comp at Sugar Showdown last year was pretty awesome too. She graciously beat ladies 2-3 times her age. Coaching is way more gratifying for me. That being said, what I do love about competition is that it pushes me to excel further than I would just riding for fun. What gives you the most satisfaction about in a very supportive, fun way. I’ve seen it at See Jane Jump, Dirt Series, Dixie Trix, and at Sugar Showdown, ladies being inspired by seeing other ladies shredding it. The key component to what we’re doing with the W.T.F. (Women’s Tour de Freeride), is hosting one day of coaching then competing together. By building skills and camaraderie, the comp is way more fun. It might be fun to try that format for downhill racing. I also think it’s key to have age breakdowns for women’s categories no matter how few women are competing. Who doesn’t like getting on the podium? You met editor Jamie out in New Zealand last (southern) summer? What were you doing there and what did you think of the NZ biking scene? Queenstown is epic! I totally fell in love with that place! If you like gravity, QT has the perfect blend of DH, all mountain, and some of the best jumps I’ve ever hit! Jamie and I met shuttling the infamous Zoot Track. Coaching in Seattle in the winter kind of sucks, it’s dark, wet, muddy, slippery, cold – probably quite a bit like England in the winter. So I’ve been looking for a warm winter home, that way I can coach year round and not have to wash mud out of my pink hair each time I ride. Thanks to DTR, the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club and Queenstown Bike Taxi, I was able to do some coaching and build the Sisterhood of Shred down under. You've also competed in skiing? How was that compared to mountain bike events? Do you still have any time to ski? Honestly I’m a bit of a snow snob after living in Lake Tahoe for ten

running events/coaching days? What stokes me out about coaching is when something clicks for a student and they get it for the first time. Whether it’s cornering, hitting a gap jump, or simply learning to control a skid sideways, seeing the smiles on their faces is why I do what I do. Plans for the future of Sweetlines? Future travel plans? I’m in the process of getting trained by IMBA’s ICP (Instructor Certification Program) to become a master coach and be able to coach new coaches. I love to travel so I’m in talks with a guy in Trinidad to do a class there. And of course I’m devising my plans for New Zealand which would include coaching coaches, teaching classes for women and kids, leading a tour for my US friends, and of course hosting Sugar Showdown New Zealand! Basically building the Sisterhood of Shred internationally. Can we do one in England? Any shout-outs/thanks? I have to give a huge shout out to Diamondback Bikes for picking me up this year and sponsoring Sugar Showdown. My other sponsors rock too, Deity, Sombrio, Five Ten, Nutcase, LFDJ, and Somersault Snacks! And thanks to my amazing crew of coaches and behind the scenes assistants, Tammy, Gale, Lindsey, Meg, Fredrika, Angi, Cort, Mason, Max, Jacob, Katie, Kelly, Beriah, Jack, Dan, Dirt Corps. Without them none of this would be possible. And a shout out to my mountain bike community who have supported me through an incredibly challenging year. Find Kat on Twitter at @SweetlinesMTB

years. I’m a big fan of blue bird powder days, a rarity in the Northwest

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Sweetness and lines - Kat sweet interview

Summer

Bike test / Productissue review 21

2013

26” Trail bike shootout

trail bike shootout

santa cruz blur tr / saracen ariel 142 / diamondback sortie 3 It’s funny how things change... but in the end just go full

like throwing your shoes on, fastening up your lid and

circle.

rolling out the door to see what the trails hold.

Ten years ago pedalling a bike up a hill appeared to be the

Personally for us the fun of pedalling has come from the

dorkiest thing you could possibly do. Look at the mags,

huge leap forward in bikes in the last few years. No longer

look at the videos, look at what “the kids” were up to. It was

are we bodging dirt jump bikes into XC bikes or XC bikes

all about big bikes and about gravity.

into fun, trail bikes. Suddenly there are literally hundreds

Nothing stands still for long though does it? Slowly, surely

of great quality bikes that you can pedal to the trails on,

and thankfully the lure of pedalling bikes up, along and

you can ride everything that the hill throws at you and you

down has crept into our collective imagination. Light, fun

can descend with a massive grin on your chin. Bikes that

bikes with single crown forks and open face helmets are

go up and down but have the geometry, the travel and the

dish of the day again and mountain biking is a much better

toughness to ride hard and fast.

place because of it.

Here are 3 such bikes that we’ve put plenty of miles into

Let’s be honest. It’s massively refreshing isn’t it? Riding a

this summer, riding them throughout the UK on the best

bike shouldn’t be hard work, it shouldn’t always be taken

trails we could find. Each is very differently priced, specced

too seriously. Sure there’s a time for your race head, for

and marketed but each is a bike we’ve had fun on and want

warm ups and for the infamous “trying” but there’s nothing

to share with you.

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Product review / 26" trail bike shootout / santa cruz blur tr

summer

Santa Cruz Blur TR words: JAmie edwards / @JAmie_wideopen

photos: JACOB GIBBINS / @JACOBGIBBINS

So the Blur TR - it's Santa Cruz's aluminium framed, 26" wheeled, 125mm travel bike that was designed as a more wallet friendly version of the Blur TR carbon. But can a bike with more gears and less travel than most hardtail trail bikes really cut it? Right - first things first. I really like this bike. It’s not the fastest bike I’ve

a bit slack, a bit low and a wee bit heavy off the peg for that.

ever ridden on flat, pedally, surfaced trails and it is not the ‘one bike to

It also comes with components that invite a kicking like a

do everything’ that we all seem fixated on but - far more importantly - it

bash guard, High Rollers and a Fox CTD shock that is tuned

is a hell of a lot of fun and it’s a bike that I’ve spent 90% of my riding

soft when flicked to ‘descend’. It’s also not an out and out ‘all

time on since getting it. It’s fun, it fits me and it’s fast on tight, natural,

mountain’ bike. It’s got a modest 125mm of travel at both

technical trails – particularly where there’s a bit of gradient. My first ride

ends, a not-slack-but-not-steep 68degree head angle and

took me high up above Innerleithen on some tight, gnarly, technical

20 gears. In fact, it has more gears and less travel than my

trails chasing Santa Cruz rider Mark Scott. The long, hot climb was

hardtail trail bike!

hacked away with surprising ease and it took one flick of the shock to

The aggressive build and the confidence inspiring tune on the

‘Descend’ and a turn of the cranks to be having a blast. The bike instantly

shock make it really fun to push hard. The VPP suspension

felt fast, comfortable and fun.

charges on really nicely through rough, uneven, nasty rocky trails

So fun it is ... what is it not? Santa Cruz UK’s answer to that question

meaning it carries speed well and equals fun. You’ll want to go faster,

was “who cares?” I agree with them after a month on board the Blur

ride gnarlier trails and see what sort of trouble you can get into on this

but for the sake of a detailed review I’ll indulge. It’s not an XC bike. It’s

thing. Hacking through fast, rough Scottish trails on the Blur I couldn’t help but grin, let off the brakes and push to go faster. Given that it only has 125mm of travel and an air shock you quickly find the limits of what feels ‘comfortable’ but the effect is really fun indeed. You’ll get into some wild shapes and get loads of feedback from the trail - all while still being able to throw it around and easily manual, hop or pump. You can push it hard and the size and shape makes it fun and manoeuverable on tight, twisty trails. So what were the drawbacks of the bike? Weight is the main one. On the really flat, pedally trail centre stuff it feels that - despite being a short travel bike - it wasn’t the fastest or least tiring. I definitely can feel myself losing pace on those sections but that slight disadvantage quickly fades away when you get into bigger, rougher terrain. The tune on the shock was also an interesting one - but that’s probably more a comment on the limitations of air shocks in general. The Fox CDT offers 3 levels of adjustability - Climb, Trail and Descend. I couldn’t quite

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santa cruz blur tr / 26" trail bike shootout / Product review

£ 3,199

get the balance right despite a bit of fettling and I found that where

probably not – but then that’s not really what the Blur is all about.

‘climb’ and ‘trail’ felt very firm, ‘descend’ felt a bit too soft. It didn’t spoil

What about the price? A frame with a Fox CTD will cost you £1799 and

the bike at all though and really I’m picking at details, but it did maybe

a complete bike from around £3199. Our complete build sported an

stop a great bike being really, really great.

upgraded Fox fork and Hope BB and headset bringing the price up to

Enough grumbling though - what was good about this bike? A lot of

somewhere around £3500. Not cheap – particularly when the bike is

things and I’m sat here seriously considering putting my hand in my

pitched as ‘a more affordable option’ – but when lined up against the

pocket for a frame. The Blur TR is a great bike. With the shock on

competition it comes out as good value for money.

‘descend’ it’s fast and very fun on rough terrain, mainly thanks to the

It would be easy to assume that the Blur is a sort of ‘mini enduro’ bike as

super good VPP suspension platform. There’s a particularly rocky section

if it has been given short travel and 26” wheels to keep the weight down

of our local trails that throws about 100 yards of fast and very rocky

and XC speed up. That’s missing the point of the TR. I think it is how it is

trail at you – the Blur flies down there, eating up the sharp edged rocks

purely because it’s fun and the effect on the trail is a fast, agile bike that

and screaming out for more. It was fast and fun. If hooning around the

feels great in rough terrain. It’s a brilliant - if ever so slightly chubby -

woods and having fun is your main aim you’ll have a great time on this

example of why 26” bikes should stay firmly on the menu. That may not

bike. It’s great for gnarly trails. It likes jumps, drops, technical singletrack

be what you need in your trail bike, but for me it really works.

and steep, twisty descents. The super low top tube means you can really move around on the bike and wriggle around tight, twisty awkward stuff

Thanks to Santa Cruz UK for making this test possible.

really confidently. Despite being light on travel I’d happily take this to

www.santacruzbikes.co.uk

any UK trail ride and feel confident it could tear the trails to piece if I had the minerals to spur it on. Would I ride ‘downhill’ trails on it? No –

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Product review / 26" trail bike shootout / diamondback sortie 3

summer

£ 2,400

diamondback sortie 3

words: OSCAR NEWTON-MASON / @tftuned photos: JACOB GIBBINS / @JACOBGIBBINS

“Blimey! That looks pretty good for a Diamondback!” was what greeted the Sortie 3 when I pulled it out the box. I agree, DB’s 140mm trail bike looks good with its simple, blocky black and white graphics and subtle branding. 74

diamondback sortie 3 / 26" trail bike shootout / Product review

2013

It’s fair to say that I was excited to get on the Sortie. I’ve always

With the trail centres in the bag I knew we had to find something steeper

felt that the trend to run 150/160mm on a trail bike is a bit

and more challenging for the Sortie so tapped up enduro pro Mark Scott

much so have been looking for something with the geometry

for some local knowledge and hidden trails. Mark treated us to some of

of a long travel bike but that had a manageable amount of

the best trails I’ve ever ridden, too tight for a DH bike but so steep that

squish. Had DB come up with the solution?!

you wished you were on one. I was hoping the Sortie would lap them up.

The frame is T6 “Weapons grade” Aluminium which helps if

The steeper, off-piste, technical terrain was where the Sortie got

you’re riding with Matt Hunter in Afghanistan I guess. It has a

me thinking. The suspension is interesting. The combination of DB’s

142x12 bolt through axle to match the fork, tapered head tube

‘Knucklebox’ linkeage and Fox rear shock generally works well and is

and ISCG tabs. Up front is a Fox Float 32 RL open bath fork

very, very plush. It’s very comfortable on small bumps but does suffer

which is tapered with a 15mm bolt through. A nice Float RP23

when you start to push it harder. For trail centres it’s comfortable but for

Adaptive Logic High Volume rear shock is out back. You’ve also

faster riders on rougher terrain you can see its limits. That’s nothing a

got Mavic rims, a mixture of Shimano kit that’s mostly SLX or XT

bit of a custom tune wouldn’t fix though.

but quite a portly budget Dynasis chainset.

It was also cornering on the technical trails where I felt the Sortie could

I ended up putting on a few of my own parts that I personally like. The

do better. Whilst the suspension encouraged me to go faster and push

odd 100mm step was the first to go, replaced by a 50mm stem and a bar

the bike harder the steep 70degree head angle would suddenly reel me

that I’m more at home with. I also stuck on a knobbier front tyre and got

back in and slow me down a bit. My instinct was to fit an offset bushing

rid of the triple chain set for a chain guide and a 36t ring.

kit to slacken the bike out but I was disappointed to find that only one

From the first ride on the bike it was obvious that the geometry was

bushing is replaceable on the Sortie so the benefit would be minimal.

right at home on fast, pedally trails. I took the bike round some standard

There’s also the tyre clearance issue. The bike is clearly designed with

‘trail centre’ stuff and it felt really at home, ideal for anyone out lapping

dust rather than mud in mind, offering a maximum clearance of just

the Forest of Dean, Llandegla or Cwm Carn every weekend. The size

2.25”. That’s fine if you just ride surfaced trails on a fast, narrow tyre

and the head angle really were quite good and the bike pedalled and

but is a pain if you want to take the bike to bigger terrain and fit bigger

accelerated really nicely. Heading up to Scotland for a week of riding

rubber.

between the British Downhill Series and the World Cup only reinforced

To sum up it’s fair to say that the Sortie is a great bike if it suits your style

that. Glentress and Innerleithen were fun and effortless rides.

of riding. It struggles in steeper, gnarlier terrain due to the steep head

Up at the top of Glentress in the jump park I was again surprised by how

angle and in the mud due to the modest tyre clearance. For trail centre

much fun the Sortie offered and despite being a ‘pedalling bike’ spent a

riding though it’s great. It climbs fairly well, the suspension is awesome

sunny evening relearning one handers, big silly whips and tables. The

and the overall package is bombproof.

Sortie pedalled the trails all day and jumped the jumps all evening, surviving the lot and ready for more the next day again.

Thanks to Diamondback for making this test possible. www.diamondback.co.uk

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Product review / 26" trail bike shootout / saracen ariel 142

saracen ariel 142 words and photos: JACOB GIBBINS / @JACOBGIBBINS

When Milky’s much loved (hammered) trail bike was stolen he was inconsolable. That was until Saracen hooked him up with their third generation, 142mm Ariel and told him to give it a thrashing. Three months on, after riding all over the UK – here are his thoughts…

last man standing

trail bike shootout

76

It was a tough call but the Saracen ultimately came out top of the pile. All of the bikes were fun, fast and versatile but at the end of the day the value for money, great angles and “oh go on, ride the arse off me” vibe of the Ariel sold it for us.

summer

saracen ariel 142 / 26" trail bike shootout / Product review

2013

Some bikes just do their jobs quietly, others remind you why you are

£2,649

not racing the world cups, and then there are the ones which egg you on to push your limits and seem to be whispering in your ear “Ah go on! If you can do it, I can do it!” The Ariel is the latter. It’s a 140mm trail bike on the surface, but with its slightly-more-aggressive-than-usual geometry and sturdy build kit it really is capable of much more than just the graded blues at your local trail centre. I have ridden the bike for 3 month roughly, riding it 2 or 3 times a week on everything from all day rides out in the ass-end of nowhere, to downhill shuttle runs, to the after-work ride round the local woods. The Ariel has taken it all in its stride. I don’t really need to say it, but it isn’t a DH bike, nor is it an XC race bike. There are bikes out there that go up and down hills better, but few (in my experience) seem to do both as well in the same package. Out of the box the Ariel is ready to ride but to suit my personal taste (I like to ride lots of jumps and throw the bike around), I cut the seat post down so I can slam the seat. From stock you can’t quite get it right down. I also swapped out the 60mm stem for a 50mm. Other than that, I’ve kept it factory and everything works beautifully. The Ariel sports Fox suspension front and rear with a 32 Float Evo up front and a Float-A CTD out back. The CTD on the rear shock offers three settings: ‘climb’, ‘trail’ and ‘descend’ and transforms the bike from almost hardtail firm to downhill-ready in a second. Brakes and finishing kit are from Shimano and work well every time. Picking at the details it would be nice to get a clutch rear mech to stop the chain occasionally bouncing off when it gets rough. Tyres can make or break a bike and the Schwalbe Nobby Nics have done a fine job on all surfaces – though conditions have generally been pretty dry and summery since the Ariel arrived. I’m going to experiment with some bigger, beefier tyres as I spend some more time on the bike. For £2649 it feels like you get a lot of bike for your money from Saracen. You’ve got Fox suspension, good Shimano brakes, SLX drive train, solid wheels, Schwalbe tyres, Kore finishing kit and – of course- the quality name of Saracen. I’d totally recommend the Ariel. It goes up, it goes down and it’s one of the most fun all-round bikes I’ve ridden. Thanks to Saracen Bikes for making this test possible. www.saracen.co.uk

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Product review / shorts shootout / ion 'vertex' / shredly - nikolai short / scott 'mind'

summer

shorts shootout Shredly ‘Nikolai’ Cash money: MTB Short £74.99 / Yogacham £24.99 www.gravitybikes.co.uk to buy in the UK or www.shredly.com for more info Shredly is just for the girls and their shorts certainly aren’t the usual offering. Fantastic colours and practical - nice lightweight stretchy fabric, velcro waist tab adjustment, zipped pockets and mesh vents. Apart from a few quibbles with the generous US sizing (my size 8 hung off me) and the ‘above the knee’ cut, I did really like these shorts – if you’re looking for something a bit fun and different that’s good to ride in you can probably stop looking here. I was also pleasantly surprised how comfortable the Yogacham liner was – I barely noticed it while riding. It’s light, breathable with a thick yoga-pant style waistband

ion ‘vertex’ Cash money: £62.95 www.ion-products.com/bike

The Word: Something a bit different for the UK market – fun, colourful but still totally practical – if you’re fed up of black or pink being your only options, well worth a look.

Scott ‘mind’ Cash money: £109.95 www.scott-sports.com

The Mind short is simply brilliant. It’s light

The Vertex is the least ‘bikey’ looking of the

weight, very comfortable, fits really well and

shorts we’re featuring here but still packs in

looks great. The four way stretch material

a great riding cut, quick drying material and

makes the Mind super comfortable to pedal

a slight stretchiness that works well when

in and will move nicely as you twist around.

pedalling. Unlike many paper-thin riding shorts

Despite the baggy style there isn’t too much

the Vertex manages to offer sturdy, tough

material to foul on your seat, just make sure

material whilst also still feeling light weight

you get the size right though. Adjustment is

and unobtrusive. A slight stretchiness to the

taken care of in a really innovative way with

material also means that they adapt well to

two zips on either side, by your hips. Zip them

your movements on the bike but aren’t so flexy

forward to tighten, zip them back to loosen.

as many shorts. No inner short here though

Also great is the inner short which is the best

which partially accounts for the price.

I’ve ever ridden in. It’s stylish, silky soft and even

The Word: Tough and comfortable whilst still

has a trendy Scott branded waistband like your

remaining surprisingly lightweight. Not the one

posh pants!

if you like your shorts to sit below the knee but

The Word: Not cheap at all but these might

otherwise good value.

just be the best trail short I’ve ever ridden. Top marks Scott.

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2013

Raceface chester bar and stem / Hope pro 2 evo wheelset / Product review

Raceface chester bar and stem Cash money: Bars £36.99 / Stem £44.99

www.raceface.com

I have been running this cockpit combo for quite a while now and have to say I love it! Yes there are other options on the market that will be a tad lighter on the weighing scales but you know that this Raceface combo will take anything you throw at it. The handlebars are made of 6061 alloy making them nice and tough with a total length of 740mm. Taking a few tumbles while riding these bars the ruggedness has really shone through and there’s barely a mark on them. Nothing changes when it comes to the stem either. Made of a 2014 alloy it comes in two sizes 50mm and 70mm. The 70mm weighing in at 171g. Once again this stem has withstood a few falls with barely a mark on it. Sadly for you colourful folk though there is only the option of black, so no colour coordinating with your socks or helmets! The Word: Very sturdy combination. Perfect amount of ride and sweep. Although I reckon a few different colour options could be good. Overall thumbs up. Tested by: James 2.0

Hope Pro 2 Evo Wheelset Cash money: £36.99

www.hopetech.com

There’s no denying it, Hope make a bloody good set of wheels. UK made hubs with stainless steel cartridge bearings, hand laced in Halifax by a bloke called Jason, great customer service and loads of spares should anything go wrong. What’s not to like?! What I’ve got here are the wheels I do 90% of my riding on, built up for the ‘do it all’ bike that sees me up, along and down trails week in week out. I’ve got Pro2 Evo hubs laced onto Stan’s ZTR Flow EX rims. The hubs were an obvious choice, they boast ferocious reliability and are both plenty light and plenty tough for the demands of all but the very gnarliest of riding. Even better, they can be easily swapped between 12, 15 and 20mm as you change your setup and can easily be serviced and repaired. The rims were only a slightly trickier choice. I wanted to run tubes initially, with the option to later move to tubeless. I wanted something that I could happily pedal up and along but that would lean more in the direction of fat tyres and confident descending. The Stan’s ZTR Flow EX leapt out as the one, offering a wide, tough, low rim and reasonably low weight alongside. How do they ride? Clearly, beautifully and they’ve stood up to countless dodgy landings, lazy line choices and even the few guilty, sulky rides home with flat tyres. All without any grumblings (from the wheels at least). Most of my riding on these wheels tends to be an even split between pedally XC singletrack and fast, rough, bashy downhill stuff. I’ve been super happy with how they’ve answered these two very different demands extremely nicely. The weight clearly isn’t XC feather light but they feel more than sprightly enough to be pedalled up and down all day and don’t turn my lightish hardtail into a slogger. On the downhill, teamed up with Continental Mountain King 2 2.4” they give a really solid and impressively wide tyre profile offering lots of confidence and stability. As an all-round set up that leans towards having fun on the downhill sections it feels like a brilliant set up. I recently took the leap and went tubeless on these wheels, using Continental’s Revo Sealant and Stans’ valves and rim tape. I was pleasantly surprised at how straight forward the process was and despite having to use a bit more sealant than advised had a sealed, tubeless wheel set on the trails surprisingly easily. The Word: Faultless performance and a brilliant, versatile wheel set. Top quality, reliable wheels and everything we’d expect from Hope. Light enough to pedal all day, tough enough to take a mountain of abuse. Tested by: Jamie

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Product review / osprey raven 10 / x-tools work stand

summer

osprey raven 10 Cash money: £84.99

www.ospreypacks.com

The design team at Osprey must spend half their time just sitting around high-fiving each other, because they keep nailing extremely well thought out packs. This one is a new addition to the women’s Osprey range –based on the hugely successful men’s Raptor series. Firstly – features. It’s a female specific fit and has an adjustable chest strap, two zipped pockets on the waist belt, hydration pack compatible (complete with little magnet on the chest strap to keep the hose in place), multiple interior organiser pockets, small stretch stash pocket on the front, side compression straps, the Osprey lid-lock system for easy and comfortable helmet carry and probably my favourite feature – a small roll-out tool pouch which is tucked neatly away at the bottom of the pack and includes a mini fold-out ‘tarp’ so you won’t lost any little screws or bits when you’re carrying out your trail side repairs. This is also detachable so if you don’t need it, you can just undo the toggle and leave it behind. I’ve used this pack for every ride I’ve been on since I’ve had it, and found the size ideal for most rides – easily enough space for everything I need to carry – including a small waterproof jacket, map, pump, food, even extra water if you wanted although the pack easily carries a 3 litre reservoir. It does come in a 14 litre version as well though if you’re heading out for a longer ride and need a bit more space. It is incredibly comfortable to ride with – it doesn’t move around much (the compression straps help here) and fits well against your back. It also has a good air-mesh system that stops it all getting too sweaty. Overall, it feels like it’s built to last and is also bright enough to stand out a little from other packs out there (if purple isn’t your thing it also comes in a fairly vibrant green). I think I’ll be using this one for a long time. The Word: It might not be the cheapest hydration pack out there but it’s probably one of the best designed. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny. Tested by: Fiona

x-tools work stand Cash money: £89.99

www.hotlines-uk.com

How about a work stand that is priced towards the average British racer? Where other big brand stands can reach anywhere up to £200 a pop, this offering from X-Tools is a mere £90, much more affordable to us mere mortals right? The X-Tools work stand is a great product and the quality far outweighs the price. It’s probably not sturdy enough for the relentless demands of a full time mechanic, but for weekend warriors it’s ideal. The stand is made of lightweight aluminium with a chunky plastic clamp. It’s quick and easy to get the bike in and out of the clamp, which spins 360 degrees meaning you can get it onto your seat post, frame or fork really easily. When packing, it folds down very nicely and fits easily into the cupboard or the back of the van. That’s a big plus and means no sacrificing space to bring it to races or store it when we get home. It’s also really light which makes it easy to transport it around. Finally, balance is an all important factor in a stand. We’ve used the stand in the uneven pits of Innerleithen, Fort William and Val Di Sole and not had a wobbler yet. Sure, because the stand is quite light weight you do need to be careful when working on heavier bikes … but generally we’ve had no problems at all. The Word: Great price, great stand. Highly recommended for privateer racers and home mechanics. Tested by: Rich Thomas and the Wideopenmag race team

80

hope sl grips / dmr viral chain guide / Trail 42 Bamboo Tech-Tee / Product review

2013

hope sl grips Cash money: £25.00

www.hopetech.com

Lock-on grips may not be new but with Hope’s ‘Designed, Built and Tested in England’ moniker I was excited to see how they would put their twist on this component. The SL grip has an integrated lock-on mechanism built in. That means no metal rings on the outermost surfaces and that the rubber covers the grip for the full length. With the cap already fitted, it was literally a case of unbolting my old grips and bolting these on in their place. The SL seems to be a cross between a Lock On Ruffian, and a Renthal Kevlar wire on grip (that have also been fitted to my bike in the last 2 months). The rubber is soft like the Renthal’s, but with the slightly firmer feel and diameter of the lock on. I have used them with and without gloves in this hot weather, and sweaty hands don’t seem to be a problem. Not an aggressive or bulky profile so my little hands loved them. My only question mark is the colour – yes they stand out, but will they get grubby in time? I guess only time will tell, as they will be staying on for a while… The Word: All the quality and innovation we’ve come to expect from Hope. Great grips! Tested by: Alan Milway (Atherton Racing’s fitness coach)

DMR Viral Chain Guide Cash money: £79.00

www.dmrbikes.com

There was a time when fitting a working chain guide required luck, heavy modification and sheer bloody mindedness. Thankfully those days are long gone and fitting a device to keep your chain in check is no longer a major feat. The DMR Viral guide fitted to my ISCG equipped hardtail with impressive ease and the two-part back plate meant that fine-tuning and adjustment was simply a case of lining it up and tightening up the bolts. Unlike many guides the back-plate of the Viral comes in two separate pieces that bolt together when you tighten everything up – making it really easy to get the top and bottom guides exactly where you want them or even to dispense with one altogether if you so wish. For those riders that aren’t blessed with ISCG tabs there’s a BB mount adapter supplied as standard which simply bolts onto the back-plate with equal ease. The Word: So far so good- the Viral fitted in minutes, was a breeze to setup and fine-tune and has kept my chain anchored in place. Equally impressive is the price – which clocks in well below the competition. We like it a lot. Tested by: Jamie

Trail 42 Bamboo Tech-Tee Cash money: £35.00

www.trail42.co.uk

I admit to being a fan of natural rather than synthetic when it comes to base layers, but I’ll also admit to sometimes finding merino just a little too toasty especially riding in warm conditions. Another fabric worth considering is bamboo, which is what Trail 42 have opted to use for their new tech tee (blended with organic cotton). You get all the benefits of natural fibres (breathable, soft and therefore comfortable next to skin, and most importantly not stinky) but I definitely found this a little cooler than merino. Come winter time and that might not be an advantage but then you’ll probably grab another layer anyway. The fit is good, I’ve got a women’s size 10 and it’s fairly fitted but not overly so – if you prefer a baggier riding jersey I’d opt for a size larger. It is a pretty pleasant colour too with contrast stitching a nice touch – a good alternative to all the pink that still seems to be out there. Has repeatedly washed well at 30° and so far, seems to be made of pretty durable stuff. Win! The Word: Breathable, rideable and wearable. One for the trails and the café stop afterwards. Tested by: Fiona

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Parting shot:

How can you ever bet against Greg Minnaar? Three

times World Cup overall winner , twice NORBA

overall winner, over a decade at the very top of the

sport and World Champion in 2003, 2012 and now 2013.

Here’s Greg with his one-off Nelson Mandela OGK

Kabuto helmet flying past his home crowd and into

the bottom section of the track at Pietermaritzburg.

Less than a minute after this shot was taken Greg

would take his third World Championship title.

Photographer Keith Valentine beamed this image

over to us straight after Greg’s win – Of all the

images in this issue, this is the freshest!

photo: keith valentine / @phunkt

170mm

GENIUS LT 700

THE SCOTT GENIUS LT 700 TUNED IS THE ULTIMATE ENDURO MACHINE. THE TUNED VERSION BOASTS A SUPER LIGHT HMX CARBON FIBER FRAME. WITH A CUSTOM FOX NUDE SHOCK WITH BOOST VALVE, A CUSTOM 170MM FOX 34 FORK, OUR PATENTED TWINLOC TECHNOLOGY, IN COMBINATION WITH TRACTION CONTROL, ALLOWING FOR THREE TRAVEL/GEOMETRY SETTINGS AND SRAM XX1, THIS BIKE IS READY TO TAME ALL MOUNTAINS.

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hope sl grips / dmr viral chain guide / Trail 42 Bamboo Tech-Tee

summer


Wideopenmag Issue 21