3, that’s the magic number

Now where did I leave that camera?
Now where did I leave that camera?

My mini guiding business had its second outing today and for the second time I had 3 riders. Considering the time of the year, weather, mud etc and the fact that my little corner of Wiltshire is not exactly a MTB mecca, I am pleased and I think it bodes well for the brighter and drier months ahead.

We're on a byway to Hell
We’re on a byway to Hell

Actually, the smaller groups get me used to doing things right without an over-sized group to manage. Though I have led much larger groups before for MB Swindon, there is something a little more stressful about doing it when taking someone’s money. So extra care is being taken to get it right.

I’m having to give some thought to a refund policy due to some cancellations and I’m even thinking about a loyalty scheme!

This way and that way
This way and that way

We were treated to ‘no rain’ today and relatively mild conditions, which meant I set off in a tee shirt! It got cold once we stopped for a tea/cake break in Avebury hence the jacket in the pictures.

We've come a long long way together
We’ve come a long long way together

About 25km and 300m of elevation was just right for this beginners ride and it was great to see a rider returning for his second ride with me and pushing himself (and his bike at times) a little further on this outing.

Its behind you!
Its behind you!

I should remember to take more photos as most of these were taken around the Cherhill Monument and there were plenty of other places that would have made for some interesting shots.

As the weather gets better, I plan on putting some longer rides on in Wiltshire and I have some plans to to host a ride or two in Wales soon too.

Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire
Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire

Its feel great getting people motivated and cycling on the hills and I look forward to doing much more of this as the year goes on….

So now, not De La Soul as the title suggests, cos i couldn’t find a decent video, but Beastie Boys – 3 MCs and 1 DJ


“Inside” by Jamie Flanagan

Reeves & Swayze In 'Point Break'
“its that place where your lose yourself and find yourself”

I’ve asked a few friends and followers to submit some content as “guest” blogs and Jamie Flanagan is the first up.  I’ve met Jamie a few times on uplifts at Bike Park Wales, we share a love of 90s rock that many wont even have heard of and he likes to take pictures of car parks.

However, he is a downhill shredder, top bloke and I should ride more often with him.  Anyway, this is his blog not mine today so have a read below.  Over to you buddy…

This article has been written before and I’d think there are close parallels in surfing and climbing amongst others but they are what they are. So I’d like to talk to you about something that drives a lot of my riding – that feeling of being ‘inside’.

I was first there many years ago on a trail just up above Peaslake called Silent Treatment on my first real mountain bike with the guy who started MTB for me. I was back in the same place only a couple of years ago riding abroad down a never ending loam filled natural corkscrew rollercoaster on a single pivot sledge hammer of a bike. Lastly there is a wood in Shropshire that we rode in spring of last year that I will always remember.

In all the hours of over twenty years of riding, these are the stand out memories. The bikes come and go as do those with whom I ride, but there were a few common feelings to all of those runs above. Firstly there is silence – no noise from the outside world not even those of tires in dirt. Secondly, I don’t feel a thing whilst in this place – I’m not breathing hard, no aches or pain even at the end of a hard-charging day. Lastly, it all comes together as the bike and I seem to blend together with the track.

There are also circumstances that seem to bring on the feeling – sunshine helps for sure, companions can be key and conditions for some speed stand out for me. You don’t need a £7K bike or a foreign holiday however. Lastly, the knowledge of that run being inside only comes later after the day is done, sometimes long after.

I’ve no idea when I will be back here, but the possibility keeps me fascinated so I’ll keep trying to get back ‘in’. Maybe inside is a gift you have to earn but won’t necessarily receive. It can’t be bought, trained for, planned, booked or even anticipated. As a result, inside slips through my fingers like smoke.

This is me and you may very well be entirely different, but I’d be delighted if some of you know what I am trying to say. To those of you that do, I need add nothing. To those that don’t I am sorry to admit I can’t help either as I know no definite recipe. In many respects, none of the above really matters as long as you’re having fun. Each to their own, but for myself I’m fascinated and can’t stop chasing inside down thin lines of dirt in the woods.


The Next Best Thing

Adidas TERREX Trail Cross MTB Shoes
Adidas TERREX Trail Cross MTB Shoes

If you have just starting out in mountain biking its likely you’ve gone out and bought yourself a hardtail from your LBS (local bike shop) along with some basics such as a helmet, multitool, tyre levers and a pump.

I know I thought I had everything I needed at home as I had bikes of sorts, so must have all that I needed. I didn’t really but I had enough to get me started. Before long you will find excuses to buy new tools, fancy mini pumps, specific clothing and backpacks with more pockets than you think you will ever need.  Continue reading “The Next Best Thing”

I’ve been wondering – Part I


It was about 6 and half years ago I took an old bike into my local bike shop (sadly no longer there – Bertie Maffoons) and walked out soon after with a new mountain bike and have never looked back.

However I will be looking back today – as times, technology and Tim have all changed and I have been wondering about mountain bike media/press. This is an area I have tried to become part of with this blog and even getting myself published (twice) and photographed once.

Back a few years ago I was subscribing to 1 magazine a month and buying 1 and sometimes maybe 2 others. Print magazines are having a tough time and in the last few years at least 2 have disappeared that I used to read from time to time; Dirt and more recently What Mountain Bike have gone.   Is this a surprise when we consume more and more of our news and reviews digitally? Lets have a look at it.

Spending £5 and maybe £15 some months on magazines makes a dent in your finances and for what return? Mostly a growing pile of expensive glossy paper I wasn’t reading. Why wasn’t I reading it?

I often found the same and more detailed information on line for free so my magazine purchases slowed. I justified some by subscribing by getting a free gift.  The magazine is practically free, but did I really need another hydration back pack or pump?

Increasingly, editorial articles were either simply not relevant or the same topic was being discussed by different journalists and in different magazines.

  • 10 reasons you need to ride in Utah
  • Why I moved from the city to the country side
  • How to kit out your van for a road trip
  • How to ride drop offs like a pro
  • Which size wheel is best
  • etc

You know the sort of things.  Essentially I was spending £4-5 a month on a magazine that was showing me glossy images of bikes and components that either I couldn’t afford to buy or had no need for. They showed me dream holidays and trips I had no chance of going on due to family commitments and opinions I had heard the month before in another magazine, written by another journalist but with a slightly shorter beard.

I bought my first 3 bikes by going in to a shop and not reading a magazine review

Something a little more “grown up” was available in Singletrack magazine but even here, the content (re)cycle soon comes around and the inevitable £6000 bike and £200 waterproof jacket group tests appear.

Simply put I found the content mostly uninteresting.

Its probably unfair to say this really, but I simply don’t need to read group tests every month. When I’m in need of a new frame, jacket, wheel, tyre, dropper seat post or set of winter gloves I’ll research it and no doubt come across these tests but when I need them.  Heck, I might even buy the magazine to read about it. But I won’t subscribe any longer.

A Classic Ride in Wiltshire with Tom Hutton / Singletrack / oh and that's me!
A Classic Ride in Wiltshire with Tom Hutton / Singletrack / oh and that’s me!

Its not all bad, both MBR and MBUK have regular UK riding features with maps, places to stay, turn by turn instructions etc.  I often check the covers of these magazines to see where this months routes are, and decide to buy the magazine based on the riding destinations. Singletrack also does this with longer more informative articles in the shape of a Classic Ride. This is the sort of content that I seek out, but there simply isn’t enough of it and it looks like even this sort feature could be disappearing.

The February 2018 Issue of MBR will be the last to contain our routes section. Dropping sales have hit editorial budgets … no longer feature in the magazine

– Tom Hutton / MTB Guiding

Simply put though, I found that Singletrack magazine number 113 was arriving on my door mat before I’d even opened issue 112 and read issue 111.

And its not just me that does this and many of my biking friends simply don’t buy magazines at all.

Mountain biking is such a broad and rich subject with so many topics to cover, different types of bike, different types of riders, riders who seek out knowledge, riders who just want to ride, people with deep pockets and those on a budget, those that want to shred down hill and those that want to ride along tow paths.

I’m going to wrap up this post with a short summary, and that is…

There is no longer a mass market for any one mountain bike magazine due to the depth and variety in the sport and its therefore impossible for a magazine to cater for all users.

Is the cover-it-all mountain bike magazine now a niche?

Check out Part II here