A Trail Is Born – Making the most of your local terrain

I’m a great believer in making the most of what you’ve got when it comes to mountain biking.  Whether that be in terms of your bike and budget (any bike will do honestly it will), or where you live.

We can’t all live in the Surrey Hills, Scotland, Snowdonia or … Bristish Columbia, but everywhere you go is something you can find to ride.

You can rip up the streets urban style like Sam Pilgrim or you can find a small patch of woodland and just ride it!

Doesn’t have to be steep, gnarly, and long – with just a little bit of imagination you can turn anything into some fun.

This “trail” is only 15-20 seconds long but it has a steep roll in, some loamy turns and a small drop off.

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Windhill: Is this bikepark for you?

When I sat down to write this post originally, I was going to debate the different types of  Blues, Reds, Blacks etc at UK bike parks and trail centres (there’s a difference), but then I thought I’d just show you a video.

However, very quickly:

A black run at Bikepark Wales will have large gaps and drops that require speed, technique and commitment.

A black trail at Coed y Brenin, while possibly a bit rocky and gnarly in places, is, IMHO more a measure of fitness.

And finally a black run at Windhill Bike Park, is mostly a hand cut trail that requires a certain level of skill, but doesn’t require masses of speed or large testicles to ride and clear large gaps.

Don’t get me wrong there are some jumps on the black trails at Windhill, but honestly you can roll through most of it.  (I do!)

Just stay clear of the Pro-Line – – – But that hopefully speaks for itself!

So here’s a short video of a bunch of us average riders riding blue, red and black runs at Windhill this weekend – nothing required clearing a gap, and the largest drop is about 2 feet high on all these trails.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get some air or jump some distance (hopefully you can see from my average efforts), it doesn’t mean that top riders can’t enjoy it (cos they do!), it just means that you can ride most of the park at your pace and enjoy it.

Northern Grip and a Stanton Demo

I’d heard of this festival when it launched a few years ago and always fancied something that looked a bit chilled and not race orientated.

We had an ok, time, the weather was great, we explored and rode the quarry trails, we demoed some bikes and drunk some beer.

Its very low key and only a few hundred people attend, camping, locals, day trippers etc which meant the evening was quite quiet. They ran out of pizza and the local ale, quite early on too, but we still ate and drank (lager yuck!)…

Some big brand bikes were available to be demoed – Stanton Bikes, Orange eBikes, Identiti etc and some small trade stalls from local dealers.

It sounds like the event is restricted by a local curfew and festival goer numbers limited, which is a shame as its a great little spot on the Lancashire/West Yorks border with some great riding. Maybe it could be much bigger and better with some promotion?

My fear is that visitor numbers (those few hundred include families, kids etc) and the effective single day of “trading” probably wont pull in much industry support. Who knows…

That said I got the impression the organisers are happy with the attendance and consider it success.

You can see the “official” event photos here –

https://www.facebook.com/northerngrip/photos/

I took the opportunity to have a go on the Stanton Switch9er FS….  Boy was it loads of fun!  Here are my first impressions!

LUTs, resolution and FPS – Do you care?

Those are not cycling terms, or the names of mountain bike components – they are a whole new set of nerdy things you *have* to learn about if you are going to try and make videos for YouTube.

*Disclaimer – You don’t have to learn about these things at all.  I just like to and there are times when understanding these and MANY other things can improve your videos

Like some people might sketch, paint model planes or read books, editing videos is just a hobby for me. Like taking pictures – its just an extension of my biking hobby.  If I can share it with people or relive a fun day out with some mates then that a bonus.

This might sound like I don’t care if anyone watches my videos – I do, but it doesn’t really matter.

However, making videos for Youtube is not easy. Strapping a GoPro to our chest/helmet and riding down a trail looks pretty dull unless you are riding like Sam Hill, Danny Hart, Rachel Atherton etc..  Filming jumps looks easy unless you are riding massive Rampage sized drops and gaps.

So in order to make your ordinary average riding, watchable to have to spice it up with something.  I try to have some fun, don’t take myself too seriously and lately I’ve been trying to make the videos look a whole lot better.

Your GoPro is a pretty powerful tool with a lot of the functionality of bigger more professional cameras. But in order to get the best from them you need to understand more than just is it pointing in the right direction.

Putting your camera on AUTO will mostly get you OK results and allow you to relive a day out or a ride of some sort.  But to make the image clearer, brighter, sharper etc you need to understand framerates, light temperature, ISO settings.

But I’m not going to try and explain that – go and watch, listen and learn from Ryan (aka The Loam Ranger) over on his YouTube – link below…

Disclaimer 2 – I still have soooo much to learn by the way so I am not suggesting my videos are setting some sort of standard that you should aspire to.  But if you do think they are any good – thats great and Thanks!

 

If your camera doesn’t lie, you need to teach it to.

I mentioned last week that you should dust off your GoPro no matter where you ride and what you think your riding is like, and make a film. Firstly because you bought it and you might as well use it, and secondly you never know if someone will like it and give you some sort of feedback on your video or ask questions about where you are riding.

We are all Average Mountain Bikers!  That’s not meant to offend, but just to keep us all grounded and to make you feel OK!

The third reason is you CAN make your footage and riding look interesting/exciting with some simple video editing tips even if its not.

Take these two videos for instance, both compiled with basically the same clips, but both have two different vibes to them.

The top video is longish at about 7 mins, with some chilled music. Long clips, with us pedaling between locations, and even having a sit down with a cup of tea in the middle.

Its great for those that were present to relive the day to an extent, and its useful for me to use to advertise the guided rides I do in the area, that are not particularly gnarly or filled with adrenalin packed action.

The second, uses much the same clips but is shorter at just over a minute and uses faster music to convey a more action packed ride.  Nothing was sped up (other than the obvious tea and cake bit),  I also cut out much of the pedaling, cut faster and shorter clips together and suddenly you have a much more exciting video that might have some wider appeal.

What do you think?

Which ride would you have preferred to have gone on?