While flicking through last month's photo issue of Dig BMX magazine (which was a very pleasant way to pass an hour), I saw this picture by photographer Ricky Adam. A phenomena happened to me which generally only happens when I see bikes and lace leggings. 'Ye gods! I have to have that.' So I called Ricky up and he very kindly printed it off for me for not a great deal of money.
It is now hanging on my workshop wall. I urge you to check out his website: rickyadamphoto.com because his photos are a hugely inspiring break from the 'epic landscape with some bloke hooning round a corner' shots us MTBers know and of course, love.
Just have your cheque book handy.
Friday, 30 April 2010
Monday, 26 April 2010
‘How old?!’ That was the response of La Humpage when he ate Petra Wiltshire’s dust in Morzine last year. It’s a tough break for a kick ass mountain biker to get razzed by a 39-year-old chick. But he did. And once you get over the shock of a woman who was then pushing 40 hooning it down a mountain better than most youngsters you have to hand it to her – she’s an amazing rider. And more importantly in an industry which always focuses on the up and coming talent, she’s an inspiration.
‘I still love racing and any form of competition,’ grins Petra. ‘I do think twice about crazy lines and jumps now as it seems to take longer to get up when I crash. I normally forget my age when I get on the start line though and under goggles, body armour and helmets we all appear the same age. I don’t think I’m too old though and hope to carry on riding for at least the foreseeable future. If the mind and body are willing then why not?’
She goes on: ‘I am still riding bikes because I simply love it and the freedom it brings. Any sort of physical activity keeps me sane.I need to being doing something all the time and cannot imagine a day when I cannot. I will be racing zimmers or wheelchairs in the care home somewhere one day!’
It’s not hard to believe, especially when you take into account the huge medal haul behind her. Petra started racing downhill in her late twenties, when most elite racers (bar Steve Peat) are thinking of retirement. She still has her pro elite license. Hanging in her wardrobe are three World Championship jerseys, two European Championship jerseys and too many National Championship titles to count. She is also one of the few British MTBers to hold a World, European and National titles in one season. What do you mean you’ve hardly heard of her? Petra is diplomatic: ‘The media is inevitably going to aim at the younger market. Who wants to see a grey haired wrinkly racing down a mountain? I don’t mind getting minimal personal coverage, but would love to get more coverage for all my sponsors who have supported me over the years.’
Those sponsors today are Scott, Mule Bar, Sram, Buff and Maxxis. ‘I have been very, very lucky,’ she says modestly. Or just very, very good because frankly that’s an impressive collection of brands for someone who did her last World Cup three years ago. The focus these days is enduro DH – Maxi and Mega avalanche for a start as well as the Euro enduro series. Petra also does coaching – she’s worked with Jess Stone in the past and in the winter months coaches ski from her base in the Swiss resort of Champery with Freeride Company.
Petra doesn’t get caught up in the bollocks of mountain biking. She’s friendly, down the line, and pretty darn cool. When I asked her what the most important she ever learnt on a bike, the answer came back deadpan: ‘Learn which one is the front brake.’ The she followed it up with: ‘No actually it was something my dad said – at the end of the day, it’s only a pushbike. It’s easy to lose sight of this fact. Whether it cost £10,000 or £5o it essentially does the same thing. Sometimes people get blinded by technology and lose sight of the fact that a bike gets you outside and gets you happy.’
Yeah, yeah. The one reason why you should love Petra? Or at least be inspired? This quote: ‘I am an in it or bin it kind of animal. And I don’t climb with finesse, I’m all arms.’
There is hope for me yet.
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Friday, 16 April 2010
There are some things Yorkshire does well: the Black Sheep Brewery, Climbing Works rock climbing centre in Sheffield and the Town Street Tavern in Horsforth (just don’t buy the Jungle Juice.) And then there are things Yorkshire does very well – one of those being cross country mountain biking which is lucky because on 24 April the UCI Cross Country World Cup / kicks off in Dalby Forest near Pickering next weekend. It’s the first time in a decade England has hosted a leg of the World Cup (there are nine in total) and sees the best mountain bikers from across the globe compete on the 6.5km course. It sits in an area just under one square mile making it pretty spectator friendly. But if you fancy a slightly larger challenge than balancing your Clif Bar and Lucozade on your knees as you watch, you still have time to sign up for the Dalby Dare which is taking place during the weekend. It’s a public mass participation race which sees riders cycle a timed lap of the World Cup course under race conditions before plunging off onto some of Dalby’s other excellent trails. Think you’re hard enough?
Crossing the border into Scotland, Fort William will once again be the setting for the UK instalment of the Downhill World Cup event on 5 and 6 June. This race is legend with some of mountain biking’s greatest moments being played out on the course (par example - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiXh2bJ3SXk). It’s also a great opportunity to get to grips with the trails of the Nevis range which open on 10May so aspiring gravity gods can test their skills on the ‘Off Beat Downhill’ run before the pros descend on the area. And it doesn’t have to be all about extreme mountain biking. Last year the Nevis red run opened, a 5.5km route accessed by gondola, becoming an immediate hit with its intermediate-friendly planning. Two words: midge nets.
Over in Ireland, 22 August sees the inaugural Sky Ride Etape Hibernia kick off in County Clare, starting and finishing in the town of Ennis. The road challenge is 84 miles long and open to anyone aged 18 to 80 (which probably seems quite restrictive if you’ve ever ridden in the Alps and been overtaken by a 94-year-old on the Col de la Croix Fer.) Particpants have around six hours to complete the course which traces the beautiful west coast for a large part – let’s hope the sea winds are kind. For a taste of the off-road riding in Ireland, check out Break the Cycle MBR which has a feature on the Emerald Isle or talk to First Tracks Guiding who run mountain bike courses in County Down and County Armagh. If you want to ride on location then you can book accommodation with Rostrevor Holidays.
And finally into Wales where the Tour of Pembrokeshire is back for its third year. Sportives such as this have become extremely popular in the last few years with great routes springing up around the country. The ToP offers three distance choices – depending on your fitness you can sign up for a 63, 84 or 117-mile route. Each one starts and finishes in Saundersfoot and takes in an ample portion of the Pembrokeshire coast. Cycling traffic free roads in the area is possible without a gruelling 117-mile race though. Sustrans’ Brunel Trail runs from Neyland Marina (opposite Pembroke Dock) up to Johnston and is a gentle four-mile trip following the Cleddau estuay. You may not earn a huge post-ride pasta feast but you will be able to soak up the atmosphere of the ToP without busting a lung in the process.