Roots care nothing for the size of a passing wheel, but they will remind us, often cruelly, that they are the only inhabitants of our hills. Work with them and you will maintain a run, sustain a track. Work against and you erode confidence and subsurface…
From Dirt Issue 139 – September 2013
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Andy Lloyd.
A chance to reflect on hallowed unrefined soils, but worked out on machinery of the future. We had convened at Hopton Woods, a gathering of all parts of the bicycle food chain. On the human level it was a gathering from tea boy to distributor, shop owner to product manager, journalist to company director. On the hardware front we had 140mm through to 180mm, a mix of sizing both in wheel and chassis, colour and attitude.
Hopton Woods (just outside Ludlow) has been the centre of the mountainbike universe for nearly two decades. For some this Shropshire hilltop, that can be seen from all directions, is a place where careers have set sail, for others it’s a dark, conifer woods where an inability to root–manoeuvre will have taught the toughest of lessons in the ups and downs of competition cycling.
Sandstone, drained, untouched, it has a certain purity and integrity that is missing from many big dollar trail schemes this country currently has to offer. It has complexity from A to B in terms of the network of downhill trails, it has a circular route that’s both testing, flowing and built from only the most local materials. On the surface, particularly the downhill runs, everything is held together at source – the roots hold the earth, the trees keep a check on corner and flow.>>