R i d e r s :B a r n e s a n d T h o m s o n L o c a t i o n :K i r r o u g h t r e e a n d D r u m l a n r i g C a s t l e B y S t e v e J o n e s

Where would you go if you were given a 48 hour blank cheque? The Alps, Pyrenees, Provence, Liguria and Southern Spain are of course classics because everywhere else is simply too far for that amount of time. Factor in some competitive action however and the hours become pretty stacked up. Britain then: 839 miles from top to bottom, 430 left to right at its widest. Time wise 16 hours north to south and 4 hours east to west. Obviously space–time converges more in the centre of the country as you remove small roads from the equation and six hours gets most people most places in this country. A weekend downhill would be an obvious choice in the U K for 48 flat out, but on an organised event, be it competitive or uplift, well your three minutes of bonkers will more than likely be followed by 45 of queuing. And the main point of having a mountain bike is to ride as flat out off–road for as long as possible? Somehow cross country reminds me of a mundane pace for many hours and events such as Mountain Mayhem (ppedalling around a muddy field all day and then getting pissed with your mates) well you might find it strange that it ’seven mentioned on these pages, but run down the list of entrants (aand there are thousands) and some names pretty familiar to this magazine appear. Now many people have seen Wardell naked, but in one–piece lycra?! But as much as bollock numbingly boring events around midlands cow fields have become popular, some others like the Bristol Bike festival you can hammer some cruisy but rooty singletrack all day long …with cider. Yet the building of such notorious places as ‘The Wall’ in Afan and ‘Spooky’ in Glentress has opened peoples’ minds away from events as well. An hours climb followed by a fifteen minute down can be all very two dimensional yes, but bring in forty up followed by thirty minutes of along and down going as fast as you can and it will already match the quota of flat out action you get at most DH uplift days. Forty eight hours suddenly becomes one hell of a lot of riding in the U K alone. That’s why a lot of people who love riding bikes fast choose an aeroplane to go to where the chairlifts live. Race wise not everyone can afford sixty quid for six runs, about eighteen minutes of flat out riding and the priceless tension that you will only get from racing (ddidn ’tthink of that? Well racing isn’t your thing), but not all of us can spend months cruising in the Alps every year either. Remember too that BMX is for kids and pump tracks are for townies.So what do we do? What exactly do we do? Mountainbiking is no longer of two dimensions; XC and DH. No chance, now we have some other brackets too. Dirtjump, Slopestyle, Enduro, Marathon, 24 Hour, 12 Hour, Singlespeed, Rigid….ssweet Jesus, I can even think of at least three Avalanche type events. No wonder mountainbiking has spawned the bleating “Ijust wanna ride my bike …man ” gheylords. What we do is, well, most of us build our own tracks and shuttle, others build and push, not such a bad thing given a touch of banter and line checking along the way. But the forest trail has become a friend for those not scared of opening their lungs. Feeling for the feeble meanwhile, I thought I had found it on the level grounds of Long Island ’s Cathedral Pines on America’s east coast. It opened my eyes that with the right shape turns, the right subsurface and tree cover fifty minutes of flat –out was more than ‘do–able ’ without any prolonged slow lane antics. So I hate climbs as much as you do, but I do it because it gives me strength to go harder for longer on the downs. I was still convinced that America had it all though. And I was convinced that woodland on the east coast of the UK had a good future in mountainbiking, even if it was so that thous ands of riders wouldn ’thave to pay to go and pedal around a muddy field and get pissed. But then I found Drumlanrig …

mountain bike travel trip