When you fill any time you have with riding it can be a massive disappointment to have a weekend written off with shitty, cold and wet weather. I try and get hyped to ride in the rain. I put my feet in plastic bags cause my shoes are too wet, and I wear creepy latex dentist gloves under my riding ones. I ride with brake pads down to the metal and shit in my eyes. Still enjoy it but…maybe a BIT less. Nah, actually it’s crap. Especially after reading pages full of happy people riding in the California sun. Subconsciously I guess we’ve all weighed it up and it’s marginally better than watching TV/staring at the window.
DIRT ISSUE 132 | FEBRUARY 2013
Words by Olly Wilkins. Photos by Roo Fowler
The Gravity Project featured in this magazine a while back when it was first starting out and still somewhat ‘underground’. So I thought I’d dry my shoes and have a look to see what’s changed. It’s hidden away in a rabbit warren of lanes deep in the Hampshire countryside. Rain plagued the week leading to my visit (much as it has for the last few months), but amongst the riding this place has to offer the roofed pumptrack kind of appealed to me.
We pulled up and arrived at the biggest set of rusty gates. They look real post–apocalyptic. A reminder that this place is for ‘private members only’. You can see the pumptrack straight away. Underneath an open sided warehouse the white sculpted dirt really jumps out at you. Chalk is usually my least favourite type of dirt, but it certainly works here. With year–round protection from the rain, but with access to water, it is kind of the perfect dirt for the job. It’s all packed down so hard and has obviously been changed and altered until everything runs perfectly. There’s half a satellite dish buried as a berm and a big new wallride has appeared since my last visit. Both of these obstacles really add to a lap of the place. It makes it easier to navigate around, as there are otherwise so many lines to choose from. It is always a nice break when you reach something you recognise…like a satellite dish!
After visiting a large spread of different pumptracks it’s also nice to find one with a good rhythm straight. It always annoys me when a pumptrack doesn’t open up into a simple roller straight. It’s easy to over–complicate things when building a track. I think a straight line of rollers is always a necessity, this is how the lap begins at GP. After this point the line becomes less clear. A number of options open up and take you around wallrides, turns, tables and the features I mentioned before. In order to get high on the wallride you’ve gotta be able to hit some turns super hard. It makes it a good reward when you get it right. I couldn’t give you an estimate on how long a lap is as there are so many different combinations you could do. I guess you could make it a short twenty–second run or you could push it up to a minute before returning to ‘the start’.
Myself, Sam Reynolds and Grant ‘Chopper’ Fielder turned up during daylight. We didn’t have a guide and ended up riding what we thought were most of the lines at the pumptrack. As soon as darkness fell and the fire was lit more and more locals started turning up. It was amazing to see these guys ride. They all had so many extra lines to those that we had been riding, and there is some serious pace down at this place. Probably something to do with the race series they run on a set loop here. Cool to see their bike set–ups too. Some had no brakes and skinny tyres. These are real life pumptrack riders. Hidden away in this barn there are kids who have learnt to ride bikes on this track. It could be argued that there is no right or wrong way to learn, but something about watching someone who has built up their skills on a bike through punching laps on a pumptrack seems right. It’s like you could then take your riding wherever you want and the things you have learnt will hook you up. Learning to backflip a straight jump definitely never helped me in a corner, but learning to corner helped me roll out of sketchy backflips. Maybe there’s a correct order to learn things in? It was refreshing to see anyway.
I left feeling envious of the locals and their night time, dry riding. A really healthy scene all built around a pumptrack. Sure there’s a set of jumps there and fair few short downhill runs, but only the pumptrack runs in the cold, the rain and after dark! Tuesdays and Thursdays they said…speak to Adam Bowden they said. After looking outside, I think I might bloody have to.
For more information on the Gravity Project email GravityProjectGP@gmail.com
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