Backyard Track, Mandry Brothers, Holdshott Farm, March 2012
Backyard Track, Mandry Brothers, Holdshott Farm, March 2012

If you go in to the woods today you're in for a big surprise…if you can find it that is. Nestled in a quiet corner of the Hampshire and Sussex borders, Holdshott trails are a sight for sore eyes. 

DIRT ISSUE 129 - NOVEMBER 2012 

Words by Grant Robinson. Photos by Grant Robinson

There are lines of all shapes and sizes snaking off in every direction, with sunbeams shooting through the trees and bouncing off what is near on perfect dirt. The fact that they have been built by a small handful of people make them all the more a thing of beauty. Weeks and months of shovel work are complemented by two–storey high roll–ins that, once you've climbed them, offer the shade of the oak leaf canopies in which they reside. With a pumptrack to balance the monster sets it is almost to good to be true, and a location and opportunity many only dream of. That said, dreaming is most likely what many would do given the amount of work gone into a spot like this, so it can only be hats off to the Mandry brothers for pulling their fingers out and making their dream a reality. It's on private land, which is too bad for you because this place is one we would all love to call our own backyard.

Names?

Tom and Rob Mandry.

Age?

16 and 18.

Hometown?

Hook, Hampshire.

How long have you’ve been building in the ‘backyard’, and has it been done by just the two of you or a group of people?

The trails have been up and running for around four years now, there is a consistent group of local riders and with some persuasion we can get a decent dig session out of them!

Did you have a plan before you started or was it a case of get digging and seeing where you ended up?

There was no original layout or plan for the trails, but they have just been built up from the first original pump line to what they have become now. Over time the lines have been adapted, made bigger and much longer.

It must be nice to have somewhere that you know all your hard work is safe from the usual trail killers like councils, dog walkers, hikers, etc. Did owning the land and having so much space to work with allow you to dream big from the beginning?

Yeah for sure, I feel that the location that we have to build on is just perfect, we have little worry with people just turning up, and don’t have the constant worry of people destroying the hard work put into the trails.

Any arguments during construction over who gets the final say?

There are loads of arguments when building! Even over who takes the next wheelbarrow, or who has one of the long flat handled spades, or over someone digging another person’s dirt! The final say usually falls to me (Tom) or Robert…but naturally being brothers and both having different solutions for a problem it just starts another heated argument.

What’s the best thing about having your own backyard track?

Getting to ride it any time without the hassle of asking an owner’s permission to ride, being free to build any idea that comes into your imagination without the doubt of having an angry land owner turning up to tell you to take it down.

And the worst?

Loads of maintenance to keep the jumps in a prime condition…but it’s so worth it. Not having enough time in the day to get all the digging done, stopping arguments…listening to them. Getting people stoked to do their fair share of digging.>>

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Backyard Track, Mandry Brothers, Holdshott Farm, March 2012
Backyard Track, Mandry Brothers, Holdshott Farm, March 2012

Who built the roll–in ramps?

All of the roll–in towers were built by the locals and friends, all of them are still holding up strong, so no complaints about the building there.

Your parents seem pretty happy with the set–up, but was it difficult to convince them in the beginning that you knew what you were up to?

Our parents have been amazing for letting us use the area of woods for the trails, they have had no concerns with the set–up so far as long as rubbish is kept down and roll–in towers are not too sketchy.

If you had to start over is there anything you would do differently?

If I had to start again the only thing I would change would be to organise the lines together so there is more space for more of them.

Everyone that has ridden here has come away smiling and is really impressed with the way the trails ride and flow. Where did you learn the art of building and were there any existing trails that you borrowed physics from?

A massive shout–out must go to the guys down at 4A trails. As well as putting some wicked ideas into building the trails and digging loads, their trails definitely inspired us at Holdshott to build smooth flowing trails. Another shout–out to Ryan Nangle for all the technical help when building trails.

You are both pretty busy working on the family farm, how much time in a week do you get to spend down here compared to tending cattle?

We try to get down to trails in any spare time that we both get. Mainly most of the digging and riding gets done on the weekends when no one has other commitments such as work or college.

You’ve had near–on the complete list of UK pro riders down here, what is it like to be able to see them enjoying something you’ve created?

Seeing other riders enjoying something that you have built and created from nothing is one of the best things about trail building. Also being able to enjoy the trails yourself is a great motivation to get a spade out and go digging.

Do your future plans see it getting bigger or is it now more of an exercise in maintenance?

I feel the trails will always be improving and getting bigger and better.

If more building is on the cards then what is the next feature or line you have planned?

Possibly a new slope style line on its way with some cool features such as a boner–log, step–up/step–down and some drops to.

Any shout outs?

Massive shout outs to all the locals. All the 4A guys and friends who have helped build up the trails, also Ryan Nangle and Ben Dobbin for all the help digging and ideas (whether the ideas work or not!).