The Poachers
The Poachers

They seek it here, they seek it there, a group of mates scooping up the sweet–spots, cherry picking the good rigs off eBay. I bumped into these three on my local trails one summer afternoon. Clearly they had done their groundwork, put out feelers to see where the quality tracks were. Yet these boys play by the ground rules, respect for the trails and the people who build them – no overcrowded loud mouths uplifting the shit out of someone else’s hard work. Just having a look around. Conscious of the demand on ‘hero dirt’ or ‘loam zones’ and the local politics of other peoples trails and the surrounding inhabitants Rhys Wheeler, Will Hayden, Chris Kenward (South Wales locals) are exemplary in their low key approach to trail rustling.


Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Ben Winder

Caught red–handed poaching some good riding?

RW: Busted! I like to use the word ‘sharing’ rather than poaching.

CK: Yeah these are some of best trails. I'm not a full time poacher though, I do my fair share of digging.

WH: Yeah you caught us! If looks could kill we'd all be dead I reckon! We managed to sweet talk our way into you showing us round though eh. Had a top day, trails were spot on, just what we were looking for.

Not got any good riding locally or what?

RW: We got loads of great trails, but word was getting around how good these are.

CK: Plenty but you can't just ride the same thing all the time, need to mix it up.

WH: There's loads round our way, but It's nice to ride somewhere new. This place has got a totally different feel to it. A lot of trails here aren’t steep, but really fast. When you hit them with speed its tough to stay on line.

Its good to share...

RW: In moderation.

Just the three of you, you never travel in greater numbers? You seem to have a low–key approach? Are you into big gangs of riders slashing the woods?

RW: Riding with a big group can be a bit of a pain, it takes ages. There's normally between 2 to 5 of us. I wouldn't take a big group to ride other people’s tracks.

WH: It's just easier to organise, and the van has only got three seats! I think it's best to go about things quietly, we don't want to attract unwanted attention from forestry or local residents.

You all seem to have got your bikes dialled in pretty well, eBay gold right?

RW: I wait for Will to get bored of his stuff and buy it off him. It works well for me.

CK: Yeah its not all about the bike but I definitely enjoy riding that little bit more when my bike’s spot on.

WH: Thanks. I'm quite fussy with my bikes, and like the little details to be right. I don't spend a fortune on everything, and without being too flash, they do me fine. eBay is good mostly, you've got to know what you're looking for, and be patient. With the price of new bikes and kit now, it makes sense.

So basically you all ride great trails on great bikes. Its not difficult is it? Or is it?

RW: You've hit the nail on the head. The only difficult thing is to decide whose tracks to enjoy next!

CK: Yeah it’s that simple. Luckily we live right in the middle of all the best trails around.

WH: I feel very lucky to live where I do, there's a lot of good riding around, so no It's not hard really.