Woburn is Dead, long live Woburn | Matt Jones Interview - Dirt

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Woburn is Dead, long live Woburn | Matt Jones Interview

Woburn is dead, long live Woburn. That phrase might have first been used to signify the ascension of a French monarch in the 14th Century but the analogy holds true for some dirt jumps in Bedfordshire, well sort of. Uttered as the remains of one king were lowered into the ground, witnessed by his successor and son it signified change and a new beginning. When Woburn was flattened in January this year the chain of events that followed sent Matt Jones into the stratosphere. From the Red Bull Phenom, to Bearclaw's Invitational to big time sponsorship things were shifting for the 19 year old. Building massive jumps and sending them is a big part of our sport but when that starts to conflict with land owners, insurance and in the case of Woburn, unsafe trees all sorts of issues can arise. Woburn is in the process of being revived and we thought it high time we caught up with the king of the castle to find out how long Woburn will live for.



Spades to handlebars

These hands swap from gripping one to another with amazing regularity

GLEN COE, BEER AND DUMPED 360’s

Dirt: Ok let’s get the obvious questions out of the way. How long have you been riding? What’s your favourite trick? And who do you look up to in the dirt jump world?

Matt:  It’s been 8 years in the saddle now and my favourite trick has got to be a dumped 360. My heroes were Glen Coe and Andreu Lacondeguy, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I’d now be mates with them both!

Dirt: Now on to the important stuff. If you had to choose and either tea or beer was removed from the world forever which would you keep?

Matt: Beer wouldn’t be going anywhere. I’ve never spent enough time in an office or on a building site to develop any love for tea bags, so SEE YA!

Dirt: Seriously though, do you prefer a digestive or a hob nob?

Matt: I’m glad we’re onto the serious questions. A hob nob is a tad macho and bold for me. I’ve always been a digestive fan.

Dirt: OK so what about riding and Woburn, tell us how that all started and relive some memories of the spot.

Matt: My first memories of Woburn are of a few jumps the seemed better suited to monster trucks than 24” dirt jump bikes. But as I spent more time up there with my bro and my mum watching on, I hung out with the locals at the time like Sam Johnson who eventually taught me to dig! So over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time working on new lines and riding them. The place was insane this time last year, with three huge lines of jumps but they were bulldozed after the new year due to dangerous trees that needed removing.

Dirt: Woburn has changed a lot over the years, you and Jono have been at the heart of that but what drove you to change things up. Did boredom play a part or did you build things to learn new tricks on?

Matt: I think it’s how easy Woburn is to dig and change that has fuelled the progression of the jumps there. We get way too excited about new ideas to sit on them, so things happen super fast, especially when we have a good crowd helping out!

Dirt: You have travelled a fair bit now, when it comes to shaping jumps and creating lines have you taken inspiration from any spots you have been to?

Matt: For the first few years it was a lot of guess work with the new lines but things always seemed to work out. With the rebuild, I think we’re all keen to make a much more flowy and twisting set of trails that are insanely fun to ride without doing any tricks at all. My favourite jumps in the world at Gorge Rd in New Zealand, in the future I’d like Woburn to resemble the rad transfers and line choices they have going on there.

Matt Jones - Tuck No Hander

Creativity starts on the ground and finishes in the air.

RED BULL, BEARCLAW AND LEARNING TO DRIVE

Dirt: Riding with some of the biggest names in freeride and Dirt jumping, who scares you the most?

Matt: There’s a lot of loose guys on the scene who could just try anything at any time! Antoine Bizet is for sure one of those guys!

Dirt: Let’s get back to Woburn. Ironically Woburn was flattened at the start of what became your most successful year riding. Do you think there might have been a link between somewhere you were so used to riding being demolished and then landing big results, sponsorship deals and some prize money?

Matt: It really sucked losing all the jumps at Woburn! But when Woburn was destroyed I instantly starting hunting for a new place to build a rad compound. That’s probably why this year I’ve managed to put my best runs together and get some sick results, despite not having the legendary set up at Woburn!

Dirt: What was X-Games like? You pulled that flip at the Phenom competition which was pretty nuts. Do you think it took something like that for people to really pick up on you or has this been a long time in the making?

Matt: I actually think that doing that one crazy thing has helped me loads! Darren Berrecloth was there to see that, and as a result he invited me to his contest on Vancouver island, where I got 10th last year. Things kind of had a knock on effect in a good way from there, so it’s a few small events and acts of stupidity that have helped me out along the way.

Dirt: You have done a lot this last year, when you go back to Woburn how does it feel? Is it a spot you will always use to learn new things or do you think you could drift away from it and push yourself further?

Matt: Now that I can drive and travel, I have a lot of choice with where to ride and train, but there’s something about Woburn being so close by and easy to ride that I’ll never get bored of. That’s why everyone is so stoked to be rebuilding jumps there!

It’s a few small events and acts of stupidity that have helped me out along the way

Woburn is dead, long live Woburn

Sculpting and shifting is the name of the game at Woburn, Matt has done a lot over the years and is back for more in 2014

PANCAKE SANDPIT & MULCH JUMPS

Dirt: What happened when Woburn was flattened? You didn’t know a thing about it right? The diggers just turned up and got rid of the lot?

Matt: Actually there had been discussions and threats from the land owner for a few years making for an uncertain future for the bike park. But for the year prior to the diggers moving in, that all went quiet so I don’t think anyone was expecting to rock up to a huge flat sand pit.

Dirt: What about your compound, did that come about after the jumps were gone?

Matt: Yeah, I’ve had a mulch jump on an area of farmers land for a couple of years, but I started making it into an insane compound as a response to having no local jumps to ride anymore, and the whole place is unreal now!

Dirt: What’s the plan for the future at Woburn? Are you still fully involved with everything?

Matt: I’ve been fairly involved with the talks and meetings but a local freerider called Deano has been the main catalyst with bringing everyone together and securing the bike park for a more certain future, he’s definitely the guy to thank! I’ve organised a few dig days so far with Dan Bateson and everyone’s shifted tonnes of dirt! It’s all looking so sick already.

Dirt: It all sounds positive. Do you see this rebirth coinciding with your projection in to the big time meaning Woburn will now be the place you push your limits further or do you think you have exhausted it’s potential for new lines?

Matt: There’s a genuine silver lining to everything getting flattened, we have a huge clean slate to work with now, so there is very little restrictions on space and direction for the trails. Everyone has input awesome ideas for new lines that’ll be completely different to what we’ve had at Woburn before. It’ll be legendary again!

Dirt: What’s next for you? We know you picked up Red Bull as a sponsor, does that mean Rampage is calling or will you be sticking with dirt jumping?

Matt: Yeah!! Having Red Bull on board was my biggest dream ever, and it’s come true! I was actually super keen to give rampage a shot this year! But my wrist injury put me out of a few diamond events. I think next year I’ll be in Utah shitting myself and wishing I was at Woburn, but that’s all part of the game and why I love it!!

So there we have it, the destruction of Woburn’s jumps may have been a blessing in disguise not just for Matt but for a whole bunch of riders. Matt has been pushed forward and on to greater things. Woburn is heading the same way and will clearly always be close to the heart of the UK’s brightest young dirt jumper.

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