Scottish photographer Scott MacPherson has just released his first web film, Prospect 2010, which showcases some of the young riding talent in Scotland and also the diverse range of downhill tracks.
I took up this project back in July as I wanted to show the variety of different types of downhill tracks we have in Scotland, ranging from backyard downhill tracks to mountains with chairlift access. I wanted to avoid the obvious Fort William and focus on some of the lesser known tracks which some people may have heard of but never seen from top to bottom.
I undertook this project alone and filmed it all on my Canon 7d which I only started filming with properly in April. Before that I was very much a photographer who wanted to get his name out there, however after realising I was going round in circles with my race photography and spending alot more money on petrol than I was making selling photos I decided to stop and try making a video, then retry with the photos again next season.
Jonny Black (front) and Lewis McLaughlin (In Air) earlier this year at Cambusbarron, Stirling.
I have learnt a lot through this project, mainly that video is just moving photos. That statement may sound silly but it took me awhile to realise that appoaching each shot as a photo was the best tactic, instead of panning and zooming in and out constantly I started to work with fixed focal lengths and fixed camera positions, coupled with the odd pan and zoom.
I have also learnt how important sound and music are with in a video, this was something I struggled with a lot. My very first edit was done by editing the video together and then looking for a song this made things incredibly stressful and difficult.
I have since learnt to find a song and then edit the video to the music, but even still I found finding good music that hadn’t been used before to be a difficult task.
The first 2 segments were filmed at secret locations, my reason for including the first segment was to show that there are people out there who primarily ride locally and are still really fast. This guy, Andrew Bond, had never raced until the last 2 rounds of the SDA this year at Ae Forest where he finished 24th with bike complications and 12th at Ft Bill, both in the senior category.
Andrew Bond, riding his trails Summer ’09
Segment number 2 was filmed in the Elgin area, I included this trail as it is pretty unique, a dh pumptrack… I filmed one of the main builders of the track Sam Rodda who is now riding for Mtb Essentials.
Sam at SDA ’10 rnd 1, Pitfichie where he finished 6th in the Junior cat.
Next up is Greg Gilfillan riding Dunkeld, a trail which is notorious for its steep and rocky top section and physically demanding rocky and rooty section half.
This track was Gregs choice as he never got to race it this year at the Scottish Champs as he was away to France to ride the Megavalanche. Greg finished this season as the 3rd fastest overall Youth in the SDA series and 2nd place at the National Champs, his worst result this season was a 7th place at Innerleithen (We shall all just forget his 29th at Rheola BDS rnd 1 where he had a big crash).
Greg riding Dunkeld, a quick snap inbetween filming.
Segment 4 was filmed at Falkland Bike Park, Falkland is home to Scotlands only legal wooden ladder stunts and trails. The forest contains 2 Downhill tracks, 3 freeride lines, and giant dirt jumps. This is all built on private land and a fee is paid by the builders every year for insurance costs to keep everything official, regular riders pay an annual membership fee to cover insurance and building costs of the trails.
Perhaps overshadowed by Ft William just another hours drive North, the next segment Glencoe is one of only 3 Chairlift trails in Scotland, the other 2 being Fort William and The Lecht in Cairngorms National park.
Glencoe is a love/hate trail, many love it because of its technicality, steepness and chairlift. Many hate it because they claim it’s too difficult.
I managed to film on a gloriously sunny Octobers day with the sun causing many problems whilst trying to film the top section in the strong sunshine. I filmed this with Senior rider Fraser Houston who is one of the main track builders at the centre.
Sam Flockhart scrubbing over the big jump after the stepdown
The fifth segment was filmed at Cambusbarron in Stirling, well known amongst a large amount of central belt riders, Cambusbarron offers fun trails built by locals. Although not steep at all its a great place to train, as it has many technical and rooty sections aswell as big jumps, stepdowns, including the famous Cambu (Cam-boo) stepdown pictured further up the page, and dirt jump trails down in the quarry. Cambusbarron is also in threat of being reopened for quarrying which would be a huge loss for the community and alot of central belt riders
I met up and filmed with Sam Flockhart for this segment, a junior rider riding for Lapierre International in the World Cup series, just before he was about to fly out to the World Champs at Mt Saint Anne, Canada.
Sams season may not have been as successful in race result terms as he had probably hoped but he still managed to win the Junior European Champs in Oslo, Norway with a resut that would have placed him 16th in the elite mens category.
Having witnessed some of his unique lines at Cambusbarron and being by far the fastest person I have seen ride there, I am sure the experience he gained from this season will set him up well for next year.
Roosting through some leaves.
Unlike the English dirt jump scene, Scotlands scene is virtually non existent. In a country dominated by DH tracks and epic all mountain trails there seems to be a lack of properly built dirt jump trails.
One of the few places to hit the jumps in Scotland is the small town of Culross on the coast of the Firth of Forth. It features a few lines and a short pumptrack that have been built by Andy Brown and other locals. Earlier this year they hosted a very successful Spring Jam in aid of trying to bring all Scottish dirt jumpers together.
Andy B Spring ’10.
The final segment of the film was filmed at Ae Forest, near Dumfries in the Borders. Ae is part of the 7stanes trail network which includes Mabie Forest also in Dumfries area, and Glentress and Innerleithen in the Tweed Valley.
The centre has great facilities such as a bike shop, cafe, showers and bike washing facilities. Trailwise it includes a red graded XC/Singletrack loop which joins up with the Shredder, a freeride trail, to finish with a long series of table top jumps.
However I went to film with Junior SDA overall winner and junior Scottish champs runner up, Allan Findlay.
This segment sadly wasn’t finished at the bottom of the hill due to lack of light as the sun was setting before we were able to finish. Allan also had to ride his all mountain 2011 Orange Five as his DH bike had not returned from warranty issues in time.
Allan also went to Windham, USA to race in the final round of the World Cup series and impressively managed to qualify for the Sunday finals, he says he hopes to race a full season of WC’s next year.
Allan at SDA ’10 rnd 1 Pitfichie, where he finished 3rd.
The only trail that I sadly wasn’t able to film on the list was Innerleithen, I had arranged to film this segment with Lewis Buchanan, but due to current weather conditions and no more time to stall the film I had to release the final film without Inners.
Enjoy the film and I hope to see you all in Scotland next year riding the trails!