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Video: Live to Ride: Episode IV

Russ Clark just beamed over a blinder of a video, Episode 4 of the Live To Ride series.

Live to Ride – Episode 4 – Racing, Freeriding and a bit of History

Episode four is packed full of little bike morsels!

This month we have Ben Lord talking us through the troubled history of his local trails, Ben Skinner-Watts showing off his new creation, some freeriding at Steetley and back to the Forest of Dean for the 661 Mini Downhill

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History

Everyone seems to struggle with their local trails. It seems that as soon as you get them riding just the way you want them, someone decides they don’t like it and tears them down. The jumps featured at the start of the edit are nothing more than a story for me as I never even got a chance to ride them. The locals that built them were forced by the police to destroy them while they watched. Surely this is a call for us all to stop building without permission and contact land owners to come to an agreement. Mountain biking is a growing sport and there are people out there willing to put endless hours of hard labour into something that might get demolished at any time. In my experience, it is rarely the trails themselves that cause the problem with the land owners. Its usually the litter, fires, motorbikes and other social disruptions. So we need to do what we can to reduce these problems and save our trails!

Ben Lord is a Derby lad and a regular at the Racers Guild where I usually see him shredding up the top ten fastest times of the day. In his segment we see him riding his local spot and then to Steetley to ride their awesome quarry and downhill trails. Steetley is a great spot to ride if you like big hucks and fast, flowy trails. Thanks to all the local lads for their hard work and hospitality while we were there. They made me a nice cup of tea to calm me down after I had a little tumble!

I asked Ben for some personal info…

How old are you? 17
Riding how long? I’ve been riding since I was 10 years old
Where do you live? Ilkeston (sunny ilson)
Any sponsors? Sponsored by Urbanair
Going fast or going big? Going fast for sure. DH All the way!
Lager or Ale? ALE!!!!

Ben Lord getting sideways at Racers Guild. Photo by hagbardceline.pinkbike.com/

I’d like to talk to you about Ben Skinner-Watts. To anyone outside our group of riders, that name won’t mean much to you but to a handful of us in Nottingham he has become very well known indeed. I first met Ben just over a year ago when I was leaving my flat for work. I was about to ride out of my gate when I saw a Trek Session 88 FR lying on the floor with the seat up and a red commuter light flashing on the back. Then I saw its owner, Ben. For three months I’d been living next door to someone who shared my exact same passion for riding yet we had no knowledge of each other’s existence. To put this into perspective I must point out how small the mountain bike scene is in Nottingham. Even smaller is the downhill and freeride scene so you can imagine how excited I was to find out I lived next door to one of these lesser spotted creatures! Since he’s started riding and building with us he has transformed the way we view our trails. Ben is not afraid to use wood and as a consequence has master minded The Acid Drop.

A year in the making, Ben has put some serious graft into this construction.



A side on view of the drop, bathed in sunlight, with Ben’s slope bike in there for scale. We haven’t got the tape measure on it yet. Any guesses?

Ben was the first to hit his own drop – a rite of passage for any trail builder. Photo by James Allured


Ben gave me some personal info…

How old are you? 27
Riding how long? Riding since about 5 years old
Where do you live? Nottingham
Any sponsors? Not sponsored as yet
Going fast or going big? Going BIG involves going FAST. Prefer freeride.
Lager or Ale? Ale

Racing

Sunday 23rd January saw the first 661 Mini Downhill race of 2011. These races are a fantastic introduction to the scene due to their relaxed atmosphere and relatively easy race track. Anyone can have a go as there are no difficult obsticals and the track is nice and short. This makes practising a doddle and means that all levels of fitness can manage it without being reduced to a wobbling wrecking at the finish line. I went down with Nico and Ben Skinner-Watts to check out this great new race format.

It was my first race of 2011 and my first time competing in the ‘masters’ category. I have always wondered whether it would be easier or harder than ‘seniors’ and I guess this year I’ll find out. As far as my first experience goes, I came 5th in my category but my fastest time would have got me up to 4th in senior. It seems these over thirty chaps can pin it just as much as the 21 year olds!

Freeride

There’s this old quarry where I’ve always wanted to build some senders and lines for a video. The area has loads of potential but there’s nothing that’s ready to ride. With that in mind, we drove there armed with a shovel and some camera equipment in search of some natural freeride footage.

It was a foggy day which meant we couldn’t really capture the scenery but it added to the atmosphere. I built a little kicker onto a natural landing but due to it being so wet and having a flat run up, only Chris Hoy would have had the leg power to generate enough speed for some decent air time so we moved on.

The next idea was to film me riding this ridge line. There was a small gap half way down that I’d have to clear so I built another lip and had a bash at it. The landing was awkward and required me to hip slightly to the left to avoid some prickly bushes at the bottom of the hill. On my fourth attempt I over shot the landing slightly and missed my clear run down the hill. Instead I went straight down a near vertical and rocky section to the aforementioned prickly bush which unfortunately got the better of me. I got away with a bruised shoulder but that was the end of the session for me. My advice; never dive head first into a prickly bush.

I’m not saying what I did was anywhere close to the level of skill required to ride the Redbull Rampage but I now have a new found respect and appreciation for what those riders go through. We arrived at the spot with no clear idea of what we were going to film and if it was even achievable. I crashed riding something that The Claw would cruise down in his sleep. However, it was a great day and a totally new experience riding natural lines on steep terrain. There is something extremely rewarding that taps into your soul as a mountain biker when you conquer a piece of land that has never been ridden.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed our bumper edition of Live to Ride. Its been a crazy couple of months and, as ever, its been really hard work. Thankfully the days are getting longer and the milder weather is coming back so its only a few weeks before the after work sessions can begin. I can’t wait.

Next month its the turn of Matt Jones to show us what he’s capable of on a bicycle. Lets just say he’s capable of quite a lot.

Video by Nico Turner

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