Due to busy schedules there had never been a convenient time to meet Andy outside of our annual Alps trips. However after careful planning and with a break from employment I was off to Bath, in the rain, to spend the next few days riding downhill and skateparks.


Day one

Bad weather has a tendency to dampen moods. Waking up to the sound of rain drops before setting off on a riding trip is no exception, but forecasts predicted that it was dry further north so I switched my focus to the riding ahead. I parked up at Sidwell Cycles for opening where Frank replaced the last shoddy part on what was a wrecked Orange 223. With a new fork, brakes, bearings and paint job the 223 was rammed into the boot and taken up the M5.

When I eventually reached Andy’s house (I don’t recommend coinciding a journey with Uni students moving in) I was greeted by two highly enthusiastic riders and improving weather. Without time for a sandwich we were off to the first spot.

Pushing up the slippery path was gruelling and a technical challenge in itself. I became apprehensive about the culmination of a difficult track and a dusty DH mind set in high-speed Alps mode. Seconds into riding my anxiety transpired into a tree encounter as I missed the first turn. To add to my lack of technical riding ability my brakes, fresh from the box, barely worked. After a repeat scenario on the following few corners and with Andy and Ben quickly out of sight, I rode down whatever tracks I slid into. Eventually I found my hosts and we walked back up for another go.

Despite my intent to avoid a repeat cock-up I binned it in the exact same spot. Fortunately though this time round I Kept Andy and Ben in sight, who showed me a brutal looking short and steep rock garden covered in moss and wet roots. It proved to be the wake up call I needed and riding it out boosted my confidence. I began to finally take control of my bike and enjoy the remaining and subsequent run in which, following the words “I want to make it down without putting a foot down”, Ben slammed in the first corner. 

As time moved on so did we to a completely different type of track; an empty gully filled with dry rocks and boulders. As the slope had a fairly mellow angle the only way to hold speed was to pick a smooth line and avoid the larger rocks, which was easier said then done. After Ben left I took the Gopro out to record some helmet and self filmed footage. Several hours later, and gutted that the battery had ran out literally seconds before we hit the last and fastest turn, we drove back as dusk was setting in.

Following the words “I want to make it down without putting a foot down” Ben slammed in the first corner.”

Day two

First stop was Dean Lane, the oldest skatepark in Bristol. After fixing a tube and clearing some glass the session got underway. We filmed some clips then drove to the other side of the city to check out St George’s. The park is vast and spread out, so the best way to ride it is to blast around pumping in and out of the bowl into the other sections. Half an hour and a volcano to bowl transfer to near skateboarder collision later we were done and made our way back to meet some other riders. Unfortunately as soon as we arrived in Bath it poured with rain so the evening session was called off. Frustrated we went back and watched ‘Taken’ (brilliant film) and Earthed.

That night Andy’s housemate was playing at a club so we headed into town. We were among the first through the doors but a few Jagerbombs later the place was rammed. In the crowd was a girl we referred to as Gums. Despite her oral misfortunes she was with a different guy each time we saw her. Must have been fresher enthusiasm... By around 2am we were done. Andy managed to annoy an impressive number of people on the way out of a busy fast food joint and we made it back in time for five hours of sleep before alarm bells.

Day three

I woke up feeling remarkably OK. Soon after a large breakfast and many glasses of water we were pushing up the track I was introduced to on the first ride. The downpour the previous evening ended any likelihood of less treacherous conditions. On the long walk through the forest the previous nights alcohol consumption and lack of sleep crept in.

There was another section of track around the hill with a rock section and a couple of jumps where we warmed up and commenced filming. The following few hours consisted of pushing, falling, recording, sliding, sliding some more and nearly hitting a dog.

We passed Gums on the way to the supermarket, bought food, changed bikes and went to Andy’s local (park). To his astonishment there was a high turnout. The park has possibly the worst jump box I have ever ridden, with a short transition and steep flatbank landing ending with a harsh bump. The park is also home to a terrifying 10ft ‘mini’ ramp. I started filming Andy when he had the idea of helmet camming some airs. On the first air he landed to flat but somehow rode it out. He was uncomfortable with the helmet, but managed a couple of runs with it on. After a session on the smaller mini-ramp it was time to say bye. 



14 October 2011