WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH PEAK DISTRICT MTB?
I was invited by Chris Maloney. I was doing some research at Sheffield Hallam on mountain bike trail builders, and after seeing an article I had written on trail sabotage he asked if I wanted to join. One of the things that I see all the time on social media is people spreading un/ill-informed opinions about mountain bikers, and these opinions are often very unfair. Like anyone, mountain bikers can be obnoxious (and I’ve met a few), but in my experience, most of them are caring, conscientious, and keen to do the right thing. So my research provides a counterweight to these accounts by allowing mountain bikers to tell their story. By conducting research and publishing my findings in both academic and public forums, it also provides Peak District MTB and other advocacy groups with important evidence that can be used in achieving their objectives.
I’ve ridden in many locations around the world, but Wharncliffe Woods will always have a special place in my heart. It’s fairly local to me, and the tracks there are so good. As a sociologist, I am also interested in the various, and often contested meanings that riders attach to the woods themselves. From the trail builders who spend crazy amounts of time sculpting new trails, to the pro riders who use it as a training ground, or even those bang-average amateurs (like me!) who like to scare themselves every now and again, it always feels like the woods are alive with activity. I am hopeful that one day the Forestry Commission will open up access in there and widen the network of authorised trails so that more people can share these experiences.
Raleigh Burner, Shogun (can’t remember the model, but my Dad told me it was a GT) with a John Tomac-style disc in the rear wheel, Carrera Krakatoa, Kona Kula, Trek Fuel EX, Scott Genius, Canyon Strive, and now an Airdrop Edit – the best bike I’ve ever owned.
BEST MOMENT ON A BIKE
Oh wow, such a tough one! I was lucky enough to spend 2 days on my own in Whistler in 2018, which is definitely up there. Being there was a dream-come-true for me, and it definitely lived up to expectations. However, being alone was a bit of a bummer, and you can’t beat riding with mates. Balmy summer days riding dusty trails with mates in Wharncliffe or Blacka, followed by a pint of beer is about as good as it gets. I also like going to Scotland as often as I can as the trail centres they have up there are typically much more challenging than the ones in England and Wales. But no I can’t pick a favourite. It’s way too difficult.
WORST MOMENT ON A BIKE
2019 was a pretty minging year for me bike-wise. I broke my scaphoid on New Years Eve and had 3 months in a cast. 3 weeks after having it removed I had a horrible crash at Leeds Bike Park and hit my knee pretty badly. It swelled to twice its original size and almost stopped me from going to the Alps that summer. So these were definitely my worst two moments on a bike, and they both happened within 4 months of each other. I’m now so grateful for physiotherapists – ha!
ANYTHING TO CONFESS?
I must be the only mountain biker I know who thinks that Stanage Edge is an overrated descent (apologies to everyone who has devoted so much time and energy to keeping this bridleway open!).