Ok, that sounded wrong… We haven’t made our first adult movie just another mountain biking film out on the South Wales MTB trails… I think we better explain quick!
Back in January on a misty hillside in South Wales, Cognation met up with the winner of one of our Facebook competitions; Gavin Pope. He got the most votes for submitting his favourite mountain biking video, which happened to be one he filmed and edited himself.
The prize was to win a day for him and his mates to make a make a video of their own featuring them, riding anywhere they wanted and they chose the Afan Bike Park. It just so happens that he’s also in a mountain biking club called Half Way Up MTB (based close to Cwmcarn) so we thought we’d also ask about that too!
From the moment we met them in the car park we knew the day wasn’t going to be boring. Watching these guys riding was pure entertainment on its own, and let’s just say they had A LOT of personality! Every jump, every berm, in fact any feature at all, was met with full on banter, lots of humour and egging each other on. They pushed themselves with their riding trying to get more air than the last guy and getting their tyres worryingly as close to the camera as possible!
If this is what club riding is like we were sold! They looked like they were having an awesome time and so we threw some questions at them whilst they were catching their breath:
What’s it like riding as part of club rather than by yourself?
The craich. The banter is fantastic. We ride as a group, we ride to the pace of the last man/woman. There is a group ride most evenings and weekends. All the riders are great to get on with and my riding has come on no end as I am riding different stuff all the time. We generally have a post ride beer and we catch up on all the sketchy moments that occurred during the ride. I have travelled to places I would never had done if it wasn’t for the Club. Last week we rode Snowdon, this week Cwm Rhaeadr. August is the French Alps. Great bunch of riders.
What’s the best news for South Wales mountain biking as you see it?
The best news for South Wales mountain biking (apart from HalfwayUpMTB!) is the investment being made in our local trails centres. With Cwmcarn and Gethin within riding distance we are really spoilt and Cognation are the driving force behind this. Keri says this: “I’m getting on a bit now, but the club and Cognation will leave a lasting legacy for my kids and their kids to enjoy what is the best social and fitness sport IMHO and its all on our doorstep. South Wales is going to re-establish itself as a world Mecca for mountain biking and I will be there to welcome them all.”
How did you get involved with HWUPMTB?
We were out on a big group ride, our local 3 peaks.
It was organised by Tinks aka Andrew Taylor. We were all in our small groups that we usually rode with. There were about 18 of us there at the time. At the midway point Tinks brought up the idea of starting up a club. I thought it would be a great idea.
Later in the month Tinks arranged to meet at a local pub called the Halfway Inn to see what the interest would be.
We expected around 10 people to turn up, to our amazement we had 30 riders turn up. It was really exciting to feel the buzz around the room. We knew there were a few riders locally but didn’t imagine we would get this response.
The club has nearly 100 members from all over the place such as Cardiff, North Wales and Merthyr. Oh and Lithuania!!
Does it cost anything to join the club?
The club charges a poultry 20 quid a year to be a member. For that you get a discount card for local bike shops like Don Skene and EC Cycles and a discount off a club shirt. The membership fee is covered in one visit to the local bike shops!! We’ve also had some great one off deals with companies called Hope, Loco Tuning and a local Burglary Alarm company – Diack and Sons to keep our trusty steeds safe at night!!
What if you’re a beginner or have a naff old bike?
So what, it’s not the bike, it’s the fun of getting out there and riding. On our monthly rides, we have quite a few new riders turn up on cheaper bikes. Its a great way to get into the sport. If you like it and you want to upgrade ( which most do) then carry on. It’s better than spending a few grand on a bike to use it as a garage ornament.
We have monthly newbie rides generally attended by about 30+ riders that come along for the rides. Some are obviously not newbies but enjoy the relaxed pace. We usually have around 5 new riders turn up each month. We are fortunate to have some excellent riders who spend time with the newer riders to coach them along. We gear the rides to the individuals riding, so sometimes we split into different groups and all meet back up at the pub to catch up on the ride.
We will be having a skills day aimed at the newer riders next month. This will be run by Dave Buchanan( committee guy and all round good egg) and hopefully have Mojo rider Anthony O’Boyle along as well. Everyone will gain from these guys. Should be good fun.
The club has been such a success that riders partners have decided that if they can’t beat us, then they will join us and we now have a female section that are loving the sport and the tuition they receive from the club members. The Junior section is coming along too which is great for the club.
One final word from Keri… “To be honest, I don’t really like anyone in the club, but I get cheap stuff and it’s an excuse to get away from the wife for a few hours!!!”
Cognation wants to encourage anyone riding the trails we’re building and groups seem like a fantastic way to get out there especially if you’re new to the sport or just don’t fancy riding by yourself.