Las Ramblas

  • Posted by james m
  • 21 February 2011

I’ve just been staying in Las Ramblas, Barcelona for a couple of weeks whilst working on the GSM World Mobile Congress…

My first visit to Barcelona and I was more than a little bit gutted that my BMX wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but going somewhere without a bike for once did give me a chance to trot around the city on foot and therefore actually take in my surroundings a little, for once.

I had heard all the scare stories about muggings, pickpockets, drugs etc around Las Ramblas, and I can’t deny that all were present, but there are police kicking around and leaving the door prepared meant that I didn’t feel particularly intimidated at any time during my stay. The one man that did try to rob me was very polite about it, and he walked into a tree so I had the last laugh anyway.

Don’t walk alone at night, don’t fill your pockets with valuables and don’t talk to the friendly strangers and you can have a very good time indeed exploring the ancient alleyways, shops and bars of this intriguing district of an architecturally fascinating city full of old world wonders and new school fashionistas. The smoking ban has somehow finally reached Spain too so popping into a pub for a look-see no longer dictates a smoke-screen battle and an engraining scent.

Just below our apartment there were two really good bookshops with speakers most nights, several typically Spanish bars where tapas flowed (unfortunately not freely) and the streets sprawled onwards for a seeming eternity. It took me a whole week before I stopped getting lost on my way home everyday.

I’m back to Barcelona in a weeks time to de-construct everything that myself and the 1,500 other contractors just put up for the GSM show, fortunately the firm that I’m working for will be re-using all their materials, but it really shocked me to see how much has gone into the show that will undoubtedly be put to waste come the take-down. I suppose shows like this are happening all over the world all the time, and certainly aid the economic flow and the progression of The Human Brand™. Lets just hope that the people in charge are thinking resourcefully.

January

  • Posted by dan
  • 3 February 2011

Brings a few changes in lifestyle for some.

After december any aches and injuries left over start to take their
toll. The most common being 'shin bang' (basically sore shins from
skiing hard every day.) My friend Josh is adamant he's found the
solution, that being his girlfriends epilator! Not the most glamorous
thing in the world, and yes I do give him stick for it.

The main change I seem to have made is a talent to eat even more
than usual. For anyone who knows me thats already quite a lot of
food! I have therefore developed a new type of fast food now known
as 'the seasonaires pasty' Yes it is a pasty, except it fills a
large dinner plate.

During December we did lots of skiing, falling over and finding our
skiing legs again. This season Josh and I have entered some
freeride ski competions around Switzerland so we are now just trying
to push oursleves to do better lines, bigger cliff drops and of
course have as much fun along the way!

Here is a nice shot from a thin line which I found along the top of
a cliff , up until the drop off point the width of the ledge was
only about a 1.5metres wide with a slight hangover above my head.....

Engelberg gets tracked out very fast as it's a really popular area
for 'freeride skiing' So a few days after the fresh snow I got my
touring skis out and spent some hiking and skiing fresh powder where
there is no lifts.

These are the days when you really do need your map, and your
compass, your avalanche gear and a trusty friend but your always
guaranteed some stunning scenery and untouched wintery white
landscape to ski on. Hike number one of the season was sometime
last week and below is the view from the top........

Next came the huge dump of powder! it didn't stop snowing for at
least three days so this is our perfect opportunity for some really
great skiing and practicing going as big and scaring ourselves as
much as we dare. So we head up the revolving lift which goes above
the famous glacier 'Steinberg' and I spot this great spot for a good
cliff drop. As we get half way up the lift some other guys are
beating us to it and we have to watch them ruin our landing. So
instead, we decide take the next cliff along which was a good 5
metres bigger, and from take-off to landing between measuring about
15-20 metres.....quite a bit out of our comfort zone! But you only
live once hey!

Here is the take-off and landing shots below: (taken from a video
clip so the quality isnt great)

This was probably the best powder day we had seen all season. By the
end of the day we all had seriously sore shins from dropping cliffs
and I also had a little tangle with some rocks which ended in the
worst dead leg just below my hip

To finish off the perfect weekend me and a friend Dani went for a
really nice ski tour yesterday. Starting at 9am, we were the first
people up there, hiking fresh tracks. Taking it quite easy as I
still had a really sore bum and leg!

It was a stunning day, with the misty clouds bringing more snow but
as we arrived nearer the top we came above the snow clouds and into
the sun shine which created a kind of crystalized view of everything
and a real mystic feel to the mountain.

We arrived at the top at midday just in time for lunch. Now thats
what I call healthy eating!

Needless to say, the ski down was perfect in every way.

So thats pretty much it for this month. In the meantime I have some
portraits to paint from life, some more ski touring planned, and a
whole lot of exploring to do.

For those of you who have never experienced the mountains in winter
time it really is something special!

> www.danyeomans.com
> www.danyeomans-art.com

Something Familiar

  • Posted by james m
  • 31 January 2011

With increasing summer resorts, bike parks and relaxed access rights creating an ever growing abundance of riding opportunity across Europe, a mountain biker’s lifestyle is fast becoming close to that of the surfer bum. Large groups of lads and ladies can be spotted all across the continent piling out of beat up vans, piecing together rickety bikes and enjoying each and every venue along the way.

Of course there is more to it than just the sport itself; the people to meet along the way, the places, the views and the ordeals all make the sport bums lifestyle adventurous, fulfilling and therefore enticing. It’s always nice to see something unfamiliar and curious.

This searching could go on forever and ever, which, personally, I can’t see any particular problems with. Yet having recently been cooped up in an entirely non-exotic location in the UK, I have come to realise that sometimes more familiar surroundings could do with a closer look too.

The British riding scene has grown rapidly and from strength to strength over the last few years. With weekly uplift services running across the country, multiple races taking place every weekend and trail centres popping up all over the shop, there is a lifetimes worth of riding to be explored right here on this island. With more investment in mountain biking to come, there has never been a better time to be a mountain biker in Britain.

Last weekend whilst riding at one of the newest downhill venues in Wales, Nant Gwtheyrn, we were treated not only to a superb and demanding track with excellent facilities, but also gifted a stunning sunset across the Westerly cliffs. I think a good sunset can be measured on how long a crowd can be rendered speechless, in this instance there was silence until the last of the light was out. We certainly aren’t lacking in good countryside either then.

Another Super Nice place right here in Britain and I can’t wait to be back and racing the first BDS (British Downhill Series) race. Be there 20th March if you fancy visiting an unfamiliar venue with an interesting history, seeing some of the worlds best riders hurling themselves down the steep hillside and particularly if you like a silence-inducing view every once in a while.

www.britishdownhillseries.com

Thank you very much to SRE, BOS, Riders Refuge, Kingdom Bike and of course howies.

‘Puffer video

  • Posted by ruben
  • 25 January 2011

Here's a nice little edit Alastair put together of our Scottish adventure.

Feel free to fast forward over any bits of my speaking. I know I did.

Check out Al's site here for more of the stuff he's up to at the moment, including his A to Z of London food micro-adventure which I think is a really great idea. Sampling the world's food and 'traveling the world without crossing the M25'.

Changing Priorities

  • Posted by will
  • 10 January 2011

The stack of reading material here is illustrative of my current list of priorities. At the top are two quite magnificent books by Jez Alborough about Bobo the chimp. Bobo is quite a central character in our house at the moment and these books have made bedtime (and most other times) a lot easier for all concerned. I have spent more time narrating the adventure of Bobo than I have looking at much else. Highly recommended for those looking to entertain a 'wee-one' or indeed themselves. No-one is too old for books with titles such as 'Yes', 'Tall' and 'Hug'?

Sat beneath Bobo very symbolically are two of the books I'm attempting to make sense of for a much maligned thesis. Kant, Locke, Marx and the like don't have the draw of Alborough, Cuncliffe and the Ahlbergs and sadly I have no-one else thrusting these books in my lap like I do with those that sit at the top of the pile so I am reliant on self-discipline to open these. But 'needs must' and these books (and too many others to count) are piled up on my desk awaiting my attention.

At the bottom is a field of 'literature' that at one time in my life I read intensely. A combination of the ability to get a 'quick fix' of bmx news and trivia from the web and everything else I have to read means these magazines dont get anywhere near the attention that my 16 year old self was able to give them. My priorities are thus structured in this order and riding has to fit in between everything else rather than everything else fitting around the riding as it has had to do for so much of the last 15 years. Having said that, riding still provides a much needed escape and connects me to a group of friends when around whom nothing much seems to have changed (which is a good thing!). Over the last year or so my good friend Jamie Barron and I have managed to sneak in a number of trips out near and far to ride and film and the video below is the result.

A big thank you to Jamie for putting this together and a big thanks to Jez Alborough and the like for making such damn fine books to entertain a 16 month old. Locke, Kant and co are mostly long gone so I'll spare them the thanks......

Some Small Spaces

  • Posted by james m
  • 23 December 2010

This past week I have been evading the snow and cold and instead touring around some of Andalusia’s smaller pockets of mountain biking, whilst attempting to avoid heat stroke in shorts and t-shirt and sipping ice cold beers... Well not quite but the sun shone for the whole week.

Travel has been in a very small van. I slept a night in the small room at my sisters house, 1 night in a small cave, 2 nights on a small floor space in the corner of a small apartment and 1 night in a small bed in a hut.

And I saw a full size man in a very small car.

That man was Jason Wolfe who we (myself and Rowan Sorrell) bumped into just after arrival, and kindly let us stay in his amazing Malaga apartment in the central Plaza, our only night of luxury in the week (I slept on a large sofa)!

We spent a day riding the trails near the city whilst awaiting Mark Huskisson [of Reset films], ate pizza and supped a few Alhambra Verde’s (best beer anywhere), then the next morning we trundled out of the city and into the hills for a week of filming in El Chorro (beautiful), Granada (freeeeezing) and up into Bubion (backward) and La Alpujarra where I lived for 3 years doing a guiding job.

Nice to see nothing much changes in Spain – they certainly have the right idea down there. Tostadas, café solo and the great Spanish work ethic (..work..? ¿Qué?) certainly lured us in a bit more than Mark probably would have liked, but we got some great days filming in the end and had a fun time doing so.

Here’s to Spain and life at a slower pace.

Feliz Navidad!

Dan Yeomans Blog

  • Posted by dan
  • 23 December 2010

My new home is a nice apartment in a Swiss ski resort called Engelberg, an old creaky swiss chalet with front door step covered in ice and windows that let the howling wind through.

Apart from working we have had a few lovely days of powder snow and a little hiking in some perfect powder.


I'll be writing a monthly blog to keep you updated with some sweet photos and tasty video.


Here are a couple of photos of me and Ralph making our way to a nice fresh couloir and catching some beautiful scenery along the way.



Ashley Charles: Beach Bum

  • Posted by will
  • 17 December 2010

The days of enjoying the beach sans wetsuit/big coat seem already to be long gone and still so far away. Despite this Ashley Charles has a video and photo story up about his life by the beach and his enduring love of life by the sea. Ashley is a long time resident of Bournemouth and while having travelled to most corners of the globe he still gravitates back to the Dorset seaside. He has written a short piece about why he hasnt moved to the big smoke and is happy in a town more renowned for its OAPs by the sea (inevitable stereotype i know). The video illustrates another advantage to living by the sea in having a great length of seafront to explore by bike and one that at this time of year is all but deserted. Take a look at the picture story here.

When We’re 65

  • Posted by will
  • 9 December 2010

Some friendships are enduring. I have known John (Northern John to give him his formal title) for 12 or 13 years now and we have spent some of the more formative years of our lives travelling near and far together in the pursuit of new places to see and new things to ride on our ill-fitting bicycles.

As clichéd as it sounds John is a one-off - that label gets applied to many but anyone who has had the pleasure of john's company will agree that he is (both thankfully and regretfully in almost equal measure) never matched in his approach to life.

We have both grown 'old' within BMX and it is to this pastime/sport/hobby/life-pursuit that we have both remained involuntarily tied. BMX is now even more so than ever a kid's world and we both spend increasingly more time moaning about the 'state of the scene' and looking back through very rose tinted spectacles at the days when there was no-where to ride, no-one to ride with, no websites, no forums, no obsession with bikes and fashion but despite all this we both seem incapable of letting go of riding a 20" bike.

I have more fun riding with John than anyone else (and the few friends that can put up with our bitterness!) and we recently set about trying to document our riding over the last few months. We have filmed together for years and while our schedules are a little fuller these days we managed in between the fishing sessions, the childcare issues and two jobs to come together often enough to film a few clips that Jamie Barron (our long suffering friend and camera man) kindly put together into this edit.

With a combined age now of 65 (im 28 so you can work out John's age) we were quite happy that our knees lasted long enough for us to battle through the eternally miserable weather in the north-west of England and put together an edit that doesnt hide the fact that were having fun - if it takes an hour to do a trick one of us will punch the air and give the other one a hug! (very much frowned upon in the serious modern world of BMX).

You can't teach old dogs new tricks but you can get them to do them over and over again until they land them!

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