In the UK, we're pretty lucky. As riders we've got a whole load of trail centres scattered up and down our little island. I've heard it said that, as a country, we're leading the way when it comes to trail centres. And of course, that's without including the abundant natural trails that we've got too! In the east of Yorkshire though, gravity orientated trails are hard to come by. Sure, we've got the Yorkshire Wolds but they're rolling hills. Perfect for the lycra clad riders amongst us, but they're not steep enough for any real challenge.
It's not until you venture north, to the North York Moors, that you find some steeper riding. There's plenty of opportunity in that part of England for some good riding, whether it's natural or at a trail centre. My most local spot is Dalby Forest. It's not the most technical riding, or the most gravity orientated. In fact, it falls very much under the Cross Country bracket of riding - it was even used for an XC World Cup some time in the past - but, if you hammer it hard enough, it can open up a few good descents that more than put a smile on your face. It's mostly well known for its long red route and 'world cup worthy' black trails, but there's actually a lot more there than it's often given credit for.
That's where I headed to for my first Gravity Clothing Co. photo shoot. As a recently sponsored rider, it was important to me to make sure that I captured some killer shots to share with others. As Dalby is the most local spot we've got, it's also where I ride most frequently. Getting shots in a place you're familiar with is so much easier than trying to find the best features and taking photos at the same time. The demo route at Dalby was the ideal place for this. A short 3.5km route, with some interesting enough features to capture, meant that I could lap it with the camera and make sure I spent enough time on each feature. Riding this route also meant that I could leave my riding pack at the car and just take my camera bag and a bottle of water. With a rough idea of which features would yield the best results, I headed out with the Bronson.
Thankfully, I usually ride with a friend, who also enjoys shooting pictures and videos. This makes it loads easier to get the shots I want as we simply take it in turns hitting the features and shooting the camera. With the photos coming in thick and fast, I started to throw some style in there too. Loose on the front to lift the wheel, laying the bike a bit in jumps, or landing into corners all helped to get the shots I was looking for. Getting low with the camera also helps to give a better perspective on the features being ridden. There's many a time when I've walked away from a ride with what I thought was a really good shot, only to realise that the angle it was taken at makes the feature look a whole lot smaller than it is in reality.
What helps even more is the correct camera set-up. Thankfully, I've been pretty lucky and managed to get my hands on a decent DSLR camera secondhand with a few different lenses. The quality of the pictures is way beyond anything you might capture on an iPhone and I've only just scratched the surface in terms of camera techniques and settings. I'm quite sure over the coming weeks and months I'll learn more and more about the camera and be able to set up some excellent shots. Luckily, for this photo shoot, the automatic settings on the camera made up for the lack of my own technical understanding and grabbed photos with a decent shutter speed and enough light to put the GoPro shots to shame.
Carrying the pack was a bit of a nightmare though, and is something that will definitely have to be changed sooner than later. The little camera bag that I've got is really only designed for walking with, and isn't padded. It also doesn't have a waist strap so slips around whilst it's on your back. There's also no space for a water bladder, tools and, because of this, when I took a tumble it was ride over. With no tools and a really bent brake lever, there was no choice but to push back to the car. Thankfully, there was no damage to the camera, and we'll have it back out (in a more suitable bag) in the future with plenty more photos to be taken.
What's more, is that you'll be along for the ride and be able to see them too.
Author: Lewis Bell