Good Stuff Of The Year

It has been a good year. I guess you could call these the best bits.

Best Trail: Eckham, Western Austria,
Deep in the Oetztal valley, on a small unassuming hill there is a trail. Its 400 meter height loss may seem paltry compared to the quadruple figure descents that can be found in the mountains roundabout, but this is the trail from the past year that is occupying my thoughts the most. It was 400 meters of steep, rooty challenge. For the most part right on the edge of what I can comfortably ride, in sections somewhere over that line. With my modest skill it could be cleaned, just, one glorious day, but until that day comes I can only dream. This year has been a good one for trails, both old and new and whilst the north side of Eckham is number one, honourable mentions must go to trails new and old. Achnasellach was worth waiting a year for, a whole heap of trails from the Euro adventure, plus some new lakeland passes in the mix. The Marin trail still has me coming back for more, and Nan Beild will always bring a smile to my face.


The Perfect Trail - Wideopen Mag

8 whole pages of tails of trails from Dave and I's Highland adventure can be found amongst flips and DH action in the latest Wideopen Mag, which is both excellent and free, online. I am well chuffed with the awesome job the guys have done with our photos and words. It looks bleeding excellent. Also pretty cool to see our jeyer antics in amongst all the DH action. It is an awesome mag. Get yerself over to their webber and have a look. Or just click on that doodah above. SuperXCmountaincore page 59 - 67


Pretty Sweet Thankyous

So, it looks like the whole Pretty Sweet film thing is done, or at least it will be when all of singletrackworlds hit counters have ticked up to 5,000. Seems like a lot of people liked it, which is awesome, hell, Evans where quoting it for a brief while. Seeing that improved my monday morning last week. A few people didn't think much, fair enough, and a few seemed to miss the point alltogethor, bless em. Anyway, the whole thing has been awesome, has openened a few doors, and looks like it may have opened a few more for a second film. We'll see about that. Anyway, I thought I might take a minute to thank everyone who as been involved. Right from Ste, Dave and Cal for keeping faith in this idea through hell and highwater, through to Dave T and Henry for letting us ruin there holiday, parents for endless support and warm dinners, festivals and the mtb comunity who have thought enough of our film to put it out there alongside some super-pro films, singletrackworld for letting us use the most popular mtb site in the country to broadcast on, and everyone who watched it for taking 20 minutes to see what we made. Cheers


Pretty Sweet on Interwebs (For a Limited Time Only)

I love shouting about it

Yup, thats right. Pretty Sweet is going online with a generous helping hand from the folks at Singletrack Magazine. It should be going up on their website (www.singletrackworld.com) over the upcoming week, but due to music licensing restriction, it looks like it will only be up for 5000 views, so you had better get in fast. Well, fast ish. I here those STW fellow run a pretty popular webber.

After the great reception from festivals so far, it should be awesome to get t'film out in front of the wider mtb community.

And yes, before anyone mentions it, we ride like a bunch of complete jeyers.


An Escape To High Places

An escape to the mountains was needed. When a date that worked came along Cal, Dave W and I jumped at the chance to head north into the mountains. With flooding the day before we arrived and snow the day after we left, we finally got some karmic payback from the weather and found some damp but awesome autumnal riding.

24 hours earlier we were all in a major metropolis. Cal and Dave chase the light and escape into the hills


Where There Is A Will...

...There is a way, and I have a way. Filming plans are afoot.

So you may have noticed the '2nd Pretty Sweet' talk, and we are working on that. Whilst a few ideas have been hatched, but I would guess we are still a year away from anything on that front. But fear not, we have some other, shorter film plans, that are starting to come together.

After we got what was our initial break, not to mention some great support from LLAMFF 2010, we all decided, possibly in the car on the way home, that we should try and get something togethor for the 2011 event. And so here we are. In a few weeks the window of filmic opportunity creaks open for 6 days, and we are planning on pitting ourselves against the Welsh November weather. Won't ruin the surprise apart from to say it looks like we may have roped super-pro-real-life-trials-superhero Matt Barlow into our plans and fingers crossed we'll come out with something good. Or a camera full of water. One of the two.

UPDATE: Between hand injuries, broken camcorder screens and severe weather warnings, this plan came to absolutely nothing. Ace.


Travelling Socks: Austria

Week 3 of Supereuromegaride took us to Austria, and trails we knew. Read all about it

By the time we got this far, the sensational weather window was firmly closed. Things got slippy on the trails of Tirol


Travelling Socks: Italy

Photos and largely nonsense words from part two of Cal and I's Euro bikepacking adventure

The first day in Italy. Fully loaded on the slopes of the Bernina Pass. Piz Bernina is the 4000 meter hulk towering in the background.


Travelling Socks: Switzerland

So Cal and I took a few weeks this summer to go on a most excellent adventure, and bikepacked our way around a small part of the central Alps. Here follows photos of part 1 of our singletrail adventure:

The joy of bikes and aeroplanes. Carboard boxes did a splendid job of getting the bicycles to the continent.


Pretty Sweet at Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival

Pretty Sweet is off to Scotland as part of EMFF 2010. We are really chuffed that Pretty Sweet (or Sweet Trip as the website currently has it) has been included in the line up of '20 of the best mountain films'. Our 'beautiful little film' is first on on the Sunday evening, along with Mark Beaumont. Super awesome news. For more details on the tickets and the full line up: http://www.edinburghmountainff.com/

Looks like an awesome festival in an awesome city.


A Day at the Races

The only experience i have of the word 'race' would be primary school sports days (those held at secondary school would be spent at home skiving under the fa├žade of ill health). So i mean it when i say i didn't know what to expect from Tour de Ben Nevis, the newest 'race' event to No Fuss Events' repertoire.

It turned out to be bloody brilliant.
Great route, even by my standards the adventure level was high; waist deep river crossings and prolonged hike-a-bike. But, best of all was the great company; so many like minded people to share in the agony. I am positively looking forward to the next season of No Fuss Events - hopefully to contend for the Britain's Best Mountain Biker (unofficial) title!

Here are the thoughts of Pretty Sweet throughout the race:


Taking It Easy

Way back last Febuary, Ste and I found a peach of a trail in the Welsh Carneddau. It didn't go anywhere, and super gnarly to the point that we turned around when things got a bit scary. Well Dave saw the pics and wanted a go, so with the idea of getting some more 'fell tech' down on camera we headed back across on a much sunnier sunday and pushed to reach the ridge.

This time we made the ridge. Dave W was the only one to get his bike up there, so he was the only one to ride the techy, scenic trail we found


3 Days, 2 Rides

The Alps is a good place to ride a mountain bike, of that there is no doubt, but the UK is pretty good too, especially trails like this one:

Dave W and I headed to Stavely to scratch a trail exploring itch that had been on my mind for a while. The Highstreet - Staveley descent is a techno corker at the best of times, however the Bridleway to complete the loop is a grassy boggy slog up onto the ridge. After a massive trail had been dug in up to the ridge north of Garburn, I had a feeling this would provide a better way of summiting high street. We were mainly focusing on getting a few moving images in the bag for the second Pretty Sweet, plus I had forgotten my camera, so this is the only image from the day, but as a ride it was brutal. Garburn to the ridge was steep, and the descents of two of the three summits where short but steep, and super gnarly in places. Needless to say Dave W aced most of it. I had a bit of a struggle, especially after my sucess on the Lakes Gnar on the 'Long Steep Road of Trips' Trip. I would like to blame it on going back to a hardtail, but my super tech skills could well have gone backwards.

And this one:

All our riding at the minute is done with one eye on the Tour de Ben Nevis, so Cal and I decided to head out to the Marin trail and get used to just 'knocking it out' again. Felt pretty good, certainly better than the pain-fest in the lakes. 2 hours 15 mins for a lap at 'could do it all day' speed certainly boosted confidence. Anyway, it is good to be back in the UK. Despite how it may feel we have it pretty good here.


Pretty Sweet Hits Canada

Well this is Rad. Got news today that a slightly shortened version of Pretty Sweet will be included in the Bikeshorts Film Festival Tour

The tour starts at the above event in Vancouver before taking in dates across Canada along with some international showings. This really does look like an awesome night, I mean c'mon, there is bike valet parking. The line up looks great aswell, with a fair few mountain bike films, including Shortcuts from the Bamboo Chicken guys down the road in Llanberis. Their is also a picture slideshow in the interview, and I think we may have a few shots in that aswell. Basically thus is awesome news about an awesome event.

Personally I think it would be great if we could bring this to the UK. If anyone else reading this thinks they could help make it happen then get in touch (address on the Pretty Sweet film page)

Check out www.bikeshorts.ca for more details


We're Going Racing

Yup. it is all on the line now. In a month or so's time the Pretty Sweet Race Team (ha..) will be heading of to this:

On the No Fuss website it is described as 'The race that took mountain biking back to the mountains' and a 'mountain biking adventure race' which sounds right up our street. As far as I can tell the format is sort of like an Enduro, with both downhill and uphill stages on a course that circumnavigates Ben Nevis. The stages look like they take in some sweet out the way singletrack, plus a stage on the Fort William Downhill Course, and a hike-a-bike section.

Anyway, it looks like Dave W, Cal and I are all going to be there, so bragging rights are on the line, plus it sounds like a pretty good excuse for a roadtrip whilst we are up north. Cal and Dave W are talking of training programs so they should be super competitive. I am aiming to avoid the wooden spoon. The clown is down.


Scottish Road Trip Disaster

These pictures are the leftovers from the 'Long Steep Road of Trips' story that appeared in Singletrack 58. Dave W gives his side of the story below:

Hope that we could find a spell of dry weather in the Scottish highlands was well and truly quenched by a curtain of spray coming up off the motorway. We were at the border to Cumbria and knew full well that every northward mile took us deeper into a developing downpour. Decision time.


Film Night Thankyous

Big thanks to everybody that came down last night. £100 quid for Wheels 4 Life and the IMBA is a pretty good effort in my book. Just thought I would say thanks to everyone that helped out and donated time or equipemnt for absolutely nothing in return; Col for the cakes and the venue, Brian & Fabian for the most excellent film, Keith for the projector & speakers, Ali for the screen, Sarah for her patience and helping me out, and everyone that came down and gave their £3. Muchos Gracias. And if you weren't there, what the hell?


Delamere MTB Film Night Fundraiser

On the evening of the 8th July Delamere Cafe will be hosting a mountain bike film double bill to raise money for Wheels 4 Life and the IMBA.

As the poster says there will be not just the films, about which there is more below, but also food and drink and a raffle to give away some DVD copies of the films, all for a £3 donation to two great charities. The night should make for some ace post or pre ride entertainment. What's not to like?

VAST is Ionate Films eagerly anticipated follow up to the spectacular Virtuous. Here is what they have to say about their brand new flick:

'We're happy to take you on a breathtaking freeride journey. From the foot of the Matterhorn to the urban realms of Berlin, from the Ligurian Mediterranean coast to the overwhelming Aletsch glacier. VAST shows mountainbiking in its purest form at Europe's most beautiful locations'

Support is provided by PRETTY SWEET, a low-fi mountain bike film about pointing your bicycle at the mountains and seeing what you find. It is a film that shys away from huge huucks and DH action and instead sets out to show just how much grabbing a map and heading into the mountains by bike can offer.


Another Roadtrip Disaster

This time we were aiming for Knoydart and we ended up in Torridon. Turned out all right in the end though:

Then we just kind of stayed there. Dave 'Pleasuredome' Waugh in action


The Long Steep Road of Trips

Any regular readers of this blog (Hey look, some tumbleweed) may have noticed we mentioned a trip to the lakes, but never made anything of it. The reason for that was we sent some pictures and words of to the most excellent people at Singletrack Magazine who, in their infinite loveleyness and tolerance of poor spelling, decided to put our story in their magazine. This one:

So basically, I think you should go out and buy it. It is only £3.50 ish, it is a comletely independant mag - surely a good thing, and this month in particular is a guddun'. Steve Peat, important discussion on cheeky trails, Ben Lomand, an epic story from Siberia, me trying my hardest to write something good at the front and the most thorough fork test ever, if you are into that kind of thing, plus all the banging photos from Mainey, Milner, Barham and co. It is good stuff I tells ya. It is their title, not mine by the way.


Is There A View?

So the trails on Snowdon are top notch, as, I am guessing is the view. We have ridden bicycles up to the top cafe/building site/nonsense twice before and been greeted with 'thick as the thickest pea soup mist' and howling gales both times. Whilst the mist and wind made for some of my favourite shots of the Pretty Sweet film experience last time Ste and I ventured up, Dave W, Cal and I headed up a week before the summer solstace hoping for still weather and a view of the sun dipping below the Atlantic as we headed down the mountain.

Alas, it was not to be.


Rail 2 Trail

Dave has been talking about the maze of trails in Wharncliffe for a while. Gnarly, Flowing and Steep seemed to be the most common descriptions. Sounded pretty good, so at 8am on what was to be the hottest weekend of the year, I was stowing my bike on the train to Sheffeild.

After being repeatedly hunted down by a tram on the road ride out to Wharnecliffe, Dave's plan was to ride the excellent DH tracks he allready knew about, and try and discover a few more singletracks threading down the hillside. Boyo was up to speed on the trails he had already unearthed.


I Heart The Woods

I have been out riding in the woods a lot recently. It has been good. After we got back from the lakes (stay tuned...) trips involving getting  in the car and spending a whole day on the trails have been put on hold whilst work/exam/other commitments have been filled. As a consequence the quick two hour ride around the woods has become my main riding fill, and I have been loving it.

Ste riding the woodland moon.


A Good Times Sign

So I think anyone who knows a thing or two about mountain bike films will understand why this picture made us smile:

No, for once it is not the £4.00 bacon and sausage bap. Mahoosive thanks to all the guys involved with the Dyfi, especially for putting on our little bike film up there with the pros. From the sounds of things the whole thing was an amazing event. I'll have to be quick with the entry form next year.


8am Flow

A brand new (2nd hand actually, but still exciting) HD camera arrived at Pretty Sweet HQ the other day. As is the way with these things Ste and I got excited and gave it a test drive without reading the instructions. Here is what we made:

8am Flow from David Martin on Vimeo.

So stoked on the number of pixels this thing shoots. It just looks better with four times as many. Not sure of the ideal rendering settings yet as the footage looks so ace when it comes out the camera and above doesn't quite do it justice, but vimeo seems to like these ones so they can do for now. So stoked to start putting together some of our short film plans for this summer


Golden Shred

As Dave W points out so well below, the dust has returned. The first proper summer dry spell after a long winter is one of my favourite times to ride. Hard baked local trails emerge dry and dusty. The Golden evening shred is on.

4:30 - Leave work - Go Home - Get Bicycle - Woods - Sunset - Tea


Return of the Dust (released April 2010)

No, it's not another film by Pretty Sweet; it's better than that: Summer seems to be on the way and dust has returned to the trails.

Today was one of those rare occasions when Wharncliffe is bone dry and you don't have to fear slippery roots or mud-layered rocks. Blasting down 'fast track', the riders up ahead were kicking up a plume of dust and for once i didn't care about the pain of dust in the eyes or not being able to see; it just felt great to be riding such good conditions.

And such good trails now i come to think of it. I'm not a massive fan of what i'll call 'pure downhilling' but what ever your riding style after a few runs your speed really picks up; massive adrenaline buzz, massive fun. Definitely nice to see some XC guys on hard tails trashing the posers on their Iron Horse Sundays.

No pictures unfortunately, i was having too much fun for that! However you should check out the Wharncliffe Collective's webby - it's well worth the trip on a nice day.


Scottish Roadtrip Goes Badly Wrong!

So we had plans for a bit of a lap of the Scottish Highlands over Easter. Problem was we never got there. 5 awesome days in the Lake District later and I for one am not complaining. More soon.

Shoes smell so bad after 5 days on the road


Pretty Sweet @ howies Dyfi Enduro, Machynlleth

So the awesome guys at Summit Cycles have agreed to put our lo-tech bicycle film on at the Dyfi Enduro. Great news. Should be really cool for a whole load of mountain bikers to have a gander at the film what we made. Thing is, along with a most excellent ride round the Dyfi Forests finest trails, one of the first European showings of Follow Me will be taking place. We are all pretty amazed that Pretty Sweet is in such amazing company. The Collective films were certainly what inspired us to film, and probably ride mountain bikes. Hopefully we can hold a tiny little candle to Anthill's finest.

So yeah, the Dyfi Enduro is one of the best not-quite-a-race mountain bike events there is, and Follow Me looks amazing. If anyone remembers our little film we will be stoked.

Follow Me - the Teaser from Anthill Films on Vimeo.


At Home In The Loam

Loam. Steep Loam. Finding the steepest loam we can normally plays a large part of local rides in the woods especially when we are still waiting for the singletrack to dry out.

Got to get switchback practise in for an Alpine summer. This was the fourth attempt at this particular bit of trail.


Fear and Loathing in The Peak District

I reckon three things are important for good mountain biking; Good trails, good friends and good weather. Normally when we head out we seem to get the two former. The type of rocky trails we prefer drain well, and even in the coldest, windiest, most vertical rain, we seem to maintain pretty good banter. With university commitments and the like, it is getting rarer that the four of us can head out so when a chance to get out in the Peaks came up we were all pretty keen.

Dave and Ste on Chapel Clough, probably the highlight of the day. With hindsight Peaks trails after rain, on a busy Sunday probably wasn't the greatest idea, but it was cool to be out. Guess we felt the trails just weren't living up to their billing.


The Planning Is The Best Bit

So we have some fairly awesome, if slightly ambitous plans for summer 2010 at Pretty Sweet. If there was a message behind Pretty Sweet I would like to think it is that there are some awesome trails out there, and next summer we hope to take this idea a bit further. The plan is a Bivi-ed/Camping adventure across the Swiss/Italian/Austrian Alps entirely self supported. There will be photos on this blog and there might even be a film (Pretty Sweet 2 anyone?) but it should be ace.

Thing is, we need to get some Bivi gear, and after some top notch recomendations, I forked out £25 whole pounds for one of these bad boys:

 Pretty badass, I think you'll agree. Pretty snug when twinned with a sleeping bag


This Is Not Spain

Exploring a new trail under a glorious early spring sunrise was the plan, however an unannounced closure of the A55 meant we spent a sizeable chunk of the morning on the B roads of the Wrexham area. After deliberating whether Llandegla might not be to bad, we persevered and rolled up in Capel Curig under slate grey skies.

Ste unloads in the cold. We travelled Arthur Dent stylee as always


Pretty Sweet Premier at LLAMFF 2010

S,o our folksy little bike film got its first outing at Llanberis Mountain Film Festival this weekend. We felt really honoured to have Pretty Sweet shown alongside some really amazing mountain films and be able to take part in what was a lovely weekend of mountain culture.

We got to look pro for two whole days

Dude, Is There A Film Premier Tomorrow?

Back in the school days Fridays were the night for riding, along with Tuesday and Thursday and pretty much any other day the sun was out.  Things have come a fair way since, and so Ste and I found ourselves out in the woods, on a grey old Friday, on the eve of Pretty Sweet being unleashed on the public.

Not needing lights felt nice as we headed out. Summer is a'coming


Cutting It

Llanberis Mountain Film Festival is next weekend. Will we cut the mustard? Who knows, we are so pleassed that our little bike film is up their with the likes of Kranked Revolve and super gnarly climbing films like The Asgard Project. Anyway, they have a trailer with some super awesome footage up:

Should be an awesome weekend. If you fancy a chat we'll be the out of our depth looking guys.

Sorry for the non riding picture btw. When I get a new camera I will take pictures of anything.


Fresh Powder in the Valleys

So this whole snow thing is dragging on a bit now. Dry, dusty trails seem like another world at the minute. Regardless, an offer to go and ride with good mates from Imperial Bike Club was to good to turn down, so I fired up das auto and headed for Dolgellau.

So Dolgellau had got snowed on pretty good. Some days i really think all I need is a helicopter and a snowboard to keep me happy. Is that really to much to ask? Anyway, a non going up Cadair Idris plan was hatched over bacon sarnies.


Celebratin' and Ridin'

So when we found out we got into Llanberis, the obvious decision seemed to be to head out for a ride. So we headed out with camera see if we could get a few decent shots in.

Everyone loves twinkley lights and a distant sunset right?


Pretty Sweet Trailer

So amidst the excitement of the Llanberis news, we thought we had better throw togethor a bit of a teaser. It is fairly short, but they say a picture tells a thousand words, so at 30 fps this is a 1.35 million word bad boy. Anyway, hope you like it:

Pretty Sweet is not the kind of mountain bike film that features the latest slopestyle tricks, the fastest downhill action or the biggest freeride hucks. Pretty Sweet is a film about pointing your bicycle at the mountains, and seeing what you find. It is a film that sets out to show just how much grabbing a map and heading into the mountains by bike can offer. Without any past experience, a broken tripod, an ancient camcorder and some ‘decent talent’ we are really proud of what we have managed to put together, stoked by the trails we found and we hope our low-fi bike film might inspire a few other riders to head for the hills.

Many thanks to the super awesome Brad Sucks for the song Borderline. He is pretty much the coolest man in music, check him out


Pretty Sweet @ Llanberis Mountain Film Festival

So some glorious news arrived at Pretty Sweet HQ today. As you may have noticed from that ginourmous banner, our low-fi bike film has been selected for the Llanberis Mountain Film Festival. To say we are excited by this is probably a bit of an understatement. I am stoked of my face to be honest with you. As the mighty banner points out, there will be two showings, and we should be there for both of them, fingers crossed a few other people will aswell.

Pretty Sweet will be on between 'The Liminal Place' and 'Welsh Connections' on the saturday, and after a talk from the super gnarly Steve McClure and before the presentations on the sunday, so if you fancy sticking around that would be ace. Kranked Revolve is also on at the festival for mountain bike fans aswell as a load of other awesome stuff. Full film listings and details are on the LLAMFF website

Looks like it should be a most excellent weekend. We may even find time for a quick jaunt up Snowdon


Uncool Guys Don't Ride at Night

Ste and I may be getting a bit bored with the woods nightriding thing, but it is a scientific fact that heading out with remote flashes adds a new light to any activity (Gags!). So it proved, as we headed out to check out our new toy. Needs work, but it wasn;t to bad for a first go I think:

Ste gets blinded by the light. Need to work on focusing I think.


This Is Pretty Much Summer Right?

So Ste and I have probably pushed the limits of how many times we can go out in the dark around our home trails, the novelty really has worn off by now. The winter was starting to drag and the urge to get out into the hills was to much. Plans were hatched, and after some terrifying motorway escapades we rolled up in the Lakes.

Dunnerdale is the kind of place that only works when bone dry or frozen solid. Seems we got pretty lucky with the weather. Ste on the opening singletrack.


It Is Done

I think we can finally declare it to be done. A year and a day after we got the first shots done at the Marin Trail, the thing is finished. And despite having seen it over one million times, I still have a soft spot for what has come to be known as Pretty Sweet. I think that is a good thing.

I think we can be proud of what we made, considering the amount of money we put into it (very VERY little). Yeah, it does suck that we couldn't film it all in Super HD, but i think what we have looks good. Maybee even a kind of cool 8mm film vibe? There is no way it even holds a candle to the Pro mtb films that are being made at the minute, but I like the kind of 'folk music version of mountain bike film making' vibe we have.

I think Dave W describes the whole thing pretty well: "Mountain bike trail centres are fun to ride and are a great way to grow the sport. However we feel that adventure and wilderness are equally as significant in mountain biking as a lifestyle. Throughout out 2009 we filmed some of our mountain biking exploits to show that grabbing a map and just heading out into the mountains by bike has so much to offer. Without any past experience filming, a broken tripod and and ancient camcorder, we are really happy with what we've been able to put together and the experience has definitely inspired us to continue filming. Likewise, we hope we've inspired at least a few newcomers to the sport to stray from the trail centres and into the hills."

Anyway, the master is sitting on Dave W's PC, and I am putting the first DVD's in the post tomorow. Here's hoping other people will like it, and hopefully we will be able to give this film a few public airings. Fingers crossed.