Adventure stories / blog
In January this year, I received an email from Ben Gerrish from www.hddn.co.uk asking if I’d like to join a group of creators in making something for an event. As creatives, we thrive on a brief and a deadline and that is exactly what Ben proposed to us…
We’re going to host 40 people (turned out to be a lot more due to demand!) at the Cactus Creative studio in Kendal* and I want you to create something, a video, some photos, or anything really, based on the idea of “One more brew” and how you get through the winter months on your bike. You have just over a month…
What?! Not a chance. There’s no way that 10 people can pull together ideas and produce content in that shorter period of time… was my initial thought… turns out I was wrong. Not only had Ben managed to get the venue sorted in such a short time, he also had time to get some custom bottles of beer made up at the local brewery, and make his own entry… (although he did mention that his entry was cutting it a little fine when the render only finished in the early hours the day before). Everyone else had also pulled out all the stops and managed to hit the deadline and produce some fantastic video edits despite the usualy thrashing wind and rain that is ever present in the Lake District! Well done everyone!
The doors opened and everyone started to arrive, eager to see what the creators had put together. Brews ready, Ben set to the stage to introduce the first piece of the evening which was a video and the atmosphere was great, lights out and roll the film. Everyone cheered and applauded each piece of work that came on, and you could tell that despite the shortened time frame, they were still giving it their all and it had paid off fantastically.
The problem with doing your own passion projects like this is that you never get it done because there is always something more important, but when you’ve been selected as part of a small group, and given a deadline, it all becomes very real and you don’t want to let them down. This was Ben’s intention, put the pressure on, and force the creatives to produce something that was worthy of showing, something that they would be proud of.
The featured pieces of work ranged from comedy videos featuring the standard Lake District soggy trails, to photo slideshows that really showed the effort that went in, and finally there was some incredible screen prints by Katie Edwards featured along the wall in the studio.
Needless to say the night was a massive success and I think the people that attended the social event got just as much out of it as the folk that created the content shown. There is going to be a summer edition in 6 months and I cannot wait to see what happens with it. It’s the thing that has been missing from the lakes, or possibly even the bike scene in general for a long time. The bike night at Kendal Mountain Film Festival, which I believe was the inspiration for this event, draws a great crowd and also sells out quickly, but Ben just wanted to make happen more often!
I’m working on the idea for my pitch to get into the summer edition, so fingers crossed I can actually meet the deadline this time!
Make sure you get your summer ticket early, because this winter one sold out in days… twice (increased capacity).
See you there!
You can view all the entries here on the One More Brew cinema page: onemorebrew.co.uk/winter-episode-1
* One of the coolest studios I’ve been to, in an old carpet factory with custom tables and features, all perfectly finished off with a token fat bike as the “shop bike” for the staff.
As a little aside, we decided to sponsor the event by helping create a website that will be the One More Brew home, we chose to sponsor it because when you chat to Ben (and many of the others involved) you can see that there is a passion there to promote the scene and help to get everybody fired up, all on a very selfless level. He was donating all profits to the mountain rescue. So if you want to show your support head over to the One More Brew page and give it a like, and give HDDN media a like too.
I remember a day when I used to cram 4 bikes and 4 people into and onto a Subaru Justy, and for those that don’t know what a Justy is, it’s a mini sized 4 wheel drive car… So you can imagine how tight that was. Needless to say, I used to look at those with vans with a great deal of envy. The envy probably started because I had tyre tread pressed against my head whilst trying to check my mirrors or the fact that I was closer to 3 lads than I’ve ever really wanted to be.
It was always the dream “once I make it, I’m going to buy a van”. It was going to be stickered up to the max and be the ultimate adventure-mobile. Then I met my wife, then images of family cars (I was looking at the VW Sharan) started to interfere with the dream, she wasn’t keen on the idea of driving a big ol’ van round. So a few years in all dreams had pretty much faded… BUT THEN… while we were looking for a bigger car than her little Ibiza, we discovered a Mazda Bongo… we took a look in as a bit of a joke, and then she instantly fell in love with the idea of having a camper van… with beds and seats and social space. Fortunately we were with my friend Proudy who said… “Don’t get that, get a VWT4″… me: “OK, I’m listening…”.
Then Proudy set off on his sales pitch, I’ve always known that VW have a bit of a cult following but that was the extent of my knowledge of even my interest. “They’re one of the most reliable vans on the road if you get a 2.5tdi, they pull strong and fast, comfy to drive, and easily modded to do whatever you want with them, you have a complete blank canvas in the back to build what you want, a bed, seats, table and chairs, ball pool… anything you want” … We then started on the path of looking for a VW Transporter, only to find that they really hold their value, old knackered vans were selling for £2k upwards… so it was back to the dreaming for a while.
While were looking for a house after coming home from our snow season in Morzine, we were living with a friend called Rich, and then he stumbled on a fantastic deal of a T4 so snapped it up, and arrived on his doorstep with a lovely looking silver van… we got in to have a look… now we had to get one… we were in love, well and truly!
So we took to ebay, had everyone hunting for a van for us, and then my mother in law found a day van that had most of the work done to it, lowered, 18″ alloys, windows put in the back, etc etc. We loved it, but kept searching just in case.
We kept finding it and it kept following us, so we looked into it some more. Turned out the guy selling it was the guy that gave me my first few surf lessons. We got in touch, went to see it, and now, we own it.
The dream came true!
The next steps were to make it our own, so we put extra seats in the back so now it’s a 5 seater, after cracking 2 of the alloys we decided it was time to be a little less cool and buy some smaller more robust wheels that could cope with the gravel tracks etc we seemed to encounter on our adventures. We found that the springs in the back that made it look nice and low, were only good if the van was empty, stick 5 people and 5 bikes in there and we were riding on the bump stops, so we put original van springs back in… and now it rolls like a boat when you turn!
Then, we wrapped the bonnet in orange vinyl and the van finally had the Jackrabbitt stamp, we are now easy to spot from the other side of the motorway!
We’ve owned the van for 4 years or so now, and racked up 70k miles in that time, having been over to the Alps in France 3 times, and then all around the UK on a number of occasions. With nearly 250,000 miles on the clock, I hope that I can keep the van running for a lot more yet, and while it’s not cheap to keep an old vehicle repaired and on the road, there is something immensely satisfying to know that this little adventure bus has been everywhere with us.
There is a mass of support on the T4 forums here: www.vwt4forum.co.uk which is where we turn to most of the time when we need help. (Once I’ve asked my token t4 gurus here in Carlisle!)
Anyway, the van is riddled with problems, some my fault, some not so much, but rather than just walking away, I intend to fix it and take Blue (named this because of the amount of blue smoke he chugs out the back) back to his glory days…
… and I fully intend to put a spoiler on the back doors… for purely aesthetic reasons!
This post was basically just an excuse for me to show off some pics of Blue through the times we’ve had him, so here you go!
Also, please post post pics of your adventure bus! I’d love to see what you have!
Let’s set the scene, I’m 30, I have 2 kids, a dog, mortgage, wife, pension plans, insurance, self employed, etc etc… so you can imagine that time is a little limited these days along with me being a little tighter on opening my wallet*. I’ve started to look for cheaper alternatives to mountain biking and snowboarding etc, because let’s face it, they are money pits.
I’ve started running.
I never thought I’d say that, it kind of deserves it’s own line. I feel a little bit like a sell out, because I come from a background of doing anything for the thrill of it all, abusing road cyclists because of how dull it is etc, so running doesn’t seem like the adrenaline hunters sport of choice. I must admit, the first couple of years have been hard, but I’m at a point now where I can cover enough distance and at a pace where I feel like I can improve each time I go out, I’m almost enjoying it.
The thought of getting the bike out, driving somewhere, getting ready and setting off, was becoming less and less appealing. Which in turn means that the people you see on a regular basis changes, which sucks. I miss my old riding buddies, because whenever they get a spare moment they go riding, running doesn’t appeal.
I thought to myself, “if you don’t get out of this rut, you might as well sell your bike, it’s taking up valuable toilet space!” **
…I can’t sell my bike, it’s part of who I am. It’s why I know the people I know, I like the identity that comes with having a mountain bike… it might be old school 26″ (or as I might start calling it… “the fun size”), but I still want to call myself a mountain biker!
Get out and ride then you idiot!
“Hey, you riding on Sunday? Can I jump in?”
Easy as that, my next mornings adventure was planned… “a quick 2 hour ride and back for lunch” easy.
Nothing is easy in the Lake District… I’ve still not learnt my lesson. We climbed for what seemed like forever, then forever again. However I noticed a couple of things during those elongated periods of time… I was still pedalling the majority of the climb… I didn’t do that when I was out on my bike regularly. Winner. My running phase is paying off!
The next thing I noticed is that it was just like old times out with the boys and their bikes… fair enough their bikes were a bit shinier and fresher than mine, but the fun machine still had life left in it…
We got to the top and took some obligatory photos, then descended, and oh boy, did I realise what I’ve been missing! To be out in the middle of nowhere ripping down a trail I’ve never been down before with a big old scree slope to my right and gauze bushes to my left, stunning views and awesome friends.
You never forget how to ride a bike, but I think, that sometimes we do forget what it means to go for a good ride out. 2017 is going to be home to some more adventures on my steely wheeled friend for sure!
Go out and ride.
Stop making excuses!
*I’m from Yorkshire, so it was never that easy to pry open anyway.
**My man cave is my downstairs toilet…
Here’s a few snaps from my new mirrorless camera (Sony a6300).
Firstly let me set the scene. I’ve been a self employed web developer for over a year now, and it’s been a tough year, lots of learning curves and expensive mistakes. Lots of hours spent late into the night. However, prior to this, I have always worked for someone else, where the rules are set and you play their game.
One of the things that was always mentioned to me, is that when you are self employed, you can just pack up and go home when you want without worrying what the boss thinks. However, what they failed to mention is that you will have so much pressure that you will never feel like you can actually do that…
Yesterday, I decided to exercise my right as being my own boss. The sky was blue, there was snow on the hills, and I’ve not been snowboarding in a long time… So I told my client for the afternoon what I was thinking… and he agreed… so we both set off home to grab our gear… which was buried and dusty.
We headed off to Glenridding, and then as we started to hike up, we passed so many people on skies coming back down with big smiles on their faces… a few of them passing comment “leaving it a bit late aren’t you lads?!” … “it’s OK… we have a light”…however we didn’t think we’d need it. The sky was so clear, and it wasn’t windy at all. Loads of time!
The hike took a while, and resulted in a lot of effort and sweat, however, it was more than worth it for the view over the Lake District Ski Club with the colours in the sky that you didn’t think were possible. We tried to capture them on camera, but it never comes across quite aswell as actually being there.
We turned round, strapped our snowboards on and boom… someone had turned the lights off! We needed the torch… infact we needed two… but only had one…so it made for an interesting descent.
The snow was crisp and icy in places, but putting in those well earned turns felt so good and with the stars coming out above us it felt incredible. I would definitely do it again, however, this time I would definitely make sure we take a set of lights each!
Bring on winter, we’re ready for you!
Nothing gets your heart pumping and face smiling like a good ride out on the mountain bike, but just imagine how it must feel for Martyn Ashton to overcome one of the worst possible injuries and to get back out on his back with his mates. Of course it won’t be the same as before, but he will touch so many more people’s lives by not giving up, even though he has every right to sit at home and feel sorry for him.
This is well and truly a passion beyond reason, and thanks to Martyn and his buddies for putting this together!
I always felt like it wasn’t worth entering competitions, until now, I won the competition of a life time, and the grand prize was a holiday to a destination of my choice, Turtle Bay in Hawaii, Telluride in Colorado, or Laax in Switzerland. They also threw in a GoPro hero 4 Black and all the accessories to go with it! I love to think about the odds of winning that competition.
This is going to be incredible! So many crashes! You have to watch the trailer…and if you don’t get excited for the full thing…you can’t be human!*
*I am a Nitro Circus fanboy…that gang can do no wrong!