Itinerology - Sam Needham and Ash Smith

Follow Ash Smith, Trail Scouting For The Trans Provence In This Short Film

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Ash Smith does a different kind of riding to most of us. It’s barely a month since he announced there would be no Trans Provence in 2018, though it seems it will be back in some form, eventually. The reason he cited was not having the time this year to discover the new trails he wants to keep the event fresh, and as becomes obvious in this video, it’s not simply a matter of gawping at a map.

Follow Ash as he heads out to explore the mountains, and approaches the trails with a completely different outlook to most of us: rather than seeking a new five minute descent or a local loop, Ash is getting to know an entire landscape, with the aim of threading an enormous race route through it. The locales are ancient, with long neglected, sometimes unrecorded, occasionally overgrown trails that might be centuries old and have had nobody now living use them.

Not every day goes well, and not every trail is gold – or still there. Ash has highs and lows, but ultimately even the worst days support his overall aim. Photographer and videographer Sam Needham followed him for a while this year, and made this beautiful short film along with a short interview about the process (you might know Sam from his Instagram filled with certifiable bangers).

(No video? Try a link).

This is part one of three, so make sure to head over to Vimeo and give Sam a follow.

“Part one of three in the Itinerology film series. The Workspace offers an introductory glimpse into the life of Ash Smith, the founder of the Trans Provence adventure mountain bike race and how 2018 will be shaping up for him as he spends the year finding, opening and crafting new trails and itineraries in the French Alps.”

Itinerology - Sam Needham and Ash Smith
Somewhere in this vast landscape, there are lots of trails, and also…
Itinerology - Sam Needham and Ash Smith
… Ash Smith, hunting them down.
Itinerology - Sam Needham and Ash Smith
There seems to be a lot of hike-a-bike.
Itinerology - Sam Needham and Ash Smith
Not every day can be a success when you’re covering so much territory.
Itinerology - Sam Needham and Ash Smith
But sometimes you’ll find gold, so to speak (if you insist on being literal though, iron rich dirt in this case).

David started mountain biking in the 90’s, by which he means “Ineptly jumping a Saracen Kili Racer off anything available in a nearby industrial estate”. After growing up and living in some extremely flat places, David moved to Yorkshire specifically for the mountain biking. This felt like a horrible mistake at first, because the hills are so steep, but you get used to them pretty quickly. Previously, David trifled with road and BMX, but mountain bikes always won. He’s most at peace battering down a rough trail, quietly fixing everything that does to a bike, or trying to figure out if that one click of compression damping has made things marginally better or worse. The inept jumping continues to this day.

More posts from David

Comments (4)

    Awesome vid – sums up a lot of what MTBing is about (for me). Going out, getting lost, getting hurt (not too much!) & coming back home. The days don’t have to be filled with shred, gnar & pow…..some days they are just gritty, exhausting with extremes from the “How the f did I get this wet??” to the red as a lobster crying in the corner because you didn’t slip, slap slop & stayed out too long hoping for beer to kill the pain….

    Nice work Ash – keep it up!
    PS I also think you’re a secret map geek! But that’s ok too!

    How do you find the trails?

    Hardly rocket science

    John – as one of the signposting staff on the T-P, I can assure you that this is not the case.

    Have to agree with Ferrit – having ridden the TP tour a few years ago, blink and you might miss ’em!

    Ash’s passion and hard graft is what finds the trails!

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