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Is this the biggest drop ever on a bike in the UK? Are we stoked and awed, or are we all thinking ‘you’re a very naughty boy?’.
We’re conflicted. In ordinary times we’d probably say ‘wow, that’s insane, our stoke is high!’. Maybe there’d be a bit of ‘I hope they got permission for that?’. But these aren’t ordinary times and we’re a bit ‘That’s not daily exercise! What happened to no car, not far, no gnar?’. But, 35ft! A possible British record?
Also, we have questions. Why is he only wearing one glove? Why did he have to rebuild the drop? Who is he? We have dropped him a line in an attempt to answer some of these questions.
What we know:
- That is a very very big drop. Maybe it is as claimed the biggest in the UK?
- Lake District locals have identified the spot for us and this is in a part of the country just outside the official ‘Lake District’ where riding isn’t permitted. The Forestry Commission would be liable for any activities they permitted on the land if it devalued the value of the land for shooting (the shooting rights on this land are held by someone else).
- That is a very very big drop.
- His Instagram story shows the landing being prepped in the last week, under cover of darkness. Which doesn’t scream ‘permission granted’ to us. But maybe they’re all just really busy during the (very few) daylight hours.
- That is a very very big drop.
- Young Oliver here has form – this perfect execution of the drop is not through luck. He’s already jumped the Pemberton train gap, he clearly knows what he’s doing in the air on a bike.
We’ll continue to see if we can find out more from Oliver. In the mean time. Don’t try this at home. Get your daily exercise. Eat your greens.
Update – Some Questions Answered
We managed to get hold of young Oliver (he’s young to us anyway, at 20 years old). Here’s what he had to say:
On building and doing the jump:
I started building the drop before lockdown, it was very slow progress as I would only build there when I went shopping in a nearby town. We went into lockdown and the drop was almost finished so I finished the drop by myself and was preparing to do it the next morning since I heard of a group of people wanted to get rid of it… this group was unrelated to the land owners or Forestry Commission. So that morning I went to do the drop but found it had been destroyed so decided I could either leave the drop or quickly rebuild it in a day and hit it early the next morning. I’m normally working full time and being furloughed gave me the opportunity to build this jump and I wasn’t prepared to see it get destroyed and never ridden.
We got it rebuilt and went the next morning when Sam the photographer came before he went to work at 10.30 – this meant we were in a bit of a rush. I realised when we got there that I was missing a glove in my bag and had no time to go back and get it. I put on a neck brace, a back and chest protector, knee pads, and my one glove. The drop went smoothly and after I removed the drop entirely as I didn’t want to take responsibility for any others trying it and didn’t want to bring more attention to the local wood.
On the size of it:
The biggest drop I had done to this previously was around 18ft vertical. But I’ve had experience with large step-downs and other jumps too. As far as measuring the drop goes it wasn’t measured using a tape, but from a photo of me stood at the bottom taken from far back I worked out the drop was somewhere between 35-40 feet in height hence why I put “around 35ft”. There is also a known climbing route at the side of this drop which backs up the height. I plan on measuring this properly in the near future.
On his experience:
I’ve been riding MTB for three years. I biked a little when I was much much younger with my brother, but we moved house and my brother went to uni so I had nowhere to ride or anyone to take me riding until I was about 17. So I rode bikes but didn’t really mountain bike until about 3 years ago. I don’t currently have any sponsors, the reason I tagged so many companies (only brands which were part of my bike or gear – no random ones!) was in hope they might recognise the video and help it gain traction.
On rules, and freeride opportunities:
I did not have permission to build the drop and we have tried many times to make some type of trail association with the Forestry Commission. We even had a petition with over 500 signatures. We are allowed to ride the trails that are already in the wood and people have been riding there for years and years. As you mentioned the estate is used for shooting however this wood which is part of the estate isn’t permitted to hold any type of shooting. I believe that it is near impossible to become recognised without as a freerider without disregarding some of the rules depending on where you live. Where I live the closest bike park with good jumps is Danny Heart’s Descend Park, which is close to a hour and a half away. I don’t even have a set of local jumps to practice on.
Update From Chipps and Forestry England
Chipps had a chat with a spokesperson from Forestry England who had some interesting things to say on the matter. The most important message from the chat is probably this:
“The jump was illegal and unsanctioned. It has now gone. Please don’t travel here to try to replicate it. In fact, please don’t travel at all… Stay home. Stay safe”
In expanding upon the stupidity of this particular stunt, the FE rep was keen to point out just how involved a rescue of a rider with, say, two broken legs, would be from that particular spot. There is no vehicular access to that track and it’s on a narrow strip of land next to the river. Any operation by Mountain Rescue would have involved either down-climbing to evacuate from the top of the cliff, or having to approach from the river itself. Needless to say, it would be a huge effort, putting many members of Mountain Rescue at risk.
Forestry England want to remind riders that such activity isn’t permitted in its woodlands (at the best of times, let alone during a ‘stay at home’ lockdown) and that such ‘pirate’ trailbuilding isn’t going to help things when legitimate mountain bike groups approach woodland managers, looking for permission to develop trails in its woods.
So, that’s a big thumbs down from Forestry England and from Mountain Rescue. And to repeat things – the jump isn’t there any more, don’t travel to have a go yourself and don’t go digging in the woods without permission or it’s not going to help the riders trying to get legit trails built.
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