Kendal Mountain Festival Bike Highlights

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Kendal Mountain Festival was back this year, in person and online. I have to admit that had I not just recovered from Covid, I’d have found all the (mostly maskless) crowded spaces very stressful. Hopefully it doesn’t turn out to be a super spreader event, and for those that were nervous there’s a fair amount of content available online via the festival website and player.

I went to four ticketed events – Trek Bike Night, Bike Collection, Berghaus Women in Adventure, and the UK premiere of Long Live Chainsaw. There was also plenty to see for free at Basecamp, with two stages showing short films and with speakers, plus more at the Shackleton tent, and a selection of stalls.

There seemed to me to be a general vibe of ‘activism’, rather than a relentless barrage of achievement and stoke. If I was going back, I think I’d like to see more multi sport events like the Women in Adventure session, rather than the ‘bike only’ silo events. From the little bits I caught of other sports, it seems like there are a lot of agenda overlaps, and maybe the activism would be stronger, and the solutions more creative, with a bit more cross-fertilisation of ideas and joining of forces on issues.

Covid anxiety aside, it was well worth the visit and I’d encourage you to seek out screenings, whether online or around the country, as some of the films shown are not on general release. Here are a few of the highlights of what I saw.

Trek Roscoe with Kade Edwards

This was actually an advert that showed in a couple of screenings, but I liked it. We’ve got one of these on test for the December issue of the mag too. Will Daz be riding it like this in the photo shoot?

The Rise of Hodgy

Try, try and try again.

The Science of Everesting

Food for thought if you’re trying to break down a challenge into something achievable.

Girls Gotta Eat Dirt

A fun film, I’d seen it before, but the Girls were over for the festival and I can confirm that they party as hard as they ride.


Slowing things down, building by hand, and some artistic presentation.

The Greatest of All Time

My memory might be coloured here by the interview that accompanied it at the screening – it was great to hear from the man himself. Despite apparently being very much in the off season (read: partying at a golf course) the way he talked about racing, consistency and progress was all really articulate and measured. Nice to have some insight into the brain power that goes into being this good.

Long Live Chainsaw

A poignant contrast to the long career of Greg Minnaar, this film did a good job of charting the brief but bright career of Stevie Smith without falling into a nostalgia-fest. Worth a watch if you can find a screening.

After The Storm

This film was a really personal tale in which Aneela opened up about her experience of racism at work, and mountain biking’s role in helping her recover her confidence. The way she opened up and made herself vulnerable, or put her story out there, was very moving. Another one to watch out for as a full screening.

Trash Mob Academy

Credit: Richard Baybutt

This video is not yet on general release, but the story of how Jo Shwe has worked with students at the Pupil Referral Unit where she’s a teacher to use mountain biking, Trash Free Trails, and the connections she’s made between personal achievement and effort on the bike and trails with confidence and achievement in the classroom is my pick of the festival. We’ll be sure to let you know when it’s on general release.

Jo and Trash Free Trails on the stage at Basecamp

Really, the greatest part of the weekend was seeing people, sharing ideas, and chewing the fat over issues affecting mountain biking and the wider outdoor industry. If you want to find yourself talking to the stars of the videos you’ve seen on your screen, elbowing Danny MacAskill out the way at the bar, or discovering how someone else sees the world, Kendal Mountain Festival is well worth putting in your calendar for next year.

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  • Kendal Mountain Festival Bike Highlights
  • Premier Icon grum
    Full Member

    I was also pretty shocked by the extremely low levels of mask wearing – I would say maybe 10% or so even in some very tightly packed spaces. The Gotta Eat Dirt Girls were indeed highly entertaining.

    Guess it’s been around a while but this was the most exciting bike film to see on a big screen IMO (at one of the kid’s events at the leisure centre):

    Premier Icon bwakel
    Full Member

    We were staggered at the lack of mask wearing. At the Snow 2 film screenings I think my wife and I plus about five other people were the only ones wearing masks!

    Anyway, not bike related, but if you get the chance to watch Traverse about two women becoming the first to ski tour the Haut Route from Chamonix to Zermatt in one push then grab it. It’s a great film and I could easily relate their mental and physical suffering to what I experience on big rides in the Lakes on my MTB. Valerie, Hilary and filmmaker Ben were at the screening and couldn’t have been more down-to-earth. Brilliant.

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